Dokdo Winery – Korean wine?

November 29, 2012

Korean wine

During a recent visit of the Korean parliament in Seoul, I came across the above poster. The advertisement was not about soju, the popular rice wine, but a wine made from grapes.

I was puzzled. Do they grow wine grapes in Korea? When approaching the display, things became a bit clearer.

The award winners

As it turned out, the display was about the islands of Dokdo, which are claimed by Korea and Japan in a territorial dispute arousing nationalist feelings in both places. The display was a kind of political statement.

A winery in the Napa Valley in California was bearing the same name, Dokdo Winery or Dokdo Vineyards. This brand was created by a Korean-American dentist Ahn Jae-hyun living in the Napa Valley, California.

Established in 2007, the winery produces about 20,000 bottles a year. Dokdo wines had also won a gold medal at the 2012 Korea Wine Challenge.

The 2012 Korea Wine Challenge

According to the wineries website, the new product was introduced into the market to draw people away from the controversial debate over which country – Korea or Japan – owns the rocky islands.

“Instead of appreciating the beauty of Dokdo, the world has been too busy fighting over it. The island should not be fought over; it should be shared,” the website said.

Unfortunately, I had no chance to sample the wine.

True is also, that Korea is an emerging market as far as grape wine is concerned. With rising incomes, wine consumption is also rising. In fact every restaurant I visited during my brief stay offered a selection of various wines, often from France but also from other wine producing countries.

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Wine tasting at Lake House, Bangkok

March 30, 2010

Last Friday we went to a wine tasting at Lake House. Four wines were on offer, two came from California and two from South Africa. The Californian producer was Bliss Family Vineyards, which is a third generation family business in Mendocino County. The South African producer was Darling Cellars. Both producers are not small entities.

From each producer we tasted a Merlot and a Sauvignon Blanc. I do not want to bore you with tasting notes. The clear “winner”, the wine I liked best, was the Merlot from Darling Cellar, a ‘2007 Six Tonner Merlot’. I did not like the wines from California. Both Sauvignon Blancs tasted very unusal but did not hold my attention for very long.

The atmosphere at the Lake House tasting was, as always, great. We met so many interesting people, from Argentina, India and the USA. Dan and Dan, two of three partners of the Lake House venture were also there and we had a good chat about life and the universe.


Francis Coppola

February 24, 2009

Recently, my friend Holger from Berlin had given us a bottle of “Francis Coppola wine”. I had never tasted anything from this producer though I have read a couple of reviews on the net. Therefore, opening this bottle of Pinot Noir and enjoying it with a Sunday roast (chicken this time) promised to be an exciting experience.

The ‘2006 Francis Coppola, Diamond Series, Silver Label Pinot Noir’, originates from Monterey County, a cool climate wine region in central California. During an Agricultural Economist Conference in 1997 I had the opportunity to visit this wine region. It’s a marvellous place and I treasure my memories of tasting various delicious boutique vineyard wines.

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The ‘2006 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Diamond Collection Silver Label’

So tasting wine from this part of the world was exciting indeed. We do not drink very many wines from California so this wine extended our experience with USA-wines. Ratings of the 2006 vintage vary (87 or so points), but it is definitely not one of the best Californian Pinot Noirs. However, the price of US$ 20 in the USA indicates that there is quite a market out there for this “very drinkable” drop.

The medium-bodied wine showed plenty of fruit on the nose (cherries, raspberries), it felt silky in the mouth with some forest flavours, and displayed a nice finish. No bitterness could be detected as some tasters have reported earlier. To my taste buds the pairing of lemon chicken with Pinot Noir worked well.

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Port wine from Portugal helped us to digest the meal

What a pleasurable tropical afternoon on our terrace we had. The 38 degrees Celsius did not feel that hot but the dry-hot seasons has definitely started. After the meal I had a port wine. I always liked port. Our visit to Porto last summer re-enforced this passion.

With the port (10 years old), I smoked a cigar from Nicaragua, a hand made ‘Casa de CT Torres, Nicaragua, Hecho a mano’. The “smoke” was very pleasant, not to heavy; the tobacco was mild but distinct. I should buy more cigars from Nicaragua.

Cigars relax me and that is what I needed between two very busy work weeks, some relaxation. Also the bad news that we would not have a vintage this year at Two Hills Vineyard needed to be digested. Well, so is nature, unpredictable, unsteady, volatile, but marvellous.


US Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma County, California

October 25, 2008

Today, the American Wine Bloggers openend their conference in Sonoma County, California. I would have loved to be there, instead I am here on the island of Taiwan teaching a course on “good governance in land administration”. In fact I love it here; it’s one of my “regular events”. Participants come from all over the world just as at the wine bloggers events.

Though it is somehow very tempting, I must admit. If you know that all these interesting wine bloggers convene and share their experiences, hmm. But one day, I will be there and see with my own eyes, hear with my own ears and feel and taste the wines with my own taste buds. Alas, there is the internet and information can be accessed.

Among the many sponsors of the Sonama event is also a group I have joined recently: The Open Wine Consortium. It’s an interesting bunch of people, very dedicated to the promotion of wine and wine culture. Though being a rather a new member, I have not yet interacted much with them. But I will. It’s just to tempting. Log on to the conference and experience it yourself.