Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Korean Raspberry Wine

Korean Raspberry Wine, Bokbunjajoo.
Vintage, region and producer unknown.

First in a series of experiments with the local produce. A fruit wine made from raspberries and I don't know what else. I picked this up in the local 'Green Mart' for about 5000 won I think. I bought it as the bottle was quite attractive.

When you pour this the first thing you notice is how deep a red it is. No rim when you tilt the glass, this is an intense ruby red. It looks like fruit juice.
Give it a sniff and you are not presented with too much, it doesn't seem to give off much of a smell at all. What you do get is sweet raspberry (amazing eh?), sweets(candy) and floor cleaner. I am not sure where the floor cleaner came from, it reminded me of the school corridors after they had been cleaned or maybe a disinfected bathroom after a childhood illness. Not such a pleasant smell regardless.

I was really expecting this to be super sweet on the palate but if anything it was off-dry or even dry. To be sure it was fruity but not nearly the sugary mess I was expecting. That is not to say it was good however. It is fairly low in acidity and fairly high in alcohol, 15% no less, and you feel the burn at the back of the neck. It tastes, again predictably, of raspberries but unfortunately comes with a real unpleasant bitterness. It is almost as though the seeds have been crushed with the fruit during fermenting in an effort to get structure as provided by tannins in a red wine. It doesn't work and you are left with a really unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth.

I tried mixing it with Chilsun Cider, a type of lemonade, and this worked ok I suppose. It made a light fruity alco-pop although saying that it did make me feel a little bit ill after. So, on admitting what a lightweight I am we really all can look forward to the soju post.

Anyone wanting Galleria info, there are 2 nice wine shops there, 1 in the gourmet food section and one downstairs in the East section. When I have pictures I will post up or even do a mega-wine-shop-in-Seoul post. I didn't buy Champagne.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Marques De Caceres Gran Reserva Rioja 1995

Marques De Caceres Gran Reserva 1995
Rioja, Spain
40,000 won, Kyobo Building Jamsil. Can't remember the name of the shop! It is in the back corner on the 1st floor. It's a nice wine shop with helpful staff and the next time I go I will take some pictures and find out the name.

So, the consolation for not picking up another Viejo crianza and a completely different wine. Same grapes, same region, different proposition altogether. Picked this up for 40,000 and the sales technique used was simple, I asked how much the Reserva was and was told 40,000 she pointed to the Gran Reserva and explained it was the same price and I was heading to the counter.

This is a deep, intense purple wine with an attractive ruby rim. On the nose it is only medium intense, giving up none of the power of the wine apparent on tasting. This is, as you might expect, a wine that is showing off its 12 years of age. The first thing to come through on the nose is a rich leather backed up with a lovely dried fruit scent. Prunes, figs and some spiciness gave up an almost Christmas pudding like smell. This is all backed up with still solid primary fruit, dark black cherries and blackberry and the light vanilla notes from the minimum 2 years in oak for a Gran Reserva Rioja.

This is a serious wine, intense, full bodied and complex. It still has fairly pronounced tannins and acidity and is still retaining its primary fruit, this could probably age for some time to come. The leather follows through with far more pronounced vanilla and dark fruit of cherry and blackberry a hint of strawberry and then dried fig and chocolate on the finish. This is a good complex wine with really good length that might benefit from more aging. Certainly it benefited from being paired with some red meat, this is not a glugger like the Viejo Crianza.

Good value at 40,000? Certainly you are getting a wine to think about and it really is a face full of flavour. On a cold, dark night with the smell of roasting meat, this was a real treat.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gewurtzraminer 'Hugel' 2004

Gewurztraminer 'Hugel' 2004
Alsace, France
39,000 won, Shinsegae Department Store

A brief hiatus from blogging, not drinking, due to getting back into the meat of the day job. Drinking was a necessity blogging a tiring prospect.

To the wine.....

Gewurtztraminer is often described as the Marmite grape, you either love it or hate it. I love it, especially from Alsace with its distinctive bottles and generally good quality wines at all price points.
'Gewurz' is German for spice, an apt name for the instantly recognisable nose of lychee, rose and in this instance pear drops. It really is a heady aroma and this one has the distinctive Turkish delight perfume which can be so unexpected in a dry white wine. As a student of wine, I am currently studying for the WSET diploma, it is the sort of wine you would love to get in a blind tasting so easy is it to recognise from nose alone.
On the palate it is dry, though it had the merest hint of residual sugar, and was relatively low in acidity. It was by no means flabby though and was really well balanced with none of the oiliness that can appear in Gewurztraminer. I really do enjoy the Alsatian Gewurztraminers and the palate of lychee, rose and here orange blossom had a surprisingly long finish, the perfume lingering pleasantly.
Very enjoyable.

At 39,000 it is not a cheap bottle and to be honest I picked it up thinking it was 30,000. Still, a nice mistake.
Shinsegae Dept store had an interesting range and I will certainly be returning.

I intend to post up soon on all the different options for wine buying in Seoul to maybe help people locate the bottle they are after. My first visit to Galleria later where I will mostly be trying to talk myself out of buying Champagne. Update tomorrow..

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Campo Viejo Viura Rioja

Campo Viejo Viura
Rioja 2004
14,000 from Lotte Department Store.

This was another consolation prize after the disappointment of not picking up another 17,000 Crianza in the sale(see below). Same producer, same region but this time a white Rioja made with the Viura(also know as Macabeo) grape. It can give white wines of good fruit and acidity. Unfortunately not in this instance.

On giving this a good sniff I was pleasantly surprised to get a good hit of peach. Unfortunately this was followed by an unpleasant backbone of what I eventually pinpointed as rubber and someone else more accurately described as hairspray.
On the palate there is a citrus kick of grapefruit and a subtle follow through of peach but then the chemical warfare. When really cold this was not as pronounced but the wine was lacking the fruit and body to make for an interesting drink. I didn't really like it.
At 14,000 it is an attractive buy and others may be far more forgiving of its shortcomings. Tonight it will be used for cooking. 'nuff said.

Camp Viejo Rioja

Campo Viejo Crianza Rioja 2001
17000 won from Lotte Department Store Jamsil.
Was in the sale and I can't remember the pre-sale price. Quite excited by a Crianza Rioja at this price.

An admission. I rather enjoyed this wine. So much so that I decided to buy another bottle. Which meant I didn't need to do a tasting note. Unfortunately they had sold out and so now I only have memories.
This is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha(Grenache) and Mazuelo(Carignan) a pretty typical Rioja blend. The Mazuleo offers acidity to balance the Tempranillo.
Crianza refers to the ageing of the wine. For Rioja this means at least 12 months in oak cask. At 17,000 this represents pretty good value here in Korea, perhaps why they were all out.

Riojas can be extremely full bodied yet soft wines, this was certainly very soft but was leaning more to medium bodied. It had really soft tanins and a pretty velvety mouth feel. Nose and palate gave off the typical Tempranillo strawberry. For me, on the nose, it was very much tinned strawberries and this was no bad thing.

It was easy drinking and thanks to the soft tanins had no need for food, hence us knocking it back and hoping for another bottle. I am not sure if they will be getting more in, especially at this price, but if you do see it for less than 20,000 then I would definitely recommend grabbing a bottle.

The good news is I was so gutted about not picking up a second bottle I picked up a Gran Reserva Rioja from 1995 for 40,000. As soon as it is opened I will update. I have high hopes as 95 was apparently a good vintage.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Majuang Riesling-Kabinett

Majuang Riesling Kabinett
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 2004
About 10,000 we think. I will update as I intend to try this again, do a proper tasting note and update my thoughts. Available everywhere.

Ok, I am at 2 disadvantages here. 1, I don't know German wine so well. I will work on it but as it stands my knowledge is not great. 2, this is produced for the Korean market and so everything is in Korean.

I will do my best.

Ok, so this is a Qualitaswein Mit Pradikat, a wine with special attributes of quality wine. All the grapes have to come from a single designated quality region , in this instance Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, and a single district within that region, in this instance Bernkastel(a good district for riesling in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer). This is a Kabinett riesling and is so the most delicate, light and crisp style. No super ripe grapes used here which is reflected in the alcohol level.

I need to taste this again. It was indeed light and crisp with nicely balanced sweetness. It has only 8.5% alcohol making it a good aperitif and a good quaffer in the summer. I will update when I have done a proper tasting note but this seems to be a widely available good value wine in Korea. Particularly given the lack of affordable whites here.

Sileni Sauvignon Blanc

Sileni Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand 2006
23000 from Lotte Department Store, Jamsil

Beautifully bright, pale lemon-green sauvignon blanc.

Typical Marlborough SB nose, intense, fruity herbaceous kick in the face. This is a really grassy one with a more gooseberry than tropical fruit nose.

Palate again is very typical. Pretty intense, initial citrus lemon kick with rapid follow through of the nose. Grassy and tart gooseberry. This is a real mouth waterer and is the sort of wine you want to be drinking with the sun on your face, the sea near by and a plate of spankingly fresh seafood in front of you.
It is a good Marlborough SB and you don't find too many of those for this price in Korea. I prefer the Lawsons Dry Hills from E-Mart at 24000 as it has a little more ripe tropical fruit but I can seem me getting through a few of these as the weather improves.
Go buy it!

Alta Vista Chardonnay

Alta Vista Premium Chardonnay 2006
Argentina, Mendoza.
Price: 19000 won
Market at bottom of a mountain in Hanam-si that sells revolting boxes of Chablis and Burgundy from California. Thank God we are protected by EU law from such attrocities in the UK. heh, get her!

Tasting note to follow. Can't remember.

Bloody Mary

Sometimes life needs a Bloody Mary. I thought this was going to be spectacular. I really did. I put all my love into it and was only really lacking the celery salt. Really, it wasn't very good.
I am pretty sure it was because the tomato juice was too sweet. I will continue to experiment. I could blame the Worcestershire sauce as well I suppose, Beans meanz Heinz where as Worcestershire sauce means Lee and Perrins.
Oh well, it looks pretty.

Elderton Chardonnay

Australia, Eden Valley, 2001(!!)
Price: 19000 won from the foreigners super market in Hannam-dong.

I am not sure if Hannam supermarket is the best place to buy wine. Saw a 98 Dom Perignon there for 230000!! Nearly 70,000 more than we paid for a 96 vintage from Lotte in Jamsil. But I digress.
Saw this and will always be tempted by sub 20,000 bottles. Didn't notice it was the 2001 vintage though, perhaps due to the 2 pitchers of Cass prior to shopping.

Colour could almost be described as deep intensity lemon. Is this because of age or over oaking. Difficult to say. Certainly there has been a reasonable exposure to oak here.

The nose is rather good, still has fruit with a nice primary citrus kick followed up by the much more tropical elements you might expect from an Australian chardonnay. We are talking melon and pineapple here. Whats more interesting is a lovely honey complexity that has a definite creaminess to it.

The palate gives off the real oak sensation but this is not like some of the over-oaked wines of Australia, it is really well balanced with good acidity and citrus fruit. I suspect the oak has been toasted as there is the slightly toasty popcorn butteriness and then the fruit still coming through. Pineapple and melon follow from the nose though the honey is not so pronounced. It has suprisingly good length.

I am a little surprised by this wine, I assumed it would be past its best to be honest. There is still plenty of fruit and the obvious oak and malolactic fermentation is really well balanced. I would say this is extremely good value for a white wine in Korea. I am not sure how many bottles they had left and I may well be tempted to go and pick up a few more for everyday drinking.

Santa Helena Merlot

Chilean Merlot. 2006 vintage from the Central Valley.
Price is less than 10000 won from local shop. There are plenty of cheap Chilean wines out there. Whether this is directly or indirectly to do with the free trade agreement between Korea and Chile I don't know. It is good news for the consumer however you look at it though. Reasonable wine for less than Man Won(10000) can only be good news.

Ok, it isn't great. It has a nice typical merlot nose, a nice level of fruit you would expect from a young wine like this. Plum and raspberry dominate, ever so slightly jammy with the merest hint of chocolate.
On the palate it is a little rough and ready. It feels a little too thin and although the fruit follows through from the nose it is as though the ripeness has been left and it is all just a bit green.
However, at this price it is difficult to complain.

Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon

Revolting. Truly not good. Is full on fruity which is ok but is almost sweet in its fruitiness. Still wouldn't be so bad were in not for the fact that it smells and tastes like vanilla essence had been added.

Price: Around 13000 won from our local shop but available widely. Have had the shiraz as well which is margianally better but still suffers from vanilla overload.