Tips on Sipping, Staying and Playing in Wine Country

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SIP: Lake County is home to more than 30 wineries and 160 growers.  Browse this list of Lake County wineries or printable map.  Or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, picnic areas, food for purchase and more.  A few starters: with four tasting rooms on Main Street, the town of Kelseyville offers a fun, leisurely way to enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting.  And there are about a dozen wineries to discover in and near the volcanic hillsides of the Red Hills American Viticultural Area along with spectacular views of Mt. Konocti, a dormant towering volcano.

STAY: Lake County’s charming accommodation options include small inns and hotels, lakeside cottages, winery properties and even vintage railroad cabooses.  For more information visit lakecountywineries.org or lakecounty.com.

 

PLAY:  Chocolate lovers should check out Wine & Chocolate on Feb. 6.  This charity fundraiser for the Lake County Family Resource Center features Lake County wineries pouring their fabulous wines under one roof as well as wine and olive oil sensory classes.  Another great time to visit Lake County is during the 2016 Lake County Wine Adventure May 20–22.  The Gala kick-off evening May 20 is followed by a two-day passport adventure with 25-plus wineries offering wine, food pairings, music and fun. 

Outdoor enthusiasts will find much to do in Lake County.  A hiker’s paradise, it offers 100 miles of trails to explore including Mt. Konocti County Park, part of the Mendocino National Forest and many more.  Fishing, camping and birding are also popular pursuits here.  Clear Lake was designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society long ago because it serves as a vital resting spot for migrating birds on the Pacific Flyway.  Take an Eyes of the Wild pontoon boat tour or join the Heron Days Boat Tours this spring (usually April or May), where the local Audubon Society points out Great Blue Herons and other amazing avians.  Biking also is big here, boasting 11 Konocti Trails.

MAKE: Crafty types can draw inspiration visiting California’s first Quilt Trail, featuring 79 painted quilt squares on highly visible barns and buildings throughout Lake County.  Enjoy local wines while learning to paint with oil or join the fun at a Wineglass Painting Party on Jan. 31, just a few of the events offered at the Lake County Wine Studio.

GROW: Lake County is a thriving agricultural area with winegrapes, pears and walnuts as the three main crops.  Most known for Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, the region’s moderate climate allows a diverse range of other grape varieties to thrive here including Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Malbec, Barbera and Syrah.  Sustainable winegrowing efforts are central to Lake County’s approach.  To support and enhance Lake County vineyards, the Lake County Winegrape Commission has two programs to assist growers.  The Master Vigneron Program (MVP) provides education and training to vineyard managers and foremen in leading industry viticultural practices and leadership.  Growers and vintners also participate in the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program to adopt best practices for high wine and grape quality that benefit the environment and community.

EAT: Where winegrapes grow, olives are often found nearby.  Lake County is gaining a reputation for award-winning olive oils.  Discover the products of The Villa Barone, located on a 160-acre ranch that also offers weekend immersion experiences.  Or enjoy olive oil samples, wine tasting, hula hooping and even an olive pit spitting contest at the Kelseyville Olive Festival April 24.

In 2015, Lake County produced 40 percent of the pears that were sold on the fresh market in California.  Taste why they are so popular at the Kelseyville Pear Festival, held the last Saturday of September.  For artisanal goat cheese, visit the Bodega & Yerba Santa Goat Dairy in Lakeport for a farm tour and tasting; phone ahead for a reservation at 707/263-8131.

Visit discovercaliforniawines.com for information on wine regions, wines and wineries throughout the Golden State and for planning a trip to California wine country.  California is the number one U.S. state for wine and food tourism with dozens of distinct wine regions, 136 American Viticultural Areas and 4,400 wineries that produce 85 percent of U.S. wine. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy association of nearly 1,000 California wineries.  See: wineinstitute.org.   

A world of flavours – NZ Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc (SB) – they all taste the same dont they?
Certainly at blind tastings, SB’s are easily recognised for their aromatic, pungent aromas and flavours of lime, grass, green apple, green bell pepper and passionfruit…. Yet, delve into a handful of well made SB’s from around the world and you will discover a world of tastes.

Asian Wine Lexicon lists some of the unique aromas/flavours : soursop, starfruit, lemongrass, chives, mungbean and smoked tea alongside the usual guava, basil, gooseberry, peach and boxwood.

 

NZSB

Last week, NZ Wine showcased SB’s from all over the country and I was amazed at the differences amongst the SB’s – call it terroir, soil or climatic conditions / winemaking technique but each wine was memorable with a certain personality and character.

Here’s what I mean (tasting notes) by diversity of tastes!:

Seifried SB 2015 from Nelson the sunniest region of NZ – intense with red apples, Chinese pear, herbs, lime and savoury tastes

Amisfield SB 2015 from Central Otago (gravel over loam) , the southernmost region of NZ – passionfruit, grapefruit, crisp with a round sweetish aftertaste

Astrolabe SB 2015 from Awatere Valley (loam over greywacke alluvium) Marlborough, the largest SB producing region – lemongrass, basil leaf, chives, ripe starfruit  and ripe lemons

The Ned SB 2014 from Marlborough – Complex, multi-flavours with tomato leaf and and some Kaffir lime leaf with mungbean

Greywacke Wild SB 2013 from Marlborough – Spicy peppery with steely/smoky tea and fruit nuances

TerraVin Te Ahu SB 2012 from Marlborough – Oak aged with buttery vanilla toast overtones and some beans and green beans and asparagus; with the texture of course.

Various other wines were also available for tasting. Here are some pics.

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender-1FullSizeRender-6FullSizeRender-4If you wish to find out about NZ wines – click here for NZ Wine

Masamiya Gourmet

Fresh seafood, delivered to your doorstep by Miya who brings in produce from Japan twice a week. Over the last few months, we have had the opportunity to taste various tuna (from Bluefin to Bigeye). Here are the pics of Buri (wild) as compared to Hamachi and my attempt at buri sashimi and tuna poke. Contact Masamiya Gourmet here.FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender-3A recent seminar on Fisheries and food from Ishikawa and Fukui Prefactures was organised by Masamiya Gourmet.  Rather than tell you about what I learned, here are some Did You Knows

Did you know that

a. Snow crabs from Ishikawa pref. are called Kanou and the crabs are caught during Nov-March. Female crabs are called Koubako and the season for the females end on 29th December.

b. Yellowtail fished in winter in Ishikawa pref. are called Kan-Buri and this is the time when they are at their fattest.

c. The snow crab in the Fukui pref. are known as Echizen (male) and Seiko (female).

d. Echizen Shimp denotes a rare shrimp from Fukui pref. that are even sweeter than the famous Akaebi sweet shrimp.

 

Here are some pics of the seminar held at Kanda Wadatsumi restaurant in Tras Street. No doubt we enjoyed the sake as well!

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Vinexpo/IWSR Survey

Here are the highlights of an extensive study, presented by Vinexpo in March 2014. The presentation was organised by Sopexa in Singapore.

World wine consumption in volume will continue to rise to 2,803 million cases (9Litre cases).

World wine consumption in value in 2008 was $151 billion and is forecast to reach almost US$184 billion in 2017

The worlds top consumers of still and sparkling wines are USA, France, Italy, Germany and China with rises forecast for USA, Germany and especially China for 2017. Note that 80% of the wine consumed in China is locally made.

There is a trend towards drinking higher value wines in the US, China, UK, France and Canada.

ASIA PACIFIC

Asia-Pacific consumption has doubled in 10 years and by 2017 will return more than 100% increase over 2008 figures.

The top Asia-Pacific consuming countries are China, Australia, Japan, NZ, HK, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, India and Singapore respectively. Consumption of all these countries is expected to grow.

The top 10 wine exporters (by volume) in the world are Italy (233.5), Spain (213.13), France (166.53), Chile (83.9), Australia (79.84), South Africa (46.32), USA (44.52), Argentina (40.44), Portugal (28.54) and Germany (17.64). Brackets indicate volume exported in 2012, in millions of 9litre cases.

SINGAPORE
Singapore wine consumption in 2008 was 0.8 million cases, rose to 1.02 million cases in 2013 and is forecast to reach 1.12 million cases by 2017

Amongst the wines there is growth in the pink wine category. The forecast for 2017, based on 2008 figures is that reds will grow by 21%, whites will grow by 64% and pink wine consumption will reflect an increase of 825%.

Total value of wines consumed in Singapore was US$154 million in 2008. It reached $189 million in 2013 and is expected to hit $207 million in 2017.

The volume/by price point of wines is expected to grow in the >US$10 per bottle segment.

Top suppliers of wine in Singapore by volume in 2012 are Australia (almost 400,000 cases), France (196,000 cases), Chile (100,000 cases), Argentina (58,000 cases) and Italy (51,000 cases).  Between 2008 and 2012, growth in volume was: Australia (14.49%), France (7.1%), Chile (33.3%), Argentina (18.36%) and Italy (50%).

 

Gamberro Rosso 2013 Singapore


Sixty-one producers gathered at the Marina Mandarin this year bringing with them wines from all over Italy. This is the 2nd time Gamberro Rosso has brought the roadshow to Singapore. We had the honour of a private tour around the exhibition with Mr. Lorenzo Ruggeri, International Wine editor of Gambero Rosso. We began with white wines and it was a Prosecco from Nino Franco that got us hankering for lots of delicious wine.  Next, we got to see the many faces of the Vermentino grape. At the Capichera booth, a Sardinian Vermentino called Vigna’ngena (DOCG) showed upfront notes of orange, red apple and ripe fruit. Made from a late harvest and aged in oak, this wine had lovely saline flavours. The other wine, also from Capichera, called Santigaini (IGT), was a completely different wine with honey, caramel, floral, citrus fruit, herbs and a textured finish.  Just to understand how the grape responds on the mainland, Mr. Ruggeri suggested we taste a Vermentino from Liguria.  This other Vermentino, from Cantine Lunae Bosoni, called ‘black label or reserve’ Colli di Luni Vermentino. This wine showed yet another face of the grape – with its bright zesty flavours of wildflowers and incredibly memorable mouthfeel. Next up, a PInot Grigio called Punggl from Nals Margreid in the Alto Adige.  Needless to say, after many other white wines we came to the reds. Too many to mention, we did finish off with a duo of reds –  a Fattoria Poggio di Sotto, Rosso di Montalcino and an Amarone from Tenute Sant’ Antonio. And we regretted not arriving earlier to taste the many wines of other equally distinguished producers whose names need no introduction – Conti Zecca, Di Majo Norante, Falesco, Gaja, Masciarelli, Poliziano, La Spinetta, San Guido, Valle Reale, and Zonin, to name a few.

Look out for Gamberosso 2014 – March in Singapore

Nylon Coffee Roasters

pic of Denis, and my cup of Americano… and then I relished an Espresso and finally savored a Piccolo.

Probably one of the best coffees in Singapore.

blk4 Everton Park #01-40 (ground floor, hidden away in the back of the block, facing the park)

Tel 62202330

Blanc de Blancs from Mumm

Mumm, Blanc de Blancs Champagne-  a prestige Cuvée

Intense floral-citrus with peach and pear nuances. Medium-fine bubbles and creamy texture (thanks to it being a demi-mousse/half the standard Champagne pressure), long structured and finished wine with a chalky aftertaste – a fine example of a Cramant based wine, best enjoyed with white fish/scallop sashimi or warm oysters. Tasted at Les Amis, with Marinated Indada, piquillo pepper, mange tout and agrumes on June 2012. From Pernod Ricard.

Singapore Mother Sauce

 

Béchamel-, Espagnole-, Hollandaise-, Tomato- and, Velouté- are just some of the important French mother sauces developed for Western cuisine. By adding ingredients to any one of these mother sauces, a chef can create a varied number of ‘secondary’ sauces to dress, enhance and flavour their dishes. e.g. Béchamel + cheese = Mornay.

Recently, Chef Daniel created a sauce that he named DK7. In essence the sauce, is a blend of 7 Asian flavours (herbs and spices) – galangal, lemongrass, onion, garlic, ginger, tamarind, candlenut etc.

Add some yellow bean, tamarind and sugar to the sauce and you could have an excellent Mee Siam gravy. Grind some cummin, peppercorns and caraway seeds into the sauce and you have the makings of satay. Such is the versatility of DK7.

After tasting a variety of dishes cooked by Chef Daniel, I realised that if you want to produce a variety of Singapore dishes, there are many ways to do it. Buy a specific spice paste; grind your own from spices and herbs, or adapt DK7 according to your tastes. And here lies the caveat – DK7, when used carelessly by student studying overseas who is pining for a local dish, might help turn out a dish tasting vaguely familiar. But give DK7 to any trained chef, or home gourmet with cooking skills and enthusiasm and it can become the magic ingredient for creating novel and exciting dishes.

DK7 could turn out to be the magic ingredient for preparing all dishes with nuances of  a flavour of Singapore. Michelin star chefs in the west who once employed  soy sauce to bring another dimension to their creations  should take note.

Super Value Wines

 

Cullen Estate, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

White florals, grapefruit and citrus sweet nose with a tight long finish with nuances of biscuits. Biodynamic wine from one of the leading lights of the Margaret River. From Hai Choo Wines and Spirits. Ph: + 65 6515 6538 / + 65 6515 6539

E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2009

Blend of Syrah and Grenache with a little Mouvedre, this wine sets the benchmark for some of the best Cotes du Rhone wines. Perfumed yet subtle with small red fruit, black pepper, juniper berries, currants and some florals with an elegant long finish, often associated with wines twice its price.  From Grand Vin Pte Ltd.

email: <alicewee@grandvin.com.sg>

Master of Spirits II

A DFS event highlighting collectible wines and spirits

 

Macallan Vertical collection

 

Silver Oak and Amuse Bouche wines

 

Johnny Walker Diamond Jubilee, limited to 60 crystal decanters, in a lead crystal decanter adorned with a Britannia silver collar that features a half carat diamond set by hand, and an individually numbered silver seal complete with a hand made leather bound, personalised, hand-embellished artefact book, all housed in a bespoke cabinet incorporating woods from The Queen’s Sandringham and Balmoral estates. Proceeds of profit go to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. Each whisky costs 120,000 sterling (including VAT).