It’s been almost a year since I attended my first UK wine fair – The Great New Zealand Wine Tasting held at Lindley Hall, London. For some mysterious reason, the universe eventually stirred me to Singapore’s Wakanui, a restaurant with a main focus on New Zealand’s beautiful food and wine. I finally settled in a place that benefits me in all kinds of ways and to which I hope to contribute greatly. One of those awesome benefits was the 1855’s Wine & Whisky Week Christmas Edition, Singapore’s largest wine & whisky event with over 500 labels from over 20 countries. I loved the concept – you come on Monday, try 30 wines, then you come on Thursday and try a totally different flight of 30 wines. This is how the organizers promote different brands and let wine lovers discover a huge chunk of the 1855 portfolio. Besides that, the fair offered 12 Masterclasses (I attended Macallan’s) and amazing discounts that should not have been missed. After tasting cca 100 samples, I cherry-picked a top 10 list as a buying guide in spirit of the upcoming holidays, enjoy!

Château Montviel Pomerol 2006
Bordeaux, France

This bottle is a pure example of Bordeaux’s hidden gems. That’s right, you don’t have to spit out 3K to have yourself a mind-altering experience. Montviel’s Merlot-dominated blend caught me by surprise with its enticing structure (decanting obligatory, just leaving the bottle open won’t work) – huge extract that’s elegantly packed with fine tannins and refreshing acidity. A masculine wine wrapped up with a pink ribbon. Ready to drink now, but since it’s still lingering in the realm of primary notes, I’d give it 10 years easily. Amusingly, the Cellartracker crowd doesn’t share the same opinion, but I guarantee you that this is one of the best price-quality ratio Pomerols on the market right now. Check it!

GN score: 96/100
Average price: 40 EUR (S$65)

El Coto ‘Coto de Imaz’ Gran Reserva Rioja 2010
Rioja, Spain

How young is this, WOAH! Even though Rioja is extremely hot and dry, the 2010 vintage was a godsend, allowing fruit to ripen gradually, leading to phenomenal fruit quality. Now, to refresh your memory a bit – a gran reserva takes into consideration only wines from exceptional vintages which have been aged at least 2 years in oak casks and 3 years in the bottle. El Coto’s 100% Tempranillo (past vintages blended in Graciano) is a flawless representative of this definition. Bursting with flavours of blackberry, boysenberry, raisins, cigar box, dark chocolate and nutmeg. Tannins are still coarse, but the acidity, even though remarkably high, is very well-balanced with the 14% abv. Silky texture, but stallion structure. And just take a look at that price.

GN score: 95/100
Average price: 36 EUR (S$57)

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Brunello di Montalcino 2011
Tuscany, Italy

One of my friends from Sarajevo told me that I should never complain about anything in life again. The reasons? I get to drink good wines, eat extraordinary food and do what I love most – earn a living from these two things. I have no further arguments and Ciacci can confirm. After a blasting 2010 vintage, they come forward with this complex, elevating wine that slowly opens up with primary notes of blackberry and dark cherry and exalts to hints of paprika, cocoa, mint, sage and thyme. The palate is marked with subtle earthiness, bright acidity, velvety texture and a damn fine aftertaste. Doesn’t get more classic than this. Drink now or hold until 2027.

GN score: 94/100
Average price: 52 EUR (S$83)

Clos Lunelles Côtes de Bordeaux Castillon 2011
Bordeaux, France

Fun fact: Clos Lunelles is one of the most labor intensive wines to be produced in the entire appellation of Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon. No machines are used in order to keep yields from these 45-year old vines on a low level. In the winery, the vinification process starts with cold soaking and temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel (done to preserve the freshness and fruitiness of the Merlot-Cabernet Franc-Cabernet Sauvignon-blend). The nose of this reminded me of those childhood black fruit pies which made the struggle with fat loss real as it gets. Full-bodied (the wine, I mean) with silky-smooth texture and refined tannins. A doubtless food wine that I imagine going ideally with aged beef or (semi)-hard cheeses.

GN score: 94/100
Average price: 40 EUR (S$65)

Domaine de Bargylus Grand Vin 2010
Latakia, Syria

The style of Syrian reds has evolved with the passing years. The first vintage of Bargylus, the 2006, was based on a blend of 1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon, 1/3 Syrah and 1/3 Merlot. The obvious success of the Syrah then basically changed the profile of the wine, so 2010 became Syrah-driven, followed by Cab and Merlot. This reminded me so much of the Mediterranean wines I used to drink back home. Sweet nose of jammy black and red fruit, a bit of herbs and a bit of spices. The palate shared that deep-toned character, with a crunch of dark cherry, blackcurrant and ripe strawberry. Grave tannic structure giving it the stage for further bottle aging, but can drink now without any trouble.

GN score: 93/100
Average price: 36 EUR (S$57)

Château Prieure-Lichine Margaux 2008
Bordeaux, France

Over the years of struggling to find a Bordeaux style that suits me (and that doesn’t burn my pockets), I’ve come to the conclusion that Margaux is definitely my cup of French tea. These wines possess the best of both worlds – power intertwined with elegance, silky tannins and luscious texture. Tertiary notes popping out of the glass already – wet soil, cigar box, pencil lead, vanilla and mulled black fruit. Elegant as a unicorn flying through Rainbow Universe wearing a Chanel trench coat. I rely on the judgement that there wasn’t a better moment in humankind’s timeline to drink this than right now, on this day. Has more power to pull through the next 5 years, but making excuses to drink it is utterly unnecessary.

GN score: 92/100
Average price: 33 EUR (S$53)

Greenock Alices Shiraz 2008
Barossa Valley, Australia

Another big shot from the 2008 vintage. This one comes straight outta Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s oldest and hottest sub-regions. Thankfully, the vines benefit from the cooler night temperatures which made way even for premium whites produced out of Chardonnay, Semillon, Riesling and Viognier. The real spotlight shines for the internationally acclaimed Shiraz which spins your head around with its richness, acute structure, soft tannins and incredible aging potential. Greenock dangled a carrot in front of me with its density and the ability to bench-press 300 pounds of oak. Sweet on the nose with tones of blackberry, dried plum, liquorice, vanilla and tar. Mouth-filling and tons of ripe fruit character. Warm, spicy finish. Bang for buck, no doubts in my mind.

GN score: 92/100
Average price: 31 EUR (S$50)

Château Tourans 2010
Bordeaux, France

Besides its beguile architecture, St. Emillion is well-known for its beautiful wine as well. The Tourans comes from a grand cru château (the best of the best), but as a well-crafted representative of this appellation, it needs looooads of decanting before enjoyment comes into the game plan. Deep ruby red in the glass, going to a riper nose with tones of blackcurrant, sweet cherry, plum jam, leather and cedar. Full-bodied, but tight, with all its key elements on steroids right now. More on the modern style (which has become typical for the region in the last decade or so), displaying obvious influence of Rolland/Perse. If you like this direction of St. Emillion, this is a 1/1 bargain you shouldn’t ward off.

GN score: 92/100
Average price: 31 EUR (S$49)

Two Hands ‘Samantha’s Garden’ Shiraz 2013
Clare Valley, Australia

Two Hands’ website states this about the Gardens series: our super premium range of Shiraz from six of the finest Shiraz growing regions in Australia, showcasing regionality of Australian Shiraz. But HOW to conclude this when you enter a wine shop and see this Paint label. Not too impressive, but hey, if they have a good PR then people will definitely follow up on this gem. Samantha’s Garden (hopefully not the one from Sex & the City) is a plump, but elegant version of Australia’s Shiraz (not many people are used to this when seeking out Clare Valley, Riesling’s kingdom). During the production, minimal fining and filtering is used to keep the baby fat which gives this wine the luscious character. The palate is rich with flavours ranging from wild berries to espresso cream, tobacco and dried fig. Tannins are ripe, acidity juicy and alcohol intact with both. Drink now, but don’t be a fool and have no food in the oven, because this calls for a feast!

GN score: 92/100
Average price: 32 EUR (S$51)

La Serena Brunello di Montalcino 2011
Tuscany, Italy

Unsurprisingly, the 2010 Brunello vintage received colossal scores from all the major wine critics, so keeping up with this was a real test for La Serena. Fortunately, with a combination of extraordinary weather conditions and a skillful team, there is no room for doubting the estate’s stunning 2011. Ripe fruit on the nose, very similar to the Ciacci. The palate is going more towards medium-bodied with firm and polished tannins. Bright acidity packs everything together and carries it into the long chocolaty-caramel aftertaste. The winemakers were very careful with the oak here, so you can’t sense anything overpowering for a second. Start drinking in 2017 or keep for the next fifteen years.

GN score: 92/100
Average price: 34 EUR (S$55)

Written by Aleksandar Draganić.

A WSET certified grape juice drinker pulling corks @ Wakanui Singapore whilst inspiring everlasting love for hedonistic journeys. Find me at @grapenomad

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: