Author Archives: aglassofwine

Pizza and Pinot Noir

Tired of all the overpriced restaurant meals (and wines) and leery of the Friday night crowd, I hung out at a friend’s place instead last night. There were four of us, and we ordered three 10 inch pizzas to wash down with a bottle of Languedoc Pinot Noir (La Forge Estate Pinot Noir Reserve 2006 I brought from home (incidentally, I just trekked over to Nat Decants to take a look at her suggested pairing for meaty pizza, and pinot noir was up there on the list).

The wine was a cheap (relatively, in Singapore terms; do you know that the government charges a flat tax of $7.50 per bottle of wine that comes into Singapore?) bottle I had picked up on impulse at Denise Wines. My expectations were low, so I was pleasantly surprised by the wine. It had a light and fruity nose – strawberries, raspberries – and some cinammon in the finish. Nice and smooth tannins that went really well with our pizzas: a BBQ chicken one; one called the Sunshine Fantasy, which had boiled eggs, which I love; and a pepperoni and sausage one.

So, all in all, a delightfully pleasant, low-key evening punctuated with shouts of laughter. 🙂

The Search for Zinfandel

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

On the upside, I now know three more wine stores that I can hit up for future sprees. And despite my attempt to save, I walked away with three bottles for my personal stash: a Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2008, a Mollydooker Two Left Feet Shiraz Merlot 2006 (because I’ve read so much about their top wines, and had to try this that was on 15% discount), and a Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003.

Three Score & 10

Had a really good bottle of wine last night, the III Associates Three Score & 10 Grenache/Shiraz 2005, from McLaren Vale, Australia. It had raisin-y notes, but what I really loved about it was the weight of the wine, nice and heavy – quite a noticeable change from the big-boobs-but-no-ass wines I’ve had recently, you know, the wines with a lot of flavor upfront but which quickly disappear into nothingness. Anyway, as I was saying, I really liked the feel of the wine. There was some earthiness and oak to it too, mixed in with the rich plum mouth feel. Mmm! It’s bottles like this that reminds me of why I really like Grenache/Shiraz blends.

BBC: Music ‘can enhance wine taste’

From the BBC:

Music ‘can enhance wine taste’
Playing a certain type of music can enhance the way wine tastes, research by psychologists suggests.

The Heriot Watt University study found people rated the change in taste by up to 60% depending on the melody heard.

The researchers said cabernet sauvignon was most affected by “powerful and heavy” music, and chardonnay by “zingy and refreshing” sounds.

Professor Adrian North said the study could lead retailers to put music recommendations on their wine bottles.

The research involved 250 students at the university who were offered a free glass of wine in exchange for their views.

Brain theory
Four types of music were played – Carmina Burana by Orff (“powerful and heavy”), Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky (“subtle and refined”), Just Can’t Get Enough by Nouvelle Vague (“zingy and refreshing”) and Slow Breakdown by Michael Brook (“mellow and soft”)

The white wine was rated 40% more zingy and refreshing when that music was played, but only 26% more mellow and soft when music in that category was heard.

The red was altered 25% by mellow and fresh music, yet 60% by powerful and heavy music.

The results were put down to “cognitive priming theory”, where the music sets up the brain to respond to the wine in a certain way.

“Wine manufacturers could recommend that while drinking a certain wine, you should listen to a certain sort of music,” Prof North said.

The research was carried out for Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes, who plays monastic chants to his maturing wines.

Mr Montes said: “It was therefore a natural extension to link with Heriot Watt and to scientifically determine the impact that music has on how wine tastes.”

Previously, Professor North conducted supermarket research which suggested people were five times more likely to buy French wine than German wine if accordion music was played in the background.

If an oompah band was played, the German product outsold the French by two to one.

Cabernet Sauvignon: All Along The Watchtower (Jimi Hendrix), Honky Tonk Woman (Rolling Stones), Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney and Wings), Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who)

Chardonnay: Atomic (Blondie), Rock DJ (Robbie Williams), What’s Love Got To Do With It (Tina Turner), Spinning Around (Kylie Minogue)

Syrah: Nessun Dorma (Puccini), Orinoco Flow (Enya), Chariots Of Fire (Vangelis), Canon (Johann Pachelbel)

Merlot: Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay (Otis Redding), Easy (Lionel Ritchie), Over The Rainbow

Bordeaux, Finger Lakes, Mendocino, Chile, Spain

Had some good wines recently – the first three we downed at our cabin down in Kentucky on Saturday.

Reignac St. Loubes Grand vin de Bordeaux 2005
Julian and Sandra had been saving this bottle for a special occasion, so I was even more touched that they chose to share it with us. 🙂 Beautiful wine – nice and structured, super smooth. The finish was the stunner, in my opinion, with a resurgent kick of black fruit that lingered on and on. Blend of Merlot and some Cabernet Sauvignon.

Anthony Road Wine Company Rose, Finger Lakes
Jeff pulled this out of his remaining Finger Lakes collection, and I quite liked it. A little tart, and not at all sweet. We drank it cold out of the fridge, but after it warmed up some, it got a little more complex.

Edmeades Zinfandel, Mendocino County 2005
This was a bottle that had been sitting in my fridge for a bit, such that I’d forgotten when I bought it – think I bought it from Sam’s. Julian liked it a lot – in fact, he said that it was one of the few Zinfandels he actually liked. Heh. I thought it was a pretty nice example of a good Zin too – a little on the sweet end, but not overwhelmingly so like the Brown Zinfandel I had. Flavors of raspberry and mocha, with a touch of spice.

Chono Carménère Chile 2005
Paired this with the Katy’s dumplings and rice dumplings for dinner last night – it was I think the lightest red I had left in my fridge. Lots of dark fruit, and a touch of spiciness that complemented well with the chilli sause I liberally slathered on my dumplings. A little tannic on first taste, but it nicely softened as the night progressed and tasted a lot sweeter. Definitely a wine I’d stock up again in my fridge.

Bodegas Hijos De Juan Gil Juan Jumilla 2005
After climbing tonight, Julian, Sandra, Chuck, Roger, and Peter came over for some dumplings and wine. Julian and Sandra brought their bottle of Bodegas Hijos De Juan Gil Juan, a Spanish grape varietal I’ve never tried before (Chuck brought a bottle of Il Cuore, Barbera 2005 and I opened the bottle of John Christopher Cellars Epic 2003 – I’d had both on previous occasions). I liked it a lot – it was much lighter and softer than the other two bottles we had; perfect for a starter wine while we waited for the dumplings to boil. Ton of fruit in the mouth – blackberries?? – and very smooth.

Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc

phelps-sauvignon-05.jpg

Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc, 2005

Beautifully structured, with a floral hint at the beginning of the nose, which quickly gives way to some oak and butter. I loved the weight of the wine in my mouth, in the finish. Nice and rounded. Come to think of it, I like it better than the supposedly “cleaner” New Zealand examples because the oak lends more gravitas to the wine.

Goes nicely with some Chinese rice dumplings (thank you Sandy!!!) and pot stickers (thank you Katy’s Dumpings!) and chilli sauce. 🙂

Wine of the times: Wines this week so far

Last night, Jonathan popped by for an impromptu night cap, ostensibly to share the bottle of absinthe he’d bought in London, but more, I think, to laugh at my tan. And laugh he did, but we did get to the bottle of absinthe, softened with water and sugar (packets of which we had to get from 7-11, because sadly, we have never had any in the apartment…). Interesting concoction – the anise taste was insistently there, and made for a refreshing beverage. And no, I did not experience any hallucinations…

On Monday night, a Korean dinner of spicy Bi Bim Bop was paired with a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 from Oregon. It was a nice bottle, good value for money, with some tannins at the end that suggested that it could easily be kept for another 1-2 years. None of the big fruit in the Californian examples; in fact, Jeff suggested that the taste was a little muted in the nose and mouth initially.

On the flight back from Utah, Sihao, Amy, Jeff, and I had managed to snag seats in the first class cabin, and thus were treated to seemingly bottomless glasses of Astica Cuyo Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 from Argentina (the air stewardess appeared out of nowhere to fill up our glasses every time it inched towards the bottom). Sihao was at first skeptical of my enthusiasm when I proffered my glass to him. Tsk, such is his distaste for non-French wines. But he quickly changed his mind, and subsequently raved about how structured and smooth the wine was for a 2001 vintage. His commentary: “It’s my type of wine: smooth and well-balanced. Not a lot of tannins, great aging. It’s a red you can drink on your own.” The air stewardess seemed pretty happy that we liked the wine, and apologetic that the plane no longer carried the Astica Malbec, which I had originally requested for. She wrote down the label for me, and told us that the other passengers had apparently raved about the Malbec. Might be worth a try to find a bottle… Sihao, your mission in Argentina!

For dinner on Sunday, we drove the one hour into Park City, to check out why people preferred the ski resorts there to the ones of Alta and Snowbird. Verdict: There were more resorts clumped together in Park City, and consequently a more vibrant night life, but I think I prefer the grandeur and the peaks in Snowbird. Because we’d a few free glasses of wine at the lodge before heading over to dinner (some real estate home vacation company sponsored a cocktail hour), the others demurred to get more wine, so Jeff and I split a bottle of Los Vacos Baron de Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 from Chile. My initial impression was that it smelled like a steamy locker room that opened up into an indoor swimming pool at the gym – which is really not unpleasant as it probably reads, but the others deemed me a little nuts. I liked it enough, though it wasn’t anything exciting to shout about.

Harn found us a restaurant in the Alta resort called The Gold Miner’s Daughter on Saturday night. No alacarte menu, just a pre-fixed list – I got the crab cakes, N.Y. sirloin, and lemon chiffon cake. We washed everything down with a bottle of Bonny Doon Riesling and a bottle of Francis Coppola Merlot. I didn’t care much for the Riesling, which Amy and I both agreed had a nose more like that of a Chardonnay – a little too much oak?!?. Harn liked it though, for the honey notes and the faint tinge of sweetness. I thought the merlot was pretty decent, smooth enough, but other than that I don’t really remember much of it. I do remember the random conversations that jumped from one thread to another and back again. Irreverent, lewd, and boisterous. Good fun, although I think Jeff was a little bemused at times when the rest of us unconsciously lapsed into Singlish and threw out the random non-English words. 🙂