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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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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

A Zinfandel Christmas

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

The Search for Zin

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

Heh, someone (too lazy to hunt down the source) offered a rather brilliant piece investment advice for these trying times:

If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago, you
would have $49 left.

With Fannie Mae, you would have $2.50 left of the original $1,000.

With AIG, you would have less than $15 left.

But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drunk all
of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND,
you would have $214 cash.

Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink
heavily and recycle

DGS Singapore Italian Wines

From DGS

It was a good strong event, with over twenty people in attendance, and 11 bottles of wine, as well as a whole array of food. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to the next DGS event, at Andy’s!

1. Ruffino Orvieto Classico 2007 (S$30)

Eh, this turned out to be the best amongst all the whites… I didn’t taste the honey notes in the finish, but I did sort of taste some pineapple when I paired it with a slice of fried fish cake. Everyone else was convinced I was making things up in my head as usual though. Hehe.

Orvieto is named after one of the Umbrian cities in Italy, which used to be an important medieval hill city during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. It is a lightly sweet wine, often concentrated by some noble rot. It’s a blend of various different grapes, with a main base of Trebbiano Toascano.

I first came across this grape by accident in an Italian pizza place in Chicago, in May 2008, and was very taken with the burst of flavors in the mouth near the finish.

orvieto.jpg

2. Fronde Moscato d’Asti Fontanafredda 2007 (S$30)

We actually started off the event with this bottle. It was a little too sweet for my – well, quite a few of our liking, but perhaps it wasn’t cold enough like Andy suggested…

Tanya specifically requested some Moscato d’Asti in her RSVP, and I’d already thought to pick up a couple bottles when I headed to the wine store. I was surprised though, that the first two wine places I went to didn’t carry it at all, and I only managed to pick up a lone bottle today. I still remember my first taste of this – in a sunny piazza in Turino, the capital city of Piedmont, the region where the Moscato d’Asti hails from (Asti being the name of the town where the Moscato is made). That was the single bottle that I carted back to Chicago with me, and which I subsequently shared with friends back there. It’s a hugely popular wine at parties, being fizzy, sweet, and light in alcohol; a perfect starter wine for beginning wine lovers too.

3. Villa Girardi Soave Classico 20055 (S$40)

I first tasted Soave in Venice, Italy, the region where the wine can be found. But I mostly forgot about this wine, until last December, when Peiyun came to visit. I brought her to the Italian restaurant below my apartment, and complemented our tasty pasta dishes with a bottle of Soave. She raved about it so much that we opened up another bottle later on in her stay. πŸ™‚

Eh, I was quite disappointed with this actually – found the wine a little too harsh, and hot, even though it was only 12%. Where was that gentleness that the wine promised???

v45_villagirardi.gif

4. Leonardo da Vinci Chianti 2005 (S$35)

Andy’s a little, well actually, very, biased against non-French wines, and wines with cutesy labels on them. So he predictably turned up his nose at this one. Hehe, to be honest, I was a little inclined to agree with him. Good wines tend to take themselves a tad more seriously. However, once it had a chance to air out a bit more, the wine softened a little more. I’d be tempted to buy this one as a day-to-day wine, for its price. πŸ™‚

5. Poggio alle Sughere Morellino di Scansano 2005 (S$40)

It seemed, in this tasting, that the quality was proportional to the price. Most people liked this one a lot better than the previous one, for they found it heavier, and more fuller bodied. A couple though, begged to differ, for they didn’t quite like the pungent aroma of the wine.

Found in Tuscany, this wine is a blend of Sangiovese (90%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%).

6. Villa Girardi Bure Alto Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2001 (S$53)

I liked this one. It was a lot smoother than the previous wines, though it still didn’t taste as full bodied as I liked. Is it a sign that I like the fruitier wines??!

Also from the Veneto region of Italy, the name Valpolicella is derived from Greek and Latin and means “the valley of many cellars.” What an awesome name. πŸ˜‰

bure-alto.jpg

7. La Matta Barbera d’Alba Giommi Gagliardo 2004 (S$56)

Aaah, Barbera, this was a good wine.

On that same trip to Turino, I fell in love with wine. The lover, a bottle of Barbera d’Alba we had over dinner – of fish, if I recall correctly. I was so infatuated that my glass of water sat completely untouched throughout the meal. Of course, since then, that’s been mostly the case, but that bottle convinced me to make a pilgrimage to Alba (which I did, and the truffle festival blew me away, but that’s another story).

8. Serre Barolo Giamni Gagliardo 2003 (S$93)

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I’m not sure if I would pay $93 to drink it on its own. To be sure, this was a better wine than the rest – softer and smoother, but it wasn’t that memorable. Nonetheless, it was a good wine to cap the evening with.

Hands down, Piedmont is my favorite wine region in Italy, and it’s not difficult to see why from this wine list. Barolo is also found in the Piedmont area, but it’s a rare treat because it’s so much more expensive. Made of the Niebbolo, this is a wine that is not meant to be drank young. Also, Janice’s wine request for the evening. πŸ™‚

*Source: Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine

All in all, I think a good selection of wine, although I was a little disappointed we couldn’t explore the Sicilian region a little more. It would have also been fun if I could find a bottle of kerner, and amarone to round off the evening… Any one knows of a bigger wine retailer in the city?al

Here is the skinny on what we ate and drank. Please leave comments in terms of food and wine. My take on the whole event was a little skewed since I was knee deep in cheese and tomatoes for most of it. Comments on the wine would be much appreciated! Thanks to everyone who came. I hope you enjoyed it.

Our Menu

Nosh

Bruschettas

ricotta with sundried tomatoes

roasted garlic, basil, fresh tomatoes

roasted red pepper spread

Main

Assortment of Pizzas and Sausage

fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, ricotta, roasted garlic, basil

sausage, yellow and red peppers, feta cheese

mozzarella, feta cheese, ricotta, parmesan

sausage, sundried tomatoes, basil, fresh mozarella, roasted garlic

(one other combo I forgot…I made these up as I went)

Dessert

Pound cake two ways

with nutella and roasted bananas

with marsala wine soaked cherries and lemon curd

THE WINES!

Whites:
Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 2006 $24
– Damn Good
This Kerner is made in the northernmost part of Italy where the Italians speak mainly Austrian and the scenery is more reminiscent of Heidi than Under the Tuscan Sun. Light floral with a touch of minerality and a killer nose, this was definitely a good start to the evening for me.

De Falco Fiano di Avellino 2005- $22
– Pretty Good

This bottle had more minerality and was less fruity than the previous. Having a little bit of savoriness to it with citrus, it definitely paired well with the pizza. Light and refreshing I wouldn’t be opposed to cracking open another bottle for some seafood or sushi.

Santi Amarone dello Valpolicella 2003- $38
Damn Good
Mmmmmm….I liked this one. More old world in style, Amarone has a rich raisinyness (definitely not a word) and a velvety texture. The grapes are dried in the sun to intensify flavors in the processing. There were hints of spice and boldness to it that would please both old world and new world parties. (ie both peishan (new world) and I (old world) enjoyed it) I would love to eat this with lamb, or anything else meaty/gamey.

Prunotto Barbaresco 2004- $37 Not Bad
This Barbaresco did not wow me, but was good. It was the prototypical barbaresco with good fruit and depth, but for the price tag I feel I could get more bang for my buck elsewhere. Perhaps we opened it too early as it is just getting into its prime according the THE internet.

Bibbiano Chianti Classico 2005- $18
Pretty god

Light and fruity, this chianti actually started us off with reds. It had a delicate sweetness and was not too tanniny. With hints of berries, savory notes, this went well with the pizza. It definitely seemed to be one of the most versatile at pleasing people’s palates, but did not wow anyone.

Forteto della Luja Moscato d’ Asti 2007- $20 Orgasmic
Holy crap the nose was AWESOME on this one, like whiffing a bottle of sweet honeyed perfume. The taste was there to match. Good thing I bought two bottles of this which went as fast as lightening. I caught some peach flavors, apple, and a lot of floral. So very drinkable, bubbly, and sweet. I wish I had gotten more.