Chinese New Year Dinner (1st of 2019)

Treasury Wine Estates hosted the first of the Loh Hei dinners to usher in the year of the Boar. Amongst the dishes and wines served up, the Cuvee Grand Esprit Champagne was a befitting suitor for the Abalone Yu Sheng. Other enjoyable dishes included a BBQ whole suckling pig, hokkien fish maw soup, crispy fried soon hock with trufle sauce and broccoli, fujian prawn ngoh hiang and stewed hokkien mee sua.

Guests were encouraged to find their favourite pairings of food and wine. Highlights for me included the pairing of Penfolds bin 407 (2016) with the mee sua, the Beringer founders estate cab sauv (2016) with ngoh hiang and the synergistic pairing of an entire new style of ‘wine’ with the suckling pig. The wine is the Penfolds Lot 518 spirited wine with Baijiu.

Most interesting ‘wine’ of 2019

This is a wine that has been ‘ennobled’ with the famous Chinese Baijiu. You might expect the wine’s fruit to be subdued, but the blend is so sensibly achieved (only 6% of the spirit was added to wine), that all the wine’s aromas are still intact. Similarly, in this blend, the wine has not diluted the baijui’s spirited veurve . The spirit still shines through at the back palate. The ‘bite’ you get from drinking the Baijui still comes through, but as a spicy and rich finish that warms your mouth. Potent enough and ideal as accompaniment to some Asian dishes that would otherwise overbearing and subdue wine. I look forward to trying the lot 518 with prawn paste chicken, rojak, Sichuan hot pot etc.

Sweet ends came with the lovely pairing of Penfolds Father 10 year old Tawny with love letters and pineapple tarts.

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.
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.

Sparklers to see in the new year

Sparklers- as published in Life Inspired Magazine, Star Newspapers December 2013

When on a budget, and want to give a wine friend something special to celebrate with, what do you get? Why, a sparkling wine of course!

There are many alternatives to Champagne and although they taste a little different, the bubbles in them will still set the tone for toasting and celebrations. Most sparkling wine will cost half the price of Champagne and you have to expect a different verve in the wine.

Wines that come to mind include the spumantes from Italy, cava from Spain, sekt from Germany and a host of sparkling wines from the New World producing countries – including those made by Champagne houses that have set up winemaking operations outside France.

France herself offers many versions of sparkling wine as alternatives to Champagne.  Most of them are named after the region. If you read on the label names such as Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Limoux and so on, you can be sure the wine will have bubbles.

At first glance, term ‘crémant’ simply indicates that the wine is sparkling.  But it also distinguishes the wine from Champagne. The term crémant (in French, it means “creamy”), came to be used because it refers to the lower carbon dioxide pressures in the bottle – which gives the wines a creamy rather than the fizzy mouth-feel found in Champagnes. Just as a comparison, the pressure in Champagne bottles is around 5-6 atmospheres (three times the pressure in a motorcar’s ties) whilst the pressure in cremant wines is around 3-4 atmospheres. Hence the ‘creamy’ texture of lower pressure sparkling wines in the mouth. Other differences to Champagne is in the grape varieties used.  They contribute to the unique tastes of each regional sparkler. Here’s a shortlist of French bubbly, their origin and grape varieties.

Alsace: Cremant d’Alsace (Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay; Pinot Noir used for pink Cremant d’Alsace)

Bordeaux: Cremant de Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle and some red varieties)

Loire: Cremant de Loire (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and other red varieties)

Languedoc: Cremant de Limoux (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Mauzac)

Burgundy: Cremant de Bourgogne (Chardonnay, Aligote, Melon, Pinot Blanc, Gamay, Pinot Noir)

Rhone: Cremant de Die (Clairette, Muscat Blanc, Aligote)

Jura: Cremant de Jura (Chardonnay)

Loire: Anjou mousseux (Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Grolleau, Malbec, Pineau d’Aunis)

Spanish Sparklers
On the Iberian peninsula, specifically Spain, the eminent sparkling wine is Cava. The backstory to its namesake begins with Josep Raventós Fatjó of the Codorníu estate in the Catalan. In 1872 he produced the first sparkling wine in the country. As the legend goes, a cool cellar or cava (in the Catalan language) was dug in order to produce more sparkling wine. The first bottles of sparkling wine became known as cava.   These days, cava, unlike Champagne does not refer to a region but a style of wine. Thus you will find cava from Rioja, Valencia, Castille and Leon, Navarra, Aragon, Extremadura, the Basque Country and more.

The famous cavas come from Penedes and it is here that – the wines come in  white (blanco) or rosé (rosado) versions. The grapes used are usually Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel-lo.

And the rest
We covered the sparkling and spumante wines of Italy recently so I will simply mention some of the famous ones to look out for – Franciacorta, Prosecco and Asti.

Other sparkling wines if you come across them, that are worth tasting include: Vouvray, Blanquette méthode ancestrale AOC (French); Cremant de Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Espumante (Portugal); Sekt (Germany), Pezsgo (Hungary), Sovetskoye Shampanskoye (Russian champagne); wines from Moldova, Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine), Romania, the various New world countries and even England.

And here’s a party tip to see in the New Year. If you are hosting large numbers on a budget but still want to serve some bubbly wine, simply purchase cases of the cheapest bubbly wine – irrespective to taste. At your party, you have two choices. Use the bubbly to make a cocktail or simply drop a fruit (such as a lychee, longan, cherry or strawberry) into the flute glass and top it off with the sparkling wine. The sparkling wine will take on nuances of the fruit and when offered to guests entering the room, will certainly put the panache into your party!

Burgundy Grand Crus and 1er Crus

In Burgundy, 98 Burgundian appellations are grouped into four categories. In descending order of quality these are:

  • 33 Grand Crus (which include the Chablis regions’ Blanchot, Bougros, Grenouilles, Les Clos, Preuses, Valmur,Vaudésir)
  • Premiers Crus
  • 42 Communal or Village Appellations – name of the village is mentioned on the label
  • Regional Appellations

Here are the Premiers / 1er Crus


Clos des Maréchaudes

Clos du Chapitre 

La Coutière 

La Maréchaude 

La Toppe au Vert

Les Chaillots 

Les Fournières 

Les Guérets 

Les Maréchaudes 

Les Moutottes 

Les Paulands 

Les Petites Lolières

Les Valozières 

Les Vercots


A l’Ecu

Aux Coucherias

Aux Cras 


Blanches Fleurs

Champs Pimont 

Clos de la Féguine

Clos de la Mousse 

Clos de l’Ecu 

Clos des Avaux 

Clos des Ursules

Clos du Roi 

Clos Saint Landry

En Genêt 

En l’Orme 

La Mignotte 

Le Bas desTeurons

Le Clos des Mouches

Les Aigrots 

Les Avaux 

Les Boucherottes

Les Bressandes 

Les Cent Vignes 

Les Chouacheux 

Les Epenotes 

Les Fèves 

Les Grèves 

Les Marconnets 

Les Montrevenots

Les Perrières 

Les Reversées 

Les Sceaux 

Les Seurey 

Les Sizies 

Les Teurons 

Les Toussaints 

Les Tuvilains 

Les Vignes Franches

Montée Rouge 


Sur les Grèves 

Sur les Grèves-Clos Sainte-Anne








Chaume de Talvat

Côte de Brëchains 

Côte de Cuissy 

Côte de Fontenay 

Côte de Jouan 

Côte de Léchet 

Côte de Savant 

Côte de Vaubarousse

Côte des Prés Girots 



Les Beauregards

Les Epinottes 

Les Fourneaux

Les Lys 

L’Homme Mort


Mont de Milieu

Montée de Tonnerre



Pied d’Aloup





Vau de Vey 

Vau Ligneau 





Vaux Ragons 



Aux Beaux Bruns

Aux Combottes 

Aux Echanges 

Derrière la Grange

La Combe d’Orveau 

Les Amoureuses 

Les Baudes 

Les Borniques 

Les Carrières 

Les Chabiots 

Les Charmes 

Les Chatelots 

Les Combottes 

Les Cras 

Les Feusselottes

Les Fuées 

Les Groseilles

Les Gruenchers 

Les Hauts Doix 

Les Lavrottes 

Les Noirots 

Les Plantes 

Les Sentiers 

Les Véroilles

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The Saint-Emilion Classification

First Great Growth category A / Grand Cru Classe A

  • Château AUSONE
  • Château CHEVAL BLANC

First Great Growth category B / Grand Cru Classe B

  • Château ANGÉLUS
  • Château BELAIR
  • Château CANON
  • Château FIGEAC
  • Château MAGDELAINE
  • Château PAVIE
  • Clos FOURTET

Other Growths / Grand Cru Classe

  • Château BELLEVUE
  • Château BERGAT
  • Château BERLIQUET
  • Château CADET BON
  • Château CADET-PIOLA
  • Château CAP DE MOURLIN
  • Château CHAUVIN
  • Château CORBIN
  • Château CURÉ BON
  • Château DASSAULT
  • Château FONPLÉGADE
  • Château FONROQUE
  • Château FRANC MAYNE
  • Château GRAND MAYNE
  • Château GRAND PONTET
  • Château HAUT CORBIN
  • Château HAUT SARPE Saint-Christophe des Bardes
  • Château L’ARROSÉE
  • Château LA CLOTTE
  • Château LA CLUSIERE
  • Château LA COUSPAUDE
  • Château LA DOMINIQUE
  • Château LA SERRE
  • Château LA TOUR DU PIN-FIGEAC (Giraud-Belivier)
  • Château LA TOUR DU PIN-FIGEAC (J.M. Moueix)
  • Château LA TOUR FIGEAC
  • Château LAMARZELLE
  • Château LANIOTE
  • Château LARCIS DUCASSE Saint-Laurent des Combes
  • Château LARMANDE
  • Château LAROQUE Saint-Christophe des Bardes
  • Château LAROZE
  • Château LE PRIEURÉ
  • Château MATRAS
  • Château RIPEAU
  • Château SOUTARD
  • Château YON-FIGEAC
  • Clos DE l’ORATOIRE
  • Couvent DES JACOBINS

Read also:

Graves: 1959 Official Classification

Classified Red Wines of Graves Commune

  • Château Bouscaut (Cadaujac)
  • Château Haut-Bailly (Léognan)
  • Château Carbonnieux (Léognan)
  • Domaine de Chevalier (Léognan)
  • Château de Fieuzal (Léognan)
  • Château d’Olivier (Léognan)
  • Château Malartic-Lagravière (Léognan)
  • Château La Tour-Martillac (Martillac)
  • Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte (Martillac)
  • Château Haut-Brion (Pessac)
  • Château La Mission-Haut-Brion (Talence)
  • Château Pape-Clément (Pessac)
  • Château Latour-Haut-Brion (Talence)

Classified White Wines of Graves Commune

  • Château Bouscaut (Cadaujac)
  • Château Carbonnieux (Léognan)
  • Château Domaine de Chevalier (Léognan)
  • Château d’Olivier (Léognan)
  • Château Malartic Lagravière (Léognan)
  • Château La Tour-Martillac (Martillac)
  • Château Laville-Haut-Brion (Talence)
  • Château Couhins-Lurton (Villenave d’Ornan)
  • Château Couhins (Villenave d’Ornan)
  • Château Haut-Brion (Pessac) (added in 1960)

Read also:


Sauternes-Barsac: The Official Classification of 1855

First Great Growth (Premier Cru Supérieur) Commune

  • Château d’Yquem Sauternes

First Growths (Premiers Crus) Commune

  • Château La Tour-Blanche (Bommes)
  • Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey (Bommes)
  • Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey (Bommes)
  • Château de Rayne-Vigneau (Bommes)
  • Château Suduiraut (Preignac)
  • Château Coutet (Barsac)
  • Château Climens (Barsac)
  • Château Guiraud (Sauternes)
  • Château Rieussec (Fargues)
  • Château Rabaud-Promis (Bommes)
  • Château Sigalas-Rabaud (Bommes)

Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus) Commune

  • Château de Myrat (Barsac)
  • Château Doisy-Daëne (Barsac)
  • Château Doisy-Dubroca (Barsac)
  • Château Doisy-Védrines (Barsac)
  • Château d’Arche (Sauternes)
  • Château Filhot (Sauternes)
  • Château Broustet (Barsac)
  • Château Nairac (Barsac)
  • Château Caillou (Barsac)
  • Château Suau (Barsac)
  • Château de Malle (Preignac)
  • Château Romer-du-Hayot (Fargues)
  • Château Lamothe-Despujols (Sauternes)
  • Château Lamothe-Guignard (Sauternes)

Read also:

Médoc Wine

The Rhone Valley

Médoc Wine: The Official Classification Of 1855

Third Growths (Troisièmes Crus) Commune

  • Château Kirwan Cantenac (Margaux)
  • Château d’Issan Cantenac (Margaux)
  • Château Lagrange (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Langoa-Barton (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Giscours Labarde (Margaux)
  • Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry (Margaux)
  • Château Boyd-Cantenac Cantenac (Margaux)
  • Château Cantenac-Brown Cantenac (Margaux)
  • Château Palmer Cantenac (Margaux)
  • Château La Lagune Ludon (Haut-Médoc)
  • Château Desmirail (Margaux)
  • Château Calon-Ségur (Saint-Estèphe)
  • Château Ferrière (Margaux)
  • Château Marquis d’Alesme-Becker (Margaux)

First Growths (Premiers Crus) Commune

  • Château Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac)
  • Château Margaux (Margaux)
  • Château Latour (Pauillac)
  • Château Haut-Brion Pessac (Graves)
  • Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac)

Fourth Growths (Quatrièmes Crus) Commune

  • Château Saint-Pierre (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Talbot (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Duhart-Milon-Rothschild (Pauillac)
  • Château Pouget Cantenac (Margaux)
  • Château La Tour-Carnet Saint-Laurent (Haut Médoc)
  • Château Lafon-Rochet (Saint-Estèphe)
  • Château Beychevelle (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Prieuré-Lichine Cantenac (Margaux)
  • Château Marquis-de-Terme (Margaux)

Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus) Commune

  • Château Rausan-Ségla (Margaux)
  • Château Rauzan-Gassies (Margaux)
  • Château Léoville-Las Cases (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Léoville-Poyferré (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Léoville-Barton (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Durfort-Vivens (Margaux)
  • Château Gruaud-Larose (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Lascombes (Margaux)
  • Château Brane-Cantenac Cantenac (Margaux)
  • Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron (Pauillac)
  • Château Pichon-Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande (Pauillac)
  • Château Ducru-Beaucaillou (Saint-Julien)
  • Château Cos d’Estournel (Saint-Estèphe)
  • Château Montrose (Saint-Estèphe)

Fifth Growths (Cinquièmes Crus) Commune

  • Château Pontet-Canet (Pauillac)
  • Château Batailley (Pauillac)
  • Château Haut-Batailley (Pauillac)
  • Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac)
  • Château Grand-Puy-Ducasse (Pauillac)
  • Château Lynch-Bages (Pauillac)
  • Château Lynch-Moussas (Pauillac)
  • Château Dauzac Labarde (Margaux)
  • Château D’Armailhac (Pauillac)
  • Château du Tertre Arsac (Margaux)
  • Château Haut-Bages-Libéral (Pauillac)
  • Château Pédesclaux (Pauillac)
  • Château Belgrave Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc)
  • Château de Camensac Saint-Laurent (Haut-Médoc)
  • Château Cos-Labory (Saint-Estèphe)
  • Château Clerc-Milon (Pauillac)
  • Château Croizet-Bages (Pauillac)
  • Château Cantemerle Macau (Haut-Médoc)

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