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!