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Archive for the ‘tasting’ Category

Hey Winos,

For those that missed last night’s “Wines from Asia” event, the final opinions on Asia’s wines were very mixed, to say the least! The one thing we had consensus on is that we wouldn’t mind waiting a while for the next time we feature Asian wines.

Looking forward, let’s keep the theme of new themes. I threw out a couple new ideas below. Please share yours!

1. Classic Cocktails – Steve will take us on this interesting tangent sometime in March or April. More details to come from Steve…

2. Viognier – I don’t think we’ve explored this unique white varietal in depth and I think it’s among the most interesting yet least-hyped whites. I recently had a French Condrieu and a Napa Viongier and, as expected, they were vastly different. Let’s check out how they differ around the globe and hopefully convert some into Viongnier freaks like me.

3. Wino-lympics – Let’s have wines from around the world represent their home countries and compete in brackets based on our collective ratings on areas like taste, nose, structure and complexity. We’ll do a few things to keep the playing field level: keep it under $15/bottle, seperate out red from white and keep the judging blind (good idea, Zhen).

As a side idea to (3), Peishan’s back in the States in March/April and wants to enjoy a DGS while in town. She’s missed the variety of great American wines we take for granted here. In major league baseball form, we could have a “World Series” of American wines in the same format as the Wino-lympics.

Cheers,
Aaron

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So Janice and I might not have been the smartest when it came to picking a theme for the DGS – we could have made our lives a lot easier had we stuck with say, Shiraz, instead of Zinfandel. But on the whole, I have to say I was pretty pleased with our selection. :) And everyone definitely had enough to drink, for we had hot buttered rum to kick the evening off and capped it with some spiced wine. Ah, the hot buttered rum was nice and buttery in its sinful goodness, and made me all nostalgic for the Duke of Perth. It was only this time last year that I was sitting in there with Peiyun, downing such a mug and trying to keep warm. Good times… Aye.

But I think the Zinfandel Christmas theme went really well, no thanks to Janice and her delicious roast potatoes and carrots, and the turkey, stuffing, ham, and crispy pork that we ordered from Cold Storage. We also made some tiramisu to round off the evening with; mmm. If I say so myself. :)

Wine-wise, the Beringer turned out to be a hit! I quite liked it myself, for the subtle sweetness and delightfully light and playful bouquet it gave off. The Marr, a $74 bottle of Old Vine Zinfandel from Mendocino County, was a bit of a disappointment though. But the favorites of the night was the Irvine from Barossa Valley, The Curse which really softened out after a while but remained nice and spicy, and The Outpost from Howell Mountain. :)

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Having grown used to the bountiful selection of Zinfandels in the US, Janice and I were disappointed to find the striking scarcity of Zinfandel here in Singapore. A search of SEVEN, and I repeat, SEVEN wine stores turned up just six bottles of Zin. Most of the stores had just one label in stock, while a couple had two, and on average, the bottles cost around $70. Not cheap. :(

Perplexed at the paucity, I asked a sales clerk in one of the stores, who explained that Zinfandel hasn’t quite caught on with the local palate. To top it off, most stores stock very few labels from the US anyway, and the if they do, these are invariably the Cabernet Sauvignons. Which is a pity, because I’ve grown to become quite fond of Zinfandel over the years. When I started out drinking, I hated the metallic tinge that seemed to be associated with it, but then that was because I was mainly swilling down the likes of Yellow Tail, Beringer, and Sutter Homes. I think Mike first opened my eyes to good Zinfandel, when he brought a bottle of Burford and Brown Zinfandel 2003 to Wendy and my new year’s party three years ago (wow).

In the end, we did manage to scrounge up the number of bottles we needed, though we quite extended our budget in the process. Oh well. These wines better be exciting! We did include a bottle of Beringer White Zinfandel, which Janice thought might be fun to try, and hey, it was the cheapest bottle we got!

The wines:
1. Beringer White Zinfandel 2007
2. Collage (a Kendall-Jackson brand) Zinfandel-Shiraz 2004
3. Marr Old Vine Zinfandel Mendocino County 2005 (I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this one; it was one of the few old vines we could find. We found the other, a St. Francis Zin selling for $70 after a 30% discount, only after we’d already bought the Mendocino one)
4. Outpost Howell Mountain Zinfandel 2004 (I’ve read good things about Outpost, and Wine Spectator has pretty rave reviews of this wine, so I’m quite excited about this)
5. The Curse, Tscharke, Zinfandel, Barossa 2006 (Which seems to have garnered strong reviews from RP as well… neat)
6. Irvine Zinfandel, Barossa 2005

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New York is actually the oldest wine region in the U.S., but is obviously shadowed by Napa. Nonetheless, New York native Jeff bravely decided to tackle wines from that state last night, going where most wine distributors in Chicago haven’t dared to tread – I know, because we have been asking around. He’d gotten most of the wines shipped back from a previous visit, and carried the rest back in his suitcase on other trips.

So it was that we held our DGS New York wines tasting at Jeff and Zhen’s Saturday night. For the most part, we tried established grape varietals, and didn’t taste native grapes such as the Concord and Seyval Blanc. There were around twenty people in attendance, including three new folks whom I think enjoyed themselves, and would hopefully be around in the future. And even though we tried to end earlier by starting at the much earlier time of 6pm, the tasting only concluded at midnight. Hehe.

We started the ball rolling with a couple of fun wines, a pear wine, Goose Watch Bartlett Pear $12. It was fun, with clear pear notes but not too cloyingly sweet on the palate.

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Next up was a strawberry wine, Baldwin Strawberry $16. Sadly, that was the only bottle that lay unfinished at the end, no mean feat considering we went through 12 bottles in total. It had a bold nose, big, ripe strawberry jam. Alas, it was sweet, waaaaaaaay too sweet, and most people had to cut it with a couple of ice cubes or water it down.

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The Viognier, Casa Larga Viognier $20, we were served next was almost a relief from the lingering sweetness. I say almost because it tasted a little too green and tight, maybe a result of an unfortunate contrast with the syrupy strawberry wine. It’s definitely not my favorite examples of viognier; I could name a dozen more that had showed a much better structure of the woodiness. Bruce and a couple others said it smelled musty. No matter, Aaron and Yeming found that they quite enjoyed the almost refreshing crispness of the wine.

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We got a bottle of Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling $24 next. Aaron and I both agreed that the wine showed a lot of potential in the nose and body… alas only to suddenly disappoint with a finish that plunged into nothingness.

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Happily, the next dry Riesling, Hermman Wiemer Dry Riesling $30, showed really beautifully. It was my favorite bottles of the night, with an elegantly light nose and dancing aromas of pineapple and floral notes, and a soft finish.

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Wine Number 6 was a late harvest Riesling from the same vineyard, the Hermann Wiemer Late Harvest Riesling $30, and again, this one thrilled, though I’d much rather the drier version.

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We tried a third bottle from the same vineyard, this one the Hermann Wiemer gewurztraminer $25 that had the clearest example of lychee notes so far. Beautiful nose, and the slight spiciness of the body was a delight.

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Wine Number 8 was a Chardonnay, the Palmer Reserve Chardonnay $17, and Natalie, upon lifting the glass to her nose, immediately pointed out the buttery popcorn notes, and not just buttery, mind you, but with a little bit of burnt edge to it, as if the popcorn had been in the microwave for a couple seconds too long. How true! I loved it, and especially savored the slight salty edge in the wine.

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We had a Pinot Grigio next, the Hunt Country Pinot Gris $16, and I stand by my statement that I’ve not had many Pinot Grigios that have wowed me, one excellent exception being the Pinot Grigio from Rocca, Italy. This was not it, but tasted pleasant enough, even if it didn’t give a lasting memory.

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After all the whites, we finally moved on to the reds. My second favorite of the night, a Merlot blend, the Rivendell Merlot $17. This one had a funky-ish nose, not quite merlot tasting with its smell of wet earth/wood, but I loved the soft tannins in the mouthfeel and found myself reaching out for refills a couple times afterwards.

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The next red was a Pinot Noir, the Six Mile Pinot Noir $22, and this was a surprising version, the color so light that it could almost pass for a rose. Not quite what I’d expect from a Pinot Noir – a little too tart and almost sweet for my liking?

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The last wine of the night, a Salmon Run Petit Noir from Dr. Konstantin Frank, was interesting. The color wasn’t quite as light as that Pinot Noir, but still a lighter shade than the Merlot. Light and fruity. Apparently a blend of Gamay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvginon (how the hell did they come up with the name Petit Noir???).

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