Friday, 7 July 2017

Languedoc Greatness

Producer: Mas de Daumas Gassac


This week I tasted a Cabernet blend from the 1982 vintage that was in perfect condition and showing all of the weathered complexity that only age can deliver. It’s like looking into a careworn face and appreciating every crease the years have bestowed. From that statement you may be tempted to guess that it was a great Bordeaux, perhaps even a first growth, but this wine was in fact made in the humble Languedoc region in the south of France. Narrowing down the producer is an easier task. There is only one that makes such long-lived Cabernet – Mas de Daumas Gassac, sometimes referred to as the Grand Cru of the Languedoc.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Passel Estate – A New Name in Margaret River

Producer: Passel Estate

Owners Barry and Wendy Stimpson

After a spirited and educational afternoon evaluating some wines from the Barossa Valley, the organiser of the session asked if we would like to stay back for a few minutes to meet the owners of a small winery in Margaret River. I had initially planned to rush off to the next appointment, but as they were already there I decided it would be churlish not to at least taste the wines. I am glad I did. Barry and Wendy Stimpson are Singapore residents with high-powered careers in the fields of law and strategic consultancy, but they were bitten by the wine bug when visiting Margaret River. In 2011 they purchased the land that was to become Passel Estate. The inspiration for the name came when they volunteered part of the area as a refuge for endangered western ringtail possums (passel is the term for a group of possums). As it turns out, the peppermint trees ringing the vineyard provide the ideal shelter and food source for the tree dwellers. Plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz date back to 1994, now augmented with a parcel of Chardonnay.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Different Shades of Pink


Eight years ago, a group of us were at the Barton & Guestier Wine School in Bordeaux, where the facilitator presented us three glasses of wine to taste. The twist being that these wines were served in opaque black glasses so as to remove any preconceptions that colour might give. While most of us were able to pick out the red wine, a surprise was that most of us mistook the rosé for a white. Did this suggest that taste-wise there was very little difference between a rosé and a white wine? Would our tasting notes have been different had we been able to see the colour? Research certainly indicates so. A study by Frederic Brochet and Denis Dubourdieu in 2001 found that tasters perceived a white wine as having the odour of a red wine when coloured red.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Visiting Beaune - Maison Joseph Drouhin


The thing that impressed me most when visiting Maison Joseph Drouhin was their labyrinth pre-war cellar, but it is appropriate to provide some background first. The founder, Joseph Drouhin, established the namesake négociant in 1880 at the young age of 22. It is still a family-run company, now run by the fourth generation and headed by Frédéric Drouhin who plays the role of company president. He is aided by his siblings Véronique Drouhin-Boss (Head Winemaker), Philippe Drouhin (Estates Manager) and Laurent Drouhin (U.S. Director). Philippe was instrumental in converting the domaine over to biodynamics, a practice that came about because he found that conventional agriculture did not address the question of the long term effects of chemical use in the vineyard. Soil specialist Claude Bourguignon once shocked the winemakers of Burgundy by declaring that the soils of the region had less microbial life than the Sahara desert. Today Maison Joseph Drouhin comprises 73 hectares, the majority of which is in Chablis (38 ha), and 32 ha of mostly premier cru and grand cru vineyards in the Côte d’Or.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Visiting Beaune - Maison Louis Jadot


On this trip I was in Beaune for only a day, so selecting the wineries to visit was based on which producers could provide the greatest overview of Burgundy. I was thrilled to be able to visit Louis Jadot, a venerable business that has been operating since 1859. The founder, Louis Henry Denis Jadot initially focused on the Northern Europe market as he was from Belgium and familiar with the area. His grandson, Louis Auguste Jadot, further expanded to the Americas, Great Britain and New Zealand. In 1985, Maison Louis Jadot was purchased by the Kopf family who also own Kobrand Corporation, the sole importers of Jadot Burgundies in the United States. The company is currently run by Pierre-Henry Gagey, whose father André Gagey was Louis Auguste Jadot’s deputy.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Rosé Revolution is Back

The fourth edition of the Rosé Revolution takes place on Sunday, May 14th at Hotel Fort Canning from 2pm to 7pm. Tickets are available through Ticketflap or Peatix. Organised by Eddie McDougall, AKA The Flying Winemaker, highlights of the event include over 20 of the world's finest rosés accompanied by food and entertainment. For those wanting to go the whole hog, there is also a four-course rosé pairing menu on the 11th of May from 7pm to 10pm, and a VIP area with lucky draws and goodie bags. The list of featured wines and dinner menu are at the bottom of this post.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Wine of the Month - April 2017

While Masi makes a very dependable Amarone della Valpolicella Classico called Costasera, this is not that wine. Rather this is a duty-free exclusive made in the same mold but with a greater percentage of the Corvina grape. Corvina is considered the best grape for use in Amarone, contributing sour cherry flavours and a light, elegant structure. Amarone is one of Italy's signature wines, made using grapes that have been dried out, traditionally on straw mats. The drying process softens the tannins and activates flavour compounds, but also results in a loss of water, meaning that it takes a lot more grapes to make Amarone than other types of wine. Well-made Amarone is never cheap.

Wine: Masi "Nectar Costasera" Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2009

Tasting note: Throwing a thick sediment, this wine is drinking beautifully at the moment. It displays rich, concentrated flavours of fruitcake, raisins, chocolate and blackberry jam, cocooned in velvety tannins and a plush mouthfeel. This is a hedonist's dream, and beautifully balanced even at 15% alcohol. The freshness keeps it lively and it is all to easy to finish the whole bottle.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Visiting Beaune - An Introduction


Is there any region that appears more deceptively simple than Burgundy? Along with Bordeaux it is one of the most famous wine regions of the world. The grape varieties are simple – Pinot Noir for the reds and Chardonnay for the whites (not counting the small quantities of Aligoté and Sauvignon Blanc, and the Gamay of Beaujolais). The wines of Burgundy frequently dominate wine auctions and certainly anyone who is even faintly interested in wine would have tried a bottle, if very lucky, perhaps even a grand cru.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Changing Face of DFS


DFS (the travel retail group) really knows how to throw a party. The recently concluded Masters of Wines and Spirits was a free-flow extravaganza of luxury champagne, cru classé wines, smooth single malts and inspired cocktails. The event was held at Tras Street in Tanjong Pagar, an area populated by small startups and dodgy KTV bars a decade ago and in recent years has seen a profusion of hip restaurants and cafes. Musical entertainment was provided by pop-rock string quartet VOX while faux traffic wardens, looking as though they had just stepped out of a modelling catalogue, helped direct the flow of bemused car drivers passing through. Canapés at these events are usually not the main attraction, but I could not help gorging on a couple of the plump baby squids on offer at Sushi Mitsuya.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

All about Gambero Rosso


Now in its 30th edition, the Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia Wine Guide covers 2400 producers and 22000 wines, making it the most comprehensive guide to Italian wines. There is compact and relevant detail for each featured producer, but I found more interest in the preface for the guide. Of the 429 wines awarded the top rating of Tre Bicchieri, 80 hailed from Tuscany, 75 from Piedmont, and 38 from Veneto. Yet the top two still wines in this edition were from neither of these places. The top red is the Gioia del Colle Primitivo Muro Sant’Angelo Contrada Barbatto 2013 from Tenute Chiaromonte, while the top white is the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Misco 2015 from Tenuta di Tavignano. Side note – it boggles me that anyone would think that the longer the name the more impressive the wine. Surely wines such as Sassicaia, Margaux and Opus One have proven that consumers appreciate easy to remember labels? The key point here though is that these wines, from Puglia and Marche respectively, show that there is value to looking outside of the traditionally more famous wine regions of Italy.