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Wolf Blass Wines and Wisdom

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Tasting the Luxury Collection of Wolf Blass with Chief Winemaker, Chris Hatcher at the Tower Club, Republic Plaza, SingaporeAt an invited tasting of the luxury collection* of Wolf Blass wines, presented by its chief winemaker, Chris Hatchet, it was interesting how many people in the room found favourites in the 1993 Black Label Cabernet Shiraz and the 1998 Platinum Label Shiraz. These renditions of the Barossa Valley had all the body and complexity of, some nodded and murmured approvingly, Bordeaux.

In a time when postmodernism is the zeitgeist of the age, where an upstanding member of society is expected to preface any view with an apologetic “but this is just my personal opinion”, it’s somewhat fascinating to contemplate the implications of such a consensus. (Arguably though, the journalists and editors of wine magazines, sommeliers, wine merchants and educationalists had all been cut from the same cloth, the cloth that references everything with French terroir. ;-))

Tasting the Luxury Collection of Wolf Blass with Chief Winemaker, Chris Hatcher at the Tower Club, Republic Plaza, SingaporeWe’ve spent the last month or so working at understanding the Book of Proverbs with the help of Joshua Ng’s The Beginning of Wisdom (Proverbs: Volume 1), published by Matthias Media. Probably haven’t understood even an eighth of what’s on offer but have gathered this much:

  • if wisdom is the knowledge of how to best live in this world, then the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD. Of course, anyone, by careful observation could attempt to live in a way that he thinks is expeditious (and write books about it) and he may, to some extent, be right. But he can never grasp the whole picture. God made the universe (and therefore knows best how it works!) and God will come again to judge (and can therefore tell us how to live now in light of future judgement – assuming you trust what he says ! (hence, fear and faith));
  •  because of future judgement, wisdom is not something that is just nice to know only if you were of a serious-minded sort of persuasion, but a matter of life and death for everyone. It is imperative that we gain wisdom to avoid eternal death;
  • Proverbs, read together with the New Testament, states quite plainly that not all good actions lead to positive outcomes in this life; the Bible is quite realistic – we live in a fallen world that has been corrupted by our sin;
  • but there is a certain time in everyone’s future in which their all wise actions now will see a good outcome. Proverbs, read together with the New Testament, demonstrates that  the supremely wise thing to do is to acknowledge Jesus as our saviour and master, and live under his rule – for that is how we will be able to really understand how to live now and how to face God’s judgement in the future.

Tasting the Luxury Collection of Wolf Blass with Chief Winemaker, Chris Hatcher at the Tower Club, Republic Plaza, Singapore

*we have a long-running debate about the use of non-subtle adjectives in marketing (“luxury”, “premium”, “indie”) and whether this practice actually attracts or turns off the targeted audience.

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Christmas Road-trip: Perth – Margaret River

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

After duties to the relos had been concluded, it was difficult to decide what to indulge in, in Perth and its surrounds. Western Australia seemed to contain everything I love:

Sunsets through pines trees, Perthfresh crisp air of pine and eucalyptus that you just had to gulp with abandon; fresh organic fruit and vegetables whose delicious ripeness wafted out of fruit stands in the summer heat;

Fremantle Fremantle
Fremantle Beach Fremantle Beach
South Beach, Fremantle South Beach, Fremantle
Swan River, Perth Swan River, Perth
Swan River, Perth Swan River, Perth
Redgate Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia Madurah, Western Australia
From inside Simmo's Ice-Cream, Madurah, Western Australia Smiths Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia
Smiths Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia PC239813
Yallingup Beach, Margaret River
Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia
Gracetown, Margaret River, Western Australia Gracetown, Margaret River, Western Australia
Cottesloe Beach Christmas at Cottesloe Beach
Christmas at Cottesloe Beach Christmas at Cottesloe Beach

(Fremantle Beach; South Beach, Fremantle; Swan River in Perth City; Redgate Beach, Margaret River; Mandurah; Smiths Beach, Margaret River; Yallingup Beach, Margaret River; Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River; Gracetown, Margaret River; Cottesloe Beach)

clear blue-sky days out at sea or in rivers sailing (unfortunately, just missed the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships) and catamaran-ing and kayaking and canoeing and fishing and surfing and kite-surfing and snorkling and diving (clear waters, reefs, the scuttled HMAS Swan wreck, no flies!);

Drive through Margaret River Drive from Margaret River to Perth City

the freedom of wide open spaces and road trips down south and off-roading without detailed maps or sat nav; real sports, “survival” and “adventure” shops staffed by people who knew exactly what i was describing and so pointing me to exactly the sort of things i would fill the remaining 17kg of check-in baggage with (packed light); loads of like-minded outdoorsy types (including a rough and tough fellow passenger on train. Said he to his colleagues: I reckon I maight get maiself a wax to-naight, you know, before baiking tomorrow. Male colleague: yeah, that’s raight);

good coffee from several little holes in walls – eg.:

The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street, West Perth The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street
The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street
The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street
The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street

The Pony Espress O (21 Mayfair Street, West Perth. Housed in old stables. Slayer),

Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth

Cabin Fever (facebook. Shop 12 Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth. Beans from Ristretto Coffee. Retro decor.),

Bench Espresso, 471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth Bench Espresso, 471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth
Bench Espresso, 471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth Bench Espresso, 471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth

Bench Espresso (471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth. Five Senses beans, Bannister Downs milk.),

Yallingup Coffee Roasting Company Yallingup Coffee Roasting Company
Yallingup Coffee Roasting Company Yallingup Coffee Roasting Company

Yallingup Coffee Roastery (Shop 7b 233 Naturaliste Terrace Dunsborough 6281. The dredges tasted quite alright – lost the rest to the floor of the car when i had to jam the brakes at 110km/h);

loads of wineries in Swan Valley and Margaret River wine regions to stop off and taste wines at or just sit and nibble and sip and look at the verdant vineyards and their trellised vines. They were totally cool with me alternating surfing with wine-tasting, tracking fine white sand all over their cellar doors, and bobbing around with sea salt on my surf hat:

Vasse Felix, Margaret River Cheese board, Vasse Felix, Margaret River
Vasse Felix, Margaret River Vasse Felix, Margaret River
Vasse Felix,

Voyager Estate, Margaret River Voyager Estate, Margaret River
Voyager Estate, Margaret River Voyager Estate, Margaret River
Voyager Estate,

Cullen Wines, Caves Road Cullen Wines, Caves Road
Cullen Wines, Caves Road Cullen Wines, Caves Road
Cullen Wines, Caves Road
Cullen Wines,

Lamont's, Margaret River Lamont's, Margaret River
Lamont's, Margaret River Lamont's, Margaret River
Lamont’s,

Laurence Wines, Margaret River Laurence Wines, Margaret River
Laurence Wines, Margaret River Laurence Wines, Margaret River
Laurence Wines,

Knee Deep Wines, Margaret River Knee Deep Wines, Margaret River
Knee Deep Wines;

good food made from locally-sourced fresh ingredients:

Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle
Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle
Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle Breakfast, Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle
breakfast at Fidel’s Cafe (21 Essex Street, Fremantle),

White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach
White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach
White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach
White Elephant Beach Cafe (facebook. Gnarabup Road – By The Boat Ramp, Margaret River);

Clancy's Fish Pub, City Beach
Clancy’s Fish Pub (City Beach. Beach towels as part of chandelier.);

Must Restaurant, Margaret River
Must Restaurant, Margaret River Angel Hair Blue Manna Crab Pasta, Must Restaurant, Margaret River
dinner at Must Restaurant (107 Bussell Highway, Margaret River)

Little Creatures, Fremantle Little Creatures, Fremantle
Little Creatures, Fremantle Little Creatures, Fremantle
Kangaroo skewers, Little Creatures, Fremantle Rocket and Pear Salad, Little Creatures, Fremantle
Sticky Date Pudding, Little Creatures, Fremantle

brewery tastings and chill-out nosh (Little Creatures, Fremantle);

immensely kind and courteous people – taxi drivers, bus drivers, wait-staff; the constellations so clearly visible in the pitch darkness.

But the way the relos tell it, Oz looks like this:
Dangerous: Map of Australia.with every after-dinner story ending with “and he/she was Taken“, and a few murders and rapes thrown in for good measure. And did I mention the flies? They got in your car, your drinks, your food, and just about every available orifice.

Sunset, Prevelly, Margaret River
Sunset, Sugarloaf Rock, Margaret RiverBut did i mention the sunsets over the Indian Ocean? Spectacular any where along the west coast, the popular choices being to toast the end of the day with some BYO at Sea Gardens (Mitchell Drive, Prevelly) or at the lookout point at Sugarloaf Rock. The heavily tattooed and multiple-y-pierced dead-ringer for Spud next to me clapped and whistled and cheered every time the colours in the sky changed. Very nicely done, God.

Every tourist spot hosts some errant tourist who came for a short holiday and liked it so much they just never left. Western Australia would have been my Hotel California, except that I understood, reluctantly, that nothing is perfect and much as I might claim to love nature and the great outdoors, ultimately it is scary because we can’t control it and even things we are trying to protect might harm/kill us anyway (in memoriam, Steve Irwin), a sad consequence of the Fall.

Result of Margaret River bushfire

Result of Margaret River bushfireResults of controlled burning that went out of control to cause the devastating fire of Margaret River in late 2011.

St. Matthew's Shenton Park Christmas at St. Matthew's Shenton Park at Rosedale School

The sermons at St. Matthew’s Shenton Park by Rory Shiner on Christmas Eve and Kanishka Raffel on Christmas Day were good reminders that though we celebrate that a baby was born some 2000 years ago, we do not coo sentimentally over his cradle – rather, we remember that this baby was the Creator of the universe himself who chose to humble himself by being conceived in the womb of a virgin, who came to die (which might be why one of the wise men gave him incense) to redeem all humans so that we can be what God first made us to be – reflections of God’s image to the rest of creation, to rule over it and take care of it, under God’s command.

Transportation
Rental Car, Margaret River
Cow Crossing Sign, Margaret River Ducks Crossing Sign, Margaret River
The only way to really see WA is with your own set of wheels. But beware wildlife crossings, especially the kangaroos at dawn and dusk. Apparently they take to headlights like moths to a flame. All advice upon encountering a rogue ‘roo says to brake if possible but never to swerve. Also, if you see a ‘roo, it’s likely his lemming-like friends aren’t far behind. But where do they hide in daytime, i’d asked, where do Kanga’s more sensible friends counsel him in calm slow voices that lights are not his friends and not to do the suicide hop? No answers until I passed a field of sheep and slowed to get a better look at some strange creatures – naked sheep sitting up on their hind legs, bending over to nibble on pasture with them rest of them…oh yeah…

The roads are just completely dark at night so make sure your headlights and batteries are go. Narrowly avoided running into a fox, but further squished a large black (?) snake that had already been hit and was lying across the road. Counted three ‘roos by the side. 😦

Next time, the rental car needs to have a roof rack for rental surf boards. Definitely.

Maps
Augusta Margaret River Tourism Black and White Map – didn’t have GPS. Relied on this and put an eye out for road signs instead.

Accommodation
Perth – YHA
Fremantle – Port Mill
Margaret River – Gilgara Resort

Wines
These are the wines i tried and rather liked:
Vasse Felix Cellar Door Vasse Felix Wine Tasting Menu and Prices
Vasse Felix - 2008 Heytesbury
Vasse Felix – Heytesbury 2008 (“A barrel selection of the very finest sections, of the best vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Cabernet Sauvignon is dominant and its restrained power is lifted by the distinctly perfumed and structured Petit Verdot and Malbec. It is matured in new and one year old French Oak barriques for 18 months”). Very good service by the friendly blonde-ish lady (with her hair tied back) at the cellar door who could remember my preferences a few days after the tasting.

PC239667 PC239658
PC239650 PC239657
Hamelin Bay Wines - 2008 Five Ashes Vineyard Carbernet Sauvignon
Hamelin Bay Wines - 2007 Five Ashes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Hamelin Bay Wines - 2009 Merlot
Hamelin Bay Cellar Door Tasting WIne List and Prices Hamelin Bay Cellar Door Tasting WIne List and Prices

Most of the Hamelin Bay Wines offerings including the 2011 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (“Lovely fresh citrus, stone fruit and nutty flavours completed with a dry, mineral finish”), 2007 Five Ashes Reserve Chardonnay (“Beautiful quince and honey glazed poached pears”), 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (“Classic characters of plums and chocolaty cedar and hint of mint fill the nose. Sweet and fleshy in the mouth finishing with dry firm tannins”), 2007 Five Ashes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (“A beguiling mix of primary fruit and complex earthy notes complimented by cedary oak nuances. Black cherry, cassis and mulberry aromatics are mixed with earthy, seaweed, cigar-box and cedar aromatics to deliver a classic Bordeaux like aromatic profile.”), and possibly the 2009 Merlot (“Beautiful aromas of chocolate, plum skin, red berry fruit and liquorice.”) though can’t quite remember this last one. The lady at the cellar door was also wonderfully enthusiastic about the loveliness of the wines.

Lenton Brae
Lenton Brae Lenton Brae
Lenton Brae

Lenton Brae – the Wilyabrup Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (“26-year-old Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc vines on the estate vineyard in Wilyabrup. The 2010 vintage was warm and dry providing perfect conditions for these early-ripening white varieties. The grapes were hand picked, chilled, gently pressed and blended (60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc) before fermentation in new French oak barrels. Post fermentation, the barrels were topped and stirred monthly. After 10 months maturation, the wine was stabilised and bottled without filtration. Aromatically, the wine displays restrained lemon and citrus notes with a subtle, savoury oak influence. On the palate, the wine’s entry is soft and creamy and finishes with bright acidity and persistence. Approachable now, the wine will soften and continue to integrate in the short to medium term, though it has the fruit concentration to suggest long-term cellaring is possible”) and Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (“Cabernet Sauvignon with 7% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon gives the wine structure, with the Merlot contributing mid-palate richness and has a ‘softening’ effect on the tannin and astringency of Cabernet. This wine displays lifted aromatics of dark fruits, blue berries, black cherries and dark chocolate. The rich, full-bodied palate echoes these flavours displaying fantastic concentration and fruit definition while being gently supported with supple acidity and tannin.”). Jeanette, the wife of the architect who designed the place and lived on site, was most helpful and patient with advice on shipping and taxes. I regretted not having any more space to buy bottles from her.

Laurence Wines
Laurence Wines Laurence Wines

Laurence Wines – Laurance of Margaret River 2009 Icon Cabernet (“Dark, distinct, with complex mulberries, blackberry and cassis notes interwoven with macerated cherry, a touch of anise and graphite.The firm and velvety tannins are filling, have nice impact and grip, yet dissolve nicely revealing a long focussed finish, kept lively by succulent acidity.”). The staff here were markedly begrudging even though this was a paid tasting.

Knee Deep Wines Salty Popcorn Palate Cleanser, Knee Deep Wines
Knee Deep Wines Knee Deep Wines
Knee Deep Wines
Knee Deep Wines Cellar Door Tasting Wine List and Prices Knee Deep Wines Cellar Door Wine List and Prices

Knee Deep Wines was my last stop as i beat a retreat back to Perth City. So many of the whites (2011 Chenin Blanc, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon which really tasted like honeydew, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc that was completely shot-through with passionfruit) would have been perfect for a summer picnic and the reds (2008 Kelsea’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon) were not shabby either. Young enthusiastic staff, even on Christmas eve. Salty popcorn offered as palate cleanser.

On Day Six of the “Advent Calendar”

December 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Wedding Dinner, Intercontinental Hotel, BugisObviously the way to catch-up on preparation for youth camp next week is to attend the wedding dinner of a couple (complete with classic PSC scholar chalet romance story which would have lit The Old Man’s eyes) whose union we were happy to celebrate. It was a fun one – we carried on the tradition of hilarious charades from the menu…

Mathematical equations expressing grooms thoughts on wedding/marriage…and this was the groom’s expression of love for his bride in mathematical equations.

White wedding wine: Hardys Mill Cellars Chardonnay 2009 Red wedding wine: Hardys Mill Cellars Shiraz 2009

The dinner also served as a very useful mini pre-camp meeting where quite a bit of stuff got sorted out, over Hardys Mill Creek Chardonnay 2009 and Shiraz 2009 (having just shared a bottle of this with the beef bourguignon the night before, i was excited to be able to identify it before sighting the bottle. Alas, there was no one to share my pathetic triumph. Basic stuff, same strangely short finish or have i been drinking too many French bottles…).

Outfit for a wedding dinner Necking a bottle of sake after a wedding dinner

Since these things (and more) are fresh in the mind, brain-dumping them here:

Objective of a Christian Youth Camp
Having examined the evidence, we are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the claims of Jesus – that we are all under God’s wrath for our sin from which there will be no escape except through his own death as Christ, Messiah, Saviour, Lord and God, are true. If Jesus is the only way to be saved from this impending judgement, then it is important to tell as many people as possible. Because God so loved the world, he sent his Son to die for us and he wishes that all will be saved.

Our Motive for Running a Christian Youth Camp
We do not do this imagining that God will thank us fervently on the Last Day, nor do we assume that the more we do, the more God will reward us richly.

As Jesus says:

Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field,”Come at once and recline at table”? Will he not rather say to him,”Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink”? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say,”We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (Luke 17:7-10)

We do not do this out of spiritual ambition or to stoke our egos by padding our religious CVs. Any plan to share the good news is in itself part of our life as God’s children and servants, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to be saved. But we cannot take credit for any good that we do. Because (1) the harvest is not ours but God’s. For Paul planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1 Corinthians 3:5-7); and (2) even our good works are not our own doing for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).

Parental Consent
Until their children are of age, parents are responsible for them – their lives, their upbringing etc. Therefore, we always ask parents to consent specifically to our telling their children about Jesus, since God will hold parents accountable for them.

As Paul says to the Corinthians:

…we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)

Programme
Because it is God who does the real work around here, we rise early to pray. Then a full day of good fun, good food, and good news!

Also because it is God who does the work, we are not aiming for conversions at camp. (When i mentioned this at another dinner, some Christians were shocked – “what? no altar call?”.) The schedule is planned so that there is no brain-washing or emotional or peer-pressure to become Christian. There are talks from the Bible and studies to examine God’s Word for ourselves, and opportunities to ask questions about anything at all. If someone said he/she wanted to be a follower of Christ, we’d probably ask why and if they’ve examined things properly, explain the cost, and tell them to go think about it a bit more. Though important, necessary and of course welcome, it is not a commitment to be entered into lightly.

Songs
The lyrics of songs teach as much as talks and so these are vetted for content. No inane or repetitive lyrics like “Jump for Jesus, jump, jump”. It’s ok to repeat songs to give people an opportunity to learn them since many might be encountering them for the first time.

Musicians should not draw attention to themselves by being flashy or by showing off their skills on instruments or vocal chords. (I suppose this goes for the cooks and the gamemasters as well.) Thankfully our musicians and song-leaders have so far been understated and executed their duties plainly, without fuss.

Generally, also useful to run songs by the people giving the talks to see if they are actually appropriate that context.

Food
Campers must be well-fed. Hasty decisions wrought from bad food or, worse, from starvation, are not what we want! Good home-cooked food (taking into account various food allergies and dietary requirements) is where it’s at.

Accommodation
Campers should also have adequate rest, in comfortable conditions – in Singapore this invariably means clean toilets, hot water in the showers, and air-conditioned bedrooms. They must be in top form to think clearly about what they are hearing during the day.

Games
We want the campers to have fun, so games should be things we too would like to play. No stupid ice-breaker games like wacko or boring management-style or team-building games that consulting firms like to use in their interviews, please. And in any case, it’s really terrible to hear teachers/leaders snigger as they get students/campers to do degrading things they wouldn’t do themselves – where’s the love?

Also no games that encroach on personal space or generally make people uncomfortable (though most will already have been caught by categories above); no Twister, no pass-sweets-from-mouth-to-mouth (quite unhygienic!), no bob-for-apples whether in water or a plate of flour (unhygienic too!) etc.

And certainly no ragging of any kind.

Entertainment
We love making fun of ourselves and it’s a good laugh. However, we would be circumspect about making jokes at the expense of scampers or campers, or about things about a person that he can’t help (eg. personal circumstances, his/her God-endowed appearance, handicaps…).

So You Asked for A God Of Justice?

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I work best in noisy pubs where the music is pumping, groups of friends are toasting each other and there is a game on the wide-screen telly, preferably after drink or two under the belt. So to prepare to stand-in for my pastor at bible study, i was at Three Crowns Booze & Grub (facebook. 26A Lorong Mambong, Holland Village), putting away a bit of lamb stew and a glass of Little Yering Pinot Noir 2009 (ripe stone fruit on the nose, slightly peppery, but strangely short finish), and working on Malachi 2:17 – 3:18.

Lamb Stew, Three Crowns Booze & Grub, Holland Village Little Yering Pinot Noir 2009

God declares his love for Israel (Malachi 1:2), only to be scoffed at by his beloved. Israel then goes on to accuse God of some pretty nasty things:

  • that God is not good or just (they say,”All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17)); and
  • that God either doesn’t see or doesn’t care if you do good, so why not just do evil (they say,”It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape” (Malachi 3:14-15))

Chocolate fondant, Three Crowns Booze & Grub, Holland VillageAnd God answers:

  • you claim to want a God of justice? Well, I am a God of justice. But the problem for you is that there is no one amongst you who is righteous, not one who seeks after God. So when the God of justice comes, no one can endure the day of his coming, no one can stand when he appears. He will come near to judge them and be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, those who defraud labourers of their wages, who oppress widows and the fatherless, and deprive foreigners of justice, because they do not fear God. (Malachi 3:2-5)
  • you claim that there is no use obeying me because I don’t care or won’t remember? I will remember those who feared me and count them as mine on the last day when everyone else will be judged; I will remember those and spare them from my wrath, so that the whole world will see there is a distinction between those who serve God and those who do not (Malachi 3:16-18)

God has not changed – he is as he has always been: a God of justice and a God of mercy, who knows all things and remembers all things, and deals faithfully with those who are faithful to him.

Man has not changed either. We still claim the high moral ground over God, saying there is no God or no good God because of all the injustice we see in the world. We can make these accusations either as an arrogant armchair critic in an intellectual sparring session, or in midst of deep agony like that experienced by Elie Wiese in Auschwitz (as narrated in Night), but God remains the same.

************

See also Lee Gatiss’ notes on Malachi for St. Helen’s Bishopsgate.

************

Naturally, this requires a reference to Georg Frideric Handel’s Messiah. Here’s the lovely countertenor, Andreas Scholl (ignore the visuals):

But Who May Abide The Day Of His Coming
But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap

Handel’s librettist then rightly makes the connection between the coming of the Lord (and other prophesies about a coming messiah) and the birth of Jesus:
And He shall Purify (Malachi 3:3)
And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Behold, a Virgin shall Conceive (Isaiah 7:14)
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel.


O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (Isaiah 40:9)
O thou that bringest good tidings to Zion, get thee up upon the high mountain; O thou that bringest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God!

(Isaiah 60:1)
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Due to a race that morning and a much-needed carb-laden lunch after, only managed to catch the last few hours of the WRX Wine Journey, part of the World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011. Billed as an affordable gourmet wine and food fair (S$38 for wine activity centres and masterclasses, S$88 for additional “Gourmet Pairing Market food and wine”) i thought commendable effort was made to try to educate consumers. It wasn’t quite as crowded as expected, possibly because it was difficult to get to Grand Copthorne Waterfront in the rain, but this meant more space to move around and time to talk to the wine educators present.

The WRX Wine Activity Centers, themed wine stations meant to be hosted by local wine experts, included The ABCs of Italian Wine, Hot Holiday Wines, “Know Your Pinots” Blind Pinot Noir Challenge,

Bubbles!!! WRX Wine Activity Center, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
BUBBLES!!! – hosted by Britta Giese,

Austrian Map, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
Glorious Grüner – a whole selection of Grüner Veltliner from Austria! hosted by Maxim Sokolov from Unique Food and Wine (facebook). Amazing how variations in terroir, climate, processes can create such differently delicious products from the same grape grown in the same country – some of the wines actually tasted like chardonnay or had the aroma of a sauvignon blanc:

Little J, Gruner Veitliner, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey Jurtschitsch Loiserberg Kamptal Reserve Osterreich 2010, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
Huber Alte Setzen Erste Lage Traisental Reserve. World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
Leth Scheiben 2009, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey Makowilsch, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
Prager Hinter der Burg Federspiel 2009, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey Weingut Brundlmayer Lamm 2009, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
Franz Hirtzberger, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey

started with Jurtschitsch Little J, followed by Jurtschitsch Loiserberg Kamptal Reserve Osterreich 2010, Huber Alte Setzen Erste Lage Traisental Reserve, Huber Berg Erste Lage Gruner Veltliner Traisental Reserve, Leth Scheiben 2009, Markowitsch Alte Reben 2009, Prager Hinter der Burg Federspiel 2009, Weingut Brundlmayer Lamm 2009, Franz Hirtzberger Smaragd 2009, and finally Rudi Pichler Reserve 2008. From my notes, i liked the Prager and Markowitsch but that’s probably not all;

The Spanish Wine Inquisition. World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
The Spanish Wine Inquisition hosted by Edwin Soon; and

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
Global Cabernet Sauvignon hosted by Tan Ying Hsien of Taberna Wine, who was patient enough to have a prolonged chat about how to taste wines, chide me for marking down cab savs because of their youthfulness and suggest some books to read to teach myself at least the vocabulary of wine-tasting. Another person who happened to be at the table very kindly took me through smelling and tasting a corked wine – very useful! This n00b was grateful.

The WRX Try-and-Learn Masterclasses were similarly exciting:

Rising New Zealand Reds Masterclass, Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011, World Gourmet Series Rising New Zealand Reds by Duncan McTavish. World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
“Rising New Zealand Reds” was presented by Man O’ War winemaker Duncan McTavish. We tasted Mt Difficulty Estate Series Pinot Noir 2009, TerreVin Pinot Noir 2008, Vynfields Reserve Pinot Noir 2008, Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir 2009 (which i liked), Man O’ War “Ironclad” Merlot Cabernet Franc 2009 and Man O’ War “Dreadnought” Syrah 2009.

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey

“Western Australian Masterclass” by Jeremy Oliver, where we learned to distinguish Margaret River wines by taste (and i showed a strong preference for Peccavi wines) (flight: Xanadu Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009, Peccavi  Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011, Wignalls Unoaked Chardonnay 2010, Peccavi Chardonnay 2008, Xanadu Chardonnay 2008, Wignalls Premium Chardonnay 2009, Wignalls Pinot Noir 2009, Voyager Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2007, Peccavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Voyager Shiraz 2009) and the difference between technical scores (like Robert Parker’s) and wines that wine critics actually like to drink at home, and

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
“Stickies and Puddings” by Britta Giese, where the challenge was to match the different desserts with the given dessert wines: Small Gully Mr. Black’s Concoction Moscato 2009, Oremus Furmint Late Harvest Tokaji 2008, Markus Molitor “Zeltinger Sonnenuhr” Kabinett 2008, Tchida Zweigelt Strohwein, NV Ratafia de Champagne Henri Giraud, Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port. (There was a mild flurry of excitement when a chap in the front row keeled over onto the floor mid-session. Fortunately, it was only the after-effects of mixing cold medicine with alcohol. I was afraid i might have to dust off archived CPR skills.)

Outside, the food and wine pairings were:
World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
fricassee of snails, wild mushrooms & beetroot, cauliflower & white chocolate emulsion (Paul Longworth, Au Petit Salut) x Man O’ War

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
crepes ribbons with homemade sausages, porcini mushroom and cheese sauce (Luca Carrino, Capricci) x Batasiolo

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
“porchetta allo spiedo” (pork belly cooked slowly in gentle fire with orange zest sage & rosemary herbs) (Moreno Martini, Gaia Ristorante & Bar) x Avignonesi

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
“casseler” (smoked pork in sour dough bread with “spreewald style”sauerkraut and spicy mustard) (Jan Touschil, MAGMA German Wine Bistro, Deli + Shop) x MAGMA

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
marinated whole south africa abalone with tofu in “teochew” style (Yong Bing Ngen, Majestic Restaurant) x Freixenet

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
roast baby chicken with truffle, brioche, jamon and pinenut stuffing, rosemary and garlic potatoes (Christopher Millar, Stellar, 1-Rochester Group) x Grant Burge

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
chilly infused grainy mustard enchanced chicken kebab served with avacado garbanzo pinenut chat (Manjunath Mural, The Song of India) x Mt Difficulty

World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience 2011 WRX Wine Journey
slow cooked spiced veal cheeks served with deep fried mantou (Daniel Sia, The Disgruntled Chef) x Penfolds

He Who Made The Grapes

November 11, 2011 1 comment

An intense fortnight of vino fun:

Seafood International, Playground @ Big Splash. "If It Swims We Have It" Raw seafood + hot pot. Seafood International, Playground @ Big Splash.
Tofu. Seafood International, Playground @ Big Splash. Chicken in claypot. Seafood International, Playground @ Big Splash.
Dessert. Seafood International, Playground @ Big Splash.

Over a seafood dinner at The Seafood International, Playground @ Big Splash,

Oliver's Taranga Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, McLaren Vale Oliver's Taranga Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, McLaren Vale
Napa Cellars Mount Veeder Napa Valley Chardonnay 2009 Napa Cellars Mount Veeder Napa Valley Chardonnay 2009
Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay Reserve 2006

Oliver’s Taranga Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 McLaren Vale, Napa Cellars Mount Veeder Napa Valley Chardonnay 2009, Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay Reserve 2006, there was talk about the making of wine menus and about wines from Spain and Italy.

Spittoons
Lustau Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Sherry Lustau Manzanilla Pasada de Sanlucar Sherry
Deliciosa Manzanilla Sherry Lustau Don Nuno Dry Oloroso Sherry
Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximenez Sherry Harvey's Pedro Ximinez Sherry

Then there was some very informative sherry tasting – a Lustau fino, a Lustau amontillado (which really tasted of the sea), two manzinillas (Lustau Pasada de Sanlucar and Deliciosa Sanlucar de Barrameda), a Lustau dry oloroso, and then two PXs (Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximenez Sherry and a Harvey). This first encounter with sherry left the strong impression that they had quite a bit of rice aroma (in the sense of the smell of rice being cooked) about them.

Lala. Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood, Casuarina Road, Upper Thomson, SIngapore Pork. Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood, Casuarina Road, Upper Thomson, SIngapore
Fried chicken wings. Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood, Casuarina Road, Upper Thomson, SIngapore Fish. Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood, Casuarina Road, Upper Thomson, SIngapore
Chicken liver. Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood, Casuarina Road, Upper Thomson, SIngapore Drunken prawns. Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood, Casuarina Road, Upper Thomson, SIngapore
Tofu with crab meat. Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood, Casuarina Road, Upper Thomson, SIngapore

The unfinished bottles were brought along to Ban Leong Wah Hoe Seafood and introduced to good cze char, two rounds of Heinekens, a Gewurztraminer VT (Baron de Hoen Gewurztraminer Vendages Tardives (ie. late harvest) 2007 from Alsace), a Muscadet (Chateau du Cleray Muscadet Sevre Et Maine Sur Lie 2007) and a wine from Cote Chalonnaise which we had just been discussing over dinner (Domaine Faiveley Monopole La Framboisiere from Mercurey). The amontillado did indeed go very well with the fish. Exciting discussions lasted till 1.30am as would be natural at a meeting of people enthusiastic or even obsessed about wine – a true fellowship of believers, unlike the sort of “fellowships” some Christians claim they have when they come together yet talk about anything but Christ.

Lustau Sherries and their friends - a Gewurztraminer VT 2007 and a Chateau du Cléray Muscadet 2007 Domaine Faiveley Monopole La Framboisiere Mercurey

Burgundy and Bordeaux Wines, Loewen Farmers' Market, Dempsey

A gawk, after breakfast, at a wine stall at Loewen Farmers’ Market at Dempsey,

Scarpantoni Brothers' Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, McLaren Vale Montevina Winery Amador County Zinfandel
Terra d' Toro Amador County Sangiovese 2007

then a full day tour, accompanied by red wine lubricants (Scarpantoni Brothers’ Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from McLaren Vale, and Montevina Winery Zinfandel and Terra d’ Oro Sangiovese 2007 from Amador County ), of the better-known wine growing regions, their geography and grape varietals, and wine appellations, wine styles and wine laws.

Trinchero Napa Valley Cold Heinekens with Lunch at a Hawker Centre

After the wine exam, the wine teacher opened a very nice bottle of Trichero Mario’s Vineyard Cab Sav 2008 from Napa Valley, some of us wound down with cold Heinekens over lunch,

Languedoc-Rousillon Wine-tasting Languedoc-Rousillon Wine-tasting
Languedoc-Rousillon Wine-tasting Languedoc-Rousillon Wine-tasting

then we popped by a Languedoc-Rousillon wine-tasting, met and chatted with a few people from the trade and tasted the Southern French wines before heading for a stress-relieving massage.

Am still continually amazed by the beautiful complexity of the vinifera, so much more complex and more beautiful than real experts and obsessive connoisseurs can ever hope to fathom or enjoy completely, and my thoughts could not but turn to the one who made not just grapes for wine (and we’re not even talking about the labrusca species), but who made all things:

Behold Our God
Verse 1
Who has held the oceans in His hands?
Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice

Chorus
Behold our God seated on His throne
Come, let us adore Him
Behold our King—nothing can compare
Come, let us adore Him

Verse 2
Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of His words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

Verse 3
Who has felt the nails upon His hands?
Bearing all the guilt of sinful man
God eternal, humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior, risen now to reign

Tag
You will reign forever
Let Your glory fill the earth

from Risen
Jonathan Baird, Meghan Baird, Ryan Baird, and Stephen Altrogge
© 2011 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

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