Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What makes 1970 a memorable year?

Year 1970:
The Beatles broken up
- 1st floppy disk was invented
- World Trade Centre completed
- Peru Earthquake that killed 72k people
- Introduction of bar codes system

Each of them is equally remarkable.
Some of them embedded as people's turning point in life.
Some of them already vanished from today's society.

In wine industry, 1970 also marked as an advancement. 
Today, we are honored to taste two from our uncle:

Cos d'estournel 1970
Blossom after 2 hrs decanting
Colour: brick red, slight tears
Smell: Scented with acid, blackberries truffle, coffee bean, soggy wet wood.
Taste: gamey, flat, short aftertaste, med complexity, mushroom, truffle, black fruit, pepper
Conclusion: Not recommend. Even if so, drink quick as the peak passed in 30 mins after.

Grand vin deLeoville du marquis de las cases 1970
Colour: More garnet than the estournel.
Nose: Less acidic in nose. Violet, red berries, cacao, coffee bean.
Palate: well- balanced, soft tannin, good complexity.Red currant fruity longer length, Smoky taste
Conclusion: More structures and full body than d'estournel. However it also passed its peak, should drink 10 years earlier. Depreciate in 1.5 hours. 

We don't know whether these 2 wines have changed people's view on wine in the last decade, we know these 2 brands are still famous and their quality is still improving. Enjoy~

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Spanish blind tasting night

After 8 months, I finally was able to join my Sommelier classmates and teacher's blind tasting gathering at a Central private club with Cantonese cuisine. Sorry for being ingenuous, not knowing the menu in advance made the scope too vast to have any food pairing. Nevertheless, I was so impressed with their raptness over each gathering.

Game rule in a nutshell. Each of us brought our wrapped bottle. The rest had to guess to our closest knowledge on grapes, terroir, vintage and location of the producing region.

Presentor then had to depict the stories behind this wine, the vineyard, style and the reason they selected the wine. At the end of dinner, all of us voted their favorite bottle excl. their own. One with most votes would be rewarded with a free meal of the night. Fair enough, just don't put too much cost to the bottle *grin*

Here are the selections of the night

1. Tondonia 1998 Gran Reserva
Rioja macabeo
Look: Golden yellow, slight tears. Clean
Nose: Chrysanthemum, buttery,elderflower, high acidity
Palate: vanilla, honey, oaky, long finish, waxy, end with acidity
Reserva: 24 maturation + 6 cask maturation
Price: $278 from Watson's Wine

2. Amma Albariño rais baixas 2012
Look: Lemon, clear, tears
Nose: Guava, pomergranate, peach, pear,mineral, aromatic
Palate: acidity med+; med dry.
Grape : Albariño from Rais Baixas
New version: late harvest
Price: ??

3. Tondonia 1999 Gran Reserva
Look: golden yellow , golden than 1st
Nose: buttery, sulphur, acid, chemicals,eucalyptus, 
Palate: oaky, plum, tingling poppy on tongue
Price: $298 

4.Corullon Mancia
Look:Garnet red, sentiment
Nose: Leather, peppery, red berries, 
Palate: black peppery, spicy, Thai spice, 
Grape: Grenache, Temperanillo from a village close to Priorat
Price: $468

5. Carmelo Rodero 2011 Crianza
Look: purple red, tears, clear
Nose: Oak, eucalyptus, red current, big body, pungent, jammy, chocolate
Palate: Mocha, tannin, chocolate, new oak, lengthy, vanilla,
(12mths maturation +24 barrel)
Grape: 95% temperanillo 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from Ribera du duero
Price: $480 

6. La Cima
Look: ruby, clear
Nose: celery, cherry, spice
Palate: tannin, candy, spicy, french oak 18mths, new, leathery, licorice
Grape: Mancia from Ribera sarca
The dog on the label is named Merlot
Price: from Vineyard for free

7. Tossals 
Look: Ruby, clear
Nose: fruity, cherry, sweet, red fruit
Palate: new world, Pinot noir, sweet, strawberry, mid length
Grape: Samso from Montsant
Price: ??

8. Psi 2010
2009 better Peter sisseck, 
Temperanillo 100%
Look: ruby, clear
Nose: chestnut, black fruit, leather, violet
Palate: Complex, med length, full body, asian spice
Grape: Temperanilla from Ribera del Duero
Price: 289 from Regis Wine

9. Enate 2013
Look: Lemon, clear
Nose: Light citrus, fruit driven
Palate: Med+ acidity new version Albariño
Grape: Sumatano Chardonnay 14% alc.; Single vineyard High altitude
House wine of 3 star Michelin restaurant in France
Price: $260

Best wine of the night was #4, case the votes were divided amongst 2 Tondonia. All are value for money. I will attempt grabbing some bottles as a decent weekend chillout wine.

Looking forward to next gathering...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

母親節的小禮物 Small gift for Mother's Day - Brown Brothers Muscat

Something little, something sweet.
My helper is always the most caring so she already sent flower bouquet for my mum's birthday. What should I do?
No doubt, a bottle of wine. This has to be  little and decent as my mum is not a wine buddy.

Few tips on how to make the gift looked customized and decent:
1. Sweet, not too sweet
2. Small, woman like cute gifts
3. Decorations, I did buy a little wrapping to wrap it up
4. Easy to consume
5. Affordable

So a screwcap semi sweet half bottle Brown Brother Muscat becomes the choice. I bought some fancy accessories to wrap it like a necklace and here we go.

Honey, citrus peel and floral sweetness dominant wine. Simple and welcoming bouquet impressed mum easily. She loves it so much. I propose her to sip it daily when she is enjoying little Chinese dessert such as floral squares or biscuits. 

Happy Mother's Day~

Price: $117 at

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Shafer 思福酒庄 - Favorite USA Chardonnay ever 最「美」的霞多麗

Again, some old stories. Want to mention it as I so wanna buy it for next Wine class,
however the shop is under renovation, sad that I don't know where to get it.

2 years ago summer, was taking a family getaway trip to Napa Valley , where we once dined
in Bouchon - the 2 Michelin Star restuarant, for... night snack.
What a full scale of bookings that they are extending us to the night snack session starting at 10pm.
Yes, 10 pm. I recalled clearly we finished around 1am that night.

Food are not that decent, they can't be called a meal as it's just random dishes available.

So we ended up appreciate the oysters and Chardonnay pairing the most. Or this is just the effect of compare and contrast? Already too tired to tell.

Deep gold colour, some tears after a swirl. Nose is full of pineapple and mineral, huge bouquet right below the nose. You can tell how full body this is. Typical American style. 
Balanced acidity and med+ alcohol, creamy and stickiness on minerality, exotic fruits, vanilla and apricot note and oak surfaced. With such a long length that perfectly matches the mineral and creamy based oysters, it glimmered our night snack. Sparkles! Believe that's a good quality wine that can last for 8-10years.

Desperately looking for it when back in Hong Kong. Found one at a wine shop in Kowloon Bay $531 vintage 2008, however currently under shop renovation.
Anyone find this elsewhere? Please let me know thanks.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chateau Clinet 克里奈酒庒 2000 - Vintage is not everything 年份不是一切

Sharing wine of the day via facebook, twitter, instalgram, whats app is almost a weekend must-do in my circle of friends.

Not only once I received pictures of Clinet. Clean and flat font of word printed onto the label. Simple and easy to recall.

Finally I had a chance to taste it, from an introduction to a new wine buddy.
I said "Long to drink this. It has been on my to-try list for a while." He then sighed with a wicked smile. "I did not bring the good year along, hope this won't devastate your image to it." This is a 2000 bottle, not a good year? 

Velvet colour, with med tears.
Pungent on the nose red berries, merlot based, typical pomerol, hint of leathery and tar at the end. 
Less strong in volume and thickness in palate than what is expected from the nose. Medium acidity and medium aftertaste. Softer and rounder body after opened an hour and some bitter chocolate with more plummy taste, yet the optimal didn't last. Harsher acid right after.

What is not favorable of Bordeaux is though they are very consistent in flavors, unless there is a change in winemaker, their output depends so much of the weather / terroir. In a good year, they have excellent potential for storage and marvelous quality, in a bad year, you get similar palette yet a lot weaker and drastic drop in quality after hours, sometimes even just in minutes. However what makes the 95T vintage 2000 pomerol a worse year for Clinet?

Let's reference the score. RP87, one of the worse year in the 2000s. Reading the history, that's because the chateau has switched its owners for several rounds while vintage 2000 was from Jean-Louis Laborde who owned from 1998 and died in a car accident in 2001. Until then the successor the industrious Ronan Laborde took over and expand Clinet further in 2012. No doubt that the 2000 vintage would be a struggled year to produce good wine. Guess things have been well now in Ronan's hand.

No offense, normally within same budget, I'd rather have something less famous, and something cheaper to surprise or impress myself. Or perhaps for this new friend who in fond of Italian wine tries to drive me away from big French to cuddle the big Italian~ yea, you actually made it, and I now understand why you wear the wicked smile. 
Just that I never have been sticking to any country, I am an utopian on wine. Next time, just impress me with an Italian wine will do *wink*

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sassicaia 2008 - 頑固的小石顆



意大利四大酒王之一 Sassicaia- 譯為「西施佳雅」(音:沙色咖也),幻想婀娜多姿的西施,甚有詩意。
主要成份為Cabernet Sauvignon 跟Cabernet Franc。一貫Tuscany特色。較短暫的歷史(1944年起),加上獨特的定位,它獲得唯一有自家酒莊名稱的DOC - Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC, 令這酒王一炮而紅,獨當一面。

2008 年份被譽為近10年來3個最出色之一(其餘為2001與2004年),榮獲 Tre Bicchieri,cingue grappolirating from Duemilavini, annual guide of Association of Italian Sommeliers等推介。

呈深紅寶石色, 濃厚的黑醋,布冧味,香氣還是緊閉。酒身中性,酸性為主,果味更飽滿,豐碩的土壤味道。開了半小時,單寧依然硬身。再過了個半小時,單寧才軟化,就像頑固,倔強的孩童,大器晩成。

高峰期到時,果馥香氣洋溢,更帶出紫羅蘭及香料等味,為此酒添上複雜性(complexity),可恨是我們已完成正餐。幸而在享用甜品時尚可點一份半溶Camerbert cheese ,剛合時。

回家後查閱Robert Parker 酒評:"Readers who can afford to wait will be treated to a sublime wine once this settles down in bottle. " 又一例子證明開瓶時間的重要性。

  Sassicaia 西施佳雅 2008

  酒園:Tenuta San Guido

  等級:Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC

  葡萄品種:Cabernet Sauvignon 85% Cabernet Franc 15%


  評分:RP96 / WS94


       購自: $1380 from anonymous uncle

Monday, April 28, 2014

Branding grape varietal

We should be proud of Australian who are so cooperative and passionate about their grapes. They are not just loving it, they believe it.
In 10 years time Shiraz becomes a popular grape varietal that is well known across general Hong Kong citizens.
Given this is not easy to pronounce word (well slightly easier than Cabernet Sauvignon) and appear in different forms: Syrah, Sirah, people still relate Shiraz to Australia.

Great effort. Looking at other less known grape variety: Chenin Blanc, petit Syrah. They are with similar or longer history than Shiraz. Yet They have appeared in the market for quite a while yet without strong presence or coverage like supermarket and restaurants. They then can't beat Sauvignon blanc Chardonnay as easy drinking white.

Thanks to the power or marketing. Constant select as the topic on wine magazine, huge promotion on wine competition results, pair Shiraz with Australia. Good branding made image equivalent to history.

A further extention of this example is GSM - stands for Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre. Easy to remember, easy to market. Now most of the people will link the direct competitor of Australia with Rhone Valley, not the other way round. Again, power of marketing. The more union the winemakers in doing these, is this blue sea method?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Whisky Pot - 威士忌火鍋

When we figured a hard time in choosing cuisines for a whisky gathering, due to
1. How do they charge us the corkage when we just sip and put it back , 10 bottles?
2. What main course can pair with different whisky style?
We ended up with a free will of choices: Hot Pot at home.

Our most desired way of enjoying whisky is with our friends' imported Japanese beef, pork fillet and oysters, marvelous joy, especially with my parents who is overwhelmed with a surprise dinner we made "accidentally" for them.

From the photo below, only Balvenie was shared among us last year, others are all opened new.

Previously we made a trip separately to Scotland, therefore we had a little knowledge in differentiating what we preferred the most.
Islay - Distinct smoky based whisky
Lowland - Citrus, grassy character whisky
Highland - Dry to sweet peat, vanilla and nutty whisky 
Speyside- Mellow, sweet and fruity whisky

(from left to right)

1. Hermitage Cognac (reserved)  from Grande Champagne - Grand Cru de Cognac , 20 years
Hermitage Cognacs are the result of very specific distillation qualities and long, careful ageing in oak casks, from a single estate producer.

-Grape and fruit, very distinct source of grape
-Fruit-driven sweetness, followed by choke, rougher harsher alcohol 
-Honey and caramel rounded up as a finale. 

2. The Balvenie Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Doublewood 12 years
In 1883, George Ballantine could boast 20,000 of blended stock in bond, so he began to allow malts to age. Over the years a more discerning flavour was born - one that would make an outstanding mixer.

Produced by Pernod Ricard, therefore more commercial element in packaging.
Looking forward to try the limited edition and 40 years old Whisky
- As this was opened over a year, no more vanilla, only rough alcohol remains
- New oak, less vanilla
- Orange peel, still full body and strong length

3. Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky - The Original 10 years
Glenmorangie Original is produced by marrying the delicate spirit that emerges from
Scotland's tallest stills, with first and second fill American white oak casks.

-Pale lemon colour, citrus almond vanilla spice note, when swirl, the bouquet is very pungent and strong
-Smooth, medium body
-Citrus peel, more vanilla on palate, this citrus and vanilla mix is very typical highland style
Video on professional Original tasting

4. Yoichi (余市) Japanese Single Malt Whisky 20 years
Distilled and matured in Hokkaido, unlike the Scotish Whisky, it is aged in aged casks, with mellow well-rounded palate, a bold and powerful taste. In limited quantities.

Special Thanks to Tommy, my friend's husband who brought this all the way from Hokkaido.
- Strongest alcohol level among all
- Smoky chokey, yet a balanced sweetness in nose and in palate
-Less malty flavor, more of a caramel and toffee based , oaky nutty smell, suggesting an aged whisky and also can age so well. 

5. Glenfiddich 15 years

Glenfiddich is the name of Deer Valley, is one of the few remaining  family owned distillery, located in Speyside

This Glenfiddich 15 years, aged in European, American and New American oak to carefully release the virgin cask flavours, the whisky is then mellowed in our unique Solera vat before being married in Portuguese oak tuns.

- Spicy, cinnamon, honeycomb, fruity
- Less strong in alcohol
- Very mild and less of character amongst the rest.

6. Macallan elegancia 12 years
Macallan, a famous brand for daily partying Whisky in Hong Kong. When I say daily partying, I refer to exhaustive overnight party drinking at bars and karaoke.

Macallan is one of the largest Speyside Whisky brand. Their distilleries often made in small copper pots, with a rich and fruity full bodied style. The fame of this brand can be proved by its appeared at the back of $10 scottish note!

- rich and fruity, stone fruit and caramel
- simple and consistent across nose and palate

7. Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky 17 years
First planned village in Britain, founded in 1768, distillery established in 1779 as the 1st Islay Malt.

This Whisky is no longer issued.It was under the core range of Bowmore series.
-On nose, it is very cigar, smokey, peat, the smokiness like bacon suggests that this must be from Islay
-On palate the spice and cigar gets a lot stronger. 
-Sulphur ending. Don't know what ingredient is causing this, is it because this 17 years is more than 17 years already?

In general we preferred Glenmorangie as this is well-balanced wine with fruit, bacon, smoke and charcoal all blended in one whisky. This is the Whisky of the Night.


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