Top wines 2011/2010 (Peak Challenge- Spring & Winter)

Life is too short to drink the bad wines –  we are told time and again. So here are some wines that have been tasted (over 700 wines were tasted; many were rejected) and that were highly recommended by as many as a dozen panelists – some from industry, others from trade and even collectors and experts – at the Peak G wine tastings, which I organised.  You can’t go far wrong with these wines.

Luetzuendorf, Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte “Grosses Gewachs” 2007 Silvaner $78, Germany, Magma Trade and Consult Pte Ltd

Deep yellow colour, brimming with aromas of tropical fruits, red apples, nectarine, pear, lemons, floral, honeysuckle, nuances of lychee, lemon zest and orange. Sweet nose balanced by excellent balance, texture and finish. This is a stunning wine from the unique vineyard of Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte, that lies in the former German Democratic Republic. The microclimate of the site is low in rainfall with relatively warm summers and mild winters – but uniquely, the growing season here is about a week longer than the regional average – the result is wine with depth of flavour and fine-grained acidity.

Van Volxem, Altenberg Alte Reben (old vines), Riesling 2008, $150, Germany, Wein & Vin Pte Ltd

Subtle yet complex nose incorporating stone fruit, flowers, orange blossom, citrus, spice and a touch of toast. Fleshy with a good structure and acidity. Balanced, weighty and quite rich. Excellent minerality. Honeyed texture, tightly woven, powerful and with an ultra long, racy finish. Will improve over the next decade. Benefits from decanting/aerating prior to drinking.

Domaine Maroslavac-Leger, Puligny Montrachet “les Folatieres” 1er Cru, 2006, $95, France, Vino Cave

Intense nose of stone fruit, dried tangerine peel, Anjou pear, grapefruit and wet stones. Some notes of yellow apple in the mid palate leading up to steely minerals. Zippy and zesty, yet acids are quite soft. Creamy, light lanolin texture, precise and with a long finish. Enjoy with roast chicken or dishes featuring white/butter sauces.

Capannelle, Solare IGT 2004, $112.20, Italy, Hermitage Wines Pte Ltd

Saturated, medium-dark red. Serious nose with loads of depth, cherry, peach pit, currants. Nuances of tobacco and meat reveal good bottle ageing. Medium plus acidity in the tart red fruit flavours, with a sweet core of fruit allied with good structure and fine grained tannins. Medium bodied. Finish is bright and long with the lingering taste of fresh red fruit. A Sangiovese-Malvasia Nera blend.

Thibault Liger Belair, Clos De Vougeot Grand Cru, 2006, $171.20, France, Vinum Fine Wines

Ruby centre with bright red rim. Aromas of black fruits, plums, raspberries and maraschino cherries. Dry with finely grained tannins. Flavours of sour red plums, haw flakes, eucalyptus, cloves and black pepper. Tight, youthful, well-balanced and stylish. Excellent example of a Clos de Vougeot. Drinking well now.

Osmose Vins, Gigondas AOC 2007, $58, France, Top Wines Pte Ltd

Complex nose of sun ripened fruit, cherries, raspberries, pepper and a hint of animal aromas. Good balance, with a touch of tannins, soft and smooth texture, medium bodied and a medium finish. Easy drinking wine suited for roasts and cold meats.

Ramey, Shanel Vineyard Syrah, 2006, $124, USA,Water & Wine (S) Pte Ltd

Deep red-black centre, bright red rim. Incredibly complex with red and black fruits, figs, leather, earth, vanilla, coconut, violets, milk chocolate, hawthorne and sweet plum. Pure and vibrant fruit. Big and bold, supple and smooth, dense and layered with chewy tannins and a sweetish finish. The Rhône has a rival in this cool-climate, coastal California Syrah. Best cellared for at least five more years.

Doña Paula, Malbec, Seleccion De Bodega 2006, $83, Argentina, Crystal Wines Pte Ltd

Intense violet colour with a bright red rim. Perfumed and slightly spicy, with powerful flavours of dark plums, red berries, baked red fruits, and boiled sweets. Dry finish, with the lingering taste of red fruits, blueberries, mocha and dark cherries. All presented in a concentrated form yet makes for easy drinking. Formidable tannins, rich and memorable, this is one of Argentina’s icon wines and it is only made in exceptional years.


Wairau River, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, 2009, $40, New Zealand, Austral Pacific Wine Merchant

Light bright yellow. Aromatic and exuberant. Gorgeous melange of flowers, herbs, pears, passionfruit, lemon and soft green fruits. Soaring notes of candy, exotic fruits and stonefruit. Complex yet not intellectual. Good balance, medium high acidity, medium long finish. Delicious and sensational value. For immediate enjoyment – best with mussel dishes, creamy cheese and cold seafood.

Tenuta SantAntonio, Amarone Valpolicella Campo Del Gigli DOC, 2004, $158, Italy, Water & Wine (S) Pte Ltd

Deep and dense with red black centre and bright ruby rim. Mix of dark fruit and florals on the nose. Unbelievable flavour intensity, consisting dark fruit, tea, toffee, currants, earth and dried plums. Full bodied and dry, yet juicy with smooth tannins and a lingering finish. A luscious wine. Carpineto Farnito Vin Santo, 1992 Italy, Monopole Pte Ltd, $98 Light amber in colour, smoky caramel, rancio notes with hints of straw on the nose. Sweet with flavours of caramelised fruit, hazelnut, Gula Melaka and coconut (grated), lovely chocolate and bright acids. Medium length.

Oremus, Aszu 6 Puttonyos Tokaji, 2000, Hungary, Vinum Fine Wines, $116 Light amber. Aromas of fruitcake, tangerine, Chinese dates and “Nian gao”. Really rich with inviting flavours of dried longan, orange peel preserved plum, apricot, biscotti, hazelnut and watercress.  Luscious, long and memorable.

Chateau Doisy Daene, Sauternes 2006, France, Wein & Vin, $65 Bright amber with gold, high viscosity. Perfumed with a lovely mix of caramel, smoke, sweetened apples, bittersweet almond cake, botrytis, peach, lychee, roasted nuts and orange rind. Some minerality and with a rich texture.

Bruno Paillard, Blanc De Blanc Reserve Privee MV, Champagne, France, Vinum Fine Wines, $121 Straw gold, hint of minerals, bread and toasted barley. Flavours of limes, broad mid palate and a medium long finish. Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale Brut 1999, Champagne, France, Hai Choo Wines & Spirits, $135 Dark gold and perfumed with a mix of flowers, dried apricots and toast. Fruity in the mouth, integrated and balanced. Beautifully presented given the follow through and long finish.

Duval Leroy, Vintage 1999 Blanc de Chardonnay, Champagne, France, Top Wines Pte Ltd, $145 Medium gold, soft mousse. Aromas of red apples, minerals, yeast and hint of petroleum.  Dry with a lingering taste of apricots.

Domaine Charbay, Port Release III, USA, Water & Wine (S) Pte Ltd, $102 Tawny with a brick red border. Aromas of bark, cherries, dried tea-leaf and flowers. Flavours of vanilla, herbs, liquor chocolate, dried red fruit, spice, toffee, pepper, mocha and caramel. Balanced with a warm, clean medium dry finish and a hint of oak. The ideal Christmas pudding wine.

Quartz Reef, Methode Traditionnelle 2006, Central Otago, NZ, The Cellar Door Pty Ltd, $52 Persistent bubbles, straw yellow with golden hues. Complex with toast, bread, yeast, biscuits, red apples, nougat and honey. Rich and complex yet balanced and refreshing. Perfect for aperitif and crudités.

Jansz Tasmania Vintage Cuvee 2005, Australia, Monopole Pte Ltd, $61 Medium gold with a fine mousse. Rich nose of red apples, Chinese pear, green apple and hazelnuts. Good palate weight. Quite complex and refined. Ideal wine for tim sum or as a party welcome drink.

Philipponnat Millesime Sec Sublime Reserve 2000, Champagne, France, Indoguna Singapore Pte Ltd, $115 Dark gold. Good mousse and aromas of shitake mushrooms, forest floor, with straw, minerals and pears.  Round and smooth on palate, good acidity and mild sweetness, balanced with a long clean finish

De Bortoli ‘Old Boys’ Tawny Port, Australia $78, Crystal Wines Retail Australia’s top sweet white wine producer excels again with this port-style wine. Dark with an orange rim, this wine has aromas of nutmeg, mint, caramel, spice, milk chocolate leather and spice.  Palate –wise, this is abig voluminous concentrated wine with well-integrated and refreshing acids and good length.

Kaesler Touriga Nacional NV ‘Port-style’Australia, $43, Straits Wine Company Outlets Opaque crimson with vibrant pink rim. Woody, with black brambly fruit, rose petals, prune jam, raisins and bitter-sweet cherries. Medium bodied with uplifted tannins and warm long finish.  Lighter style fortified wine from the Barossa straddling the styles of a big dry red wine and a vintage-port.

Valdespino Jerez-Xérès-Sherry Pedro Ximenez El Candado (NV) Spain $53, Straits Wine Company Outlets 13th Century, Spanish knight, Alonso Valdespino, did well with the land given by the king. Today, this bodega is acknowledged as the oldest sherry house in Spain. Offerings range from Fino to this decadant ‘PX’ that is deep mahogany in colour, brimming over with flavours of rum and raisin, coffee and chocolate, sultanas, soy, pecan pie, molasses and nuts. Good acidity to balance and delicious finish.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne NV, France $118 Isetan, Meidiya, Carrefour The revived ‘Champagne Charlie’ of NY high society. It’s light gold with a toasty, almost oaky-nutty nose. Medium bodied, concentrated, intense and oxidative characters and layers of flavours including walnuts, minerals and baked apple. Dry with excellent acid backbone/texture and medium length. Complete.

Perrier-Jouët ‘Belle Epoque’ Champagne 2002, France, $330 Le Rouge Together with the rosé and Blancs de Blancs this Brut style wine is the house’s flagship. Subtle nose of biscuits, citrus fruits, pear, apple and minerals. Subtle hints of pineapple, grapefruit and lime.  Fine mousse, elegant, soft, light texture yet with a good structure, balance and finesse – the essence of a true Prestige cuvée. Long finished and memorable.

Henriot, ‘Cuvee des Enchanteleurs’ 1996, France $ 299, Booze Wine Shop Raffles Place, Booze Wine Shop Jalan Besar, Taste Fine Wine Merchant Aromas of burnt butter, Brazil nut and caramel lead into floral scents of Hibiscus and Peonies. Aromas of evolution – mushrooms, earth are evident and are supported by savoury flavours including mocha and toast. Yet the wine finish is dry and long, thanks to some citrus flavours and a good acid backbone. A Prestige cuvée that is ready for enjoyment.

Joseph Perrier ‘Cuvée Josephine’ 2002, France $320, Oaks Cellars, Bacchus, The Momba Wineshop Cuvée Josephine, named for the owner’s daughter is exactly that – Golden colour, discreet bubbles but with delightful aromas of toast, biscuits and fruit. It is also well structured and with a good balance, and with the lingering taste of minerals.

Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt, Majorat Brut Riesling 2007, Germany $70, Wein & Vin Light yellow. Aromas of peach, lemongrass, lemon, honey and mint with a hint of biscuits and petroleum. High acidity, low volume. Makes this a serious wine style. Delicious though. The wine came to being when the Von Kesselstatt family purchased disused monasteries, complete with vineyards in the 19th Century.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Spain Made from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes grown in the renowned Alt Penedès region this blend of reserve and non-vintage wines, is clean and delicate, yet rich in flavour. It has a pale green tinge and citrus aromas are lifted. Light bodied and steely dry with green apples, Lemongrass, mint, and grapefruits. Clean tidy finish.

Rene Bezemer, Ninth Island sparkling wine 2003 Australia $63 The Butcher, Le Vigne Wines, World of Wines One of Tasmania’s and Australia’s best sparkling wines shows well here with a watery pale yellow colour and a green hue. There’s lemon curd and toasty characters as well as marzipan, pear, peach and pineapple – deeming it very attractive. A lively mid palate freshness and concentration with a mid-length finish completes this wine

Schramsberg Vineyards, Blanc de Blanc Calistoga  2006, USA, Morton’s of Chicago, Krish the Restaurant, The Standish A truly complex wine with a gold highlights and complex nose of lemon-lime, bread and autolysis characters.  Good bead, velvety texture, and a minerally, tangy finish. For an even more complex version, indistinguishable from Champagne, try the J Schram Methode Traditionelle 2001, available only via private on line retail.

Ca’del Bosco Cuvee Prestige NV Italy, $84, Crystal Wines Pte Ltd
Pale golden yellow. Slight medicinal, almost herbal notes with bread and toasty notes. Very dry palate with abundant bubbles, soft texture, medium length with flavours of lime on the finish. A food wine.

Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner 2007, Indoguna Singapore
Schloss Gobelsburg is a historic winery, owned by a Cistercian monastery with vineyards in the Kamptal region of Austria. Peach, pear nose giving way to some earth and lightly fried pork with herbs. Full, ripe, round, herbal, floral, with tingling spice. Long and very good.

Domaine de Roches Neuves, Saumur Blanc l’Insolite,  2007, Alfa International Pte Ltd
Bordelaise Thierry Germain moved to the Loire to make wine. This barrel fermented Chenin Blanc from 75 year-old vines. Refined nose of ripe Chanticleer pears, apples, peach peel and some baked fruit. On the palate it is rounded with a hint of sweetness; finishes long.

Quinta Do Zambujeiro, Terra Do Zambujeiro 2004, VINHO! Pte Ltd
From Portugal’s Alentejo region; this quinta was purchased by a Swiss wine lover in 1998.  Look out also for the flagship Zambujeiro wine. Nose of ripe raspberry, violets, caramel, toffee, vanilla and some white pepper. Med-full, ripe, dry entry, good balance, supple tannins. One of the most exciting wine finds.

Montes Purple Angel 2006, Crystal Wines Pte Ltd
After creating creating super-premium Chilean wine, the Montes Alpha M (Cabernet blend), Aurelio Montes turned to making a super-premium Carmenère. Dense opaque, dark red in colour,  juicy with plums, blackcurrants,  toasty oak, coffee, spice, with a hint of vanilla.  Full bodied, big, chunky tannins and long finish. Outstanding.

Catena Zapata, Alta Malbec 2005, Pinnacle Wines & Spirits Pte Ltd
Catena Zapata (although not officially), is referred by wine cognoscenti as Argentina’s Grand Cru estate. Nose of sweet, ripe red fruit with black berries and violets.  Flavours of blue berries, black berries, with supple fine-grained tannins. Impressive.


Chateau Armens 2004, Wines2u
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend. Juicy red fruit with black cherries and backcurrants. Also some apple peel and hint of meat, cedar and spice. Pepper and fruit flavours, chewy tannins, dry spicy long finish.

Andre Lurton ‘L De La Louviere’ 2006 , Top Wines
Producer that owns 11 chateaux in Bodeaux and consult-build wineries in France, the Americas and Spain.Cigarbox, herbs, freshly crushed red fruit, mocha and a touch of capsicum, licorice and orange. Sweet entry, elegant structure balance and long finish.

Chateau de Pez 2007, Grand Vin Pte Ltd
Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel; one of nine at the top of the tree of classified Cru Bourgeois wines. Dense red fruit, spice, graphite, sandalwood, cedar, black currant and overtones of licorice and black cherries. Medium acidity, finely grained tannins, ripe long finish, not too intense but with finesse.
Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2005, Cellarmaster Wines (S) Pte Ltd
Top producer’s blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc – named after a cabinet member of the union of South Africa. Cedar, spice cinnamon, juicy with some capsicum on the palate. Solid fruit, some woodiness dry, ripe finish, spicy length. Long and excellent value.

Ashridge Cabernet Merlot, Rubicon Reserve Wines Pte Ltd
From New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay.
Spicy red fruits on the nose, Chinese herbs, also thyme and cassis. Bright clean, silky texture, medium acidity, balanced, some oak but longish finish.

Tenuta di Trinoro, Le Cupole 2006 Vermilion Wines and Spirits
With a South Carolina textile fortune, Andrea Franchetti set about producing just one wine using grapes from an isolated vineyard located between Tuscany and  Umbria.Dark red fruit, savoury, mushrooms and dried longans add to the complexity. Light style cabernet, fresh, bright, understated with good length.

Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia, Le Serre Nuove 2006, Beam Global Asia Pte Ltd
Second wine of Ornellaia Supertuscan estate. Dark red, New World! Robust nose – mocha and coffee; chocolate, mixed with herbs. Palate – classic cab, blackcurrant, slight peppery spicy note, good fruit core, concentrated and hint of bitterness with grippy tannins, still youthful.

Parker Coonawarra Estate 2001 Hermitage Wines
South Australian Cabernet-Merlot blend from Australia’s branded 1st Growth producer.Dense and almost black at rim. Blackcurrant, blueberry, apple and hint of eucalyptus- leather. Concetrated fruit focused, Chinese medicine and mint. Long finished.

Chapman Grove Atticus 2005, Rubicon Reserve Wines Pte Ltd
From Margaret River of Western Australia. Young. Very extracted, malty  with black cherries and cassis plum cigar box, juicy entry, med+acidity, very juicy fruit core with med tannins that tighten the finish. Medium length. Good!
Champagne Moutard, Cuvee Des 6 Cepages, 2003, Wines2u
Ancient varieties such as Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc in the blend make this wine unique. Interesting with freshly baked bread, hints of sour raspberry, over ripe apples and honeyed notes on palate. Assertive initial entry, lots of character – unique wine appealing to some.

Veuve Fourny, Reserve Brut 1er Cru NV, The Oaks Cellars Pte Ltd
Organic grapes and low dosages preserve terroir here.Fine mousse, lemon zest, med-bodied, with pear, lemon curd and a touch of honey. Lean citrus style and priced as a party drink.

Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2008, The Cellar Door
One of New Zealand’s Chardonnay specialists. Toasty nose with oak, vanilla.  Also limes, lemongrass, grapefruit, verbena. Good finish and fruit extraction.

Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2006, Certain Cellars Pte Ltd
Beringer’s reputation is that of good value Californian wine. Developed aromas, oak, vanilla, pineapple and coconut. Good weight and opulent. Bittersweet finish.
Special mention

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2006, Singapore Straits Wine Co.
A premier wine estate of the Margaret River.Vanilla milk, lemon, lemongrass grapefruit. Excellent fruit concentration, tasty and long.

Domaine de la Janasse  Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge 2006, Vermilion Wines and Spirits
Rising star estate in the South Rhone, led by Christophe Sabon. Dense, rich nose with licorice, black fruit, good structure.

Ca’ Marcanda Promis IGT 2007, Pinnacle Wines & Spirits Pte Ltd
Angelo Gaja’s foray into Tuscany. Lively, lifted spicy armoas and some cedar wood. Also chocolate, mocha with hint of leather.  Warm, good texture and finish.

Nino Negri, Sfursat Valtellina DOCG 2002, Intervino Singapore
Lombardy wine  made from Chiavennasca, the local designation for Nebbiolo. Big structured wine with black cherries, prunes and leather. Baked earthy flavours, all fairly complex.  Medium length finish.

Pio Cesare, Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2006, Excaliber Trading (s) Pte Ltd
Cesare Pio in 1881 set up the winery. Today, the ethos remains – minimal intervention. Indian spices on nose, allied with cherry and strawberry. On palate –  cherries, tar, mushrooms, leather and earth. Dry, ripe, fruit, fluid and long finished.

Schramsberg Brut Rose 2006, Straits Cellars Pte Ltd
Highly regarded sparkling wine producer of California. Pretty, pretty pale. Lovely nose of creamy strawberry and rosemary – delicious and fresh with pepper nuances. Delicate bead. Creamy, toasty with lovely freshness. Elegant

G.H. Mumm Rose N.V, Pernod Ricard
Mumm was founded in 1827, and famous for its Cordon Rouge.Pale salmon pink with watery rim. Restrained nose of grapefruits, lemon confit, marmalade, with some toasty notes. Creamy, delicous bread. More breath than others – balanced.

Rose Champagne, Perrier-Jouet Blason Rose N.V, Pernod Ricard
The famous producer of high end Champagne. Lovely delicate toasty, creamy strawberry nose – very restrained but fresh – lemon grass and mineral on the finish. Soft attack, volume and good balance.

Louis Jadot, Bourgogne Couvent Des Jacobins 2007 $50 Pinnacle Wines & Spirits Pte Ltd
Highly regarded négociant company that also operates vineyards. Pale with green tinge. Restrained closed nose with some peach, lemon mineral oil, pear and toastiness  Tight, good oak treatment – youthful,  refined and lengthy.

Patrick Piuze, Chablis Terroirs De Fleys  2008 , $58.85 Artisan Cellars Pte Ltd
Second vintage of a Canadian making wine in France producer.
Tropical on nose with grapefruit, pear, pineapple and herbs. Racy acidity with good concentration.

Louis Latour, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2005, $285.60 , Beam Global Asia Pte Ltd
From one of a few highly-respected négociant-éléveurs of Burgundy. Quite restrained nose with stone fruit and a little vanilla, toast, apricot, yellow peach honey and caramel.  Broad textured and quite ripe style.

Mischief and Mayhem, Puligny Montrachet 2006, Singapore Straits Wine Co.
Two friends, one from England, another with wine interests in Australia decided to move to Burgundy to become wine brokers. Fresh smoke, toast, apricots, pineapple, minerals, toast and cream. Voluminous, full- bodied style with abundant new oak treatment to give structure – a keeper.

De Loach Russian River Zinfandel 2006, Top Wines
Pinot producer of Russian River, Sonoma’s version of Zinfandel. Complex nose with herbs, black fruit, but still fresh with slightly firm tannins.

Gianfranco Fino Primitivo di Manduria ‘ES’ 2005, Intervino Singapore
One of a new breed  of  ‘garagiste’ producers buying old vine vineyards in Puglia and making award winning wines. Blueberry, blackberry, coffee and lots of fragrant aromas. Medium  bodied, powerful structure and tannins, heaps of fruit and complementary acid. Racy and elegant wine.

Bodegas Roda Reserva 2004, Alfa International Pte Ltd
Rising star in the sub-zone of Rioja Alta. Tempranillo. Baked berries, strawberries, cinnamon and pepper on the nose. Smooth tannins, round and medium bodied, with some oak and a hint of orange with a slight alcoholic edge.

Mas Perinet,  2004, CT Venture
From a vineyard in the Priorat region, this wine is a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet and Merlot.
Dark cherry notes, slightly earthy Juicy with cherry flavours, medium bodied, some tannin, medium length.

Tandem, Ars Memoria 2005, CT Venture
Relatively new player in the Navarra region. Tempranillo. Complex nose, with pronounced aromas of black cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Overtones of  caramel/toffee and vanilla, some earthiness. Dry with good tannins

Geografico, Montegiachi Riserva 2004, Hermitage Wines
Cooperative winery at Gaiole in Chianti, of Chianti Classico. Founded in 1961 by 17 growers. Black cherry aromas including pepper, herbs and raspberry jam. Chalky tannins and good oak integration. Balanced with some tannins and finishes with a touch of acidity. Needs time.

IL Molino di Grace, Chianti Classico DOCG 2004, Top Wines
Shows what can be achieved by putting together an American entrepreneur a German banker and  an eminent oenologist in traditional Chianti Classico.Perfume of dried herbs, mint, blackberry and chocolate.  Tannic, toasty and quite dry but with good acidity and length.

Testamatta, Grilli del Testamatta IGT Toscana Rosso 2006, Beam Global Asia Pte Ltd
Italian/Norwegian artist Bibi Graetz is an upcoming star producer. Black cherry, strawberry, candy, nutmeg, spice and some mocha hints on nose. With chocolate and underlying herbaceous tones. Sweet but with astringent tannins and with a lengthy finish.

Petrolo, Torrione 2006, Beam Global Asia Pte Ltd
Famous olive oil producer also makes two admired wines – the Merlot based Galatrona and the Torrione (Sangiovese).Dense, closed nose but then opens up to bright cherry notes with blackfruit nose. Firm yet ripe tannins. Plum, raspberry jam, mint and coffee flavours. Big body, and needs time.

Frescobaldi, Montesodi Chianti Rufina  2004, Giorgio Ferrari Pte Ltd
The prominent Florentine family that has been involved in the political, sociological and economic history of the region.Fragrant, floral, spicy, and ripe fruit nose – very inviting and complex. Tastes savoury and firm but enticing with layers of blueberry jam, plum, mint, leather, rose and more. Sticky tannins and long.

Fanti Brunello Di Montalcino 2004, Singapore Straits Wine Co.
Small estate in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, a village outside Montalcino. Charming with black cherries, orange, mint, dried herbs and some earth. Strong tannic attack, rich, layered and good balance. Lots of amplitude and opulence.

Henri Bourgeois, Pouilly Fume, La Demoiselle 2007, Pinnacle Wines & Spirits Pte Ltd
Tenth generation Loire producer whose passion for Sauvignon even led to establishing a vineyard in New Zealand.Tropical fruit and passionfruit aromas and flavours.  The palate opens with herbs and fruits and then finishes with fresh acidity.  Delicious.

Errázuriz, Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Beam Global Asia Pte Ltd
Viña  Errázuriz is the benchmark for  quality wines of Chile. Lovely nose of apples, white fruits, flowers and grass. Flavours of herbs, melons and tropical fruits complete the taste experience.  Finishes with some grapefruit lemongrass and a hint of bitterness.

TMV, Theta, Syrah 2003, Rubicon Reserve Wines Pte Ltd
Tulbagh Mountain vineyards (TMV)  is a rising star winery in the Swartland,  South Africa. Concentrated licorice and black fruits with meaty, savoury elements on nose. Vanilla and cherry tones in the mouth, bigger architecture, layered with a touch greenness but nice and pleasant, with a sweet balance. Lingering.

Mount Langi Ghiran, Cliff Edge Shiraz 2004, Top Wines
A Shiraz specialist from the Grampians, South Australia. Concentrated but closed with some black fruits and hint of bubblegum. Very attractive. Tight, delicious fruit and balance; a wine that will evolve well.

Brokenwood Hunter Valley Shiraz 2007, Hermitage Wines
Hobby winery in the Hunter Valley.Very attractive nose, quite complex with savoury oak notes and ripe crushed black fruit. Med-bodied palate – beautifully balanced, lean rather than lush, and ultimately elegant.

Solinero IGT Sicilia 2004, Intervino Singapore
From Tenute Rapitalà, Sicily comes this international (as opposed to indigeneous grape) varietal.Very fragrant and lifted notes on nose – very enticing and quite complex. Fresh, juicy, chewy, palate – lots of fruit, especially sour cherries. Tangy acidity and abundant fine tannins. Long finished.

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2005, Foster’s Asia
In contrast to the flagship Grange, this wine is made for early appreciation thanks to its supple tannins from old oak vat ageing. Opaque with dense inky middle.  Concentrated mulberry and licorice nose.  Baked fruits. Big, alcoholic, opulent sweet, warm, buttery and smooth.

E.Guigal Cote Rotie Brune Et Blonde 2005, Grand Vin Pte Ltd
One of Rhone’s most respected producer’s mid priced wines.Pepper and spice, especially white pepper. Flavours of dark chocolate and Asian spices.   Firm structure with power yet delicious ripe fruit and lift at the end. Medium length.

Di Majo Norante, Moscato  Apianae  2006, Intervino
Premier producer of Italy’s Molise region lying next to the Adriatic Sea. Moscato.Golden-yellow, slight mint, florals, grapes, orange peel, sage, fresh acidity, long finished.

Chateau Du Juge, 2005, Wines 2 U
Bordeaux Cadillac region; Semillon based.Dark gold. Sweet honeyed, caramel. Nutty peach, apricot and bitter-orange liqueur with some spice. Biscuity, fluid, framed by excellent acidity.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Gold Cap 2004, Just Palate Pte Ltd
One of Germany’s best producers. Gold Cap signifies even higher quality. Riesling.Floral, oily, lemon-lime peel notes, honey on swirling. Light, ripe, sweet, oily, med acidity, floral, honeyed, ripe, with hint of petroleum from ageing. Tropical fruit, apples and a long finish.

Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir 2007, Auric Pacific Marketing Pte Ltd
Ocio is the Chilean producers icon wine. Opulent nose of black cherry, lemon zest, blueberry jam, sligltly underripe tannins, lively acidity.

De Loach O.F.S Pinot Noir 2006, Top Wines
O.F.S. (Our Finest Selection) is the offering from the Sonoma – Russian River vineyards of this well known producer. Refined and elegant aromas. Juicy with good oak, strawberry, rose, cherry flavours. Velvety tannins and rich style.

Smith Woodhouse, Late Bottled Vintage, 1995
Highly respected houses’ LBV is intended to provide the pleasure of Vintage Port but without the need for lengthy bottle aging. Deep, dark garnet/crimson. Raisined fruit aromas with well integrated spiritous nose.  Rich, warm, tannic.

Ramos Pinto Porto – Quinta da Ervamoira 10 years
Single quinta port from the winery’s experimental vineyard. Ramos Pinto wines  are highly regarded in South America.Dried fruits, with spiritous port and oak characters and good acidity to balance abundant sweetness , slightly oily texture, smoky, long finish.

Bouchard Père & Fils 1er cru du Château 2007, Taste Fine Wine Merchants
A famous négociant and producer, now owned by the Henroit Champagne house. Smoky, toasty with plum, and ripe red fruit. Coffee notes, nuances of leather and earth, soft entry, balanced and silky with a long finish.

Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2005, Beam Global Asia Pte Ltd
Another famous négociant and producer whose white Corton Charlemagne is much admired. A little closed but with sweet ripe cherries straberries and cedar notes. Elegant with good structure and power, textured, balanced with strong alcohol on finish. Long.

Bassermann Jordan, Auf Der Mauer Riesling, 2008, Magma Trade and Consult Pte Ltd
Medium-large winery in the Pfalz, Germany, Floral with aromas of apple and lemon. Entry is dry with a chalky light bitter finish. Bright and lively.

Malat, Riesling Das Beste Von Grosse Reserve 2007, CT Venture
Austrian producer of repute – wines are served at state banquets. Wonderfully developed nose, exuberant with pineapple and candied fruit. Savoury taste, medium bodied and good length.

High End Cabernet Sauvignons from Around the World

Tasting Room in Cape Mentelle

If you’re a Cab Sav fan, one highlight on your calendar must surely be The Cape Mentelle biannual International Cabernet Tasting.This event is one of the wine world’s benchmark events for Cabernet. Established in 1982, it showcases selected Cabernets from around the world. It being based in the Western Australian wine country also means that local stars, some established, others rising, each unique and exhibiting a different terroir, also get a chance to be featured.

Another tasting, which excites Cabernet fans is the Berlin Tasting. This tasting began in 2004 when Chilean producers organised a tasting involving wine journalists, writers and buyers in Berlin. Blind tasted were sixteen wines – six Chilean, six French and four Italian. A smaller version was conducted in Singapore recently. My notes are found beneath.


Cape Mentelle International Cabernet Tasting

Here are the notes of the wines from the 2007 vintage. Some of the wines were retasted in Singapore in 2011, showing the development of the wines, 8 months hence.

The 2007 Vintage, tasted in Australia and Singapore

A: Notes taken at the Australian tasting, late 2010

S: Notes taken at the Singapore tasting, mid 2011


Chateau Pichon Baron Longueville Baron, Pauillac, Bordeaux, FR

A: Toasty aromas with flavours of chocolate and leather. Good structure, lightly tangy with a medium long finish.

S: Earthy and coffee aromas with smoky overtones. Flavours of cherries, plums, dry powdery tannins and with a medium long finish.


*Suckfizzle, Margaret River, AU

A: Aromas of red berries, currant and spice box with a hint of capsicum. Mix of flavours including Chinese herbs, dried herbs and red fruit. Sticky tannins.
S: An interesting nose of camphor, Chinese bitter herbs with nuances of red and green peppers. Sweet medium bodied with graphite flavours. Fine tannins and medium long finish.


Petaluma, Coonawarra, AU

A: Intense note of red fruit, tea leaves, cherries and sweet caramel. Broad and savoury in the mouth with mineral nuances leading up to a medium dry finish.
S: This wine had closed up and was quite reserved with a nose of oak, red fruit and Ribena. A sweet mid palate with a tangy finish.


Chateau Margaux, Margaux, Bordeaux, FR
A: Well-integrated fruit and wood – with peach, violets, roasted hazelnuts, to1ast and spice. Fine all round with acids, tannins and aftertaste. Slightly dusty tannins and medium bodied.
S: A nice mix of red fruits, smoke and ham. Fine tannins and round warm and savoury finish.


Moss Wood, Margaret River, AU

A: Nose of toasted almonds, nougat, chocolate milk and plum liquor. Savoury minerally taste, rich yet fine tannins and with a long finish. Stylish.
S: Plush presentation with a melange of toffee, cough syrup, cherries, cranberries, good tannins and a warm finish.


Far Niente, Napa, USA

A: Mulberry, mixed fruits, succulent mid-palate, medium body, light sweet bright fruit, dried herbs. Sprightly, medium-length with a floral aftertaste. Feminine.
S: Brimming with red fruits. The wine quite bold with a sweet core. Fine tannins, round in the mouth with a long finish.


*Chateau Cos’ d’Estournel, St. Estephe, Bordeaux, FR

A: Layered with a melange of vanilla, cedar, toast, caramel, mixed red and black fruits and minerals. Different in character from the rest.
S: A very unique wine. Stood out for its distinct aromas of smoke, Chinese herbs that mingled with that of air-dried ham and bitter chocolate. Broad in the mouth, yet with a light dry bittersweet finish.


*Cape Mentelle, Margaret River, AU
A: Juicy crushed red and black fruits. Sour plums, and some soy nuances. Medium-bodied with fine tannins, tangy acids and a tasty finish. Memorable.
S: An intense nose of spice, a mix of red and black fruits, bramble and herbs. Firm with good acids and a long finish.


Araujo Estate, Eisele Vineyard, Napa, USA
A: Caramel and sweet fruit – plums, mulberries, bitter-sweet dark spices, mocha, mint gum, butter and a clean finish.
S: Closed but had a pronounced black cherry, mocha and milk chocolate flavours with sticky tannins.


Chateau Leoville Las Cases, St. Julien, Bordeaux, FR
A: Toasty, earthy and spicy. Rich, dark fruit with ginger and humus, caramel and toffee. Complex with a big finish.
S: Barley and fruit cake nose with a hint of leather. Elegant liquorice finish.


*Houghton Gladstones, Margaret River, AU
A: Intense with oregano, eucalyptus, capsicum and coffee. Mouth-filling with flavours of tobacco, fruit and bay leaf. Clean finish. Polished.

S: A perfumed nose with camphor, sour plums and mandarin peel. Finer tannins with a sweet and flavoursome finish.


Ornellaia, Tuscany, IT
A: Tight knit with ripe black fruits and spice, some straw. Dry chunky tannins, powdery tannins, big, bold and impressive.
S: Intense with jammy fruit, earth and herbs. Well-integrated flavours, a dry finish (the signature of this wine) solicited divided opinions. Some judges absolutely loved this wine.


Newton Unfiltered, Napa, USA
A: Subtle mix of plums and red fruits; mint and milk chocolates with hay. Good structure and length. The wine is the result of the Spring Mountain high altitude and cool climate viticulture terroir, and an outstanding vintage.
S: Hint of dried leaf with the taste of small red fruit, blueberries and a hint of cherry-cough syrup. A pleasant sweet aftertaste.


Leeuwin Estate, Art Series, Margaret River, AU
A: Melange of orange peel and pencil shavings and red fruit. Good lively acids, silky tannins, medium long finish.

S: Eucalyptus and ginseng, citrus plum and small red fruits – quite memorable.


Vasse Felix ‘Heytesbury’, Margaret River, AU
A: Flourish of red peppers, plums and ripe fruit. Good balance, medium length warm finish, fine tannins. Intense and complete. A judicious blend containing some Malbec and Petit Verdot.
S: Red and black fruits, rich sweet mid palate with a hint of leaf. Sticky tannins with a hint of smoke.



Tasted in Australia only

Craggy Range, NZ

Nuances of currants, plums, bright fruit aromas with chocolate overtones. Textured and round in the mouth, lightly sweet finish.


Houghton Jack Mann, Frankland River, AU
Small sweet red and black fruits, pomegranate, lively in the mouth with barley overtones and long finished. Fruit is from 35 year-old vines, and the wine is made in honour of one of the founding fathers of wine in Western Australia.


Fraser Gallop, Margaret River, AU
Complex with a mix offruits, red berries, raspberries, blackcurrants. Juicy, tight mid-palate with excellent balance from tangy acids. Herbs, minerals and red fruits on the finish. Outstanding.


Balnaves The Tally, Coonawarra, AU
Floral with rosemary, brambles and sweet dark fruit. Dense, with flavours of chocolate, mint and blackcurrants. Textured with velvety tannins. A serious wine.


Woodlands ‘Nicolas’, Margaret River, AU
Currants with leather, forest fruits and grilled peppers. Layered with fine tannins and an elegant finish. Fragrant and seamless.


Berlin Tasting, held in Singapore 2010

Château Haut Brion 2006 – Mixed red and black fruits with a hint of old wood and olives and animal notes. Dry tannins, good follow through, elegant.

Vinẽdo Chadwick 2004 – Mixed forest fruits, sour plums, earthy, with caramel overtones. Medium dry tannins, warm and long finish.

Errázuriz Don Maximiano 2006 – Blackcurrants, ripe capsicum, sweet dark fruit and chocolate. Flavoursome, mouthfilling with mixed fruit and sweet plums. Moderate tannins. 

Château Latour 2006 – Crushed blackberries, plums, vanilla, elegant mid-palate and long finish. 

Vinẽdo Chadwick 2006 – Forward nose with Ribena and blackcurrants. Medium bodied, balanced, soft and silky. Light saline notes, with a sweet fruity finish. For enjoyment now

Ornellaia 2006 – Subtle nose, with cashews, barley, and a hint of soy. Velvety texture, slightly chewy tannins, broad in the mouth with a luxurious long finish. For long maturation.

Vinẽdo Chadwick 2007 – Red fruits with a hint of capsicum and brown leaf. Firm sticky tannins, good tasty acids, slightly bitter with a medium length finish

 Errázuriz Don Maximiano 2007 – Red berries, Ribena, camphor, spice, cherryade, currants and lolly. Flavoursome with sweet bright fruit, firm tannins and uplifted acidity. Drinking well now. 

Opus One 2006 – Mixed red fruits, cherries, quite understated with nuances of mint and wood. Dry and slightly powdery tannins. Medium long.

Château Margaux 2006 – Red fruits, tobacco and smoke. Good entry and finish, with lingering flavour of bittersweet small fruits. Needs time.