Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dalk Galbi Pie


I am not turning into a food blog.


But....above is my previously promised Dalk Galbi pie.

If you have ever had a balti pie at a football match you will know what this is about. Curry is great. Pie is great. Curry pie is great! Same premise. Dalk Galbi is great. Pie is great.....you get the picture.

I used a Delia recipe for shortcrust pastry which turned out amazing.
I used the my korean kitchen dalk galbi recipe toned down a bit in terms of spice and without the ddeock. Not because I am some kind of Southern Shandy drinking Nancy....... but because I reckon you don't want a pie to be so hot you can't taste the pastry and chewing rice cake and pastry seemed like it might be a bit odd.

I am no food photographer......

We served it with sesame cabbage and carrots glazed with ginger, honey and soy.

It was great. Worked exactly like I hoped with sweet, spicy, meat and potato and pastry.

Ace.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Not WIne Related



Please excuse me.

This is not wine related, just a post basking in the glory of my genius in the kitchen. Or just my genius perhaps.

The Korean pears are on good form at the minute and the ones that are getting passed around at work got me wondering as to why I don't eat more of them. Buying a few I realised that the whole peeling thing might be the problem, I'm lazy like that, and so what could I do with them that would make me think it was worth the effort.

Christmas is coming. Christmas means booze and chocolate and given that I am too poor to buy booze and too much of an alcoholic to waste good alcohol on fruit it seemed the perfect 'pearing' was with chocolate.

Short story shorter, I melted some good quality chocolate, dipped the pears in it and let them set. Superb. Dark chocolate with the nutty sweetness of the pear goes incredibly well and as only half the pear is covered the second half cleanses the palate ready for the next one. Genius.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Lackey, Shiraz


The Lackey South Australian Shiraz
Hyundai Department Store,
30,000 won.

Just a quick one to try and prove to the world and, more importantly, myself that I am back on this blogging malarkey.

I am skint. Utterly. Friday is pay day and cannot come quick enough.

What better way to cope with the misery of poverty than to make a beef casserole, with real life dumplings(not mandu), and drink a big, spicy, new world Shiraz. So I did.

The beef was meant to be a goulash but we failed in finding paprika and sour cream and so we adapted and just made a bog standard beef and mushroom casserole. Little bit of smoked paprika, bit of oyster sauce, bit of this, bit of that. Pretty good, deep flavoured stew. I am not an expert on dumplings. I don't think I have eaten many in my life. Are they meant to be light and fluffy or something you could assault a policeman with in a riot? Mine were the latter but alright in a vulgar way.

Anyway, the wine. Fairly typical of an Australian Shiraz in this price range. Big nose of ripe, dark fruit and a palate that is juicy, spicy with really nice tannin. It comes in at 15% alcohol so I am a bit bleary eyed writing this. It is a nice wine that is just a little over the top for my tastes and starting to fall into cough medicine territory. A touch over priced but then what isn't round here? Keep an eye out for it in the sales.......

We also picked up a Chilean Gewurztraminer for 18,000 won. Torres, the huge Spanish producer is behind this wine and it's OK. Lacks the really exotic nose of a great Gewurz. This may have been suffering from reduction. I am not sure. It had a distinct rubber tyre smell that passed with time in the glass. It had nice acidity for a Gewurz and was kicking it in a juicy, exotic grapefruit styleee. That was me being a down with the kids wine writer.

Like I said, the Shiraz had a bit of a kick.

I am planning to make a Dalk Galbi pie this week. This is the pie that will eventually make me a rich man. I plan to pair it with beer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Herald and a few Cheapys

The new Herald article is on us today and deals with screwcaps. This was a genuine restaurant critique I read and the fella walked out without eating because of the horror of being sold a screwcap wine. Now, the wine could have been very poor and getting crap wine is no fun when you are spending 40,000 won but the horror he felt at the screwcap was palpable. Today a non-wine drinking friend texted me having read the Herald saying that my standards were dropping and I would soon be defending box wine. This is the battle the producers have to undertake with consumers with regards to closure choice it seems.

There are a few reasonable cheapy cheapy wines about at the moment. Homeplus have two Spanish wines at around the 9000 won range, both from the same bodega, both from the Tesco Finest range, both from Old Vines and one a Garnacha one a Tempranillo. They are good but not great, the Garnacha offering a little more depth but the Tempranillo being a cherry filled fruit glass. Worth a punt.

E-Mart are selling the Argento Cabernet Sauvignon at 9000 won as well. This is a decent bottle of wine. Nothing exciting but no complaints. They are also selling some 3000 bottles of wine that I haven't got the nerve to try. If anyone is willing to go at it for me and let me know I will be in your debt.

I must apologise for the lack of posts recently. I have been somewhat debilitated by blogger being blocked at work, a somewhat uncomfortable set-up at home, a genuine and psychologically scarring lack of money and an upcoming operation that makes me want to drink but makes me think I shouldn't.

Christmas is coming and I should be drinking well soon. With the New Year comes new ideas and my big idea is going to be increasing the quantity and quality of my drinking.

Cheers.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

2009 Tasting



I am not very good at this blogging malarkey......

Yesterday I had the very good fortune to get an invite to a tasting at the WSET office in Seoul. WSET are the organisation for wine education with courses from the very beginner to the not inconsiderable step before Master of Wine.

Podo Plaza is a wonderful place for the wine lover. Wine bar, wine shop, wine education and indeed a cooking school are all ensconced in this wood bedecked building in Apgujeong.

On Saturday they had a tasting of wines for 2009 with a selection of the importers best new wines for the coming year. With 60 wines to taste it was something of an assault on the mouth especially considering the white to red ratio of 5 to 60. There was some good stuff and there was some bad stuff. Prices of the wines were, as ever, something of a kick in the stomach and the selection of wines on offer was, as ever, very traditional and lacking in risk taking.

It was, however, a wonderful chance for me to see the wine lovers of Korea together and I met some really fantastic oenophiles. Women really are going to push the industry forward in Korea going on the male/female ratio there. Perhaps, hopefully, this will see something of a move away from the very traditional Bordeaux/Italy age worthy reds so predominant here to more interesting lighter experimental wines. Or perhaps I will need to fly that particular flag. It was a very worthwhile experience for me and I urge everyone reading to hunt down Podo Plaza and investigate what it has to offer.

We have lamb in the oven for our Sunday dinner and so I will match this to a 2005 Bordeaux bought due to Jancis' glowing review of the vintage. I am sure it will be too young but these things need investigating eh?

Got budget Premier Crus Chablis, a cheapy Pinot and the aforementioned Claret to write up. I will be diligent.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Pierre Gagnaire Seoul


Well, this seems to have passed through my filters(Google Alerts) until today. Pierre Gagnaire who holds 3 Michelin Stars at his flagship restaurant in Paris has opened a restaurant in Lotte Hotel here.

There isn't too much information out there just yet, specifically, no sample menu, but the prices are out and are, as you might expect, on the high side. However, if the food is up to scratch and sniffing at the door of Michelin quality then the prices are immaterial. Quality and luxury in every sector is a pricey business and the same is true of food and drink.

Some of my greatest eating experiences have been hugely expensive,thanks Mam and Dad, but have been worth every penny. If this restaurant is serving consistently excellent food then as a very occasional treat why not? I will be sure to check it out as soon as my bank balance has stopped reeling.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In The City


There's a thousand faces all shining bright.

It has been a long time. Wine in Korea has been through some changes. I have moved in from the sticks and am now firmly entrenched in the middle of consumerist Gangnam. What with finding a new flat, paying for a new flat and furnishing a new flat and the stress of starting a new job there has been very little time for blogging and very little money for wine.

However, the dust has settled, the bank balance has levelled and the current financial climate makes alcohol an absolute necessity.

So, updates will be coming..........

For those of you really feeling the pinch I have news of a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc at Homeplus that is retailing for a scandalous 5000 won. Expectations were low but it honestly is very drinkable. Simple, refreshingly acidic with enough citrus and grapefruit to make it interesting, this is not bad value at all. If you don't expect to be wowed and are happy with a simple refreshing quaffer that won't tickle your gag reflex give it a try. There is a red from the same producer at a similar price that has to be worth investigating.
The good news is that the new job, new flat and a coming birthday means I have the prefect excuse to indulge in some serious Champagne drinking. Financial crisis my arse.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

How To Beat The Rainy Day Blues



Up here in the north of South Korea we don't seem to get the full effect of the monsoons that annually hit the peninsula. What we get are the side effects which manifest themselves in rain. Lots of rain. This weekend has been something of a wash out in that it has rained pretty much consistently for 48 hours. The local river has burst its banks, the local building site is a swamp and plans to go flat(apartment) hunting in Gangnam have been quashed.
I have read books on wine.
I have played GTAIV.
I have studied Korean.
I have cooked a Vindaloo.
And I have opened a £40 bottle of white Burgundy. If you can't leave the house to buy something cheap one must drink what is at hand, no?

I bought this bottle as I was leaving my pre-Korea job to take advantage of a staff discount. I am a big fan of white Burgundy, be it the austere Chablis or the rich Mersault, and this particular appellation sounded like it would make a wine that worked my weak spots. I could have kept it for longer, let it age and mature and round out, but as a consumer who can only afford to buy single bottles, not cases, and lacking the luxury of space to store I am a drinker not a keeper.

And it was raining.

And grey.

Really, one needs a pick-me-up on days like this.

Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2000.
Domaine Marc Colin et ses Fils,
France,
Bought for about £40. Unavailable in Korea. Probably. Maybe but it will be stupid, stupid money. The last Corton Charlemagne I saw here was selling for 1,000,000 won or £500.

I have talked before about expectation and wine. The belief that a bottle is going to knock you sideways and re-define your high water mark. A bottle that all other bottles will aspire to be. Well, this bottle neither disappointed nor set a new standard. It was not sublime, earth moving or life changing but it was exceptional, thought provoking and most importantly delicious. It was a very happy monsoon day drink.

For an eight year old drink it wasn't nearly as dark in the glass as I would have expected. It was a beautifully bright lemon with some evidence of legs. Looking youthful!

I don't know if I have got across how important it is to smell a wine. Not just for the purpose of checking if it has any faults or not but simply in terms of pleasure. Sticking your snout in a good glass of wine and taking a good old sniff is surely one of life's great pleasures. Smell is a route to memory and building memories based on great alcohol is surely more worthwhile than building a loss of memory on poor alcohol. Which I also occasionally enjoy indulging in.

This wine had a fantastic nose. My tasting note talks of pears smothered with hazelnut ice cream, sans botulism, with wet stones next to the river on a summer day. It had a beautifully evolved chardonnay nose with no off notes and superb vanilla integration which gave a creamy, buttery quality. There were apples, but not your green apples freshly bitten but apples in a Paris patisserie baking a Tarte Tatin. Yes, this could be my wankiest tasting note yet.

Smell is important then, but how did it taste? Not quite as good as the nose I am afraid. It was still fantastic though! It initially comes across with a real burst of flavour with fresh lemon and good acidity. The apples are there again but this time we are talking a Granny Smith with the nuttiness of the first bite into the skin. On top of this it felt reasonably full bodied with a real creamy mouth feel. The length was exceptional and developed a real nuttiness as evidenced on the nose.

Temperature really affected this wine and it certainly does not want to be served clap cold. Chilled for sure but too cold and it closes up.

It is a wine that seems to walk a tight rope between the austere style of a Chablis and the richness of a Mersault. It was fantastically refined and really was an absolute pleasure. Would that I could afford to drink more Grand Crus white Burgundy! It had plenty of life left in it that is for sure and I perhaps drank a little premature. I am not so upset.

Though, saying that, I am now sitting drinking the Las Moras Argentenian Chardonnay and life has less colour.

If I did tags on posts, this would be tagged under 'ponce' mostly.

Monday, July 14, 2008

GS Mart Wine Fridge



GS Mart has come up with the genius idea of placing a small wine fridge next to the counter. The summer is really hotting up now and sticking chilled white wines beaded with sweat where I am making my purchase is a sure fire sale.
Las Moras Chardonnay at 11,000won is not bad. Lightly oaked Argentinean Chardonnay with some good simple melon fruit. Perhaps a little sweet and certainly not very refined but a good summer drink.

The picture above is a bottle of Maegkoli. My weekend football team had an away game this Sunday which involved getting up at 6:30(!) and a short trip across the Han to an astro-turf pitch. I really wasn't in the mood for playing, early Sunday is not the best time for me, but after one of the hottest 30 minutes of my life and thinking I was going to die I was glad I played. I have now accepted that I am not going to be a professional footballer, I am probably one of the worst players on the pitch.

Anyway, after the 3rd or 4th game the maegkolli came out. I am really starting to like the stuff despite the fact it tastes a bit like paint. It has a little bit of fizz to it and actually manages to be quite refreshing. I suspect you need to know which bottles to buy as the only time I have bought it with no Korean help it was swinging. Lumpy, no fizz and really tasted like paint. Koreans don't like to drink without food and so we were given a really delicious plum as anju. Then some kind of boiled pea that was sort of nutty with a potato texture. Good stuff. And...they put on lunch for us all. YukGaeJang. Spicy beef and vegetable soup. You wouldn't get that in an English Sunday Pub league.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Chilean Out in the Summer


A future writing headlines for the Sun surely awaits?

The new Herald article has literally hit the shelves today.

Whilst I seem to be saying that drinking red wines is OK in the summer, today is HOT and so I think something cooler really is the way to go. Maybe beer. EMart do a reasonable, cheap wheat beer.

In other news I will be moving into Seoul in September with a new job in Gangnam. Looking at apartments at the moment. There is a possibility we will be getting a flat in Apgujeong whereby Galleria would effectively be my corner shop. Take that wallet.

Chilean Out in the Summer.

It is something of a paradox that where those of us in the cooler northern climates associate summer drinking with white wines, those from hotter regions are much more likely to go for the reds. With this in mind this week we have three red wines for your consideration all under 20,000 won at Emart, each a different grape variety and all from Chile.

Chile is a region that can represent great value once you have sorted the wheat from the chaff. It is a particularly strong country for the Korean consumer due to the free-trade agreement between the two countries. Let’s hope that the US agreement and the proposed European talks can see similar impacts on the respective regions wine showings and prices.

Starting with the cheapest we have the Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from the Central valley region at 12,800won. Cono Sur are a winery that produce very modern single varietal wines that tend to express well the fruit qualities of the grape.

This is a purple glass of wine with a very tight nose. It is showing very little typical Cabernet character with a touch of cherry and blackcurrant and a hint of perfumed violets. It is a very soft fruity wine with a very real Cherry Lips(old English sweet) quality. The cherry/blackcurrant, rose/violet theme has followed through from the nose giving us a really pleasant, simple fruit and light vanilla drink that I have no qualms about recommending at this price.

Moving to the south of the country and from the somewhat experimental Bio-Bio valley region, next up is the Augustus Winemakers Selection Pinot Noir 2007 at 16,900won. Pinot Noir is enjoying some success in this area of Chile thanks to the slightly lower sunshine hours and temperatures. Hot regions produce Pinots that taste like jam.

This, as one would expect, is fairly light in the glass, Pinot is a delicate, thin skinned grape and so you get a pretty cherry coloured drink. The nose is not the most appealing unfortunately with bees wax and wet hay notes combining with a strong cherry brandy hit. It is a nose suggesting of a very alcoholic wine.

Unfortunately this alcoholic heat is following through to the palate and though it has a nice rounded mouth feel with good acidity and smooth tannins the alcohol throws it all out of balance. The fruit is nice and sweet and there is a subtle vanilla oak integration but with the 14% alcohol it ends up tasting a little like a cough sweet. This is by no means a bad wine it is just not to my tastes.

The final wine is the Santa Rita Reserva Merlot 2005 from the Maipo valley region coming in at 17,900 won. In contrast to the Pinot this is a heavily extracted wine with a deep, intense garnet colour. In contrast to the previous two simple, fruity wines there is a lot more complexity here.

It has a prominent pencil shaving and coffee grinds nose backed up by good blackcurrant and plum fruit. Also coming through are green peppers and the presence of some well integrated oak. Once again this smells a little alcoholic but there is enough interest to prevent this from being a problem and it is a very appealing bouquet.

You are certainly getting a mouth full of wine here with an intense blast of sharp black fruit. Plums and blackcurrant are to the fore nicely backed up by a smooth vanilla finish. The finish also has the benefit of being long with good tannic grip making this by far the most serious wine today. The oak is certainly making itself noticed as is the 14% alcohol but it has enough fruit and structure to make this a well balanced wine. It is another triumph from EMart’s new world red range and represents great value.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Teanum Otre Negroamaro 2006



An Italian wine from EMart. About 20,000 wonish.

We decided to make a pizza earlier in the week. Mozzarella, basil, fresh and sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Very Korean. As I was tasked with doing the shopping I decided to pick up a cheeky bottle to wash it all down. I decided to go the Italian route and this bottle proudly displayed an International Wine Challenge seal of approval and I thought why not?

Negroamaro is not a grape I am familiar with, perhaps as it was a victim of the EU vine pull schemes, and so I went into this with a completely open mind.

This is not a heavily extracted wine, it is not particularly intense in colour, somewhat contradicting its name. The nose didn't really do much for me, it was lightly fruity but had a really unappealing characteristic. The only way I can describe it is as the slightly scruffy kid at school who you always suspected didn't wash as much as he should and so carried around a slightly earthy funk to him. Not really what I want in my wine.

It is an acidic wine, fairly light bodied with soft tannins, again suggesting only limited extraction. It is however, pretty good. There is enough fruit to make the acidity appealing and it is a light, bright glass of red wine. Lots of red fruit with raspberry, not so much the flesh but more the seed that gets stuck in your teeth and a few hours later you manage to extract and chew. Delicious. Also, I got a really unmistakable orange quality, which with the cranberry fruit made it almost like a good Cosmopolitan.

Not bad at all and went well with the pizza.

Tonight, in celebration of the baking temperatures here in Korea we are making a pie. Meat and potato pie with mashed potato and mushy peas. Summer food at its finest? I am going to make up an extra batch of pastry though and fully intend to make a dalk galbi(닭갈비) pie this week. I suspect that this is the idea that is going to make me a millionaire.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A New Food Blog


Google Alerts threw up this new 'Korean' food blog and I am going to link it mainly because there is black pudding on it. I had black pudding and a fried egg as a starter before the fish and chips mentioned below. You cannot beat a bit of black pudding.

Seems to be a well updated blog so far and worth keeping an eye on.

Poor Me, Poor Me, Pour Me Another.


Yeah, so I had to go back to England again. For a weekend. Left Seoul on Friday and landed back in Seoul on Tuesday. Pretty exhausting really. And expensive.

It was a good do though, my mates wedding and so lots of old, old friends who could little believe I was living in Korea and even more agog that I considered myself a wine man. Maybe I just never seemed that...classy. heh.

I was the best man and so had to do a speech. I prepared the toast with a presumption that all weddings would have Champagne involved at some point. There was none. So my "May your marriage be like a fine Champagne, sparkling(thanks Korea Tourism Organization), intoxicating and not only long lived but also improving with age" was met with many raised pints of lager and my own whiskey.

All this means wine buying is on the down-low this month. I am out of pocket somewhat. I have brought back with me 3 bottles though. A Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne, a Premier Cru Volnay and a Grand Reserva Rioja. There will be write ups on those because they are going to make me either mouth ecstatic or expectation crushed.

Other notes.....

Economy class wine is shit. Drink beer.
Economy class food is shit. Ask for a sandwich.
Cathay Pacific is shit.
English bitter is fantastic and how did it take me so long to realise? I had a pint of Sharps Doom Bar with Fish Chips and mushy peas and it was all absolutely knock out. And very, very English.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Buying Smart At EMart



Junes Herald article is out today and can be found, for a limited time only, here.

I will post my submitted article below because for the first time I am a bit peeved with the editing. Some of the changes actually altered the point I was making, but hey, I am not the professional so I will bow to their decisions. Of course.

In addition to what I said in the article I really do think the Stump Jump pictured above is a cracking bottle, really juicy fruit and a bit of a steal at 16,000won. It seems I am not alone because Parker has rated it as well. Definitely worth checking out.

The Tierra del Sol is not a great wine and I don't think I got that across well enough due to word limitations. However at 5,000wonish it is not as bad as you might expect. It has fruit and at a party would work. It is not a bottle I would sit and really relish though.

I have plenty more bottles to report on and will be stocking up again this weekend so laziness notwithstanding the blog should be getting a few more bottle reviews in the near future.

Buying Smart at E-mart

Living outside of Seoul seriously limits your choices when it comes to wine buying. Dedicated wine shops tend to charge prices that even I baulk at and whilst the selection at the local convenience stores does show signs of improvement it is still very much a selection that scrapes the bottom of the barrel, be that barrel French or more likely American Oak. Living in one of Seoul’s satellite towns I have faced my struggles in the past, the arduous schlep into the capital or the over priced specialist shops with limited choice. Well, apparently fortune favours the brave and everything comes to those who wait and whilst I may not be the bravest, I have waited and this weekend saw the opening of E-Mart in my backyard.

There is no room to go into the pros and cons of supermarket wine selections here but it is fair to say that E-Mart has improved the choice in my city markedly. Selflessly I have braved the opening weekend hordes and taken home and tasted four wines that range from the poor to the excellent.

Let’s start with the poor. Little Penguin South Eastern Australian Chardonnay is a wine appealing to the masses. At 15,000 won with a modern label adorned with penguins it is quite an appealing bottle to pick up and SE Australian Chardonnay can be an over the top, ripe fruit and vanilla treat every now and then. This wine does indeed have a ripe nose of melon and citrus with an oak influence that has a lot of off notes. To drink it is fairly smooth due in most to the amount of residual sugar which is present no doubt to hide all the faults present in the wine. There is some tropical fruit and if your mission was to get drunk it might do the job but it is very difficult to recommend.

Far superior is the Laroche Viognier 2006 from France, a Vins de Pay D’OC wine at 12,000won which represents superb value. Viognier is a grape which presents problems in terms of getting the ripeness of fruit in balance with the alcohol. No problems here with an extremely fragrant wine with a touch of minerality. There is a real soft fruit quality with apricot to the fore with some flower notes. The palate is juicy but not over the top opulent and has a delicious liquorice finish. Fantastic value.

On to the reds and probably the cheapest wine I have ever bought here. The Tierra del Sol 2006 from Spain is a wine made from Tempranillo, the grape of Rioja and at 4,900 won it had to be tried. It is pretty pale in the glass and has a fairly unripe nose of cranberry and red cherry with vanilla coming through as a bar of fudge. This is a very light bodied red and could definitely be chilled. With red fruit and vanilla it is simple and drinkable. Certainly it is nothing to get excited about but for the price and slightly chilled it is worth a punt.

Finally we have The Stump Jump 2006, a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre from the McLaren Vale region. At just under 16,000 won this is a cracking buy with a fantastic warm, fruity nose with a touch of spice. It is one of those welcoming wines that you just want to glug down. It has a really rounded mouth feel with soft tannins and good length. There is a touch of tobacco, but this is a fruit story with juicy blueberry and black cherry and is a fantastic glass of wine. Recommended.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wine Outsells Soju for First Time



!!!!!! This is pretty big news really. I mean, I realise that wine still has a long way to go here and in terms of volume it won't be even close to soju sales. But still! Wine sales in EMart surpass those of soju for the first time.

Things will only get better for them as well as I drop all my hard earned at our new store. The good news is they have a reasonable selection and I am going to work my way through it which means plenty more reviews. This weeks Herald article will be the first of those.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Salt and Vinegar Crisps


I don't think I have mentioned this before but you can get your Salt and Vinegar crisps here in the ROK now. Yes, the reasons for going home are diminishing........

Olympic Park, Jamsil there is a shopping area thingamy with a horseshoe shaped area. heh, that's not much use. It is just to the left of the Park itself if you are heading from outside Seoul into Seoul. Anyway, inside the building, if you pass through the horseshoe area there is a market of sorts with two shops selling imported goods. Both of them have Salt and Vinegar crisps.

EMart has opened and I have spent some money. Just tucking into the 12,000won LaRoche Viognier which is actually more aromatic than I remember. Not a bad thing. I have plenty more bottles to report on which should please my three readers no end. Thanks folks!

Back to England in a couple of weeks for a long weekend. Aye, fly out Friday back in Seoul Tuesday. A wreck in the making. On the plus side I might get to bring some booze back as I am travelling light.

This post is brought directly to you from spent too much money and so bored on a Saturday night productions.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hyundai Department Store Sale



That right there is the new EMart opening in my town. I never thought I would be so excited by a superstore opening but this is different. They will have a dedicated wine area. In my town! I pity the only current wine shop here, who charge horrific prices and I have never seen anyone else in there and I also pity my bank account. My plan is, if the selection is up to it, to do a big old EMart tasting. Oh, and that artists representation there isn't based on reality. There is no green near by.

In other news, the wine shop in Hyundai at Coex have a great wine sale running until Sunday. They seem to have offers all the time but I saw some really good deals there currently running. You can pick up a La Vielle Ferme Cotes du Ventoux for 10,000, a wine I haven't tried for a few years but if memory serves is a good rustic style red. I will be picking some up myself.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Koreans Pay Among World's Highest Prices, Survey Shows



Link here.

"because Korean importers seek higher profit margins"

Yep. That about sums it up. Yes, we do pay a high level of tax here for wine but that is not the sole reason for the high prices we have to pay.

Importers will put at least a 15% mark-up on a bottle with supermarkets and hotels having to pay up to a 50% mark-up! With retailers then adding between 8 and 40% to the price it is not hard to see that when it comes to the point where we are handing our notes over we are paying hell of a lot more than the bottle is worth.

I appreciate the imperative to make money, I really do. However for the wine market here to really get going we have to be looking to getting everyday wines at everyday prices.

The Austrade body for promoting Australian wines abroad states quite clearly, "Korean consumers are price sensitive with an interest in things new and different." It is a great combination as you can sell value wines that are different, you can explore less fashionable wines you can push excellent Rieslings, or Austrian wines or any of the other good value wines out there and the consumer will embrace it. By doing this the Korean market can explode. Just one importer putting it on the line and trying to push by volume rather than price could see a huge change in wine consumption here.

Fingers crossed.

May Herald Article


Mays Herald article can be found here.

I'll cut and paste the original below as well.

I will say, the Expo was pretty good. If nothing else I had a good old drink and left there in pretty high spirits.

Also, it really was nice to go back to Sideway. The prices have gone up a touch but I suspect that isn't really their fault. Prices seem to be rising everywhere. Sitting on the terrace is worth it though I have to say. A really pleasant way to spend an evening.
For the record I had a Pouilly Fume which was a lovely subtle Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and fresh with a touch of minerality it was very good.

Seoul Wine Expo 2008

As a member of the public, Wine Expos or shows are a great place to go and meet the people behind the wine we drink. Seoul Wine Expo was held over the weekend of the 10th of June and to all appearances it appeared to be a great success. This was not some small exhibition for connoisseurs and the wine trade to give themselves a smug mutual pat on the back, this was a full on publicity exercise with the objective being the continued growth of the wine industry on the peninsula. The Coex exhibition hall was decked out attractively with all the major players having pretty hefty presences and there was a sense that they were out to win new customers.

The crowd was encouragingly young and there was a noticeable dominance in numbers of women over men. Smartly dressed and clutching wine glasses as they moved from stall to stall it was apparent that they are the future for the wine market here. It is by marketing heavily to young women with disposable income that wine can start making inroads into the beer and soju markets. This means a move away from the big, heavy red wines that have their sights set on the Bordelaise and a move to lighter, fruitier, wines and dare I say it, white wine.

Most of the exporters I met, French, Italian, Australian and Argentinean all said the same thing, that breaking into the Korean market was difficult. With all the red tape and the culturally different business practices I got the impression that the previous few days of the Expo had been somewhat arduous for them. However, all expressed great hope in the growth of the Korean market and it seems that it is certainly no longer an after thought. It is expected that Korea will mature into a market much like Japan.

The heavy presence of Wine Australia, a body dedicated to promoting the virtues of Australian wines was a real indication of how seriously the potential is being taken and it was an Australian wine that for me, was the star of the show. Murray street vineyards is a small, boutique winery based in the Barossa region of Australia. They had a small stall fronted by a very friendly Marketing manager who was really excited to be in Korea. The first wine we tasted was a blend of Viognier and Marsanne and it is exactly the sort of wine that I see the new, wine savvy customers going for. Aromatic, soft and fruity it is a beautifully executed blend. The other wines were all red and based on Shiraz, Barossa valleys classic grape and all were equally successful. Murray Street Wines are apparently available in EMart but unfortunately not my local branch so I cannot advise on price.

Sideway Wine

Sideway wine in Gangnam(www.sidewaybistro.com) is something of an oenophiles oasis. It sits at the top of the hill behind Gangnam station and, unusually for many wine bars here, sits at street level with big windows letting in lots of light. And it is indeed a light, airy space with cream leather sofas and more traditional bar seating. Most important of all it has a terrace for enjoying those summer evenings. Admittedly the view of a wall is not great but the addition of a projector showing off some the world’s great vineyards is eye catching and a good way of brushing up on your wine geography. What makes it so appealing a place as a wine drinker is its small, focused wine list. There are not pages and pages of sub-standard wines to flick through just a good selection of well chosen wines broken down into country and region categories. It means you can order pretty much anything without fear of making a big mistake. The owner, Anthony, is knowledgeable, friendly and happy to help with your choice and, being a French man, is making sure the food offered is up to scratch and will complement whatever you are drinking. With a wine shop of sorts on site if you pick a cracker for your evening you can take one home and enjoy it at your leisure.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Seoul Wine Expo


It would be remiss of my not to mention the Seoul Wine Expo this weekend. It starts, er, today for the public and will cost 15,000won to get in where you will be given a free(?) glass. Then you can make your way around the stands drinking to your hearts content. Prepare some interesting questions and look a little more presentable than a bumbling alcoholic and my guess is you can get good value for money there.
I am going with the intention of getting some on the spot interviews for the Herald and myself. We will have to wait and see how this goes.
You can get limited information here.

My Google alerts threw up the information that Koreans drank more wine than whiskey for the first time ever last year. My take on this is it is a good sign at both ends of the market. I can see fine wines replacing Whiskeys in many boardrooms but more importantly more average Koreans drinking wine, in their homes and in the bars. I have become a bit obsessed with my weekly recycling seeing how many wine bottles are showing up. They are there and they are not all mine. Honest.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tell Me About It


A picture of an Appletini there. Not my hand.

Tell Me About It is in Apgujeong near Dosan Park. Somewhere off Rodeo Dr. Keep walking the streets that run parallel and you will find it.
Normally in Apgujeong we drink in Abbey Road as it has a good garden and the London Underground signs are always good to see. Abbey Road is a nice shambles of a bar. Tell Me About It is like a smart Continental bar. The bar is set up so with all the windows open you can sit at the bar and still be outside. Ace.
It has a sort of decadent railway station bar feel to it. Only better.
The bar staff are handsome, so I am told.
The clientele are beautiful. I include myself in that.
The music is that atypical Jazz house that manages to sit in the background not disturbing anyone.
The drinks were excellent. The wine list is pretty good and pretty expensive. No great shocks on there. A bottle of Champagne can be had for less than 80,000won. Krug was tempting at 240,000won. You should hear how I can try and rationalise a purchase like that. Thankfully I was not that idiotic.
The cocktail list is good and they grow their own herbs for the drinks. The Mojito was as good as I have had. Cosmopolitans received a muted reaction from the SO. The Appletini was a great success. I had a 10,000won bottle of Stella. I can 't really justify that even in my own head. Cocktails are all 15,000won which is pricey but is very easy to justify if you have lived in London. London prices make the rest of the worlds luxuries easy(er) to take.

It is a really nice place to sit and have a drink. Doing a bottle of something cold in on a summer day there would be great. You can watch the Apgujeongites walk by as you take a swig. Much more civilised than Rock and Roll Bar and similar beer prices.

Also, there was a table of three, two men one woman who caned a bottle of Jack Daniels in the time it took us to drink one drink and then proceeded to order another bottle. They looked completely together. Most impressive.

Oh, and if you get the Martini set you get free mashed potato. You really can't argue with that.

Can you?

7 Days Is Too Long

So a month is a disgrace no?

In my defence we had something of a health scare which, to a degree, is resolved. Also the Dr told me I had to drink less which, to a degree, I have followed. Exercise I am not doing so well with although I did go to play football this Sunday.
Unfortunately we hadn't registered to play in time and so instead the adjoshis(middle aged men) plied us with Makgeoli at 9.30 in the morning. I guess we can call it an exercise in endurance. The Dr also stuck me on a machine that told me I had to lose 2.5kg of fat. I am not entirely sure where I am meant to find it. Although I often invite people to 'kiss my fat arse' I reckon I barely have 0.5kg both buttocks combined. Anyway, I digress.

It is true, I have not had a huge amount of wine recently. I did get sent a Homeplus/Tesco update which had discounted wines however and so went and had a shufty. I am pretty much always disappointed when i look at Tescos range. I feel like they should be doing so much more to push wine and to expand the range of wines available and yet what they offer is generally very uninspiring. The white wine selection is pitiful the reds offer nothing very different to what can be had at EMart and I barely look at the fine wines because the basic wines aren't really enticing me with price.

So what did I get? A Chilean Sauvignon Blanc that came in at a stupid 4,000won. Plonk prices in Korea. Superb. Unfortunately it tasted like plonk too. A bit of Sauvignon Blanc characteristic but slightly oxidised and with far too many off flavours. If you were having a party and wanted to serve wine to get people wasted I guess you could do worse. 4,000won is cheap.

I also got a Hardys Shiraz. Again because it was cheap. I can't remember exactly how much but was less than 10,000. I think maybe 8,000. Maybe less. It is mass produced red wine from Australia. It's Ok. Slightly too sweet, a bit jammy, too much oak but doesn't taste like the ribena and vanilla juice travesty that is Yellow Tail. Serve this at a party and you will get no complaints.

The last wine is the one pictured above. A Tavel Rose produced by M. Chapoutier. This was about 32,000won. heh, I know. I scrape the barrel and then get silly. Seriously, the sun shine leads to some sort of short in my brain every year where I can convince myself I like rose and it is the perfect summer drink.
Chapoutier is one of the Rhones most respected producers and so I felt it was worth a punt on this. It was a pretty salmon pink with a strawberry/cherry nose. It's a dry wine with very little tannin and a simple cherry cranberry flavour. No complaints but not nearly as refreshing as a crisp white wine would be on a summer day. That being said, we took it down to the river outside our apartment and drank it sitting on the grass and it was a very pleasant way to spend Children's day.



Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Budget Wines


Hynudai department store in Coex, and I would imagine everywhere else, are having something of a wine super sale. Really good discounts!
Argento and Alamos wines are down to the 6-8000 mark.
I picked up a mediocre Vins de l'Herault for 7,000won.
It is a reasonableish selection and is definitely worth checking out just to stock up on some cheapish week day wines.

They do have some good stuff as well with Chateau Cantermele and Chateau Talbot with some pretty hefty savings.

We ate at Sujis for the first time as well. It's location in Hyundai is not ideal, it's like the Kebab stall in the Cheonho branch, good to see but put it at street level with some natural light and it would be so much better.
Still, fish and chips served with malt vinegar! Superb. Proper chips and a meaty fish with crisp batter. 16,000w and a bargain at the price. Try finding fish and chips that good in England for the same price.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Latest Herald Update



So the latest Herald article is out and I am behind the times already. On Tuesday I state that there are no new world Gewurztraminer to be found in Korea, on Wednesday I find Cassilero del Diablo Gewurz for 20,000 won. I haven't tried it yet and although Cassilero aren't the worlds greatest wine maker they do make some pretty solid wines. So heres hoping. We do get Cono Sur wines here and they make a brilliant Gewurz so here is hoping some more.......

Also, my Google Alerts failed to notify of this gem.....

Cheaper wine. There is little better news one can hope for. If the big players here, Tesco and Emart can start cutting out the middle man it can only be good news for the consumer with regards to price. A certain homogeneity of wines might well also come but we hardly have a cornucopia of choice here right now anyway. If we could now get a large independent retailer with a real passion for diversity and value it could be a bright new future for Korean wine drinkers....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gorilla in the Kitchen


As mentioned down there we had brunch in Gorilla in the Kitchen on Saturday. It is a stylish Agpujeong establishment owned by some K-drama celeb. We went there because it was next to Dosan park, and so were we, and you can't argue with the name. There was a depressing lack of Gorilla emblazoned furniture though. It was all very minimalist as you can see in the picture.

This is a healthy eating type of restaurant, all juices and smoothies and calorie counts on the menu. The sort of thing that can put you right off your food. The prices could worry you as well with most dishes starting around 20,000w which might seem a bit steep for a salad. The Japanese tourists and the leggy, short short wearing Agpujeongites aren't too worried though and nor was I. We are like birds of a feather.

You get complimentary bread, which was nice, seedy and some of it still warm. Two types of jam came, apricot and apple with the ubiquitous olive oil and balsamic ponce-fest. Completely pointless as far as I am concerned give me salted butter and I will be happy, I do not want to suck on soggy,vinegary, oily bread. Naff.

We then got a shot of something milk coloured. It was slightly bitty but tasty and felt like it was doing me good so I one shotted it like I never do with Soju. I ordered Eggs Florentine and a seasonal juice, which was strawberry. Strawberries are everywhere here at this time of year. It tasted exactly like strawberries and so was a great success as far as I was concerned.

The eggs did everything they would need to in order to convince you that 20,000w was not a rip off. 2 big poached eggs on top of 2 slices of grilled gammon on top of 2 fat slices of tomatoes on top of a big pile of wilted spinach on top of some seedy, brown bread. This came with a salad and was doused liberally with a mustardy hollondaise sauce. It was huge and I refuse to believe it was actually healthy. I didn't think I liked gammon but this tasted of animal and the grill and so was a winner. The SO had a grilled chicken pasta which was less of a success, tasty but over-peppered.

The brunch came with complimentary desserts of some super sweet espresso banana thing which was pretty good and a brilliant frozen persimmon that was a mushy, sorbet with liberal texture givers of rice cake, pistachio and best of all fig. Superb.

It isn't the cheapest, but then it is never going to be here is it, and I have only seen the brunch menu so cannot comment in great detail but I thought it worked really well. It was modern and bright with outdoor seating and views of the park upstairs. The staff are worth mentioning as well, very friendly and our guy was switching perfectly between Korean, English and Japanese. I bet they don't pay him enough.

Now if they would only work on their Gorilla theme....

Update



I have been lax.

Not a great deal to report on wine wise. We had the above Chateau de Tertre 2000 vintage a week or so ago. I decided to utilise the decanter but I have no idea how this affected the flavours. It was good though and if you can find decent Chateau's 2000 vintages at a reasonable price I would say snap them up. This was very Margaux. Leathery with great depth of fruit with a really distinctive spice element, cloves were prominent. It went very well with the goulash I made.

Had a trip to Apgujeong this weekend, a very pleasant spring day in Dosan park. I found a Champagne bar! Didn't venture in due to the time. I bet it is expensive though. I'll have a look soon. 2 new wine shops to report on as well. One is on the main road that runs parallel with the Galleria road. If Once in a Blue Moon is on your left keep walking down to the main road and then turn right. Was a pretty grotty shop with some pretty good wines. Cloudy Bay was only 44,000w which is stupid cheap compared to the rest of the shops and would almost be worth buying up to sell on. I didn't get any.

The second shop is part of the 'Podo Plaza', yes grape plaza. In it is housed a wine bar, closed before 6pm, a wine shop and the WSET offices. The wine shop had a little more diversity, including Chinese wines, as you might expect from a WSET affiliated store. I got a Yalumba Riesling, petrol, tropical fruit nose with a lemon peel finish, and a Yalumba Shiraz Viognier that the Wine Spectator have rated. 25,000 and 22,000w respectively. They had some S.African wines that bore my name as well. So that was nice. I can't give directions back to it yet because Agpujeong still feels like a rabbit warren to me but I will be going back and I will update.

I had brunch at Gorilla in the Kitchen which I will talk about up there ^.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Ahem.

Good day yesterday. Started with news of Thatcher and dreams of Ding Dong the witch is dead, mean spirited and possibly bad taste yes but we're not keen on her here, then Utd get dumped out of the cup excellent style by Pompey then Wales win the triple crown and England lose to Scotland and then Barnsley go and flipping beat Chelsea in the cup. Chelsea!!!

So semi finals, Wembley and all that with none of the big four there. We could do it you know. Got a stinking hangover here which is to be expected I suppose. I'll need to get another bottle of Champagne if Tarn carry on like this.

Going to make a goulash for the 5th growth I bought in Hong Kong today. A very civilised way to celebrate a completely uncivilised evening.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cotton Pickin' Pocket Picker



So, Hong Kong has decided to abolish duty on wine and beer. This could be serious news for the fine wine drinkers out there with Hong Kong and mainland China already being a substantial market for the worlds top wines. It will have little impact on me I am sure, my money doesn't stretch that far. It would be nice to see a similar move here though eh.? With a 15% import tariff a 30% liquour tax and a 10% education(!) tax before we get to VAT and the extremely greedy mark-ups the wine industry is up against it here. Yet it still shows fantastic growth. With a reduction in these costs perhaps we could see a real explosion in wine consumption in Korea. Perhaps someone would like to set up a nationwide wine distribution company with access to all the supermarkets, convenience stores, department stores etc without the sort of price protectionism that I suspect is going on now.

Had a Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Hynudai for 20,000w last week. Fruity and fragrant it wasn't too bad at all. If you like the lighter bodied reds you could do a lot worse.
Also, Sileni Semillon for 28,000w, a bit pricey yes, but a really delicious white that I will give a proper write up soon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”


Yeah, spring is on us..........

I had plans of getting the Vespa out of the second bedroom this week and then we had more snow than we have all winter. I swear to god the birds are nesting though......

Anyway, my illustrious Herald career continues with a highly optimistic spring submission. Read it here.

This weeks drinking has included a Norton Sauvignon Blanc which was pretty boring. Showed all the SB characteristics and was completely uninspiring.
I had a completely unremarkable 2000 Margaux as well. I won't bother telling you the Chateau as I really don't want anyone buying it. Rubbish, rubbish Bordeaux which nicely indicated to me no matter how good the vintage you still need to be choosy.
The Tormenta Viognier mentioned in this weeks article is good but a bit much for me. Really is a punch in the face.
Shindong wines website shows they have a new arrival of Sherry which is exciting. I can't get over the idea of liking the stuff. Also Madeira has suddenly appeared. An almost indestructible wine, you can keep it open pretty much as long as you want, that makes superb gravy. I will be getting a bottle.

Folks with decent cable TV should be getting Alice channel, loads of pretty dull but informative wine programming on an evening.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

COEX Inter-Continental Lunch


Yesterday we had the excitement of going for two Michelin star rated food in Seoul. Previous attempts at fine dining here had seen us having to serve ourselves a starter from a buffet. Carpaccio looks pretty when arranged by a chef, when arranged by a cack-handed, half drunk northerner it looks like a pile of raw meat. That's why we have chefs.

Coex Inter-Continental is a pretty soulless hotel, very much the chain in a big old department store hotel but the lift was fast and the view from the Sky Lounge on the 30th floor was pretty good. River views, mountain views and Seoul traffic views. You can't ask for too much more.

It is a nice dining room set up to take advantage of the views, which seems a no brainer but you would be surprised how many places get it wrong. We have tables set with linen, we have nice crockery and glassware. All good.

Lunch had two menus, one at 65,000w, about £33, and one at 55,000w, roughly £28. The more expensive had the choice of lamb(!) or beef for the meat course with an additional course of saffron risotto. Saffron is pound for pound one of the most expensive foodstuffs around and anyone with half a taste bud knows it is minging. It is one of those flavours that could be so subtle as to be indistinguishable and I would still distinguish it. Hate the stuff. It once ruined a meal in Milan sat at the table next to Benito Carbone. Anyway, because of saffron I opted for the cheaper menu. Unusual for me....

First up was a glass of Piper Heidseck. Now, I should have learned from the £25 glass of Bangkok Moet but when you are out for a good meal it really is difficult not to start with Champagne. Isn't it? This was a reasonable 20,000w(£10) glass and was very yeasty and was to match up with the first two courses.

On to the food. First up was goose liver with scampi. A thin slice of rich, fatty goose liver topped with a langouistine/scampi/Dublin Bay Prawn. Call it what you like, I love em. The plate was topped with three big strawberries. The goose liver was Foie Gras, unethical and delicious, the scampi was everything a tiger prawn isn't and the strawberry worked really well to cut through the richness of it all Though three strawberries were excessive they made my pairing of the Champagne with the first two courses look inspired.

Next up was a Lobster Ravioli, three corn yellow ravioli served up with a nice chunk of pure lobster meat, three tiny cubes of beetroot. a fat oyster and a garish pink sauce/foam. This was pretty subtle and a touch disappointing. The ravioli were good, combining that lobster sweetness with a hint of the sea, the oyster was very good in a should I really be eating this fashion, the beetroot was pointless, give me a decent slice of the beets so I can really taste it, and the sauce really let it down. It was creamy and pink, possibly under-seasoned and dare I say it, possibly microwaved. I very much doubt this but there was evidence of a skin and it did come out very quickly.

The third course was the beef and this consisted of a beef tartare with beef and polenta. The plate is presented with a tower of tartare, ground raw beef topped with a tapenade topped with a tiny, raw quails egg yolk. To its right sat 2 slices of rareish beef and two diamonds of polenta in a rich brown jus/gravy. One polenta was topped with a tiny slice of truffle. I've never had a tartare before, my fair share of raw beef yes(Yukhoe was one of my first Korean dishes and is still one of my favourites), but never the classic tartare. This was good but the tapenade was a pretty strong flavour and masked pretty much everything else. I guess raw beef and raw egg yolk aren't exactly hammering home their flavours but it just seemed a touch over the top. The grilled beef to the right was everything a meat dish should be in a place like this, perfectly seasoned with a jus/gravy that really brings out the meatiness of it all. The polenta I didn't like. Give me potatoes over grain this just tasted a bit healthy for a plate like this. The truffle was earthy.

We drank a Chianti Classico with this and despite being a 2005 and my fears of it being too young it was a very modern cherry rich glass with a smell of the sweaty leather in there. A good match to the cooked beef, the tapenade herbiness messed with it a bit.

Pudding/Dessert was an apricot thingamybob. It is hard to describe fancy puddings. There was a sorbet whose flavour I couldn't distinguish atop a set vanilla cream atop some poached apricots atop a spongey, biscuity fella. Served with a fantastic, I mean really fantastic, black fruit compote and three cubes of apricot jelly stuff. Like I say, it is difficult to describe fancy puddings. It was good though.

All in all it was a pleasure to be eating in that manner in Seoul. Fine dining is not something that seems to be easy to come by here and I will be honest, I miss it. I don't eat like that often for sure but as an occasional treat there are few more pleasurable ways to spend ones time. Tokyo has just been showered with stars in its first Michelin review. I simply cannot see that happening here. You can eat incredibly well in Korea. Incredibly well. However at the top end of things, when we move out of the peasant, homely cooking that is the basis for all cuisines into the subtle, well presented and exciting, there seems to be nowhere to go. This is a shame. There is food here that could be elevated into the sublime at the hands of a truly skilled chef.

Tables that came in after us all went for the most expensive menu and all had lamb. We need to start seeing lamb here!!!

Christ, that was long. Spring feels like it is coming and I have gone white wine crazy. Wednesday is the next Herald article and it is going to be on a white theme I reckon. Sauv Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay and Semillion. I just need to find a cheap bottle because everything I have bought recently has been over 20,000. A sign of inflation or something else?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tyke That!


AHHH! hahahahahaha
ahahhaahaha

hahahaha

Ow.

and.....


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday's Herald


That chap above is the Italian 2 Michelin Star chef Gaetano Trovato. Why is he sitting up there stacking crockery? Because he is coming to Seoul to cook for a couple of weeks. Details here. I am not going to miss the chance of eating Michelin rated food here and so have a table booked for the final Saturday. I believe on the Friday he is doing a menu paired with some pretty tasty looking wines but 150,000w is a bit steep for me this month. The lunch is a more palatable 55,000w. No doubt they will try and rob me of my money with the wine list, it is a fact that us drinkers subsidise non-drinkers in restaurants, but I will not be weak. The price I paid for 2 glasses of Champagne in Bangkok has taught me a valuable lesson.



Today sees the third exciting installment of my Herald articles. It can be read here. I'm not going to bother posting it below, I think the editing went well this time with the exception of the "er" before the "they are convenient". I don't use er.
I'm not sure why it has appeared in Thursday’s edition.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

SS Wine of the Month Club, DP 96 and a Port as Old as Me.



First off I just want to give a nod to the SS Wine of the Month Club, that's SeoulSteves not Waffen. I missed the tasting of these but it looks to me to be the best of the mixed cases that they have had on offer so far and well worth checking out. So check it.

It was my birthday last month and so I decided to crack open the Dom Perignon 1996 that I had bought in Lotte Department Store, Jamsil, last year. I have a compulsion to buy as much Champagne as I can and I do find it very difficult to resist vintages like the 96. I hadn't intended opening this for some time yet but we had a bottle at Christmas that went down very nicely and Jancis was raving about how well it was drinking and it was my birthday after all so what the hell. Right?

So having cleansed my palate of the Paris Baguette cake I had been shoveling into my face we got stuck into the booze.

It is a fairly deep colour with a persistent mousse that is not that fine, certainly nowhere near the bublleage of the Krug. The nose is knockout, intense honeyed green apples with a yeasty, nutty aspect. A real powerhouse bouquet this.
Just like the Krug this is an incredibly fine, elegant glass of wine. It is full bodied and intense with smooth honey balanced by good acidity and with brilliant length. The finish has apples and an almost creamy vanilla bread sweetness. Jancis calls this 'a caress of a wine' and who am I to disagree.
If you see it, buy it.

The second bottle for review here, and probably the last from my Christmas drinking, is the Quarles Harris Port from 1977, just one year my junior.
Good Port is one of life’s great pleasures I reckon. Vintage Port is one of those wines you really do have to sit on for quite some time, they are hugely tannic and acidic in youth and mellow into a smooth and decadent glass of wine.
After a typical struggle with a cork of this age, half of which was dug out with my mams best cutlery, we decanted and poured a glass of ruby with a cherry, brown tinged rim. Still looking fairly youthful then.
The nose was not fantastic, slightly nutty, slightly fruity with some cherry and cranberry and also ever so slightly vegetal.
To drink it was a delight though. Very fresh cherry/strawberry fruit smoothed over with caramel and a long nutty finish. It was also blessed with a floral quality like Charbonnel et Walker Rose and Violets. After 24 hours it had developed a fantastic dried fig aroma and all in was a very good wine.

So, the end of the Christmas write ups. I bought a 5th growth Bordeaux from 2000 in Hong Kong airport last week in the hope that the 2000 vintage was as good as they say and it is drinking now. I'll let you know.