Wine from Argentina: Misterio

June 30, 2010

2007 Misterio Cabernet Sauvignon by Finca Flichman

In a Belgian chocolate shop in Hanoi I picked up a bottle of Argentinian wine. I fancied a bottle of red. My choice was a ‘2007 Misterio Cabernet Sauvignon’ by Finca Flichman, Mendocino, Argentina. I know that the Argentinians keep their best wines for themselves. Anyway, I liked the name and the label of the wine.

The label in close up

I should have been warned, because the label said “oak aged”, and an “oaky” taste it was. Frankly speaking I was quite disappointed. Somehow the fruit was dull and I could not get my palate around it. Also the finish was not to my liking, it was a metallic taste which was left in my mouth. 86 Parker point were awarded to this wine. Maybe the circumstances of my tasting were not right.

Finca Flichman is one of thew oldest and most respected wineries in Argentina. The Flichman family tradition goes back to 1873. Today the winery is owned by the Portuguese wine maker Sogrape. The Flichman Chardonnay and Malbec wines are the most famous. I will look out for them and give it another go.

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The Bund Brewery in Shanghai – 上海外滩啤酒总汇有限公司

June 29, 2010

A wheat beer brewed in China

A couple of weeks ago when I visited Shanghai I ended up in a very nice watering whole, the Bund Brewery. The brewery is located in one of the side-streets of the famous stretch along the Bund where droves of people stroll along the river and enjoy the spectacular city scenery.

The bar with the brewery equipment

The Bund Brewery is a crowded and noisy place, full of Chinese customers interspersed with a couple of foreign tourists. I went straight to the bar and ordered what my neighbor was drinking, a wheat beer. I should not regret it. The beer was very nice, just like a good Bavarian wheat beer. Excellent, and not too expensive. Later I had some snacks as well.

German brewing equipment from Bamberg

When looking around I realized that some of the equipment came from Bamberg in Franconia. I had to take a photo of the plaque.

If you stroll along the Bund and you do not want to visit one of the many posh, elegant and exclusive cocktail bars, the Bund Brewery is the right place for you, a true “people’s place” for common folk and others alike.

Address:
Bund Brewery
上海外滩啤酒总汇有限公司
11 Hankou Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
汉口路11号,中山东一路
Shanghai, China
Tel.: 6321 8447
Opening: Fri+Sat 11am – 4am, Sun-Thu 11am – 2am
http://www.thebundbrewery.com.cn


Four Sisters 2006 Merlot

June 27, 2010

Four Sisters 2006 Merlot in an unorthodox glass

I am always drawn to Merlot which is not very surprising for a Merlot producer. I try to extend my experience here in order to better appreciate my own wines. Our own Two Hills Merlot is often like biting into ripe cherries. Some of our vintages were “umpf” wines with lots of alcohol, tannins and bite, others were elegant and subtle.

When I had the chance of buy a Merlot at Bacchus Corner in Saigon I could not say no. A ‘2006 Four Sisters Merlot’ seemed just the right stuff. Four Sisters Winery is a joint venture between Trevor Mast of Mount Langi Ghiran, and Alistair Purbrick of Chateau Tahbilk.

2006 Four Sisters Merlot

I selected the bottle mainly because of the label (and the price 380,000 Dong). In Australia the wine retails for about A$ 12 to 15. I found the silhouettes of the “Four Sisters” interesting.

What I did not like from the outset was, that the back label told me that the grapes for this wine (of course only the best were selected) were sourced from all over Australia. What a blend, I thought and blended it is also with some other red varieties (which the label does not say).

The back label

The wine is medium bodied. It’s colour is a ruby red and the alcohol content is big (with 14% vol.). Plum was the dominant fruit I tasted, and there was lots of it. I did not like the finish which was rough somehow. One should have the wine with food, I think, just straight is less desirable.

Afterthought: try to drink it from a proper wine glass. The hotel did not leave me a choice, there was no wine glass in my room.


Bacchus Corner: wine shop in Saigon, Vietnam

June 26, 2010

One of the many good things in Vietnam is, that there is plenty of wine available (another one is that the Vietnamese seem to have capitalism in their blood – I love capitalism). When strolling through the streets of Hanoi and Saigon I was always on the lookout for wine shops.

In Saigon I found Bacchus Corner, not far from the Rex Hotel, the hotel with the famous terrace. The internet says that there is also a Bacchus Corner in Hanoi, but I did not manage to get there.

Thanks god that he Vietnamese have no local wine industry to protect like the Thais, and therefore wine prices are not too high, though still far higher than in Australia or Germany.

Bacchus Corner

When I took the photo above I was overcome with joy. I had walked the city for about one hour and could not spot a single place where wine was on sale. Alas, Bacchus Corner came into sight. But first I had to cross a busy street with millions of motorcycles – after more than 20 years in Asia I am experienced at that.

The inside

The staff was extremely helpful and very friendly. I browsed through the wine on offer and settled for a bottle of Four Sisters 2006 Merlot. For 380,000 Dong (US$ 1 = 19,000 Dong) it did not come cheap. Most wines were beyond my reach financially. But there must be a market for such pricey wines.

Bacchus Corner also offered excellent whiskeys, cognacs, brandies and other spirits. If you are looking for a hard to get vintage wine, go to Bacchus and ask them to get it for you. Since the shop is still in the setting-up stage (one room was still being renovated), you will have great prospects to get a real treat, I guess.

Address:
Bacchus Corner
17/11 Le Thanh Ton St, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: =84-8-829-3306
Website: www.tankhoa.com


Chapel Hill 2009 Savagnin

June 25, 2010

While wandering aimlessly around in Ho Chi Minh City, I found a wine shop which caught my interest. It’s name was “Bacchus Corner”. Later I learned that there is also a Bacchus Corner wine shop in Hanoi. I browsed through their shelves and picked up an interesting bottle of wine. A ‘2009 Il Vescovo Savagnin’ by Chapel Hill Winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia.

2009 Savagnin by Chapel Hill in an unorthodox wine glass

When I bought the bottle I did not fully understand and appreciate what treasure I had acquired. I bought the wine because I had never before heard about the grape variety. What is Savagnin?

Well, Savagnin Blanc is a French grape variety grown mainly in the Jura region. However, Savagnin Blanc is also known as Traminer, grown around Tramin, a smlal Tyrolean town in Northern Italy. Experts think that the variety has “traveled” along the Alp mountains to the Jura region of France.

I also bought it because I found that most wines on offer were quite expensive. 340.000 Dong which is about US $ 17 is not small money for a bottle of white.

Chapel Hill Winery is of cause a well known producer of premium and award winning wines in McLaren Vale, South Australia. If you want to know more about this fascinating wine region, please visit the blog called “Lonely Grape” by Shane which makes an interesting read (it also contains interesting video clips).

2009 Savagnin

When researching this wine, I discovered that wine critics had awarded it 92 Parker point! Woh, I thought, what did I accidentally buy? The wine maker is Michael Fragos, and he has done an excellent job.

Alcohol is low (12.5%), and colour is a straw yellow. The wine is fresh and clean and shows fruity (lemon) and flowery aromas. It finishes rather abruptly but that does not take away anything from this exuberant and explosive white wine.

The crucial question you might ask is: Would I make it my house wine? Well, probably not. First of all it is not available in Bangkok were I live. Second, because of the price I most probably could not afford to drink it regularly. If you reside in Australia you belong to the lucky ones, I guess. My suggestion: indulge yourself.

Back label

If you are visiting Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and you stay in the Rex Hotel, Bacchus is just around the corner in walking distance. Check it out.


Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc

June 24, 2010

Our fish

I just love to eat fish, all kinds of fish. And there is good fish on offer in the markets of Bangkok. Often we do not have carbohydrates with it. But veggies are a must. They are a great complement for the protein.

What you need in addition is, if possible: a superb wine, preferably white.

A plate of fish and veg

Very delicious veggies

I admit that sometimes I drink red wine with fish but most of the time I select a white. Since I love to drink Riesling wines, that’s often my preferred choice. Another option I like is Sauvignon Blanc. But it needs to be a really good one. I like Sancerre style wines and the ‘2007 Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc’, from the Marlborough wine region of New Zealand seemed to be the right stuff.

But I did not buy the bottle because SB wines from New Zealand are in fashion right now. I bought it because the Mount Nelson brand is a project of a famous Italian wine dynasty, the Antinori’s from Tuscany.

Piero and Lodovico Antinori are the 26th generation of Italy’s most famous wine family. I wanted to know how their interpretation of New Zealand SB fruit would turn out. I should not be disappointed as it turned out later.

2007 Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc

In 2004 the Antinori brothers bought for US$ 1.8 million a 32 acres vineyard on the banks of the Taylor River near the mouth of Cloudy Bay not far from the Wither Hill Vineyard. To make the Mount Nelson SB additional fruit (about 40%) is purchased from the adjoining Meadowbank vineyard.

The 2007 vintage is just the best ever. This is the unanimous verdict of the wine critics (91 Parker points). I can only confirm this. My recommendation: buy buy buy.

The wine has zest, is fragrant with lime and lemon flavours and some mineral notes. The colour is beautiful straw-like. The finish is lasting. I forgot the alcohol content and the price. But rest assured if I see it in my local market again, I will buy all the bottles on the shelve.

Beautiful colour in the glass

In early July, we will be in Italy. There I will taste some more of the Antinori wines. This time Italian wines.


Liberty cuisine in Saigon

June 21, 2010

We liberals love liberty, and if there is an opportunity for Vietnamese food in Liberty Plaza, we just cannot resist. Please see below what delicious dishes we tasted.