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

" 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.