If you had to choose one wine & spirits event in Singapore that includes plenty of booze, interesting people and loads of fun, don’t look further than 1855 The Bottle Shop’s Wine and Whisky Week. The fair opens its doors to public twice a year (woo-hoo!) in Suntec’s East Atrium (Level 1) and offers over 500 labels for tasting and purchasing. Just like for the holiday edition, I wasn’t strong on the spirits, so it is my unselfish duty to guide you through my top ten wine picks. If this isn’t enough for ya, hop on by during the last weekend of May and give your palate a test drive through some stunning liquids.
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2005
Coming to Singapore, Château Pichon Lalande has crept up on me so many times during service that it has officially become my most consecutively tasted Bordeaux on the list (cca 7 vintages in 7 months). Now, Bordeaux is not my go-to region, but, truth be told, I love me some good Pauillac from time to time. If you look at the ownership of this chateau, you’ll see that it has only changed hands two times for over 250 years, which is a major thing in this game. In 2007, it was sold to the owners of Roederer Champagne. Even though the 2005 vintage received major points from Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator and James Suckling, the notes I’ve read online give a very sterile impression for this absolute screamer. In the glass, it doesn’t keep hidden for a second, coming out strong with notes of chunky, ripe blackberry, sweet cherry, cedar, tobacco pipe and hints of pencil lead. Full-bodied, with fine, ripe tannins and a beautifully bright acidity. Finishes off colossal with tones of chocolate and mocha. Not even near its peak now, but is slowly giving way to its blooming character. If you’re a Bordeaux nut and have $220 to spare, you shouldn’t think twice about purchasing this. Superb!
Average price: S$216 (137 EUR)
Viña Vik La Piu Belle 2011
Rapel Valley, Chile
Imagine a Norweigian and a Chilean sitting in a bar, drinking a couple of beers, doing a couple of shots, when it suddenly hits them – “let’s open up a winery”. They set out on a quest for two years, testing out 4000 (!) different soil samples to find the best one in Chile. Then they invest millions into state-of-the-art technology and make some banging good wines. A good life, I must say. Now, the next time you go out to a restaurant with your Tinder date, I highly recommend buying a bottle of this. It’ll heat things up, attract some jealous stares and immediately set the bar high for subsequent conquerors. It’s a wine that’s very straight-to-the-point, offering tons of fruit, gorgeously integrated oak, power, density and aging potential. One of those crazy, robust NW blends that doesn’t leave anybody indifferent to its voodoo magic.
Average price: S$93 (59 EUR)
Duemani Altrovino 2015
With estate-grown grapes and exquisite vineyard positions in Riparbella, Duemani set the ground perfectly for some of the purest examples of Cabernet Franc I have ever witnessed. And I won’t even say “outside of France”. That’s right – ever. In addition, the biggest catch here is that this biodynamic producer has been consistent for years, so he’s not one of those one-hit wonders you see in Decanter and the next thing you know, he’s gone. Duemani’s Cabernet Franc – Merlot blend snatches you with its juicy aromas of black fruit and subtle layers of oak (butter/vanilla). A strong impression in the mouth, balanced and long-lasting. Needs hours of decanting, but when it opens up, the Cab really shows its character – crunchy acidity, natural spiciness (we’re talking sweet chilli, crushed green pepper, cinnamon) and an elevated boldness with which the Merlot catches up easily. An exciting playground for any taster’s palate.
Average price: S$84 (53 EUR)
Penley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
If anything gives me hope about owning a winery one day, it’s Kym Tolley, who worked in the industry for 17 years before establishing Penley Estate. Now, he’s #winning vintage after vintage with some of the richest Cabs out there. But as VinoMofo states, the elegance is never left out. Tolmer’s grand combo of these two elements can be detected already on the nose. What a jump start. The first impression tells me that it’s heavily influenced by oak, but that quality blends in with the rich black fruit and Mediterranean spiciness effortlessly. Tight structure, tight tannins, so chill out and let the wine breathe a bit before you start chugging it, ’cause as Dorothy Parker (who I believe is on this label) says, “Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.”
Average price: S$42 (27 EUR)
La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva 2008
The Run-DMC of Spanish wine. The godfathers of Rioja. The liquid epitomes of Tempranillo and Garnacha. La Rioja Alta truly stands proud of its tradition and old school spirit to this day. It was founded in 1890 by five families, including Aranas, Ardanzas and the Alberdis (names now immortalised as Reservas). Today, the winery has a whooping 700ha of vineyards to show for. Besides the 904 Gran Reserva, the Ardanza definitely holds classic trademark quality. Big blueberry-vanilla pie on the nose with bits of herbs sneaking in. Medium-bodied and silky soft with ultra-rioe tannins. Long butterscotch finish. Coming from a very good, ripe year, this is a steal for €25 and even though I didn’t try newer vintages yet, I have strong faith in the consistency of these formidable demi-gods.
Average price: S$68 (43 EUR)
La Spinetta Langhe Nebbiolo 2013
Two biodynamic Italians on this list tells you what? That as much as you think that preserving our natural habitat is solely a trendy marketing scheme, in the end you’ll admit that these practices give tremendous wines (most of the time). In all honesty, I don’t believe that putting cow shit into a horn and praying to the moon gods has any contributing effect whatsoever, but what I do believe is that winemakers should embrace mother Gaia to benefit all, be that with organic, natural, biodynamic or whatever hip name for farming you’ll have tomorrow. In the end, if the wine is good, I don’t care if a dirty hippie from a straw hut made it. Pour it up, son! In my opinion, La Spinetta’s Langhe Nebbiolo will often be mistaken for a good value Barbaresco due to the seriousness that it offers. Tar, licorice and blackberries play around on the nose. After a bit of breathing, the palate becomes purely fruit-driven with gripping tannins and high acidity. Retaining its elegance, the wine finishes off nicely with just a lick of oak.
Average price: S$55 (35 EUR)
Louis Vavasour Awatere River Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Marlborough, New Zealand
Winery founder, Louis Vavasour, decided to create ARWC after practising his craft in Australia, California and France. The wines he makes employ minimal intervention, extremely low yields and a terroir-driven philosophy that is something we need more of in New Zealand winemaking, because discovering a Sauvignon Blanc like this never fails to surprise me. Varietal expression is definitely there, but doesn’t jump right out with the gooseberry and nettle. The path is rather lighted up by tones of melon, passionfruit, lychee, brioche and crushed stone. Mouth-coating texture with that tropical fruit still in the spotlight. Vibrant acidity lingering into a long zesty finish.
Average price: S$20 (13 EUR)
Lethbridge Pinot Noir 2015
Named one of the most exciting wineries of Australia, Lethbridge stands out with its purity and discernment of every step in the winemaking process. It was the idea of three doctors to invest in a plot of land and – wait for it – start biodynamic farming. Not something you’d expect from three scientists, but it happens. Their Pinot Noir comes from limestone and red clay soils resulting in a very aromatic, crisp and ripe red wine. The nose is brightened by cherry, unripe plum, wet leaves, cloves and hints of herbs. Excellent palate weight, giving you an impression of fruit juice on steroids (but not in a bad way). Showing subtle tannins with acidity being the main actor of the show. Lingering sour cherry finish.
Average price: S$41 (26 EUR)
Casa Rojo Rías Baixas La Marimorena 2016
The Albarino vineyards of Casa Rojo are located in O Rosal in the Pontevedra of the Rias Baixas region (northwest Spain). The granite terraces are surrounded by rivers and sea which cool down this humid region. And if this wine geekiness told you absolutely nothing, let the wine do the talking, because, man, is this a proper Albarino! Decent nose of white flowers, lime zest, ripe peach and apricot. The palate is where the true action is. Much denser than most Albarinos, but retains this zippy, mineral, floral, easy-drinking character of the grape. Opens up to more pear-like notes and finishes off with green spice that I can’t really pinpoint. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate by drinking more and more Spanish whites.
Average price: S$22 (14 EUR)
Two Hands Shiraz Angels Share 2013
McLaren Vale, Australia
Angels’ share is a coined term used in winemaking or distilling to describe water/alcohol evaporation. In an environment with 100% relative humidity, very little water is evaporated, so most of the loss is alcohol, a useful trick if one has a wine with very high proof. With a 14% abv, we can safely say that this term was only used metaphorically by Two Hands, purely for your entertainment. They’re sticking to their guns with this sublime Shiraz that offers stocky aromas of bramble, blackcurrant jam, tobacco and cinnamon. Pretty predictable style, but great to drink or keep nonetheless. If you love your Aussies full, rich and loaded, this is your animal.
Average price: S$39 (25 EUR)
Written by Aleksandar Draganić.
A WSET certified grape juice drinker, professional glass polisher and uncanny cuisine explorer. Find me at @grapenomad