Thursday, December 20, 2007

Contrasting Countries Drink Safety Campaigns

Thanks to Mongdori for this find. I have no idea what they are singing about, though I did understand the part about the headache.



In the UK at Christmas we get much more sombre and hard hitting drink driving campaigns. Worth taking note of.....

Korea's Taste for Expensive Wines Growing



So says the Chosun Ilbo here.

Great to see growth and although I advocate spending more on each bottle of wine I hope it isn't all put out of balance by the top-top end. It still amazes me when I see the 1,000,000 won bottles of white Burgundy from not that great vintages. Somebody, somewhere, is getting right royally ripped off.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Champagne Supernova


Christmas is nearly upon us and so it is a time to think about the serious business of drinking. Baby Jesus was born unto us so we would have an excuse to get blind drunk and vomit on the boss's shoes? No?

Well, it is a time for spending that little bit extra on our drink and I have found a couple of bargains for you. I haven't hunted down quite so much this year as I will be spending Christmas back in Blighty but will pass on my discoveries none the less.

The best discovery of the year by far is affordable non-vintage Champagne. Lotte department store have a sale on fizz that sees Lanson Black Label at 43,000 won and another even cheaper bottle at 41,000 won that I can't remember the name of. Lanson Black Label is a decent Champagne, good acidity with a crisp green apple character and a delicate yeasty nose. Perfect for Christmas.
The star Champagne find for me though is Pol Roger NV for 60,000won. You won't find it much cheaper than that in the UK and Pol Roger is a lovely rich style of Champagne, floral and soft with zesty fruit and real depth.

For reds I really recommend getting to a Hyundai department store and investigating Shindong wines Argentinians. The Alamos Malbec and Pinot are stunning value at 11,000 won and both offer a perfect easy drinking style. With the money you save on these you can stretch to another bottle of Champagne no? If you fancy something a little more robust then the wine store in Shinsegae department store has some good Australians to work on. Saltram Next Chapter Barossa Shiraz offers up a well structured fruity and spicy text book Shiraz at 29,000 won and if you can stretch a bit further they have Wynns of Coonawara wines starting at 40,000 won. It will be money well spent.

The last bottle I would recommend is the Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos. At 40,000 won it is a little over priced(actually, a lot over priced) but there is something incredibly decadent and satisfying about a good dessert wine at Christmas. It has fantastic acidity and really is an amber nectar; honey, orange, spices and all that is nice in one glass. If you think you don't like sweet wines this is a glass that will change your mind.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wine and Korean Food.

Chalk and cheese up there ^.

Jancis Robinson has done a couple of articles on Korea recently and one dealt with the issue of matching wine to Korean food. The first point worth making about this is the rather dismissive way in which we Westerners deal with the food of the East. We have this tendency to lump the cuisine of huge and diverse nations into a catch all phrase and so talk about Chinese food and Korean food. Whilst it is fair to see certain ingredients and methods in each countries cuisines when it comes to wine matching the method becomes somewhat redundant. Do we talk about matching wine to French food or to Italian food? No, we talk about matching wine to individual dishes. The match for Boeuf Bourguignon and Bouillabaisse are not the same. So, the match for Bibimbap and Bulgogi will not be the same. There is one other point worth making about the matching of wine and Korean food and that is the prevalence of Banchan. We have found the perfect wine to drink with our Dweji Galbi and then we have sides of crab, pancake, creamy salad and of course kimchi. That lovingly selected bottle of New Zealand Pinot is suddenly a little overwhelmed.

Can a match be made then? Of course, if we talk about individual dishes. For your grilled meats, bulgogi, galbi et all, you are looking for a fruity, low tannin red, the aforementioned NZ Pinot Noir being a good example of this.

For seafood we need to be looking to a thirst quencher with brisk acidity. Rieslings will fit the bill perfectly and may have enough acidity to cope with some of the spices. Bear in mind that overly spicy food, like the bul dak, are going to be too much for any wine. Go for the beer or soju.

Finally, this website here, recommends sherry with Korean tapas. I can certainly see that the strength of flavour of a good sherry might be able to stand up to some of the bolder flavours. So, head over to Les Vins Maeils an pick up some sherry, we need to be supporting the pioneers!


The Jancis Robinson article was based on information from Jeanine Cho Lee, soon to be Asia's first Master of Wine. It is great to have a Korean born woman pioneering in the Asian wine world and as someone who is studying for the WSET Diploma, considered one step behind Master of Wine(heh, get me!), I have nothing but respect for her commitment and dedication to her studies. Being outside of the wine industry and in a developing country, in terms of wine, makes it all the more difficult. Fair play to her.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"....so gauche, so crashingly crass...."

Not related to Korea in any way and not really related to wine but this story caught my eye this morning. If you had a spare £35,000, an odd $70,000, a meagre 70,000,000 won lying around then what better way to spend it than on a single drink. It actually doesn't sound very good to me, certainly it is not very imaginative and we all know that Rosé Champagne is a right rip off. Don't we? I would be worried about the diamond ring as well. I reckon if I were to buy this drink I would have to be pretty drunk already so there is a good chance I am going to choke on it.

I have had Cristal before. I can't really remember it but I seem to recall it being a little underwhelming. Interesting thing about Cristal, the reason it comes in a clear bottle is it was created for Tsar Alexander the Second who was worried that people wanted to 'do him in'. Therefore he demanded that the bottles were made clear so a bomb couldn't be hidden in them/poison couldn't be hidden in them(I have heard both stories), the bottles were made with crystal glass hence the name. I actually think they look quite unappealing when unwrapped from their lucozade style wrapping.

The most I have ever spent on a single drink? Probably £14 for a glass of champagne in the Mandarin Oriental, London. I have also spent £8 on a pint of Stella here. I am pretty sure that doesn't represent value.




I am very excited about the fight tomorrow. I believe they are showing it on KBS sports here. I will be cheering Hatton on eating chip butties and drinking Duvel. Neither gauche nor crashingly crass but perhaps ever so slightly vulgar.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Argentinians Are Coming


Look how happy every ones favourite Argentinian looks. That is a bit like me in Hyundai Shindong wines the other day.

There are an increasing number of Argentinian wines kicking about in Korea. This is great news. Whilst they don't necessarily make the worlds great fine wines I think that they currently offer better bang for your buck than the oft lauded Chilean wines. I will write up a proper tasting for some of these but we have had an Argento Cabernet Sauvignon which was fruity, uncomplicated and absolutely delicious. Buy The Way about 17,000 won.

Shindong wines, which appears to have a branch in every Hyundai department store are currently having something of a sale. The highlights? The Argentinians. Alamos Malbec and Alamos Pinot Noir, 11,000won. A Pinot for 11,000 won is pretty incredible. I haven't tried the Pinot yet but the Malbec is a great, slightly green peppery, black fruit wine which would be excellent with a good Argentinian steak.


Spanish Wines on the Rise

The Korea Herald, who annoyingly won't let me link directly to a page so you have to click weekender on the left and then click the article on Spanish wines, has an article on Spanish wines. Not all that interesting except for one line :- "According to Bada, the Protos Verdejo 2006 is selling in Korea now." I haven't seen this but another new white varietal coming on sale has to be good news. With this and the arrival of the Argentinians perhaps we can look forward to seeing some Torrontes too.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Valdespino Inocente Fino Sherry



Valdespino Inocente Fino Sherry, Spain, Les Vins Maeils, Jamsil. 20,000won(ish)

The time has come. The moment we have all been waiting for. The Sherry post. I get my hands on the drink forever associated with old women, tramps and Father Christmas. With the Sherry Institute, many notable restaurateurs, importers and the wine trade all banging away at how fashionable and food friendly Sherry really is I have been beaten. I am convinced that this is the perfect, complex, aged wine at a reasonable price that I have been looking for.

As far as I am aware the only place to get hold of sherry in Korea is from Les Vins Maeils. With the coming of Tapas bars here perhaps we can look forward to seeing more, though I have yet to visit a Tapas place in Seoul and so cannot vouch for their authenticity. Getting hold of something that I previously couldn't is a real bonus though and gives me hope for better variety across the board as the Wine industry here grows.

Sherry is an interesting wine, the process of vinification is fairly complex with a solera system that guarantees consistency within the product year after year. It means that although there is no vintage date on the wine, due to blending across the vintage, you are getting a wine that has been aged for at least three years. Usually at a very reasonable price.


The Inocente Fino, pictured above, is produced by Valdespino, the oldest Jerez bodega has around 700 years history of making the stuff. You would hope they have mastered the art. Thankfully I think they have. Unfortunately I am not sure I like it so much.

It is a pale straw colour in the glass with legs giving an indication of the 15% alcohol. I really liked the nose on this. It is very, very nutty. It has pistachio, almost like Pistachio ice cream, walnut, a little leather, yeast and an appealing fresh wet wood thing going on. Lots to think about and really nice then.

In the mouth it is quite delicate, light bodied with really well integrated alcohol. You get a bitter, green olive burst which is quickly chased away by a long Willy Wonkaesque finish. It is like Christmas days nut mix with almonds, walnuts, pistachio and the freshly polished leather of the seat you are sitting in. It keeps on giving with some vanilla tones which adds to the ice cream hints on the nose and has a slightly herbal quality to it.

When I describe this wine I love it. In fact when I was doing the tasting note I loved it. It was only when I was sitting in front of the TV just having a drink that I decided I didn't like it. It is just a bit much maybe. I suspect it will definitely benefit from pairing with food, see the link above, but I can't imagine too many situations where this is the drink I would want to crack open. The aromas and flavours are fantastic, complex and well balanced but there is something just so.......Sherry about it.

I would recommend trying a bottle. It is an interesting and really well made bottle of wine. Just have an occasion to open it. It is not a wine to drink whilst watching the footy.

The New Look.

Having updated the look of the blog I could do with some feedback. If you had an epilectic fit reading the above then let me know and I will change the black. I am conflicted. I quite like the black but suspect it is not so easy on the eye.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beaujolais Nouveau

Thorin Beaujolais Nouveau 2007
Burgundy, France.
16,000won GS Mart

Ahem. One, two. One two. Is this thing on?

November came and November has pretty much gone with Wine Korea neglecting his duties terribly. I apologise unreservedly.

November, the third Thursday in November to be exact, sees the release of Beaujolais Nouveau(BN from now on), a wine made from Burgundy's third grape, Gamay. Japan and Germany are the two biggest markets but Korea is a real growth area and the posters are up in all the convenience stores and wine bars are doing their promotions.

I had never tried BN before. I have tasted Grand Cru Beaujolais and found them OK in a 'I am not really bothered if I try this again' sort of way. They lack a bit of depth but perhaps I have never tried a great one. However, when your local Family Mart owner excitedly tells you about his new wine you have to ask yourself two questions, do I drink too much and should I be trying this exciting new(NOUVEAU!) drink. Yes to both questions and so I bought from GS Mart in order to hide any alcoholic tendencies from Mr Kim. I baulked at the 16,000 won price tag but figured it was the equivalent of three pitchers of Prime Max and can you put a price on new experiences?

It comes in a very exciting bottle, it seems very festive and has explosions of fireworks or flowers or something. It felt like an occasion! In the glass it is very pale, as you would expect. Beaujolais is produced using a process called carbonic maceration(I won't go into the details here) which essentially means there is little colour and tannin extraction going on. It looks like pop.

It has a bubblegum nose with bananas that are just about to be inedible. It is fruity as well with typical red fruit smells, confected strawberry and cherry. Also smelling like old skool alcopops (before they had worked out how to make alcohol taste good for kids) and swimming pools, it is not the most appealing bouquet.

Drinking is not much better I am afraid. Thin and sharp with no body to speak of you get cranberry juice and a follow through of strawberries and cherries but I couldn't get past the vomit like quality. I don't like my wines to taste of sick. Apparently 2007 was a reasonable vintage and I know it is a simple wine that is meant to be short of body and length but I just can't help thinking you could spend your money in so many better ways. I saw a bottle of Chilean Pinot Noir for 20,000won in Jamsil and though I haven't tasted it I am almost certain it will be another light, fruity red but with bags more character than BN.

I picked up a sherry! 20,000 won(ish) for a half bottle of Fino. I thought it was quite over priced until I checked the internet and saw that this is actually a very fair price. I have my almonds ready and will do a tasting this weekend. I know you are all very excited.

Oh! Also check out SeoulSteves for a Pieroth wine deal. They have put together a monthly wine club at Kabinett and a half case offer. It reminds me I must check out the bar and put together my own Christmas wine list.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Goats Do Roam In Villages

Goats Do Roam In Villages,
South Africa
24,000 won Les Vins Maeils, Jamsil

This is a wine I was a fan of back in England and therefore I am not going to give it a big write up. It is a 7-8 pound wine in the UK, making this look not too bad a price here. This is a blend of 80% Syrah(Shiraz) and 20% Pinotage. It has a screw cap which will please all but the ultra-traditionalists I think and is really an excellent wine. A great colour in the glass it has a distinct dark fruit and spice aroma and is just full bodied enough to make you stop and think when it hits the palate. It has lovely plums and cherries with good hints of spice and tannins that are really well integrated giving a perfect wine for the coming cold months. You can't argue with it really. A super wine. The white that Goats Do Roam do is also excellent and I let Les Vins Maeils know this. You never know.........

The Chosun Ilbo has had a couple of interesting articles on wine this week. The first, here, was by their corespondent in France and he makes a comparison between the Korean wine market and the last two French Presidents. The thrust of his argument is that Korea used to be like Sarkozy who doesn't like wine and now they are like Chirac who is a wine snob. Ok, very clever. However I am not entirely sure what he is suggesting the Korean consumer should be doing. He laments their following of trends, be it wellbeing or the latest Manga. He bemoans the CEO's purchasing of only the most expensive wines. He suggests that we would all be far better off like the French where wine is part of the culture. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Korea is a new wine market and it shows all the signs of this. The fact that the wine market is surging at all is remarkable. There is very little advertising of wines and so crazes like "The Drop of God" and the well-being movement are excellent in that they are increasing awareness of and interest in wine. CEO's will always buy the most expensive wines just as they always buy the most expensive cars. The same happens in France I am sure. In order for wine to really take off here we need the distribution of a wide variety of wines and we need this to be done at reasonable prices. We need everyday wines at prices that your average customer won't baulk at paying and we need a large popular brand to make a big push here. Wine will never be part of the culture here just as it isn't part of the culture of the UK. What we can look forward to is a country that has a wide distribution of world wines and from that basis we can build an interest in the nuances of wine drinking.
A French sommelier advised, "If you want to taste wine better, walk in a forest or a park and smell as many flowers and plants as possible." I can't think of a better way of scaring off potential wine drinkers.

The second article, here, looks at the Korean Food and Drug administrations decision to state that the safe limit of red wine to drink is half a glass a day. Anything above this, they say, could lead to a cancer danger due to the levels of ethyl carbamate. I'll be honest, I hadn't heard about ethyl carbamate until I read this so it was of some interest to me. It certainly sounds like it is an issue and the fact that it occurs in fermented products, such as soy, at higher levels makes it all the more worrying for those of us in Korea. I am pretty sure that this would make safe levels of Soju consumption a cap full but I think we all knew that anyway. The interesting point, I thought, was that ethyl carbamate occurs in higher levels in products fermented at higher temperatures, thus in distilled products we get the most ethyl carbamate and more in red wine than white(which is largely distilled at cool temperatures to keep purity of fruit). Whilst it would be a shame to see red wine sales drop because of this, especially given red wines many healthy properties it would be welcome to see a Korean wellbeing white wine extravaganza!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sherry!



No bullshit! I have found sherry. I didn't think it would happen but today, in Les Vins Maeils Jamsil I discovered sherry. A Fino and an Amontillado. Proper sherry. Unfortunately they wouldn't sell it to me. I know, rubbish shopping experience really. I think the nice young lady was telling me they were samples but I was so keen that I was told I should be able to buy on Monday. I will head down next weekend and try and make sure I come home with some. I don't even know if I like sherry very much but I know I like the idea and I know they are some of the best value wines in the world. I'll keep you posted. Also they are doing Goats Do Roam, an oh so funny play on Cotes Du Rhone. They only have the red which I haven't tried before but I know the white is excellent and so have high hopes. 24,000 won.

Also, Shindong wines range seems to have improved. They have a selection of fairly reasonably priced wines from Argentinia. I have a couple and will update when they have been consumed.

Also, thanks to Seoul Steves for the heads up on limes at Shinsegae. They have been spotted in the wild at Lotte Department Store and Hyundai Dept Store as well.

Also, Hyundai department store Cheonho has kebabs. Chicken doner and beef doner. I didn't try one but they looked pretty good.

Also, caviar! Yep, caviar. Beluga, Sevruga and Ossetra. This was in Lotte Dept store at the wine shop on the bottom floor. Beluga was 250,000 won which doesn't seem that outrageous to me. Dedicated decadent that I am.

Also, and I promise this is the last also, Aquascutum shirts and ties for 29,000 won at Hyundai in Cheonho.

It has been an exciting weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chateau Mousear




I had a very mature Musar a few years back. I was underwhelmed but it was at the beginning of my wine discovery so maybe I just didn't get it. I believe that is quite a common reaction to the Musar wines though, some love them others are non-plussed.

Anyway, that is by the by, the picture is only there for the awful pun made. I introduce Korean Mouse wine. Korean Baby Mouse Wine. Not something I will be tasting anytime soon but as it has been doing the rounds on the internet I thought I should share.

To real wine.......

I missed out on Korea's "Wine day". As you can see in this Korea Times article it ran over this weekend just gone and looks like there may have been some reasonable discounting going on. I am not too upset as I would imagine that most of the discounted bottles would have been the usual crap they push, the real cheap Chilean and sweet wines. Still, I should have checked out some of the offers so if anyone did and there was a decent showing please let me know. The fact they are offering a 50% discount in some cases is a good indication of the mark up already present.

The article talks up "daily wines" and goes on to list a selection of the reasonably priced wines the author thinks are of good quality. They suggest ignoring the old world wines, Laroche Viognier anyone?, and list 7 wines, 6 red 1 white, to try out. So I think I will. I am certainly intrigued by the Matthew Fox, an American blend of Cab Sauv and Merlot, very traditional so far, with Chardonnay! Sounds revolting to me but you have to try these things. Perhaps I will have to swill my mouth with the mouse wine to get rid of the taste. Terrible snobbery I know.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sideway Wine


Sideway Wine Bar and Bistro
Gangnam

It is with great pleasure that I report on this new Wine Bar in Gangnam and it is an establishment I urge any wine lover to hunt out as soon as they can. There is little doubt in my mind that it is a class above any other similar bar you have been to in Seoul. A grand statement perhaps, but one I feel I can back up fairly easily.

I will comment on the most important aspect first and that is, of course, the wine list. Normally opening a wine list in a Korean bar or restaurant is a fairly depressing exercise. You are confronted with the same group of wines over and over with the only real difference being just exactly how large a mark up the establishment has dared slap on an average bottle of wine. I suspect that to a certain degree the classier more aspirational ventures mark out their territory by making even a very average bottle almost out of reach. The worst example of this I have seen is a bar in Apgujeong that charges 45,000 won, around 23 pounds, for a bottle of Torres Vina Sol, at most a 10,000 won/5 pound bottle. Very discouraging eh?

Sideway is not a miracle worker, you are still paying Korean prices for your wine, but they are sensible. The sort of prices that make you want to trade up a bit and get that slightly better bottle. The sort of prices that you can justify quite quickly in your head. We picked up a Hugel Gewurztraminer for 53,000 won. Like I say, not a miracle, just sensible. I am pretty sure there was a Chablis on the list for 60,000 won, try finding that anywhere else in Seoul.


The other encouraging thing about the list is the range, it is not huge but it is interesting. Easy to read, sensibly structured and with none of the typical Montes Alpha dullness. It has the Laroche Viognier which I have bigged up on here before. I would like to see the wine list online though, but that is just for me now as I cannot actually remember much of the list.

So, a good, keenly priced wine list. What of the bar? It sits on top of the hill at Gangnam near the Euro Pub and Sky Bar. It has a curved frontage with veranda seating decked out with wine bottles. Stylish and comfortable and perhaps still doable in the early evening now the temperatures are coming down. Inside is designed with several individual areas in mind. Around the bar is, who would have thought it, bar seating, high stools and tables, running up the window are large, and extremely comfortable looking white leather sofas and then to the rear is a darker, more conventional sofa and table set up. It is not too dark, not intimidating and mostly manages to pull off style and comfort in the same space.

I didn't see their menu which is on a cheese theme. I did however try their cheese. Real cheese. That tastes of cheese. You wouldn't have thought it would be so incredible but it knocked my socks off. Being able to eat real cheese should be reason enough to get you there.

So, I have waxed lyrical for the first time on this blog? It is a wine bar that does wine well. It is that simple. Knowledgeable and genuinely nice owners, a wine shop attached where the wines can be bought at a discount, good cheese. We need to be supporting places like this if we want the exorbitant prices charged for identikit wine to change here in Korea.

To get there take exit 7 at Gangnam station, walk straight up the main road until you get to Paris Baguette, take the road to the right up the hill and keep walking, up past the Euro pub and around the corner. You can't really miss it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Corking News.


I've had two bottles of corked wine in Korea. Both from Burgundy interestingly enough. Is that interesting? Yeah, course it is. The first bottle was about 8 months ago from Les Vins Maeils at Jamsil and I bottled it in terms of dealing with the issue. I should have returned it and explained the situation but my lack of Korean meant this was a terrifying concept. So I just did myself out of about 30,000won and poured it down the sink.

The most recent bottle was a Louis Latour(excellent negociant and producer of Burgundy) Chardonnay from the new Homeplus/Tesco at Jamsil. I was hoping for a lightly oaked, simple white Burgundy at a not unreasonable 24,000w. It smelled of mouldy clothes(more of which later). However, on my first visit to the store I had the good fortune to meet with one of the marketing managers of Tesco who was taking a hands on role in the wine club. We talked for a little while and exchanged details, hopefully leading to some sort of wine club for foreigners in the future, we will see. This meant I had an excellent source of information on a company's policy towards corked wine. So I emailed. The good news is that Tesco policy appears to be that they will happily exchange a bottle of corked wine. I say appears to be as until my complaint there had been no instances of this happening.

In my previous life in the wine industry our policy was to exchange corked wines with no questions asked and I think this is the only sensible policy to adopt. Something faulty has been sold and the customer is perfectly within their rights for a new bottle. However this policy only applied to bottles under 20 pounds. Fine wines were sold as seen and there was no guarantee of how they had been kept before they made it to our store. Given the price of wines in Korea this raises a few problems, going over 40,000 won a bottle is really not hard to do and so the cost of corked wines to the retailer is exponentially higher. With corked bottles running up to an estimated 15% there is the potential for some hefty losses.

This is something that will only come with more education fortunately(for the retailers). I am pretty sure that the majority of corked wines are drunk, even in more established markets, with people putting it down to an unpleasant bottle of wine. Without knowing what you are looking for it is very easy to assume that it is you who has made the mistake in your initial purchase. I will say this, generally, if a wine doesn't smell good then there is a fault with it. Trust your nose. I equate the smell with clothes that have been left damp for too long. That musty, lingering smell that can be quite subtle but once detected leaves an insidious stain on your nostrils that can haunt you through the day. In a wine I tend to find my initial reaction is something is not right followed by a detection of the cork taint followed by an inability to smell anything but the damp nastiness. Sorry, smell is a bit subjective and I can't describe it better.

Having the confidence to return a bottle of spoiled wine is actually quite liberating. You are trusting your ability to detect problems and taking it back to the experts and leaving them with the decision of how to deal with it. If you are only spending a couple of pounds, euros or dollars however then the bad smell might well be the wine itself. Trade up!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I haven't been drinking



Well, that is not strictly true. I have been drinking, just not wine. Or at least not in any great quantity, nor of any great quality and certainly not with any great clarity. Since returning from England I have written a feeble two tasting notes, both Pinot Noirs, one from Burgundy one from New Zealand. An interesting comparison that I will write up. Other than that I have abstained from my duties. A hangover from the holiday? A rebellion with the new working year? The laziness that has followed me through life kicking in? I suspect the latter.

Fear not! I have some major work to do on the Diploma over the coming months and so I will have to get my arse back into gear. Also I can feel the weather, miserable as it persists to be here, leading me to desire nice big red wines. Something to knock you off kilter mid-conversation. Also, I am once again getting bored to death of the lagers and so I think it is about time I started investigating some of the more unfathomable Korean and Asian drinks.

With a complete absence of Peter O'Toole as Jeffrey Bernard video clips on the internet, have this instead.




Friday, August 31, 2007

Notes On Smell


I had inaccurately diagnosed myself with a cold. The blocked and runny nose had been sufficient for me to make the assumption. No headache, no sore throat. And no smell.
When you realise your illness is not what you thought and start researching symptoms on the internet it gets quite depressing. I got quite depressed. I can pinpoint the moment when I lost hope. I had just attempted to sniff a packet of kimchi that had been open for too long in the fridge. I stuck my not insignificant snout in the foil bag and whiffed it up. Nothing. The air seemed to pass up my nose and into my lungs but with not even a hint of scent registered. I got as far as the bedroom door with the packet for the SO to confirm that it did indeed smell. With added swearing.
Losing your sense of smell is not taken as seriously by the medical profession as losing one of your other senses would be. Rightly so. In a deli in Southampton a woman at the cheese counter said she would rather be blind than lose her sense of smell. It is a ludicrous thing to say. For sure, an odourless world is a less colourful one but I never sniff the road before crossing it(except perhaps in Sheffield where one has to be sure you aren't getting too close to Bramall Lane).
All those wines waiting for me at home and me without the apparatus to taste. Most upsetting. Doxycycline did the trick. Prescribed on the Tuesday by Thursday I had my hallelujah moment. I had, somewhat autistically, taken upon it myself to sniff everything I came into contact with at my parents. My theory was it is like a type of nose training. Trying to spark my nasal memory. Also my parents house is one of the nicer smelling places in the world. Coffee was the first smell, ground coffee is a fairly strong and distinctive smell though and I suspected I was fantasising and so I turned to the Jasmine Tea. I think I whooped. Then to cloves, to marmite, bananas and peaches. Man the world is a good smelling place. It should be said though that the world also stinks and being acutely aware of smell all the time is not such a great thing. I am starting now to try and not smell everything. To turn off my peripheral odour detection so to speak.

My first drink was a glass of champagne in the massively over-priced Roast. It tasted almost exactly like apple crumble and was delicious for that. I enjoyed the taste of a variety of beers especially Greene King IPA which I have to thank for being low in alcohol and so allowing me to drink far more than I should have.
To write up is a Grand Crus Chablis which went from meh to excellent and back to meh again in one tasting note. I am not sure where I stand on it still. Also two classed growth Bordeaux significant for being rubbish, a 1980 Port significant for making my mam wonder if it was responsible for an upset stomach, a NZ Pinot significant for being Cloudy Bay and a NZ Pinot Gris significant for being surprisingly refreshing and good.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pieroth Warehouse Sale


This weekend saw the Pieroth Warehouse sale at Ncheese in Apkujeong go ahead as blogged below. It wasn't the easiest of places to find, our taxi driver asked several people before giving up and dumping us next to a garage. Fortunately Ncheese, or Pieroth themselves, seemed to have had the foresight to employ some old dude on a bike to ride around pointing likely looking candidates in the right direction. As he immediately assisted us we must look exactly like the sort of people who would be in the market for wine and cheese. I am not sure if this is good news or not.

The sale was held in a small basement in Ncheese, we didn't really get a chance to scope the whole place but it has a good cellar like feel to it. It felt quite European and so we felt quite at home. The tables were laid out by country with white wines separated from reds and chilled in ice buckets. This meant that some of the wines that had been sitting for some time would have been far too cold to taste. I say 'would have' because I didn't taste anything. I could detect sweet, sour, bitter and tannins but not a sausage else. My long running battle with a summer cold had reduced my palate to that of cotton wool. Very disappointing. To be fair the situation wasn't ideal for a good tasting anyway, small plastic cups and the aforementioned temperature issues would have limited it but it would have been nice to taste something. The SO was my official taster and we put together a reasonable case of 12 without breaking the bank. Needless to say, all the wines she really liked were the expensive ones. A woman after my own heart.

The event itself had issues too. It was a very small room and so finding somewhere to stand and assess was a problem. I like to lean myself and the cellar like walls left a cellar like residue on my shirt. Also, we had the "beautiful people" to contend with. The "beautiful people" wore sunglasses. Inside. In a cellar. The "beautiful people" had their own, impressively large, tasting glasses. The "beautiful people" seemed to studiously ignore white wine. The "beautiful people" seemed intent on keeping me away from the Amarone, the one wine open that I may have had a chance to actually taste(I could, kind of, pretty powerful stuff that elicited an "UFF" of pleasure from SO).

The only other issue really was the salesman we had to deal with. I don't really get on with sales people. I like information not bluster. I like someone who actually listens to my responses. To be fair to him, the minute he described the wines as his and how he would be unable to get anymore in if we didn't buy today he was on a losing streak. Self-aggrandising behaviour is not a method I would use to sell wine. He was clearly on a commission, he insisted we use his name on our order sheet to gain a 5% discount. I am pretty sure we didn't get that. He annoyed both of us on separate occasions through his inability to actually listen to responses to his questions as well. Still, sales people are sales people the world over.

We took delivery this afternoon after a failed delivery yesterday. My request to have a delivery after 1 o'clock was met with no problems. We were 1 bottle down on delivery, I called Pieroth and they were extremely helpful and are sending the missing bottle separately. All in all it was a worthwhile event for us, despite my negativity above. I have a nice varied selection of bottles to write up once I shake this cold once and for all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Winding Down



Things will be winding down on the blog for the next two weeks. I can't afford wine at the minute as I will be no doubt spending a fortune in England. Not least on wine.

I have some great bottles waiting for me, a Corton Charlemagne, a Volnay and some rather good Champagne. No doubt it will be a great pleasure writing those up.

Very disappointing bottle of Chilean Cabernet this weekend. It is the 2003 Panul Reserve from Errazuriz, an excellent Chilean producer. I paid more than I should have, 28,000 no less, and was so hoping for a good bottle. It didn't give out at all.
I do have a bit of a cold but this wine was as tight as my mate Bryn. The nose was giving a hint of the Cabernet standards, the palate seemed well structured, but having swilled and slurped and sucked I finally had a normal drink and it tasted of nothing. A great shame. Why was this wine so closed? I have no idea, I suspect if it had been opened a few months before it might have been good and if it was opened a few months later it might have been good. Just bad luck here.

I am going to try and get hold of a bottle of Australian Moscato today, it has been described as Appletize on steroids which sounds entertaining. Also, we have the Pieroth warehouse sale this weekend. Having looked over the list I am hoping to put a couple of cases together so there should be plenty to write about when we get back from Blighty.

Lastly, I will point you to Wine Library TV. The host, Gary Vaynerchuck, is a bit of a prat but he is passionate and seems to like similar wines to me. It is a fairly entertaining show and he does some really good and worthwhile comparisons.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GS Mart Taste-Off


Casa Toscana Chianti, DOCG, Italy, 2005

Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005.

18,000 for the two in a GS Mart deal.

I am sorry I can't remember the name of the Chilean, a victim of recycling again. You will recognise it if you see it though, a red label and the only Chilean Cab Sauv that GS do, I think.

Well, these are interesting for two reasons. The first is the price, 18,000 for two bottles is not to be sniffed at and the second is for a budget comparison of old world vs new world wines.

No great detail on the wines here and I will deal with them in the order they were drunk. So, first to Chile.
Chile has long been regarded as a good place to go hunting for good value, decent quality reds. I seem to remember reading somewhere, many years ago, that when in doubt a Chilean Cab Sauv will always please. Is it the same here? The nose is not bad, blackcurrant, slightly jammy, with a real coffee bean feel to it. Do Starbucks do blackcurrant syrup with their coffee? If they do then this is what I imagine it would smell of. Or maybe a coffee flavoured Ribena. Anyway, it is not a bad nose no matter how bad the above product ideas sound.

The drink? It is inoffensive. Blackcurrant juice with a touch of acidity, the softest of tanins and a silky mouth feel. It is so inoffensive it is uninspiring. No one will complain if you get it out for a barbecue, they will probably get drunk on it. It is a wine that is difficult to say anything about to be honest. For the price you would probably have few complaints.

Chiantis are always a gamble, though perhaps more so in the past. They fall under the DOCG classification, Italy's answer to the French AOC controls. It is a guarantee of quality, of sorts.
It has the classic sour cherry notes on the nose and not a lot else. Perhaps a touch of sweaty leather, there is something other than fruit which I couldn't put my finger on.

Drinking wise it is miles from the Chilean, acidic and tannic with the sour cherry following straight through. Decent length on it too. As far as drinking on its own it is a no brainer, you wouldn't really do it. Unlike the Chilean you wouldn't put this away with little thought while watching TV. It would probably pair pretty well with hearty, meaty dishes. Something Italian you will be amazed to hear. Or perhaps Galbi.

A real contrast between old and new world then, on the one hand an acidic, tannic wine that could probably be described as rustic that will work reasonably with food or a soft, fruity, juicy wine that is completely characterless. Which do I prefer? I drank all the Chilean, the Chianti made it into the lasagne....... Despite describing the Chilean as uninspiring and characterless it is eminently quaffable. The story with the Chianti is.......I don't mind working for pleasure, to find the characters of the wine and match with food, but here we just have a rustic wine that in reality does not give that much pleasure.

I am having to save money at the moment, I am back in England for 2 weeks from August 11th and I know how I spend money at home(Now that is a proper blog sentence! 4 I's.). Still, with the number of quality wines waiting for me at home at least the Wine Korea blog can look forward to a few postings on some of the higher end wines for a couple of weeks. New Zealand Pinot this week. Had a glass. Like being punched in the face by a raspberry.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Chateau Haut-Bages Averous


Chateau Haut-Bages Averous, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France, 2001
55,000W Les Vins, Kyobo Building, Jamsil

After the disappointment of the 2004 it was with some trepidation that I opened this. The 2004 was a long way from being ready to drink and honestly didn't give much pleasure at all. I know this is a good wine though and so was willing to take a chance on a different, older, vintage. This is the second wine of the acclaimed 5th Growth Chateau, Lynch Bages.

It is a nice dark ruby wine with a slight pink rim. The nose is really good, an explosion of raspberries and cherries with the expected Cabernet blackcurrant. There is a little more complexity than just the fruit though and there is the cigar box and cedar one might expect as well as a lovely mintiness. I really like it when Cabernet driven wines give off mint, I always find it surprising and exciting! Yes, exciting.

The palate is, thankfully, great. There is a fairly intense burst of blackcurrant backed up, again, by cedar/cigar box and the mintiness. It has a little spiciness with some gentle clove flavours which linger on a long finish, that is rich smooth and has a really good chocolate quality to it. With good body, acidity and tannins this is a really well balanced bottle of wine. Obviously it is not a cheap wine but it is a great, approachable Bordeaux that won't break the bank. Recommended.

Emart today, I fancy some crisp whites to drink in the sun. Might treat myself to a new world Pinot as well. Also, got very excited coming home from work yesterday, GS Mart are selling some new beers! Duvel, Kronenburg, Cobra and an Italian beer. I was like a kid in a sweet shop.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pieroth Warehouse Sale

Click the picture to bigify.


I haven't talked about Pieroth before and I probably should.

Pieroth are a company that operate on an excellent premise, let your customers taste the wines and then they will buy them. It is such a simple idea yet so few retailers do it. It is happening increasingly in the UK and I am hugely excited to try out the new shop in Islington, The Sampler which offers ridiculous fine wines to sample(5 weeks and counting!).
Through the Pieroth website you can arrange a tasting, whereby someone who knows their stuff, in our case the CEO Dan Schulte, will talk you through the wines and offer you tastings of each. There is no obligation to buy but the idea is you will find enough wines you like to put together a case of 12. The prices are much more competitive due to buying by the case and so you are getting a wine you know you like at a good price. Whats not to like about that? The only negative I could find was they didn't offer mixed cases, you had to buy 6 of each bottle. For me this was not so useful, I need as much variety as possible and so I didn't buy from them. No sweat.

Which brings me to the warehouse sale. Mixed cases! 5% to 10% discount! Free delivery in Seoul and the chance to try some of their fine wines, Barolo and Amarone to name but two. There are two dates, the 21st of July in Hongdae and the 28th in Apkujong. I am booked into the 28th of July date and am hoping to put together a nice mixed case to see me through the summer. I think this is a no lose offer, especially with the chance to eat real cheese.

To book yourself on to one of the dates click here and state the date you are interested in. I should probably ask for advertisement money eh?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vine Training



Fear not, not a blog on the Geneva Double Curtain, the above should read wine training. Perhaps.

The Nintendo DS, recently released here in Korea, is getting 3 titles all based on drinking. Bartender DS dedicated to bar mixology, Sakashou DS dedicated to Sake and Sommelier DS dedicated to the choosing and tasting of fine wine!
Sommelier DS is getting a July release in Japan, useless to me of course, but as HMV have it listed on their website I am hopeful for an English language version. If it does become available in English I will be sure to check it out. I was always better at Super Mario Kart when drunk.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Nowt as queer as oak.




Nederburg Chardonnay, Western Cape, South Africa, 2003
10,000w from Lotte Dept Store Jamsil(Big sale on at the moment)

Laroche Viognier, Vins de Pays D'Oc, France, 2005
12,000w from Les Vins, Kyobo building Jamsil(Big sale on at the moment!)


We have two very different wines here. One of which I would say is the best deal I have found in Korea so far.

First to the New World and a South African Chardonnay. The SO had a desire for an over the top Chardonnay, ripe and oaky like they all were a few years ago. This certainly matched up to her desires. I should say first that 10,000w for a New World wine is pretty impressive here, you very rarely see wines at that price.

The appearance of this wine tells you quite a lot. It is a pretty intense lemon green, when I say intense I mean dark. It's like the water you might pass after a very heavy night on the beers. I know, it is an unpleasant truth...... What does this colour tell us? It can mean one of two things usually on a dry wine, the first is age, something we can rule out here, the second is a significant exposure to oak, something that becomes very apparent on the nose.

The nose is pretty intense. An analogy might be an oak tree falls on your head and the monkeys that were living in the tree take offence and pummel your face with butter, popcorn, coconuts and eventually take pity on you and give you some melons. Yeah, it is a pretty stupid wine. The fruit is on the back burner here, it is creamy, vanilla oak that is hitting you. It is not unpleasant by any means, just incredibly rich.

The palate is actually not quite as unbalanced as I was expecting. I was expecting the creaminess to follow through with no fruit and no acidity. This is not the case, it is certainly very creamy with butter and vanilla notes at the fore but we have some nice citrus flavours with a good level of acidity. Unfortunately, for my tastes, there is just too much oak. Is it a bad wine? No. If you are in the mood for something over the top I reckon you would probably quite enjoy it, it is incredibly rich but not as one dimensional as the nose suggests. Would I recommend it? Kind of. At 10,000w it is cheap enough to be a throw away purchase that at least gives some very definite flavour. I won't be buying it again though. The SO might.....

To the second wine....

Laroche Viognier, once again a Viognier once again a Vins de Pays d'Oc. You can see where my tastes are at the moment? Interesting, good value whites is where I am at. This is exactly that and I will reiterate that this is the best value wine I have found to date in Korea.

It is a much lighter lemon in the glass, an indication of limited, if any, exposure to oak.
The nose is just lovely. A fresh lemon beginning quickly backed up by the most delicious peach you have ever smelled. Like walking through a French market in summer. There are other soft stone fruits there as well, notably apricot. It wasn't quite as aromatic as the last viognier, not really having many of the floral elements but what it did have was pineapple. Not just any old pineapple though. Pineapple cubes, from your local sweet shop. I liked that!

The palate is fairly straightforward, decent acidity, peach and lemon with an apricot kernel finish. Length was decent, and it is a refreshing drink, not a massive full-bodied viognier. A really good, clean, simple, soft wine at 12,000w then. We have already been back to buy more. I suggest you get over to the Kyobo store at Jamsil now and get a bottle. I would be amazed if you didn't like it.
Also, I want people to try Les Vins for buying wine, the staff are great, the selection is good. It is still clearly my favourite wine shop in Seoul.

When picking up the second bottle of Laroche I also got a 2001 Haut-Bages from Pauillac. Eagle eyed readers will know I have already had the 2004 and it was far from ready for drinking. Let's hope 3 years bottle age is sufficient!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Drinking in Korea


Warning, this post may be a little unfair.

I am, currently, a little dispirited(pun intended) with the state of drinking in Korea. As I stated last post it is very much a story of liquids to make you drunk. Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for getting drunk. Dylan Thomas, Oliver Reed, Jeffrey Bernard, Noah, Homer Simpson. Drunks are great company. When you are drunk. You can't be a student of wine without appreciating the effects of alcohol, something many wine writers seem to glaze over, but there is a caveat. That is, there should at least be some pleasure, real sensual pleasure, in the consumption of the alcohol. Not solely in the pleasure of a temporary suicide(thanks Bertrand Russell).

Drinking in Korea is all about getting wasted. I understand(for understand read: am aware of) the cultural nuances behind the drinking culture. I understand why Soju is so popular in the same way that I understand why white ciders are so popular in the UK. Money counts. I understand why Koreans want to drink beers that are brewed in Korea by Koreans. What I don't understand is why it is all so bad. Surely, with the economic growth in Korea, with the raising of living standards, with Sparkling Korea there could be a market for Soju that is not just made through dilution by mixing pure ethanol with water and flavoring. Surely there could be a market for a beer that tastes of something other than chemicals. A true quality spirits industry? Good quality wines, red and white at reasonable prices in every city. A country that has such an important cultural role for drinking should surely have a market for drinks above the industrial? Arirang TV each day has artisans of Korea making dresses, musical instruments, hats......Where are the artisan brewers? The artisan distillers?

I will admit that I am no expert on traditional Korean drinks, but what I see and have tasted that is available in most supermarkets does not instill much confidence. I think about Korea's neighbours, Japan, with their wonderful Sake, Whisky and beer producers and I wonder why can I not see this here. Why are people drinking Soju out of juice cartons with straws? Why was I drinking a beer last night with added fibre(produced by Hite....Called S......Added fibre......S.Hite indeed!)?

Drinking is a pleasure of the senses. Korea seems to offer only senseless drinking.

I tell you what though, the above post is most likely the result of too much S.Hite last night. I'll be revelling in the Korean drinks industry later tonight!

Two wines to report on this weekend. A big, oaky Chardonnay from South Africa and a very surprising Vins de Pays d'OC Viognier.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Weeks Drinking


Moulin De Gassac, Vin de Pays de l'Herault(Pictured)
2004, France 15,000W. Enoteca, Galleria Department Store

Chateau Puech-Haut, Saint-Drezery, Rose
2004, France, 29,000W. Enoteca, Galleria

Morande, Terrarum, Chardonnay
Cassablanca Valley, Chile, 2004. 25,000W Hanam-si wine shop.

3 bottles to report on then, though I won't be going into great detail as I took notes for none of these bottles. It's been a tough week!

The first 2 are both from the Languedoc in the south of France, both come under the more localised appelations than Vins de Pays d'Oc. The white is de l'Herault the pink, Coteaux du Languedoc.
Both were very pleasant little wines.
The Gassac was a Sauvignon Blanc from old vines(Vielles Vignes), the older the vine the lower the crop the better the wine. So, I was hoping this would be great. It was good. A crisp, clean, understated Sauvignon with a touch of minerality. It is on offer at 15,000w and offers a nice contrast to the big, brash, New Zealand SBs. Much more subtle but perhaps a little too subdued to be a memorable wine.

The rose was a hot day purchase. Why I think a rose is going to be refreshing on a hot day I don't know. I am seduced by the pink I guess. It is a lovely salmon pink as well. It really is appealing in the glass. The nose is nice and fruity and ever so slightly confected, there is almost a candied cherry character to it. On the palate it is a tale of sour cherries with some of the confection coming through. Interestingly I served it too cold and it really opened up as it warmed up in the glass. Not bad then but perhaps a little expensive for what you get.

The final wine was a reward for a stressful Friday. It is a nice ripe Chardonnay. Melon, yes, fat juicy melon, on the nose and a nice creamy mouth feel. A little citrus, plenty of tropical fruit and some well integrated oak, there is just a touch of vanilla. This can probably be found much cheaper in Seoul and if so is well worth picking up.

There you go, short and sweet. 3 bottles that might be worth your time. Roast beef for dinner today so I hope to pick up an Argentinian Malbec. We will see.

I have been reading one of my many Wine and Spirit publications today and it has really brought home to me the dire state of the drinks industry here. From the beer through the the spirits it is a tale of mass produced, foul tasting, drunk making beverages. I will admit to being ignorant of the more traditional spirits however(something I would love to remedy). If I can find the time and energy a close look at the drinks business here might be in order.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

On the up.



I was determined to have a good day yesterday. Despite staying out much too late on Friday drinking the shocking draught beer I made it to Apgujeong to meet the SO. We headed straight to the Enoteca wine shop, located downstairs in the East building of Galleria department store. It is a nice store, airy and spacious with a well presented wine selection. As you might expect the focus is on high end French wine, Galleria is a store for the moneyed Koreans, but there are also a selection of monthly wines reduced to some reasonable prices. Pouilly Fumes reduced to 24,000w are pretty appealing. Perhaps this is why they had sold out. They were doing a sparkling wine tasting which was unfortunately fully booked but we gave details so we will hopefully get to experience one of their future events.
I bought two wines from the Languedoc, a rosé from a respected producer and a Sauvignon Blanc. Two bottles, 44,000w. Not too bad. I will report on them in the week but the pink is a refreshing, fruity, sour affair that may need food...

Yesterday was far too hot to be pounding the streets so we dived into a bar called Abbey Road that is just off Rodeo Street. It is a nice bar, I have no idea what the connection to Abbey Road is but it feels a long long way from a traditional English boozer. It has a really nice garden area and lots of open inside areas, the inside outside basically. I was drinking Hoegarden myself, the wine list was average and over priced, but the SO had the house white. She said it was revolting. Near the end of her glass I decided to have a sniff. It was corked. We agreed that she really needs to trust her nose more. She assumed it was just a bad wine whereas in reality it was spoiled. The corked wine is the one that has appeared at the top right of the blog. So, at least it looked nice.

We decided to hunt down some food but happened upon Once in a Blue Moon, a Jazz bar. I am not a big jazz fan but we had read a lot about this place and it sounded interesting. It's a pretty nice place, dark, comfortable with a stylish 1920's interior. It feels a long way from the more traditional Korean bars. The food is expensive! So was the wine. The closest thing to good value was a Muga Reserva, which weighed in at 84,000w. A fairly hefty price tag then, but Muga is a good Rioja producer and given the price of some very average wines elsewhere on the list it did represent value of a sort. We were in the mood for white though and so plumped for a Macon Village at 55,000w. That is a mighty mark-up for a Macon, you could get some far more illustrious Burgundies for that sort of money. The wine was opened with a level of ceremony that a Macon Village is probably not worthy of. Our waitress sniffed the cork and presented it to me, I dutifully ignored it, there is absolutely nothing to be learned from the cork. It was a pleasant enough little Chardonnay. Light, slightly nutty citrus and apples. Had the length of Sheffield United's stay in the Premiership. There really isn't a lot to be said about it except that I did detect a bit of cheesiness about it. I had been drinking in the sun though, so, you know, my radar may have been a bit out. If you have the cash to spare I would definitely recommend it as a place to go though. I think drinking Champagne in there would be a pretty pleasurable experience.

Speaking of Champagne, why aren't there any Champagne bars in Apgujeong? It would make a killing. Absolute. Conspicuous consumption is Agpujeong. What says wealth better than Champagne. In fact, if there are any venture capitalists reading, get in touch. I'll make us rich. A Champagne and Oyster bar. Dark, stylish and expensive. Seriously, this time next year......

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Bad Week



I wasn't drinking the above.


I have had a nasty cold for the second half of this week and I had two dreadful bottles of wine at the beginning of the week. It could be related?

The first was a white Bordeaux. I was tricked into buying it as the GS Supermarket near work had suddenly expanded their wine selection. It was Saint-Angel and I forget the name of the region in Bordeaux. I know it was an area close to Entre deux Mers and I found out after that it is an area noted for reasonably priced, reasonable wine. It had the wonderful phrase Cuvée Prestige on the label, which means absolutely nothing. Cuvée means vat. They are trying to tell us that this was a good batch. Which really doesn't bode well for their Vins Ordinaire or such like. Walking home I was calculating how much it would cost in Britain. I paid 14,000W which is roughly 7 quid so we are probably talking a 3 pound 50 wine. This is a dodgy supermarket though so I knocked off 51p. A 2.99 bottle then. You would have felt cheated of your 2 pounds.
I didn't do a tasting note as I pretty much just spat it out. It smelled of chemicals and rotting fruit. I did wonder if it was corked but there was none of the musty, damp smell you would expect. It tasted as dreadful as it smelled. Off-dry chemicals with an acrid finish. A bit like drinking flat White Lightning with some added sugar. It had been a hot day and this was exactly what I didn't need.

The second bottle was from that well known wine purveyor, 7-11. The bottle was behind the counter, much like fine wine and Champagne often is. It was 14,000W and the girl working there had clearly never seen it before. It was a Chardonnay, you don't often see varietals outside of the specialist retailers, and it was from the Vins de Pays D'Oc which can be an excellent source of cheaper, good quality wines. The nose was ok, had some nice ripe melon and green apple. It was nice and simple and fruity. It just did not convert to the palate unfortunately. It was all out of balance with, again, a real chemical quality. A shame really, to get a decent white from the local 7-11 would feel like a step forward. Especially if the price could come in at sub 10,000. This is probably as good an indication as any of where the Korean market is at right now(Probably another post for another day).

To add insult to injury I missed the Seoul Wine Market last weekend. Advertising? Website? Not that I could find. That will teach me to live out in the sticks I guess.

This weekend I will buy some good wine. I will try to stay true to buying an American wine. I hope to go to Aligote in Gangnam, which is reputed to have the biggest wine list in Korea.
I will have a good week.