Wine for Dragons

Singapore Wine Blog... Wine Reviews and Tastings... Review of Wine bars and Wine accessories...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wine Noteworthy : Top Ten Signs You're a Wine Geek

1. You read wine blogs. (Actually, the list could end right here!)

2. You laughed when Miles said "If anybody orders Merlot, I'm leaving!", then mentioned his prize bottle was the famous merlot blend, Cheval Blanc

3. When holding a goblet of water, you absent-mindedly twirl it by its stem (this "Tasters Twitch" is a condition common among wine Geeks, for which there is no cure)

4. You have a strong (and unquestionably correct) opinion about point-based rating systems and what they are doing to the wine industry

5. You go out for dinner and insist on sniffing the bottle cap of a Coca-cola bottle

6. Your definition of fun is visiting wine stores and writing down which bottle has past it’s prime. And then telling the store manager about it

7. You have more t-shirts with wine logos than t-shirts with team or school logos

8. You get more upset by the loss of spilled wine than the tablecloth stain it caused

9. You remember your ex lovers by their favorite wine

10. You see nothing unusual about using your toilet cistren to store "just one more bottle of wine" at near-perfect serving temperature

Credits :

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wine Book Review : The Emperor of Wine


This is the 100 th posting of this blog! And I guess an unique posting is warranted. I have just finished the book The Emperor of Wine who is Robert M. Parker, Jr. of Wine Advocate. It is written by Elin McCoy who has cover the wine world for 30 years which includes coauthoring wine pieces with her husband for New York Magazine and wine/spirits columnist for Bloomberg Markets.

It is an interesting read not only for wine buffs, but also for others not that keen on wine. Written in a second person’s perspective, it traces the history of how Robert Parker got into wine because of the love of his wife-to-be. She was attending the University of Strasbourg in France. And Robert went over to France to find her in December of 1967, where he got hooked on the elegant food and fine wines of France. She also proved to be a worthy partner both in terms of love and wine. She was also an excellent taster and her fluency of French opened many cellar doors for Parker. Noteworthy was that he was such a big fan of wine, that for his graduation as a lawyer, his parents gave him a case of 1970 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.
The single defining event that established Parker as a wine critic was the 1982 vintage in Bordeaux. He was confidently promoting 1982 vintage as the vintage of the century whilst his rival the established wine critic Bob Finigan found the wines disappointing. Parker was proven right.

He is exceedingly hardworking, which no doubt also contributed significantly to his success. A typical year on the job involved tasting 10,000 wines a year. The consequence of doing that could well be the acidity in the wine destroying the enamel of his teeth and dissolve the membranes in his nose. He consulted an ear, nose, and throat specialist every six months to be sure. And when he heard of how another wine critic lost his sense of taste and smell after a car accident, he insured his nose and palate, adding to his fame and prestige.

Parker also set up the controversial 100 point rating system which helped the average Amercian tremendously, but also resulted in a group of point-chasers who just purchased wine Parker rated 95+ without knowing how they taste and whether it suited their own palate. The book claims that Parker’s extraordinary ability was to mentally compare the wine he was tasting with all the others of the same type he had ever tasted and the score he had given it. Some how I personally feel that claim is hard to believe.

Overall the book is balanced and fair, with kudos and criticism of similar magnitudes. A good read to understand the working within the wine industry and the close circle of wine merchants, critics, wine makers and Chateau owners. And written in a comfortable pace not to cause non-wine lovers to fall asleep. I got my copy of the book at Kinokuniya Ngee Ann City for S$27, lasting a longer read than a bottle of wine of same pricing. ;-)


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wine for Asia 2006 : Great 2002 Bordeaux Tasting by The Wine Review

Here is the final installment of the reds for the 2002 Bordeaux Tasting.
The tasting notes are a little bit shorter, but that was the best I could manage after going through so many wines at the WFA 2006. Nose and Palate fatigue in a pleasurable manner :)

Chateau Brown Grand Vin de Graves 2002

Smell : Some nutty and fruit of blackcurrents and plums.

Taste : Some fruit but not prolific, mainly constituent of tannins and oak.

After-Taste : Short compared to the others available.

Chateau Beychevelle Grand Vin 2002

Smell : Nose of oak, dark cherries and blackcurrents.

Taste : Smooth, minimal fruit, primarily oak and wood.

After-Taste : Good structure of tannins but of a medium length.

Chateau Labegurce Margaux 2002

Smell : Nose a little closed, but blackcurrents and plums still exist.

Taste : Blackcurrent, plum fruits with fair amounts of oak, vanilla on a tannic structure.

After-Taste : Medium finish of tannins and oak.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Wine Movie Review : A Good Year


This is outside the normal scope of my reviews, but I see it as broadening the spectrum of this wine blog. My wife and I went to watch the wine-related movie “A Good Year” at Vivocity Golden Village starring Russell Crowe (from “The Gladiator” fame), Marion Cotillard and Albert Finney and directed by Ridley Scott. The seats were of course new and we were pleasantly surprised at the generous leg room. In a nut-shell, the movie is about a self-centered, money grabbing London-based bond trader who finally has a change of heart when he inherits a Chateau vineyard in Provence from his Uncle. He is in denial that he loves and admires his uncle very much but could not articulate it to him for the last 10 years of his uncle’s life.

It is actually based as a romantic comedy and the ladies in the show were quite good eye candy too. Some funny parts of the show included Russell Crowe shouting “Lance Armstrong is a winner!” in the face of a team of French cyclists when they laugh at his miniature smart car, also how all the daft visitors to the Chateau remove the Lavender from the window sills and they get visited by scorpions the next morning. In addition, the French oenologist gurgling the cellar barrel samples like a chipmunk was hilarious.

In terms of the wine, Russell Crowe’s lawyer is the wine geek (to hilarious effect when he tried to impress a buxom waitress in London, but got the wine wrong) and his uncle is the passionate one for making the wines. A quotable phrase from his uncle (if I get it right), in essence “Wine unlike man can never tell lies, the truth is always in the glass”. The American illegitimate daughter of his uncle is also a wine guru, during vacation, work the summers at the Sonoma Valley in California USA. And it was very funny to see the French Dufflot (workhand) at the Chateau have a love-hate argument with her.

What I could not understand, and was lacking in the show was the explanation on how the expensive bottles of PG were in the uncle’s cellar and with the Chateau’s own lousy wine placed side by side. I suspect that the PG was a kind of expensive Reserva wine which is made in the same vineyards but kept a secret to keep the Chateau profitable.

So the crux of the movie is, whether it is worth spending $9.50 per ticket on the weekends to watch it or wait for the DVD release? Well unless you are a wine buff like me, I would say save your money and wait for the DVD release. Cheers!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wine for Asia 2006 : Great 2002 Bordeaux Tasting by The Wine Review

I’d jump to the Sauternes sweet white wines first before going back to the reds. We found the Sauternes exceedingly nice to drink. They are not as strongly intense as the Hungarian Tokays or the Austrian TBA, but they were very smooth, light viscosity and complex with no/little hints of bitterness.

Chateau de Fargues Lur Saluces (Sauternes) 2002

Smell : Flora, lemon-honey smell weighting on the honey side.

Taste : Smooth, sweet honey with slight bitter lemon. Overall, a lighter style than usual Sauternes.

After-taste : Some light acidity to balance the sweetness.

Chateau Suduiraut (Sauternes) 2002

Smell : Scents of flora, lemon-honey even with a little walnut smell.

Taste : Smooth, honey-lemon with no bitter lemon peel taste balanced with a mild acidity.

After-taste : Sharp citrus and quick finish with a slight nutty end.

=> This was the wife’s favourite..

Chateau Doisy-Vedrines (Sauternes) 2002

Smell : Flora and lemon-honey fragrance.

Taste : Light easy-drinking of lemon citrus honey, slight end of bitterness.

After-taste : Quick finish with a little lemon peel zest bitterness.

Chateau Guiraud (Sauternes) 2002

Smell : Nose in comparison with the other Sauternes was not as intensely lemon-honey.
There was a different mineral stony smell.

Taste : Good sweetness, low viscosity with background of honey-lemon.

After-taste : Short finish with citrus bitter lemon.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Wine for Asia 2006 : Great 2002 Bordeaux Tasting by The Wine Review

As promised more reviews from the Great 2002 Bordeaux Tasting by The Wine Review…

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2002 (2nd Growth)

Smell : Intense nose of rose, plum and raspberries.

Taste : Complex taste of oak, cherries, acidity and tannins.

After-Taste : Significant length of well-structured and smooth tannins.

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron de Pichon 2002 (2nd Growth)

I still got a bottle of this from one of the Carrefour wine sales 1993 vintage for S$78, hope to find the right occasion to open it.

Smell : A little closed, some blackcurrents, raspberries and strawberries.

Taste : Good fruit of raspberry, slight blackcurrents which is followed by balanced tannins.

After-Taste : Fairly good length of tannins which presents a balanced final pull of astringency.

Chateau Petit Village Pomerol 2002

Smell : Nose was a little closed with blackcurrents and plums.

Taste : Good fruit, slightly sweet and easy to drink.
Smooth with some oak before the finish. Mild tannins.

After-Taste : Finishing a little shorter than I would have expected.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wine for Asia 2006 : The Great Bordeaux 2002 Tasting by The Wine Review A3-01


The personal highlight of Wine for Asia this year was the Great Bordeaux 2002 Tasting organized by The Wine Review at A3-01. Ch’ng Poh Tiong was there for a short while to talk to the visitors as well on the 25 wines from the 2002 Bordeaux vintage. The Wine Review had obtained these bottles from the Chateaus directly. Personally I feel that these French Wines from Bordeaux still outclass any of the wines present at the exhibition. The complexity, finesse and length of balance silky tannins still make Bordeaux wines the most sought after in the World markets.

Chateau Rauzan-segla Margaux 2002 Grand Cru (2nd Growth)

Smell : Good nose of blackcurrents, raspberry and flora

Taste : Smooth easy-drinking yet good structure of tannins at the end of the palate.

After-Taste : Shorter length of tannins, but still quite substantial.

Chateau La Fleur Saint Emillion Grand Cru 2002

Smell : Rather closed but raspberry scent and a little rose do come through.

Taste : Fruity with raspberry taste and a little cedar.

After-Taste : Significant length with well-built tannin structure.

Chateau Lynch-Bages Pauillac 2002 Grand Vin Grand Cru Classe

Smell : Ripened cherries with a little smokiness.

Taste : Cherry, raspberries which disappears at the end.

After-Taste : Excellent finish of smooth tannins.

Some more reviews in the upcoming entries…appreciate your patience…

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wine Event : Wine for Asia 2006


This year’s Wine for Asia 2006 is the 4th starting from year 2003 and features close to 180 participant booths with wines from French, Spain, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, India, China, Korea and Germany etc. The whole layout was a lot larger than last year and has a lot more seminar rooms and tasting area. However, what was interesting to me was that some of the participants present last year were absence. This year’s Wine for Asia swung more towards talks and seminars and the mainstay countries exhibiting were from Australia and New Zealand, I found the participation level from the Old World wines like France and Germany diminishing. I was however happy to see the Decanter wine awards tasting area for us to compare our tastebuds with the judges. I am also glad that I met a few like-minded wine enthusiasts there, wine-lovers are friendly folks. My philosophy is that wine is a social drink, the more people to share a bottle of wine, the more joyous the occasion. (provided that there is enough to go around!)

The crowd was pretty thin on the second day of the trade day, however it did pick up on the public day which was a Saturday. I went down in the evening at 5pm almost close to finishing time and many booths were already packing up. There were group of friends enjoying themselves and looking for good bargains as most of the importers were not keen to lug back unfinished bottles of wines they had intended to serve for tastings.

Adam from Le Raisin had a large open booth with 5 tasting points with friendly ladies helping out with the tastings. He had 2 series from Chile, 2 series from Australia and 1 series from Spain. Here are my recommendations for the wines that I tasted (I tasted the whole range! And the ladies were impressed I was still standing on my feet). Thanks Adam!

- Spain Digma Rioja 2003 Castillo de sajazarra : Intense with good length
- Australian Hunter Valley Pyramid Hill Merlot and Shiraz 2005 : Easy drinking
smooth and very pleasant
- Australian Mount Eyre Double Cabernet : Intense inky fruit with some acidity
- Chilean Carta Vieja Organic Pinot Noir 2004 : Intriguing delicate seductive perfume of
blueberries/grappa. Very different from the non-organic Pinot Noir.
- Chilean House of Morande : Heavy blackcurrents with serious structure of tannins

I am already looking forward to next year’s Wine for Asia!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wine Entry : De Bortoli Windy Peak Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2003 Victoria (Australian)


De Bortoli is a wine that is more synonymous with Noble One sweet white wine than red wines. Got it from the Safeway Liquor store which is filled with wines/liquors etc. It was purchased at S$17 after the conversion. In the glass the wine is medium ruby red.

Smell : Soft fruity flavours of blackcurrents and raspberries. Very little oak, but some flora scents.

Taste : Sunshine ripen fruits and gradually transients to a tannic grape skin astringency. Easy to drink and approachable. Finely balanced between the three varietals of Carbernet/Shiraz/Merlot grapes

After-taste : Medium finish with some astringency but little or no oak.

Description at back of bottle :
Windy Peak varietal wines are blended from fruit grown in Victoria. A warm dry growing season produced fruit with varietal purity. Winemaking included warm fermentation to extract generous colour and flavour, as well as barrel fermentation and maturation in new and used oak barriques. The wine is made for immediate enjoyment or can be cellared for 3-4 years. It is an ideal accompaniment to pasta, meat dishes or cheese.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wine Entry : Sandalford Element Late Harvest Soft Sweet White 2006 Margaret River (Australian)


Element is a brand that I have seen sometimes in Singapore’s Cold Storage, but not this particular style, usually it is the common chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon. This bottle was bought direct from the vineyard’s cellar sales and the conversion makes it S$15.50 and adorned with a golden screw-cap. Reminisence of a German Riesling. Medium light yellow in colour, almost like straw in sunlight.

Smell : Very fragrant with green apples, pears, honeydew and peaches. Almost having the similar aromacity as a German Gewurztraminer.

Taste : Refreshing, the sweetness is the first taste on the palate followed with the acidity of green apples. None or hardly any herbaceous / grassy tastes. The intensity of the aromas is less in the taste.

After-taste : A medium finish with acidity and unripen honeydew / pear flavours.

Description at back of bottle : The Sandalford Element range of wines are created by utilizing the perfect balance of Australia’s natural resources. The wines are fruit driven with an emphasis on style and immediate appeal. This fruity and sweet wine is made from premium grapes varieties grown in the famed Margaret River region of Western Australia.