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.

Arrivederci Peishan: Asian No. 1 move to Singapore

Recently, we had a send off Italian wine tasting for Asian #1 Peishan. She is leaving me for Singapore, so the blog will be bridging drinking from both sides of the globe.  Here is a listing of what we ate and drank.

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.

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

Roman Style Wining and Dining in Chicago

There is nothing more awesome than a true Italian style dinner….multiple courses, good wine, and eating that spans several hours. It is pretty rare to find a restaurant that feeds you continuously for that long without requiring you to nibble and look ackwardly at your impatient waitress/waiter. But at Enoteca Roma the owners have created the ultimate Roman feast with 6 courses, serving more food that you can handle and the grand experience of eating what I like to call a “sprawling” European style dinner. All of it is for a swoon worthy $25. Count ’em…
Courses
1. Antipasta and Bruscetta
2. Appetizers- usually steamed mussells and stewed sausage
3. Salad
4. Polenta served hot on a cool slab of marble
5. Pasta
6. Pizza
(7. Dessert)

Dessert is a little extra, and we actually refused the pizza and went for the dessert instead. The various cheesecakes and gelato were a perfect way to end the meal. I greedily finished off the rest of the pana cotta that was silk smooth and topped with berries. It was nothing short of glorious. All of us couldn’t help but comment how great the meal was along the way. Each course was well made and definitely drool worthy. I am already plotting my next visit.

Wines
Bisson Prosecco IGT Valdobbabiene, Italy 2006- $13- Not bad- Damn Good

We started out with this bottle. It had a nice acidity and a good deal of carbonation that made it a good way to clean our palates and start the evening out right. With hints of citrus and pear and a light nose, I thought this was a pretty good prosecco.

Corregio Roero Nebbiolo Piemonte, Italy 2003-$18- Not Bad

This was a very fruit forward light bodied red. It had a little bit of an acidic, tanniny, dry finish but maintained its body. With the bitter savoriness of our arugula parmesan salad, it paired wonderfully showing a great complexity than at first taste. It also left a clean palate.

J Hofstatter Pinot Nero Valle D’Aosta, Italy 2005-$20- Damn Good

To me the best wine of the night, this bottle had a great fruity jammy nose with hints of cherry and a great taste to match. What made it interesting was its complex spicy finish. It went beautifully with our heavier more substantial pasta dishes. Less tannin than the previous wine, it had a medium body and was very drinkable.

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. 🙂