The Straits Wine Company’s Singapore Wine Fiesta 2011 and Wine Fiesta @ Wine For Asia 2011 – Day 1
Someone just had to turn up with a funny hat.
The event organisation was wonderful so crowd control was in place and the whole process of buying tickets and getting tagged, being handed a pencil and Programme Guides with a map of the venue and listings of wineries and featured wines, the collection of refundable S$10 deposits for wine glasses,
purchasing and collecting wine was quite painless, leaving us to think about the wines.
Stayed focused on part of the Old World on the first night: France (excluding the bubbly) and Germany.
Started with Mischief & Mayhem from Burgundy, France. Mischief & Mayhem is a négociant run by a Brit and an Aussie and buys grapes from vineyards in Chablis and Cote d’Or (the upper bit of Burgundy) to make their wines. For tasting were the Chablis Premier Cru 2006 (S$45), Chablis Les Preuses Grand Cru 2005 (Wine Spectator: 90, me: not bad but not spectacular) (S$109), Meursault 2006 (S$69), Meursault Les Poruzots Premier Cru 2005 (Wine Spectator: 91, me: love it)(S$119), Volnay 2006 (S$69) and Corton Bressandes Grand Cru 2006 (Wine Spectator: 90, me: ripe exotic berries)(S$110).
Mischief managed, we went on to Domaine Jean Marc Brocard. The Brocard family were the first to practice biodynamic (much more than “organic”!) farming in Chablis. Thought the Petit Chablis Domaine Sainte Claire 2010 (S$35) and Chablis Domaine Sainte Claire 2009 (S$39) were not bad. Didn’t try the Chablis Premier Cru Vau De Vay 2009 (S$59), but boy was the Chablis Premier Cru Montee De Tonnerre 2009 (S$69) something spectacular. Don’t know much about wines but wonder if this is a case of a premier cru vineyard producing grand cru quality, or if it is just what a premier cru should taste like. And look – Aligote (S$29) in Chablis not Cote Chalonnaise! The Brocards’ vineyards are situated on kimmeridgian clay-limestone – “the same as in Champagne” I exclaimed and Frederic Brouca was pleased to chat more, gave me his card and said to visit in spring or summer – he would be more than happy to give recommendations, arrangements etc. Unfortunately for him, we might actually take up the courtesy offer.
Then there was Château de la Tuilerie from Cotes (Costières?) de Nîmes in Southern Rhône. The representative was a very kindly man but i just didn’t quite fancy the blends – Celebration Viognier 2010 (S$22) and Celebration Merlot 2009 (S$22), though the more full-bodied Eole Rouge 2007 (S$69) was acceptable. Bought a bottle of apple juice (S$8) instead.
Other “cabins” (for some reason there was a cruiseliner theme going on) from Southern Rhône where round stones called galets are washed down from mountains and cover the ground and where vines are always in danger from the mistral wind from the north, were:
Château La Nerthe from Châteauneuf-du-Pape (the Pope’s new castle) – the Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2010 (S$69) showed very good promise (Grenache blanc, Rousanne, Bourboulenc, Clairette grapes) but the Châteauneuf du Pape Rouge 2006 (S$69) was just too warm for a proper taste. Didn’t try the Tavel Rose Prieure De Montezargues 2010 (S$35) and there was no more Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvee Clos Des Cadettes 2005 (Wine Spectator 95)(S$139) for tasting on Friday night; and
Jean Luc Colombo, a négociant who buys grapes from North and South Rhône for his wines. His daughter was hard at work at the stall. The couple next to me were raving about the Châteauneuf du Pape Les Bartavelles 2009 (Robert Parker: 90, me: not bad but rather too straightforward for me)(S$69). Didn’t try the Condrieu Amour De Dieu 2010 (S$99), Cote Du Rhone Les Abeilles 2009 (S$29), Crozes Hermitage Fees Brunes 2009 (Wine Spectator S$45) and Cornas Terres Brulees 2008 (Wine Spectator 91)(S$89).
Fared better with Northern Rhône. While the Crozes Hermitage White 2010 (S$29) and the Crozes Hermitage Red 2007 (S$29) from Cave de Tain co-operative were not for me, i liked the Les Hauts Du Fief Crozes Hermitage Red 2009 (Wine Spectator:91)(S$39) enough to buy a bottle. Had a good old chat with one of the two winemakers, Frank Protin, and he was charming enough to end off asking if i was from the wine industry and if i would go visit.
Representing Languedoc in the GSM South of France were:
Mas Belle Eaux – the Mas Belle Eaux Les Coteaux 2007 (S$45) and Mas Belle Eaux Saint Helene 2005 (S$59) weren’t quite to my taste, and the absence of representatives from Mas Belles Eaux did the wines no favour since the temp staff servers were only told to pour (we saw one get scolded for pouring a full glass) and didn’t know how to keep the wines at optimal temperature – a waste of an opportunity to educate future servers or consumers perhaps?; and
Les Domaines Paul Mas – after trying the La Forge Estate Chardonnay 2010 (S$25), Pinot Noir 2010 (S$25) and Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (S$25), vins de pays d’oc, i blurted,”Hey, these taste like Australian wines!”. The polite chap said that yes, they intended to make it that way.
Heavyweight, Bordeaux, had just one stall – Maison Hebrard, a negociant for wines from both banks. To demonstrate their coverage, the firm selected wines from each main region to be featured: Hebrard Chateau Landon Medoc 2009 (S$45) which tasted strangely metallic, the Hebrard Chateau Harmonie St Emilion Grand Cru 2009 (S$69) which was ok and the Chateau Guiraud Sauternes 2002 (S$155) which was one of the better renditions of Sauternes i’ve tasted.
And speaking of sweet wines, the Germans were all sorts of differing levels of sweetness. Slightly ironic when you think of the populist image of Germans.
At Max Ferdinand Richter from Mosel, there was a Riesling Zeppelin 2010 (S$25) which i tasted in honour of Led, and also entry-level Pradikats – Riesling Kabinett Trocken Graacher Himmelreich 2009 (S$35), Riesling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr 2007 (S$25) and Riesling Kabinett Brauneberger Juffer 2008 (S$35).
Then i moved on to wines further up the Oechsle index to
Alec Baldwin’s Schloss Schönborn‘s Riesling Spatlese Pfaffenberger 2008 and Riesling Auslese Rudesheimer 2005 from Rheingau which i rather liked despite not generally being fond of sweet wines. These had character. Recommended them to a random stranger sharing a table who confessed in the course of conversation that since she wasn’t quite a wine drinker but could imbibe sweet whites. She tasted and agreed and hopefully will be tempted to explore beyond Australians.
On the other side of town, on Saturday, my Wine Fiesta @ Wine For Asia 2011 experience started with the frustration of not being registered for entry despite paying online and seeking confirmation from two people that no ticket needed to be issued to me. Also the workshops seemed a good idea but were perhaps targeted at a different audience: eg. the “How To Determine Quality of Wine” speaker just said repeatedly that wine quality was a personal choice, and filled up the rest of the half hour talking about not being alarmed to find sediment in bottles and to drink wine at the correct temperature.
The one booth that seemed to have promise was the Wine Review magazine’s Great Bordeaux 2008 Tasting. Unfortunately, the girls staffing the place said they didn’t know anything about the wines.
At least i did find three interesting French wines amongst the booths:
Chateau d’Esclans put niggling doubts in my mind that rosés could be easily dismissed as pretty pink with no substance. From Provence (“home of rosés”). entry-level Whispering Angel was quite good. Forgot to try the Garrus…;
The mind boggles at the diversity of outcomes from just one species of vitis – the vitis vinifera. And yet perhaps it is right to call it the “common grapevine” because there is so much more out there, much more of God’s creation than our dreams could ever compare. And then there is God the Creator himself.
*wine descriptions are as far as i understand them (ie. not much, really)…please let me know if i’ve gotten anything wrong