Monday, December 25, 2006

BBQ and Wine pairing

Singapore has been experiencing a water-filled December with our highest record of rainfall in the last ten years. My husband and I thought it will help to boost the mood by organizing a BBQ although the bet to having a dry evening could be 50-50. Purely driven by festive optimism, we started our shopping of fine grade meat and ingredients for this event.

First, we visited The Butcher at Holland Village to get the Australian corn fed beef which is supposedly less fatty than Wagyu but just as tender. We also have some freshly prepared lamb and pork sausages. There is salad greens and mushroom that I bought from the Isetan supermarket. Preserved olives and anchovies for the guests while enjoying the aperitifs. With this food in our bag, we are ready for this important occasion where my husband decided to be the head chef for the evening. My task is to focus on beverages, antipasto, salad and creating a comfortable environment for the guests. I am getting excited about the prospect of a great evening albeit a potential downpour of rain.

To bring out the original flavor of the meat, we marinated the beef with our favorite sundried tomato olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and a just small sprinkle of finely grained sea salt. As for salad (Full range of lettuce, red bell peppers, Japanese Tomatoes, button mushrooms) , it is also simply prepared to preserve the freshness of the greens, tossed with spiced olive oil, black pepper, a little salt and preserved black olives. The entire preparation is to enjoy the very fresh ingredients to its original form.

With blessing, the weather got better over the day and by 6pm, it was dry and we were ready to start fire! With the BBQ pit located half way up the hill, I am keeping my fingers crossed that the rain will forget this spot for the rest of the night.

To celebrate the rainless evening, we started off with a refreshing 2004 Gewürztraminer from Thomas Fogarty that promises all the tropical fruits and spices. The signature lychee nose is welcoming. It is rather sweet on the palate and a creamy texture. Although it is not as dry as I would expect, the wine is a good aperitif while starting the fire.

Since all the food is taken care off by my head chef (who is busy at the pit all night, grilling meat on a hot plate), I am more than happy to enjoy the wine and food as it comes. The second wine that I chose was a 2002 Syrah from Roshambo which is a very unique winery. It combines art and wine into its winemaking philosophy and the label designs. Most importantly, the wine turns out to be of great quality! The Syrah is bursting with plums and berries on the nose, spices on the palate leaving behind a lasting impression. The wine is extremely well matched with the grilled beef.

Two more wines were presented for the rest of the evening – Montevina Sauvignon Blanc 2005 and Kent Rasmussen Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 as more guests arrive. The Montevina is great with the simply prepared salad, refreshing the greens with its citrus character. The garlic bread is delicious!
Kent Rasmussen has always been my favorite winery because its wines are refined and neat. The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon is such a wonderful wine with a rich black fruit nose, a full bodied palate and fine tannins. The wine is well balanced and promises longevity.

Throughout the evening, proper wine glasses were used to serve the guests. When I ran a little experiment by asking them to try drinking their wine from water cups, all of them could not believe the difference a glassware could make on the wine! (you may refer to my previous article: The Science of Wine Glasses).

We filled the night with lots of laughter and stories, encouraged by great wine and food. I am happy that my guests have enjoyed themselves and there is not a drop of rain! Cheers!

Copyright of Wine Treasures Pte Ltd

By Cher Lim
Wine Treasures Pte Ltd


Friday, December 22, 2006

2002 Bordeaux – a pleasant surprise

I have been invited to attend a 2002 Bordeaux trade tasting recently and was all curious about the wine given the challenging climatic conditions of this vintage. Actually, I was told by my negociant that this vintage is a great value for money if I were to serve them in restaurants. Whatever this means, I was not sure what to expect when I saw the wine list in my invitation flyer.

Arriving at Marriott Hotel in a rainy afternoon, I strolled into the tasting room packed with trade professionals who have decided to turn up on time despite the weather. This is certainly a good start as far as local practice goes.

The tasting is organized in a sit-down format, 7 glasses per person. The wine to be tasted are in the following order: Domaine de Chevalier, Chateau Petit Village, Chateau Palmer, Chateau Figeac, Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron, Chateau Cos d’Estournel and Cahteau Saduiraut. The respective vineyard representatives were invited to speak on each wine as we taste. As 2002 is a relatively young vintage, I am looking for longevity qualities such as the wine’s acidity and phenols.

Domaine de Chevalier, presented by Mrs Olivier Bernard.
Two wines from this vineyard – Domaine de Chevalier Blanc and Chevalier Rouge. We started with the white wine which is a lovely refreshing Sauvignon Blanc with a dominated nose of cut grasses, hints of citrus fruits. The palate has good natural acidity, notes of mineral and lemon. The wine has a lingering finish which is important to suggest its aging potential. I think this wine will improve given another 2-3 years.

The Chevalier Rouge strikes me as having a good vigor with an upfront nose of berries. I discovered a rather distinct vanilla nose in the wine although it is mentioned that there is only 20% new oak used here. It has a good structure and great tannins. The texture is rather smooth for this young wine. I may suggest that this wine is ready to drink in 3 years given the palate composition.

Chateau Palmer, presented by Mr Bernard de Laagne de Meux
This is a masculine wine (compared with the Chevalier Rouge) with a great nose of blackcurrants and plums. Medium to full bodied with a relatively pronounced tannins. The wine has long length, leaving behind a lasting impression on my palate. The aging potential is high, probably another 8-9 years before drinking.

Chateau Petit Village, presented by Mr. Christian Seely
This is a much mellow wine compared with the previous samples. It has a good nose of blackcurrants and even hints of chocolates. The palate is quite pleasant but it is not as distinctive as the Palmer. Its tannins are balanced. I think this wine is an easy drinking one.

Chateau Pichon Longueville, presented by Mr. Christian Seely
It has a beautiful deep ruby color and a nose of toastiness. The palate is full bodied and rich with black fruits. The tannins are ripe and inviting. I would imagine that it is a great wine to pair with a braised meat dish. The toasty tobacco like finish is a stimulant to most simply cooked food. I think the wine is almost ready to drink for the less patient ones. It will benefit from a quick decanting to bring out the multi-layered aroma of the wine.

Chateau Figeac, presented by Count Eric d'Aramon
This wine strikes me immediately as an easy drinking one. Its aromatic nose of fruitcake and blackcurrants in addition to a medium bodied style makes it a likeable wine. The wine possesses a famine character which is pleasant in almost all occasions.

Chateau Cos d’Estournel, presented by Jean-Guillaume Prats
I was secretly looking forward to this wine when I was showed of the wine list at the invitation. Its deep purple color coupled with the nose of black fruits and spices gives an overall elegant impression. The wine is rather full-bodied with defined structure, tannins are balanced. This winery continues to bring great surprises even in a challenging vintage. The wine can benefit from a few more years of aging (may be 3-5 years).

Chateau Suduiraut, presented by Mr. Christian Seely
This wine reminds me of a Barsac style instead of Sauternes. It is full-bodied, sweet with some hints of citrus notes on the palate. There is a lack of intense honey nose as in a Botrytised wine. This is a great companion to lighter cheese and is delicious even on its own.

Overall impression of 2002 Bordeaux vintage is great. Although it is not as musculine as its 2000 counterparts. I think the wineries have made exceptional efforts to create fine wines given the climatic challenges.

Copyright of Wine Treasures Pte Ltd

By Cher Lim
Wine Treasures Pte Ltd