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.