Berry Brothers & Rudd

Fine Wine and Spirits Merchant, Berry Brothers & Rudd, who have an office in Singapore, held a Grand Portfolio Tasting this August.

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Champagnes & Whites
Amongst the wines tasted, I enjoyed the Thienot Brut for its texture, fruit and ready characters – every bit an excellent Champagne for $95. The house brand Berry’s UKC Rose Grand Cru Marguet was a surprise – many pink Champagnes show good fruit but lack the minerality – but this one has it all.

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How about a 2014 Tavel Rose, Prier de Montezargues – warm, lush with red fruit – and flavours that brought me back to Southern France – and all for $39.
Then there is also a perfumed and beautifully balanced 2012 Domaine de la Renjarde Cotes du Rhone Villages Blanc, similarly priced and every bit as enjoyable.
For oysters and cold seafood – nothing like a crispy lemon-lime pith flavoured 2013 Muscadet sur lie, Domaine la Haute Fevrie ‘Excellence’ – $35 – why look elsewhere?
I also tasted a Benjamin Lerous Auxey Duresses Blanc, a Philippe Colin Chassagne ‘Chevenottes’, a Mirum Verdicchio di Materica Riserva, Mas de Dumas Gassac Blanc and a  sweet Churn Petit Manseng – all delicious.

Reds
So many wines, so little time to taste (1 hours hour had gone by already and 1 hour left…). Red wines I enjoyed were the Olivier Bernstein 2009 Chambolle ‘Les Lavrottes’ as well as the 2003 Collection Bellenum Camille ‘Derriere la Grange’ – both 1er crus of course- yet if you could put gender to the wines, the former was masculine whilst the other, womanly. And for $295 there is a lovely 2003 Louis Remi Latricieres Chambertin – silky, juicy and structured – price wise, its not over the top for a Grand Cru…

Spanish wine lovers should not miss the Riu Trio Infernal by three French winemakers Combier-Fischer-Gerin ( from Crozes Hermitage, Provence and Cote-Rotie respectively) – who decided to make a Grenache-Carignan blend. Its a solid, Priorat big bodied, ripe, powerful yet fruity and balanced, velvety wine – and very good – I say that after having tasting over 35 Spanish wines the previous day.

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Two other wines I loved – the 2008 Paje Roagna Barbaresco – delicate and complex at the same time; and the NZ  2011 Churton Pinot – with beautiful fruit and texture, yet not overtly fruity like many NZ and New World Pinots; rather with some Burgundian restraint and structure.

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Fortified & Others
An oxidised, nutty with good lingering acidity wine form the Jura – the 2010 Domaine Grand  Cotes du Jura Savagnin – was calling out for some Lobster Amoricaine to accompany.

And to end – well, a Berry’s William Pickering 20 year old Tawny which I am told is a Quinta da Noval cuvee – with nuts and red fruit in the forefront and delectable sweetness and complexity.  Wait- there was also a Madeira – the Berry’s Rainwater 5 year old Medium dry that was lush and gushing with Chinese New Year fruit – preserved longan, dried plums and the like.

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I enjoy the occasional aged rum and here before me, just near the exit, were five rums that heralded a taste. I promptly got the required portions poured out and retreated to a corner of the room for a taste of the amazingly unique rums. Here are the notes – some descriptors given by a few passerby’s that decided to partake as well…

2000 Berry’s Own Selection Guyana Rum 15 year old – crispy crushed mixed fruit, raisins, plums and all.
NV Berry’s Own Selection Jamaican Rum Genex 13 year old – forward notes of bush salad, overripe pineapple and tropical fruit
NV Berry’s Own Fijian Rum – Lots of wood – raw pine with nangka, jackfruit, over the top pungency – totally characterful
NV The Pink Pigeon, Mauritian Rum – Creme caramel, balanced, sweet and smooth – will woo whisky and cognac drinkers over
NV Berry’s Own Selection Barbados Rum 10 year old – Fruit, caramel, glutinous rice, dates and some sea salt
( Note: for newly converted rum lovers – like myself – Berry’s offers other rums  – from Haiti, Guadeloupe, Nicaragua, Venezuela and more – imagine having these with single estate chocolates such as those from Amedei)

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After, I looked forlornly at the other spirits yet to be tasted – the Pot Distilled Junipero Gin,  the Hophead Vodka and Karlssons Gold Vodka from Sweden –  but I had had enough for the day – they would have to be tasted next time.

A Krug Unforgettable Journey at Jann

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“To enjoy Krug, you have to understand that there is no hierarchy in our wines,” said Olivier Krug recently at dinner held at Jaan. “We make two cuvées and they both get the same care. True, one cuvée may be more expensive because it’s a single expression of one year and it is rarer.”

The affable and well spoken Krug continued, “When we make a cuvée, it is the ‘blend of the best’  and it is re-created each year – you realise that it is never the same each year but the best possible quality that exhibits the full spectrum of flavours.  Unlike other houses, we ferment as many as 250 different grower plots separately. We taste each of the ‘plots’ and added to that, 150 other reserve wines (as old as 15 years) each year –  to create (blend up) the best possible cuvée each year. This is unlike many others who ferment all that they obtain from various growers/vineyards together.”

He explained, “Cuvée 1 is the Grand Cuvée which we have been making since 1948. Cuvée 2 or the Krug Vintage – composed of wines from a single year which is the ‘fullest expression of the year’. And there’s the single plot wines. After tasting plots for the cuvées, my ancestor/great great great grandfather Joseph Krug noticed that quality of the wine from the single vineyard (over eight years) was consistently good / special and one day decided to keep it aside and bottle it – hence the Clos Du Mesnil.  We also have a Clos d’Ambonnay (single vintage, single vineyard) and a Rosé.”

As we savoured our dinner over various bottles –  Clos du Mesnil 2002 and 2003, Krug 2003, Krug Grand Cuvée and Krug Rosé, Olivier Krug left us with with a few updates (he was heading off to the post launch party of Singapore’s Michelin guide)…

“Music and champagne go so well together – we realised that there is an increasing amount of research recognizing the considerable changes hearing can make to the tasting experience, such as the work carried out by Charles Spence and Janice Qian Wang of Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory. As such, we are collaborating with various musicians to pair music with our wines.”

“We are very pleased about our Krug iD, a six-digit number on the back label of each bottle, allows you to identify your bottle by revealing its unique story, as told by our Krug Cellar Master. You just need to enter the Krug iD online, via krug.com or the Krug App!”

“A little advice – please do not use the flute- drinking Champagne from a flute is like going to an opera and using earplugs. Instead, enjoy your champagne in a white Burgundy wine glass or our ‘Joseph’ glass. See you in Champagne soon!”

 

My notes:

Clos du Mesnil 2002 – butter, caramel, velvety mousse, long with mandarin orange peel, pomegranate, buah duku and finishing with smoke and lime nuances

Clos du Mesnil 2003 – smoke, vanilla toast, lon gmid paate, minerals and complex with slightly bigger bubbles and a bittersweet big long finish

Rosé – salmon pink, complex nose with a delicate mousse and velvety texture. Small red fruit, minerals, chalk, mangosteens and long.

Bruno Paillard launches the Rosé NPU 2003 in Singapore

Mr. Bruno Paillard, unlike other Champenoise, started his estate only in 1981, at the age of 27 and with a fistful of French Francs (about 15,000 Euros, I believe). He did come from a family with a connection to the land – they were brokers and growers in the two Grands Crus villages of Bouzy and Verzenay, dating back to 1704.

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Paillard, over a lunch at les Amis, described Champagne’s terroir, “… it’s the savoir faire of the producers and growers combined with the unique conditions – Nordic climate, sealife sediment in the soils and four marked seasons – that makes Champagne what it is.”

“The term ‘Non-Vintage’ sounds so negative. I prefer the term MV or ‘Multi-Vintage’ and you could say we were the first to use this term. It best describes how we make our wine – We use a solera style system of reserve wines so every wine you get is a blend of older vintages. To do this well, we store our reserves cuvee by cuvee rather than by vineyard. We also age our wine longer than most other houses,” states Paillard.  “Naturally, all our wines carry the date of ‘degorgement’,” he continued.

Champagne aficionados will be familiar with N.P.U. – another term that Paillard came up with. In latin, N.P.U. or ‘Nec Plus Ultra’ means ‘there is nothing beyond’. Certainly a highly ambitious statement.

Bruno Paillard’s first NPU was a 1990, released in 2002.  Only Grands Cru village grapes are selected; first pressings are only used,  the wine was aged in small oak barrels and the wine is matured in the bottle, on lees for at least a decade; after which the wine is returned to the cellar following degorgement. Hence an NPU is always at least 12 years old. Whilst NPU wines made to date have been ultra-luxurious elegant and complex champagnes (11,000 bottles and 500 magnums for each issue), 2016 marks the release of a magnificent rosé – the N.P.U. 2003.

Only 826 bottles of the N.P.U. Rosé 2003 were produced.  The wine is sumptuous and sublime – with aromas of red berries, spices and candied fruit and a generous broad palate and minerals.

Available at Vinum.

History, Evolution & Revolution of Australian wine

A series of tastings held around the world to showcase Australian wines has finally made it to Singapore.
 
Gone are the days when Australian wines are thought of as less complex or interesting as the European counterparts. Today’s Aussie wines have a place in every wine-lover’s cellar.
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Revered favourites such as Hunter Semillon continue to impress… I have yet to taste a Semillon that will rival this wine in terms of its uniqueness. Although still youthful, with a pungency of citrus/laksa leaf/ buah long long and bone-dry acidic tension, Tyrells Vat 1, Semillon 2005 promises to deliver a lanolin-roundness and delicate complexity in another 10-20 years.
 
An personal old favourite, the St. Hallett Old Block Barossa Shiraz has come of age! A frequent pour amongst students at Roseworthy, I recall it to be a fuller-bodied wine with smooth tannins. The 2012 vintage is medium-bodied with fine tannins and a medium-long finish. The wine is complex with a lovely nose of mint, Chinese dried red dates,  sour plums, chocolate with overtones of toasty oak and toffee.
 
Another classic, the Wynns Cooonawarra John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 proved to be worthy of its time-honoured status. Brimming with herbs, black and red fruit, red peppers, hints of bitter herbs, ginseng and dried figs, this wine is concentrated with chewy, sticky tannins and a long finish. This wine will remain a favourite amongst Bordeaux drinkers in a blind tasting line-up.
 
I especially enjoyed the comparison of the St. Hallett with two other Syrah’s/Shiraz.  First is what I would call an Aussie New Wave Syrah producer – the Luke Lambert Yarra Valley Syrah 2015. This cool-climate style wine with berry aromas, attractive cough syrup flavours and a fine grind of black and white pepper is flavoursome and delicate at the same time. I could not believe this was a typical Australian Syrah – the kind that jumps out of the glass and punches you in the face. And no wonder… the producer had aged the wine in 4000-litre foudres, Guigal-Cotes du Rhone fashion.
 
The other Shiraz is the Battle of Bosworth Puritan McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015. Organic, natural with no sulphur added (yes, and perhaps this fore-tells the future of winemaking!) This wine showed a purity of fruit with plums, berries and attractive medicinal overtones. It was delicious, forward-juicy with bittersweet finish and medium tannins.
 
For whites, I enjoyed the sweet-balanced Grosset Alea Clare Valley Riesling 2014. Grosset has always been my Ocker Riesling favourite alongside Pikes, Pewsey Vale, Knappstein and Henschke.
 
A Vasse Felix Premier Margaret River Chardonnay 2014 came across intense with lemon lime, butter-peach and pear with a aftertaste of dried apricots. Medium bodied and with a crisp backbone – ABC drinkers will be surprised indeed!
 
The wine of the tasting was made from Savignin! The BK Wines Skin ‘n Bones Adelaide Hills White 2015 had savoury characteristics with barley overtones and flavours of crushed green grapes and dried fruit. In some ways it was reminiscent of an organic Savignin from Arbois. I felt that with a little more time in the bottle, it might develop those biscuit characteristics that I savoured in an aged bottle of Langhe Chardonnay from a famous Piedmonte producer.
 
The Moorooduc Estate Robinson Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2013, was immensely enjoyable for its beautiful fruit underlined by its hints of pomegranate, chestnuts, cherries and spice. It was juicy, refined with a satin texture and a bittersweet long aftertaste.
 
How far Australian pinots have come! Looking back, 30 years ago, they were mostly over-extracted, lacking in taste (due to over-cropping) or uninteresting (with typical jammy warm climate flavours).
Today, this Pinot can stand alongside some of the tastiest from Martinborough, Willamette and the Ahr.
 
Australia continues experimenting with new varietals. The La Linea Adelaide Hills Tempranillo 2014 is an example.  This wine was juicy-savoury with a nice backbone of tannin. Like European wines, with a little coaxing, the wine opened up to reveal sour cherries with a sweet fruity finish. In a blind tasting, I might have mistaken this wine for a modern-styled Temp-Garnacha blend from Rioja Baja.
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Top Wines 2014/2015 Peak G Wine Awards

2014 – submissions of 300 wines; 100 selected at the top 100 wines in Singapore. Some excellent value wines included Massenez Family Flaviata Cabernet (Red and White International); Donnafugata Tancredi (Cellarmaster Wines); Olsen Personal Reserve Vin 888 Cabernet (Hock Hua Wines); Champagne Fallet Dart Brut Rose (World Wine Vault); Cantine Sant Agata 9.99 Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato (Wine Tatler); Balbi Soprani Barolo 08 (Hock Hua Wines);  Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa concha Pinot (Vina Concha Y Toro Group);  Vina Tabali Pinot (Le Vigne); Georges Duboeuf Morgon ‘JE Descombes’ (Le Vigne); Jean Paul Thevenet Morgon (Artisan Cellars); Casa Santos Lima. Sousao (Viva Vino) ; John Val, Nanny Goat Pinot (Red and White International); Surveyor Thomson Single Vineyard PInot (Singapore Straits Cellars); Pago de los Capellanes, Joven Roble Tinto (Cellarmaster Wines); Paolo e Noemia, Falesia d’amico Chardonnay (Angra Wine & Spirit); Donhoff Riesling Trocken (Wein & Vin) and Olsen Old Bailey Muscadelle (Hock Hua Wines).

Top wines of the year included Marchesi di Barolo, ‘Cannubi’ (Indoguna);  Shaw Vineyard Estate Premium Botrytis Semillon (World Wine Vault) and Van Volxem ‘Alte Reben’ Riesling (Wein & Vin). Other outstanding wines were Mazzei Siepi (SUTL); Misha’s Vineyard Highnote Pinot (Crystal Wines); Henri Billiot Millesime Brut 07 (Artisan Cellars),  and Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva (SUTL).

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2015 –  Wines of the year  were the Askerne Noble Semillon (Hock Hua); Newton Johnson Famile Vineyards Chardonnay (Stellez Vine); Marchesi di Frescobaldi, Luce Della Vite, Luce (Water and Wine). Pick up the 2015 Peak G Wine issue to read the tasting notes the rest of the top 100 wines of 2015

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Asian Wine Lexicon

The Asian Wine Lexicon is a project to “translate” some of the typical wine descriptors into terms that are more recognisable in Asia.

The wine world at large has always used Western descriptors when talking about and describing wines.  However, many people living in Asia do not know many of these descriptors, as they may not have been exposed to items like Bramble Bushes, Violets, Quince, or even more commonplace items like Raspberries and Blackberries (the fruit and not the smartphone…).

 

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Wine with Umami

How to pair wine with the complex flavours of the fifth taste, umami
by Vivian Song
Relaxnews
Published Friday, October 31, 2014 9:33AM EDT in CTV News , CTV television network Canada
Given that umami was only formally accepted as the fifth taste by the scientific community less than 30 years ago, the enigmatic flavour sensation is at a bitter disadvantage when it comes to wine pairings.
Adjectives used to describe the final flavor profile include expressions like “pleasantly savory,” and “earthy.” That is, unlike its counterparts sweet, salty, bitter and sour, umami is more complex and evades a tidy definition.
Imagine, then, the kinds of challenges umami-rich foods present for wine lovers. How do you choose a wine that complements, rather than destroys, the delicate balance of flavors found in many Japanese ingredients like soy sauce, miso and shiitake mushrooms?

At the inaugural edition of Vinexpo Nippon in Tokyo this weekend — the first time the world’s largest wine fair will host an event in Japan — sommelier Hisao Morigami will teach Japanese wine lovers how to reconcile wine with the fifth taste experience that’s so integral to their native cuisine.
Morigami’s biggest tip? Bypass wine altogether and consider pairing a common Japanese dish like eggplants in sweet soy sauce with a glass of Brut champagne that offers a good complement with its minerality and sharpness, he suggests.
Champagne house creates Umami bubbly
In response to Japan’s growing interest in wine, biodynamic champagne house Champagne De Sousa recently released a limited run of bubbly aptly called Umami, developed specifically with the fifth taste in mind.
Described as having a velvety texture, length, minerality, softness, depth and viscosity, Umami was developed to be paired with dishes that carry its namesake in addition to replicating the mouth-watering sensation produced by umami-rich foods.
Umami wine is made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
In his book ‘Pairing Wine with Asian Food,’ Singapore-based wine expert Edwin Soon also offers tips on how to get around the complex flavor profile of the fifth taste.
One rule of thumb when it comes to pairing umami-rich seafood dishes heavy on ingredients like shrimp paste, for example, is to avoid chewy, tannic red wines as the reaction produces a metallic taste, leaving the mouth dry and rough, Soon says.
Adding a teriyaki sauce, however, could render a seafood dish friendlier to a young Bordeaux or Italian Barolo.
Another general rule of thumb: A dry Pinot Noir, with its silky tannins and good level of acidity, works well with umami-rich foods, as do dry white wines and dry sparkling wines.
The one Japanese food that defies any wine pairing?
Tsukemono — preserved Japanese vegetables.
“The pickles should simply take the place of wine to leave your palate refreshed,” he said.
Here are Soon’s wine suggestions for umami-rich foods:
•    Aligote
•    Bacchus
•    Chasselas
•    Chenin Blanc
•    Muller Thurgau
•    Muscadet
•    Picpoul de Pinet
•    Patrimonio
•    Quincy
•    Soave Classico
•    Sylvaner
Vinexpo Nippon runs November 1 -2 in Tokyo.