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Trader Joe’s has done it again! This is an incredibly drinkable read with a sweetness that is very approachable. Though it does make you think it is a great affordable staple. At 9 smackers, its a crowd pleaser, great for bbqs and pork based foods.

DGS: NYC!

DGS will finally be forming a NYC chapter after a year of procrastinating. Let me know if you will be in town or have any kick off ideas!

DGS: Tasmanian Wines

I was excited to re-try the Tasmanian wines I had lugged back. DGS was a cozy affair – about a dozen people, just enough to squeeze around the dining table. For food, we prepared cheese and chocolate fondue, along with chicken and steak, tons of fruits, bread, and mum-made walnut brownies. Very nice (and affordable) spread, if I say so myself. :)

We kicked off the evening with the bright and refreshing Riesling from Stefano Lubiana, the Stefano Lubiana Alfresco Riesling 2008. Everyone really enjoyed the slight tinge of sweetness and the fizz on their tongues. Wonderful way to get the taste buds alive.

We opened the Bay of Fires Chardonnay 2008 next. In comparison to the Riesling, this was heavy, but with enough acidity to make it lively and not dumb. Now this is a nicely balanced Chardonnay – just a touch of butter and lemon.

We moved on to the Moorilla Estate Praxis Pinot Noir 2008 from Hobart next. Now this one had a lovely nose – fruity, with some earth, just the way I like my Pinots. It had a nice solid body too, though still smooth.

Our next wine, the Pipers Brook Tamar 2004, elicited mixed responses. Everyone fervently agreed that it did smell like ketchup, but some, like RX, was not a fan. Where’s the fries, she asked.

We then went back to Stefano Lubiana, for the Stefano Lubiana Merlot 2006. Now, I remember that it wasn’t my favorite wine from the trip; we just felt like we had to buy at least two bottles from that winery, since we were getting Lubiana to help us ship a case of wine back to Singapore. Nonetheless, it was a solid wine, and RX expressed her enthusiasm for it.

At this point, people were starting to flag a little from the hearty food and wine. So I broke out the Delamere Blanc de Blanc 2004, a beautifully made sparkling that had just the right touch of yeast, bubbles, and sweetness. Loved it!

We sat around chatting and laughing for a while more, about all things irreverent, and then I decided to open another bottle, the Frogmore Creek Ruby Pinot Noir Port NV. I loved this port. The Frogmore Creek tasting was our last winery tasting, and I had resolved not to buy any more. However, the port was so delicious I couldn’t help it. So it was a delight to drink it again, and a bonus when RX decided she had had enough and gave me the rest of her glass. :)

Fun times, great wines. I didn’t check, but I do hope that everyone went away with similarly favorable impressions of Tasmanian wines.

Palex and Tanya organized an M-themed DGS at my place last night. We didn’t quite get the theme, given that one of the hosts, Tanya, forgot to wear a themed shirt. Haha. But we did have quite a few M-named bottles of wine, Marinated chicken wings, Melon, pasta Marina, and we played the Moon game.

The wine list for the evening were, in order:
(1) 2007 Brown Brothers Moscato: simple, sweet – maybe a little too sweet

(2) 2005 Mischief & Mayhem Chablis: think would be better as a food drink. Perhaps something creamy. Wasn’t a huge fan; found the finish a little too minerally, slightly bitter? Janice and Paul said it reminded them of sparkling water, tonic.

(3) 2007 Lawson’s Dry Hill Malborough Gewürztraminer: It was on sale at Denise for $30. What a steal; need to lay my hands on it. Paul loved it too; in fact everyone loved it. How can one not like the incredible nose of lychee and rose petals. I wish I could wear it as a perfume.

(4) 2002 Meursault Vieilles Vignes: Second favorite white of the evening. Beautiful citrus, bright and lively to drink. Some nuttiness in the back.

(5) 2004 Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits: I didn’t finish my glass. Wasn’t impressed by the nose, which was metallic. And the body was weak. Kind of a lame wine. I totally miss that De Bortoli Pinot Noir 2007 from Yarra Valley I had last week. Now, that was good pinot.

(6) 2006 Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz: I’ve had this one before, a couple times. Two Hands makes fun wines (and after last night, somehow associated with sea cucumbers). This one was good. Nice and deep color, lots of fruit. Also makes a good standalone drink.

(7) 2006 Two-Hands Lily’s Garden Shiraz: beautiful – intense color, nose, amazing fruit, concentrated raisins, and super smooth. Favorite wine of the evening. Excellent to drink alone.

(8) 2008 Villa M D’uva Rosso: Fun to cap off the selection of wines with two fun and light dessert wines. The Villa M series.

(9) 2008 Villa M D’uva Blanco

The 51 items that we said we’ll bring to the Moon were: Hot Dog, Refrigerator, Magnet, Moscato, Glass, Trap, Compass, Camera, Iguana, Slippers, Pontianak, Garlic, Whip, Orchid, Aircon Remote Controller, Chandelier, Handcuffs, French Maid Costume, Duckling, Staircase, Bunny Ears , Disposible Underwear, Charcoal Pills, Bunny Tail, Nose Ring, Mushroom, Koi, Luohan Fish, Tau Sar Pau, Harns Handphone, Headless Chicken, Cryogenic Chamber, Chaw Siew Pau, Diamond Ring, Microwave Oven, Avocado Pill, Blindfold, Kinky Batteries, Wasabi, Macho Man, Chao Ah Lian, Viagra, Solar Cell, Brownies, Candle, Chao Ah Beng, Monsoon, Screams of Joy, Handpump, Massage Chair, and Painted Toenails

DGS Singapore held another tasting this past Sunday. Fabian and Zhongxi hosted the event at my place, and they had a spread of beef stew, pasta, BBQ ribs, roast chicken etc. :)

All but one of the seven wines they had sourced from their separate trips to Margaret River and Yarra Valley in Australia. Their aim of the tasting was to try wines from the lesser known regions of Australia, since most of the Australian wines that I’ve seen in Chicago and Singapore are sourced from Barossa Valley (or at least, the ones on my radar screen).

For more information on the various wine regions of Australia, Australia Wine Region Map is a pretty nifty site that even maps out the various vineyards in the different regions – super useful for planning a road trip to Australia (yes, there could be one in the works)!

By an odd coincidence, we ended up with 5 whites and only 2 reds. Not that anyone was really complaining; it was still a very fun evening of easy conversation and laughter (not bad for a group of random folks most of whom met one another for the first time).

The wines we had (in sequence) were:

Pitchfork Sémillion Sauvignon Blanc 08 (Margaret River) – We didn’t have this chilled enough, but the wine was still nice and refreshing, with the grassy notes of the SB, softened by the Semillion
De Beaurepaire Captain Starlight Sémillion Sauvignon Blanc 06 (Mudgee) – With a 90% Semillion blend, you could definitely taste the sweetness; the crispness of the SB doesn’t quite cut through. Personally, I would rather the Pitchfork
Domain Chandon Barrel Selection Chardonnay 06 (Yarra Valley)
Green Point Cellar Door Viognier 07 (Yarra Valley) – Not my favorite example of the viognier. The nose was muted, and it wasn’t lively enough. The Viognier from Virginia that I had at last weekend’s DGS Chicago was much, much tastier.
Leeuwin Estate Prelude Vineyards Chardonnay 07 (Margaret River) – Nice and bright, with notes of pineapples and pears
Rochford Reserve Shiraz (Yarra Valley) – My favorite wine of the evening, this Shiraz is blended with a touch of viognier. Loved the nose.
Clairault Cabernet Sauvignon 05 (Margaret River)

I’ve really missed American wines, as well as my all-time favorite Sam’s Wines. Consequently, I was like a kid in a candy shop when Jeff and I went back to Sam’s last Friday to shop for a case of wines for our American Winolympics Tasting.

And it’s super gratifying too, when the wine store clerk is even more enthusiastic than you in recommending wines for your tasting. I love this guy – I always go look for him whenever I go into the store because I know he’ll have some fun stuff lined up. It’s not to say that every one of the wines he recommends is a winner – because we’ve had some where we were like, hmmmm – but his excitement is quite contagious. :)

Early bird special: Chloe Jeremy Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2006 – found this to be super concentrated and dark, with seemingly many layers that has yet to be revealed; would probably be good for a few more years yet. Velvety and spicy on the tongue.

From Chicago Spring 2009
Whites

#1 Gruet Blanc de Noirs Brut, New Mexico, NV
This was Aaron’s favorite white; who knew New Mexico makes such excellent sparkling wines???

#2 Pacific Rim Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, 2007
Bonny Doon of Santa Cruz makes some decent cheap Chenin Blanc!

#3 Hickory Creek Chardonnay Unoaked, Michigan, 2007
This was an excellent example of an unoaked Chardonnay. Most people correctly guessed that it was an unoaked Chardonnay, but everyone was surprised that it was from Michigan!

#4 Barboursville Vineyards Viognier, Virginia, 2007
I couldn’t for the life of me guess that this was a Viognier; I thought it was either a chardonnay (at first, for the heaviness) or a sauvignon blanc (for the grassy notes). Another wonderful surprise, from Virginia!

#5 River’s Edge Pinot Gris, Umpqua Valley, 2007

Reds
#1 Donata Family Sorelle Per Sempre, Central Coast, 2005

#2 Chateau Montalena Zinfandel, Napa Valley, 2005
Montalena is famous for its Cabernets (thanks to 1976), but this Zin showed quite well too

#3 Benessere “Costa del Sol”, Napa Valley, 2005
Napa gone wrong; this was acidic, tannic, and closed. Everyone guessed that it was either a Michigan or Illinois wine

#4 Lieb Family Cabernet Franc Bridge Lane, Long Island, NV

#5 Owl Creek Owl’s Leap, Illinois, NV
This was from Southern Illinois, and honestly quite tasty!

Live blogging from our DGS sparkling wine tasting [hehe, the couple in the background is our first Singapore DGS couple. Woot woot!]. First up: Dog Leg from South Australia. Small bubbles, nice fizz on tongue, but a little too sweet for my liking. Yujuan is giving us the lowdown of the four different methods to make sparklig wines.

We move to Spain next, and our bottle of the night is the popular Freixenet Brut Cava. Cava, by the way, is Spanish for caves. The wine is made the French method, though the bubbles are bigger than the Aussie. Very different nose. More rounded and nutty? I prefer this I think.

Third bottle: Adriano Adami dei Casel Prosecco. Fav so far!!! Nice and citrusy, bright green apples. Mmmm.

The fourth bottle is also from the same Adriano Adami vineyard, another prosecco but this is a 2007 vintage. Notes of sour apples, but it’s more restrained.

We move on to champagne: Le Drappier. People ate commenting that it is a much more complex wine. Not as fruit forward; very yeasty!!!! Interesting weight.

Last white wine of the evening: Pol Roger Champagne. Some of that yeasty nose, but much lighter and more floral on the finish. I think I would prefer the Drappier as it seems more exciting.

Last unique wine of the evening (we had a few repeat bottles) was a sparkling shiraz.

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