Wine for Dragons

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wine Entry : HomeHill Wines Tasmanian Late Harvest Sticky 2003 (Australian)

Adrian and Constance got this wine from me when they were touring Tasmania, Australia. I have always wanted to go and visit too, but somehow never had the chance to yet. Tasmanian wines are not often seen in Singapore, so it was interesting to taste one. Not overly sweet like a Sauternes but generally pleasing with the Chin Lee food that we were consuming while having this wine.

By the way here is the address for Chin Lee at Bedok, it is a popular place especially with it’s BYO policy. They provided an ice bucket and champagne glasses for this wine!

Blk 115 #01-285 Bedok North Road Singapore 460115

Smell : Buttery melon, more akin to a Semillon

Taste : Slightly sweet and buttery but not intense like honey. Some spice tones could even be detected.

After taste : Bitter lemon citrus finish

Description at back of bottle :

A light luscious little sweetie. The grapes raisened on the vine until late in June. Pale straw colour with aromas of citrus and gooseberries. The luscious palate has a persistent finish, ideal with everything from fresh fruit through to pate, brie and blue chesse to light and berry desserts.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wine Montage - My Idea of Heaven

Hey all, I found this great site that allows me to do flash media in a very easy to use I decided to do a Wine Montage...(what else?) Enjoy!!

| View Show | Create Your Own | Playlist


Wine Entry : Laboure-Roi 2004 (French)

Well generally, I am not the greatest fan of Burgundies, but C.K. is and we tried this burgundy at his place last Friday. I was pleasantly surprised and could appreciate why there are so many Burgundy fans out there. The scents and flavours from Pinot Noir grapes of Burgundies are unique and not found regularly in the rest of the grape varietals. The wine colour was a delicate pinkish-red.

Smell : Interesting pomelo and pomergenate smell

Taste : Smooth and fragrant with pink pomelo flavours

After-taste : Slight spice and citrus in the finish

Description at back of bottle : In the heart of the Cote d or Nuits Saint Geogres. Our house thrives on the constant search for the best quality red and white wines.

Our close association with outstanding Domaines contributes to the continued improvement of this quality.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Wine Observation : AMK NTUC Xtra

I visited the AMK NTUC Xtra last week at the new bus interchange combined with Town Central. The new NTUC Xtra is in basement two with a significant floor size that could rival the Giant at IMM or Parkway Parade. The items sold also seemed similar, but the lighting was brighter and more cheery.

Went to look at the wine section there to compare it against Carrerfour, Cold Storage and Giant. I was pretty impress on the wine section, a whole aisle both left and right for about 6-8 meters. The interesting issue was that they even sold pretty high end wines which I don't even see at Cold Storage, Wolf Blass Black Label at >S$130 and Penfolds Grange Hermitage >S$300. Astonishingly, they do not have a chilled room like Jason's Marketplace at City Hall or Orchard!

So these preciously expensive wines were left in uncontrolled temperature/humidity and exposed to bright spotlights! Maybe NTUC thinks that they will be fast moving wine bottles and will not be subject to extended periods of unfavourable conditions....

I sincerely hope so....

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Wine Animation : The Illustrated Winespeak

Found this book by Ronald Searle at the Expo Book sale, it attempts to make fun of the various odd descriptions that wine writers have for wine. He uses the analogy of a person depicting that character of the wine. A brief book consisting of pictures and limited words, but highly entertaining and funny. I posted some here to create an excerpt of the book for your viewing pleasure. Hope you all enjoy it !

Description at the back of the book, “The tortuous phrases that are frequently used when trying to describe music, fade into insignificance beside the agonizing and often excruciating acrobatics of those whose duty it is to enlighten the baffles consumer regarding the more esoteric aspects of wine.
The art of wine-tasting has its own band of remarkable poets – alas, as rare as the greatest vintages of the wines they sample for our benefit. The rest, snobbish, incestuous and inarticulate, do as much harm to the world of wine as they do to the language.
All the phrases in this book have been plucked from unacknowledged but absolutely authentic sources. You could do worse than ponder over some of them. Cheers!”

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wine Entries : Prospect Wines Riverina Botrytis Semillon 2003 (Australian)

I purchased this wine in Australia at the Brand Smart Shopping Centre, Nunawading, Victoria, sub-urban mall. Remembered it was really reasonably priced and I purchased two bottles and had already finished one on my trip there. This Prospect Wine Merchant’s business model is quite unique. Prospect Wines buys excess or clearance wines from the wineries and sell the house wines as their own label wines. This can be done as some wineries have tanks full of wine waiting to be sold prior to bottling. Others have a cellar full of bottled wine which needs to be moved. Think of it as clearance wine or bin-end wines, but stringently selected to ensure good quality. The consumer gets fantastic wine at great savings without the advertisements and labeling.
Back to this Botrytis Semillon, it has somewhat aged to an orangish-brown colour also akin to ice-lemon tea. Exceedingly enjoyable to drink for a clearance wine.

Smell : Tangerine-orange peel zest, almost liquorish, nuances of wild honey.

Taste : Glycerin, viscous and luscious, somewhat overpowering first sip. Smooth honey sweetness which is followed by the orange citrus intensity.

After-Taste : Plucky acidity like a sour drop. Fair length with a tinge of the orange peel bitterness, but not unpleasant.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wine Entries : Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Unfiltered Robert Mondavi Winery 1993 (Californian)

This is a wine that had been sitting in my dad’s horde for a total of 14 years! I remember he got it as a gift from a business associate and it cost on the higher side of S$60. Will try to check if it is still available in the shops today, at least the same brand if not the vintage. The wine was still a bright garnet attractive colour in glass for a wine that has kept away for a decade and half. The photo unfortunately does not do the wine justice. I must say that the wine aged elegantly, losing most of it’s fruit but with the tannins evolving nicely to a smooth velvety structure.

Smell : Fruit scents of blackcurrents still linger, but predominantly dark chocolate, licorice and black pepper.

Taste : Velvety smooth, no astringency and non-existent of fruit. Dominated by chocolate and walnut blended with oak. The tertiary flavours are prevalent.

After-Taste : Medium-short finishof woody/nutty flavours.

Description at back of bottle :
Great wines are born in vineyard. Our Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is made from grapes selected as the most outstanding of the 1993 vintage. We gave this intensely flavoured, naturally balanced wine additional complexity with extended skin contact and six gentle barrel to barrel rackings during more than 19 months aging in French oak barrels. Our 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, a blend of 91 percent cabernet sauvignon 6 percent merlot and cabernet franc was bottled unfiltered to retain its full depth of flavours and rich texture.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Wine Personality : Dr N K Yong – Food and Wine Gourmet

There was a newspaper article in the Chinese zaobao on wine and food gourmet Dr N K Yong, he writes frequently to the Straits Times and Business Times advising on food and wine. I have attempted to translate excerpts of the article into English, but I am not the most prolific person in Chinese, so I do apologize if there are some mistakes or misrepresentations which I cannot be liable for.

Dr N K Yong is a wine and food gourmet, but besides enjoying the high life, he also advocates caring for the less fortunate in society. Therefore, he is taking the opportunity during his 80th birthday celebrations to donate to three charitable organizations. This February 2007, 62 world renowned wine makers and owners will gather in Singapore to celebrate our country’s best known wine gourmet Dr N K Yong’s 80th birthday. And at the same time do their bit for charity. This event is believed to be this region’s most important fine wine event of the year. Dr N K Yong says that his birthday is originally in August, he brought forward the event in order to accommodate the schedules of the wine makers and owners. He stresses that the purpose of the event is not solely to celebrate his birthday, but also to showcase Singapore to these renowned wine makers and owners, and entice them to promote their wines here. During the three day event, charitable wine auctions will be conducted by Serena Sutcliffe, with the benefits going to the Kidney Dialysis Foundation, the Singapore Children’s Society and Dover Park Hospices.

Dr N K Yong retired from the medical profession in 2004, allowing him more time to pursue his wine interests. He takes at least two wine vacations per year and travels around the world to visit the vineyards and wine-making facilities. Not only does he meet up with old friends who are wine-makers, he also takes the opportunity to stock up his wine cellar. Dr N K Yong recalls that his first bottle of wine during that time cost less than 20 dollars. During University, when he had drinks with classmates at bars, he started off with beer and hard liquor, but he didn’t enjoy them. It was later when he graduated that his interest in wine gained paced. He admits that his interest in fine wines developed at a late stage, unlike people now who at a young age have cultivated an interest in wines. He is supportive of this trend and has a suggestion for those who think wines are unapproachable or complicated. “No matter what expertise or knowledge is learnt step by step. Start off with the inexpensive wines first and try as many as possible. As you mature and improve your income levels, naturally you will have the opportunity to taste fine wines across the world and build up your experience.”

In Dr N K Yong’s mind, a bottle of good wine needs to reflect the grape type, the terroir and the wine’s individuality, and exudes the honesty in the vines and wine maker. “Now with modern technology, wine can be easily produced to suit the global taste. But in the 40s, without the use of technology, the entire wine making process was very natural.” He is worried that with the prevalent use of technology in wine-making, the true essence of the wine making process maybe lost.

It is well-known that Dr N K Yong has a huge wine cellar, and the reason for it being so huge is because it had been converted from an Olympic sized swimming pool in 1997. The cellar is two meters deep and houses an array of fine wines from all over the world. When asked how many bottles of wine are in the cellar, Dr N K Yong couldn’t answer as he had lost count. The reporter saw many bottles of wines dating in the 40s, 50s and 60s with the oldest being 1935.

For the Chinese Original version, please read

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Wine Entry : Houghton Chenin Blanc 2005 (Australian)

My parents got this wine from Giant supermarket at $20 plus. I found it nice and refreshing, not really a dessert wine but has sufficient sweetness to tease the palate. In the glass, it was a pale greenish-yellow.

Smell : Green apple, limey and grassy

Taste : Refreshing lime sweetness, fresh acidity, crisp cucumber

After taste : Slight bitter cucumber with firm acidity.

Description on the back of the bottle :
Houghton in Western Australia has establish an enviable reputation for producing distinct, award winning wines. Western Australia vineyards produce benchmark Chenin Blanc with generous flavours and richness . Delicate floral, passionfruit and fresh pineapple aromas lead to a luscious palate of honeysuckle and spicy citrus. The wine is balanced with a fresh crisp finish. The lively fruit sweetness is best served well chilled and is perfectly matched to spicy dishes, fresh fruits and cheese.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Wine Entry : Penfolds 389 Cabernet Shiraz Vintage 1999 (Australian)

C.K’s bro got him this bottle of Penfolds 389. I checked out the price at Marketplace by Cold Storage and the 2001 vintage was going for S$68.50. (the 2001 vintage was reviewed by Club Sunset) I must say that the wine was pretty good and comparable with a French Classified Growth or Cru Bourgeois, except leaning more towards the fruit bomb aspects. In the glass the wine was an opaque dark ruby red.

Smell : Strong intense fragrant blackcurrent berries flavour with a little oak and sweetness at the end.

Taste : Smooth with good fruity berry taste followed by the tannins. Surprisingly not much spice for a Shiraz blend.

After taste : Good-medium length of tannins, indications of a wine that could age gracefully.

Description at back of bottle : The blend of Cabernet and Shiraz is classic Penfolds rich ripe fruit and well integrated oak with firm tannins tight structure and great balance will reward medium to long term cellaring.

Write-up of Bin 389 :
First made in 1960, Bin 389 quickly became known as 'Poor Man's Grange', a dual reference to its far cheaper price and to the fact that the new barrels employed to make Grange were passed on after one use to mature Bin 389. In fact, new oak is also used in the making of Bin 389, though never extravagantly - around 20%.
While the varietal blend has remained more or less 60% cabernet sauvignon and 40% shiraz - varying slightly from one vintage to the next - the regional base has changed significantly over the years. The first wines were made from grapes produced on the defunct Auldana Vineyard, but the net gradually spread across the Barossa Valley and beyond.

For some years now the wine has been sourced from vineyards in the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Padthaway, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and the Clare Valley. This spread has added to, rather than detracted from, the quality and complexity of the wine. It gives the winemakers greater scope to deal with seasonal variation, and to achieve balance by blending rather than chemical manipulation - a central tenet of Max Schubert's winemaking philosophy.

While Bin 389 does not have the exceptional longevity of Grange, the best vintages age superbly for 20 years or more. And if anyone should ponder on the question of the synergy from the blend of cabernet and shiraz, Bin 389 provides the answer.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Wine DVD : Wine for the Confused by John Cleese

First and foremost, let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year 2007!
May your glass be always filled with wine, and your cellar always stocked with great bottles!

This is my first Wine DVD review, this programme has already been aired on Central TV channel this year, but as usual I did not manage to watch it on TV. So the next best thing I could do was rent the DVD and watch it :-) The presenter of the programme is John Cleese who is one of the stars of the Monty Python show. He delivers the programme in a light hearted manner and advices all wine drinkers to drink what they feel like drinking and not what other people say they should be drinking. In other words, trust your own palate.

The basic types of red (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz) and white grapes (Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc) were introduced and also how to go about ordering wines in a restaurant. I liked the part where he did a blind wine tasting with his guests who included Brendan Fraser of the Mummy movie fame. The guests could not tell the difference between the $100 and $5 wines. In fact, in another wine taste test, they could not even tell the difference between red and wine grapes in a sealed container given to them!

The extras in the DVD was also quite useful, it is interesting that John associated wine with a “living breathing thing” and not only the way it changes in the bottle, but also in the glass. And how an originally unpleasant, unapproachable wine slowly mellows and becomes tasty after sometime in the open glass. Guess he is an advocate of decanting. The focus of the locations was mainly in California and Australia, primarily due to the lack of funding. In fact, the Gainey and Byron Vineyards were just 45 mins drive from his actual residential house! The Australian vineyards of Foxen and Carhartt were no posh setups like Domaine Chandon.

The DVD is available at EZY video River Valley branch in Singapore. You can call and reserve at 6737 3007. Enjoy!