Wines to go with Chinese New Year feasts

Chinese Roast Duck

As we usher in the year of the snake, the most important event for many of us is the reunion dinner. In Singapore, where families are typically small, most people would be spending their Chinese (or Lunar) New Year’s eve dinner at home with a home-cooked spread. That usually works for me too. But this year, to spare our homemakers from pre and post meal slaving over the kitchen stoves, we have included our extended families to come together for an eight course feast. I believe a bottle of wine ought to be in order.

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The making of a wine – visit to Trinchero Cloud’s Nest vineyard in Napa Valley

If you ask almost anyone to name a source region for America’s wines, there is a 90 per cent chance someone will quickly respond with Napa Valley. Napa Valley is a narrow valley to the north of San Francisco, flanked by two mountain ranges, Mayacamas and Vacas. This is home to the wines that propelled California to international stardom in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. In October, I got the exciting opportunity to visit Napa and was hosted by a reputable wine company, the Trinchero Family Estates.

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Cloud 9 Living experience: Bubbly in Long Island NY

Cloud 9 Living is a provider of experience gifts – instead of providing the traditional physical gift, they organise experiences so that that wonderful memories can be made. They pride themselves on providing premium class customer service and I personally found that to be true. Founded in 2005, they have 1,700 experiences in 43 regions in the United States. When I was contacted by Aun about experiencing firsthand one of Cloud 9 Living’s experiences, I was ecstatic! There are several categories for me to choose from: food and wine, driving, fighter pilot for a day, golf, learn to fly, action and adventure and more! The experiences look amazing and are appropriate for birthdays, anniversaries, corporate gifts and more. I picked the private winery tour and picnic as I wanted to take the opportunity to go out to the Long Island wineries in a more intimate setting, enjoy the good weather while it lasted and spend some quality time with my sister. Continue Reading →

Pinot Noir – A taste of its worldly flavours


God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the devil made Pinot noir.”

As famously declared by André Tchelistcheff, America’s most influential wine maker in the post prohibitions period (post-1930s). The Pinot Noir demands undivided attention from growers and wine makers, seduces drinkers with subtle nuances and excites those who adore it. If I am to draw literature reference from “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, then Pinot Noir can be described as “lust” manifested in, the not so glamorous, berry form.

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Wine Tasting – To spit or not to spit, and others

Wine Tasting

Everyone loves to try out a product befor

e buying. This is especially so for wines. Fortunately, many retailers today are organising theme-based wine tastings (by varietal, region or same producer across different vintages) so that we can test their wares before committing to purchase. Travellers are also putting scenic winery visits into holiday itineraries; once you’ve worked your way through a cellar door tasting, you’ll find it’s a highly addictive and enjoyable process. In a restaurant setting, however, a tasting is a very different thing. Because –when ordering by the bottle–you can’t just move on to the next wine if the one you tried isn’t to your exact tastes. Every kind of tasting has its own set of rules. Continue Reading →

A taste of Margaret River, Australia – Fraser Gallop Estate

Australian wine – almost a market synonym for Shiraz from South Australia. Known for its strong flavour, overwhelming ripeness and full body texture, Shiraz appears to one of be the favourite varietals for most Singaporean drinkers. Grown on a small corner of South Western Australia, with terrain and climate akin to the highly prized and reputable Bordeaux region in France, Margaret River has been setting the stage on fire with its own class of style.

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My love for Champagnes, plus a few suggestions

My wife S and I, like so many in our generation, are passionate about wine. That doesn’t make us experts. In fact, I’d say we’re pretty far from being considered experts. But we’ve tasted enough to both know what we like as well as to appreciate something really special. Unfortunately, the kind of wine we both enjoy the most, and drink the most of, is Champagne… I say “unfortunately” because Champagne is far from cheap. Sometimes it feels like we’re constantly stocking up and running out of bubbly, while our other white and red wine supplies stay pretty much constant. Continue Reading →

Sweltering days: a Pinot Grigio and a Rosé to cool off with

Up and coming white wine, Pinot Grigio.

Ah, Summer. The season of dressing light, ditching the covered shoes and bringing out the flip-flops. Hit the beach and bake the skin to a crisp brown. This may sound great for most people in the world but when you’re actually here in the midst of drowning humidity between 80 to 90 per cent and combined with average temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, it’s almost as if Singapore is a giant dim sum steamer. Continue Reading →

The Noosa International Food & Wine Festival (part 2)

For our second night attending the Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, S and I chose to attend a guest chef dinner at Embassy XO, a small but chic local East meets West restaurant. In addition to the one we went to, there were four other guest chef dinners happening in town, plus a massive eight course, eight (celebrity) chef Mediterranean Degustation experience held at Berardo’s restaurant and bar. S and I had chosen the Embassy XO dinner because the guest chef in question was Teage Ezard. Continue Reading →

Two reasons to head up to Hunter

Now, you might not need any convincing to head up to the Hunter Valley on your next trip to New South Wales, Australia. Knowing it’s the country’s oldest and one of its most exciting wine regions may be all the reason you need. But just in case you needed a little extra motivation, S and I have sussed out two amazing places that alone are reason enough to head up to Hunter.

1. The Rock restaurant and Andrew Clarke’s stunning food

There are good vineyard and wine country restaurants and then there are great ones. The Rock restaurant at Poole’s Rock Wines is definitely one of the latter. It’s been named the Australia’s Best Restaurant in a Winery at the 2008 Restaurant and Catering Association awards. It is the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide’s highest ranked restaurant in Hunter, and the only restaurant in the region with two hats. Housed in a glass-walled building, overlooking a block of 90-year old shiraz vines, the clean modern room and its views are equally inviting. The Rock is actually two restaurants in one. By day, it is the Firestick Cafe, a cool, contemporary cafe that serves simple but beautifully made cafe food: wood-fired, thin crust pizzas; a luxe wagyu burger with caramelized onions and fries; pork schnitzel and crushed potato, rocket and waldorf salad. The pizzas looked especially gorgeoous. And I love Chef Andrew Clarke’s combination ideas, like the confit pork belly, caramelized fennel and gherkins pizza. (Keep reading)

New mixed wine lots

Regular readers will know that many months ago I decided to work with one of Singapore’s more interesting wine distributors to package some very unique mixed lots, available exclusively through this site. I’m very pleased that the cases sold really well – so well in fact that Estima, the distributor, has actually sold out of many of the wines in the two cases we put together.

After several rounds of tasting (which is always a blast), we’ve come up with two new lots for you all. This time, we’ve decided to reduce the number of bottles. Each lot has just six bottles. What’s really cool is that almost all of the below wines come from small, cult producers. You won’t see most of these wines on restaurant wine lists. Mostly because they are incredibly hard to come by.

The Starter Kit, priced at S$306 nett, has one white, one sticky and four reds. The white is one of my current favourite wines. In fact, I like it so much that after tasting it, I ended up buying 3 cases of it. The 2002 Coteaux du Loir Rouge Gorge, Domaine de Belliviere, is also really interesting. It has a distinct and lovely taste with a nice, long finish.

These are the wines:
2005 La Lune, Mark Angeli (Loire Valley, France)
2004 Les Calcinaires, Domaine Gauby (Roussillon, France)
1998 Virgin Hills (Victoria, Australia)
2002 Coteaux du Loir Rouge Gorge, Domaine de Belliviere (Loire Valley, France)
2002 Bebianito, Prieure Saint Jean de Bebian (Languedoc, France)
2003 Muscat de Rivesaltes, Domaine des Chenes (Roussillon, France)

The Collector’s Kit, priced at S$830 nett, is made up of six exceptional wines. These, unlike the wines from the Starter Kit, probably should be laid down for a while and saved for your really special occasions. All of these wines are really unique, with distinct tastes and bouquets. The 1998, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, Prieure Roch, is particularly special and rare. The vineyard is owned by the co-manager of Domaine Romanee Conti and these wines are hoarded by collectors.

Here are the wines:
2003, Vieilles Vignes Blanc, Domaine Gauby (Roussillon, France)
2001, Riesling Clos St Imer, Goldert Grand Cru, Domaine Burn (Alsace estate, Northern France)
2003, Saint Joseph Les Reflets, Francois Villard
2000, Chateau Beau Soleil, Pomerol
1998, Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, Prieure Roch
2003, Saumur Champigny, Chateau Yvonne

If you want more details on each of the wines, please click over here.

To order either of the two special mixed lots, please email Eric at eric@estima.com.sg or call Eric at +65 6226 3766 on Monday to Friday, from 9.30am to 7.30pm. Your transaction will be handled by Estima directly. (Sorry, this is for Singapore-based readers only at this point.)