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


Pomodoro, Italian cuisine in Saigon-Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

June 20, 2010

The historic Peoples Committee building next to modern high rises in glass

The menu of Pomodoro

“One cannot have always Asian food”, is how some people feel when traveling in Asia. Having the opportunity to check out an Italian restaurant was just too tempting. “Pomodoro” it was called, tomato. And in fact tomatoes were to be found not only on the menu, but also on the coasters. I took one as a souvenir.

The staff in the restaurant is very friendly, helpful and flexible. I craved for gnocchi when I detected them on the menu. Just simple “gnocchi al pomodoro”. They were delicious. I just had a salad with it, which made a perfect meal.

Gnocchi with tomato sauce

The restaurant has a very impressive wine list. Unfortunately, I do not know much about Italian wines. We asked what seemed to be “il padrone” (the boss), and he suggested we try the house wine, a ‘2007 Sandiliano Salento Rosso’ from Apulia.

A beautifully presented bottle of red

As I learned while writing this blog entry, the Apulian wine region is divided into two, the North and the South. Salento is situated to the south of the Brindisi-Taranto line. It is a peninsula of low, rolling hills that extends between the Adriatic and Ionian seas to the easternmost point of Italy. Thanks to the sea currents and breezes, the climate of Sorento is not too hot.

Therefore it wines have sufficient acidity and are not boring like “sultana wines” (or raisin wines as I call them). Salento’s traditional wines were the powerful, inky reds from Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grape varieties. But increasingly fresher reds and rosés are produced, which show some unexpectedly bright and fruity characters.

The ‘2007 Sandiliano Salerno Rosso’, the house wine of Pomodoro, belonged to this latter category. It went very well with my gnocchi. The wine is a blend of Negroamaro and Merlot (12% vol. alc. only). It is fruity but not overwhelmingly so. It is a dark red and rustic wine, as I like them. One can taste the soil and the peasants hand.

Sandiliano Salento Rosso

Address:
pomodoro italian restaurant
79 Hai Ba Trung, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel.: +84-8-38238998
Fax: +84-8-38238957
e-mail: pomodoro@hcm.vnn.vn
http://www.pomodoro-vietnam.com

PS: For the Italophiles among you, I enclose herewith a little video clip on “Il padrone della casa”