Where does one start when it comes to wine tasting, or other alcohol for that matter?
Sommeliers might suggest you start with something a little lighter, before slowly working your way up to the stronger stuff. It’s like exercise – allowing your palate to warm up first. So, it was with the good people of 1855 The Bottle Shop, the organisers of the upcoming Wine & Whisky Week. They meticulously arranged for the tasting at the event preview to be divided into three distinct flights, starting from the relatively young tasting Sophia 2013 by Craggy Range from New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay and ending with the beautifully bold and complex La Piu Belle 2011 before moving on to the sakes, and finally finishing the night with the much anticipated Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare.
Me? I went straight for the whisky! Before you think I’m some deviant who refused to follow the well-planned order of events, I just happened to be introduced to the brand manager of Diageo before the event started, who promptly handed me a glass of the Johnnie Walker, which I happily imbibed. Man, that was good stuff.
Senses too dulled to start with the wine tasting proper? No problem, just wash it down with a glass of whisky cocktail.
Returning from 16 to 27 May with a summer theme of “Behold the Beauty of Blends, Soak in the Spirits of Single Varietal”, the fifth edition of Wine & Whisky Week will feature wineries and labels making their debut appearances, including Chilean rising star Viña Vik, Italian wineries Duemani and Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, and of course the first-ever appearance in Singapore of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare.
The wine tasting kicks off with the Sophia 2013, done in a right bank style with its merlot prominence. An easy drinking wine that is not too fruity, it could probably do with a bit more age in my view.
Although 1998 was not a particularly outstanding vintage for Bordeaux wines, the Château Gruaud-Larose drinks like a classic Bordeaux, with a nose of damp cigars, and continues to mature even at the age of 20.
However, the night clearly belonged to the Second Flight wines – the Italian L’Andrea 2012 by Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio and the La Piu Belle 2011 by Viña Vik with its stunningly beautiful bottle design. Highly rated by James Suckling (92 points) and Robert Parker (91 points), the La Piu Belle is easily the most bold and complex wine of the lot. My personal favourite, however, was the L’Andrea and I found myself returning to this wine each time after I had tasted something else.
It is perhaps fitting that 1855 The Bottle Shop has chosen to showcase Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style wines from other countries, given that its very name “1855” is likely derived from the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 to classify the best Bordeaux wines in France.
Sake tasting was where things got interesting. Sake sommelier Adrian Goh was on hand to help us appreciate the finer points of sake making and tasting. It was highly educational to learn that sake is actually made in countries other than Japan. I definitely did not know that!
Some of these sake makers go beyond just importing Japanese rice to even Japanese water to make the sake. Good water is apparently the most important factor when it comes to making good sake so these guys are serious about staying true to the source.
The SouHana Junmai Ginjo by Nihonsakari is an imperial sake used for all celebrations of the Japanese imperial family, including the upcoming crowning of the new Japanese emperor. Although it is not very aromatic, it has a lot of body and a dry finish. Its SMV (sake meter value) of -2 is deceptive as it’s not as sweet as one would think. Its smoothness makes this easily one of the best sakes I’ve ever had. The Fuga Junmai Daiginjo is a lot more aromatic and heavier by comparison, with melon and strawberries on the nose. But, if the SouHana is good enough for the imperial family, it’s definitely good enough for me.
The history behind the brewery Nihonsakari is quite a fascinating one so don’t miss out on the chance to learn from Adrian Goh at the sake masterclass where he will teach you on the best rice for making sake and regale you with tales of how before enzymes for fermentation were discovered, the rice was chewed and spat out for natural fermentation.
Whisky lovers are in for a treat with the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare making its debut in Singapore. Only one out of every 10,000 bottles make it to blue label. ‘Ghost’ here refers to the distilleries of Cambus, Pittyvaich and the Highland Single Malt, Brora, which have ceased production long ago, making this whisky even more of a highly sought-after rarity. The complexity is intriguing in this blend of grain and malt whisky, with notes of orange and pineapple. Although it retails at S$518, you should be able to score a good deal at Wine & Whisky Week.
Wine & Whisky Week looks set to be an exciting event with over 500 wine and spirits labels at attractive discounts and over 100 labels for complimentary sampling. There is also a sure-win Spin & Win contest with a minimum spend of S$200 and a wine chiller giveaway (worth S$838) to the first two customers who spend S$8,000 in a single receipt. The biggest winner will be the one who can walk away with a year’s supply of wine and whiskies valued at S$3,000.
So however you like to start your wine tasting, I’d suggest you get on down early so you can try the wines and spirits to your heart’s content. Cheers!
What: Wine & Whisky Week
When: 16 May 2018 – 11am to 5pm; 17 to 27 May – 11am to 10pm
Where: Suntec City East Wing, Level 1 Atrium, Singapore (Between Tower 3 and 4)
Tickets: Free Admission to the event. Tickets to the masterclasses are priced at S$28 each and available for sale on www.1855thebottleshop.com.
|Date||Session 1: 2pm||Session 2: 4pm|
|19 May 2018 (Saturday)||Burn Cottage – Central Otago’s Top Pinot Noir in Vertical
Speaker: Andy Corzier, Brand Ambassador
Details: Join Andy Corzier for a vertical tasting of Burn Cottage’s flagship wine featuring 2013, 2014 and 2015.
|Launch of the New Ki No Bi SEI and Botanicals
Speaker: Timothy Barnes, Wholesale Manager, La Maison du Whisky
Details: Join the Masterclass and learn more about Ki No Bi gin and the new product Ki No Bi SEI, and get to taste the botanicals that’s only available in this class.
|20 May 2018 (Sunday)||The Story of Baby Grange by Penfolds
Speaker: Sam Stephens, Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador SEAMEA
Details: Join for a session where you will taste five different wines from their stable and explore the multiregional blending philosophy that gives each wine its unique character.
|Scotch Whisky: A Flavour Journey
Speaker: Aubrey Sim, Reserve Brand Development Manager
Details: The Diageo Classic Malts range, a selection of whiskies representing a range of the key flavor styles in Single Malt Scotch Whisky, will take you on a journey of taste across Scotland.
|26 May 2018 (Saturday)||Discover the Holy Grail of Barossa Valley with Two Hands
Speaker: Pierre-Henri Morel, General Manager
|The Influence of Casks
Speaker: Matthew Fergusson-Stewart, Asia Pacific Regional Brand Ambassador for Glenfiddich
|27 May 2018 (Sunday)||“Super Umbrian” – Umbria’s Answer to Super Tuscan
Speaker: Matteo Graziani Founder of Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio
|The Cultural Significance of Sake and Nada Region by Nihonsakari
Speaker: Adrian Goh, Sake Sommelier, Interrice Asia
Details: Join us and Adrian Goh to understand the history of sake, savour sakes beloved by Emperor Meiji and used by the Imperial family for important events and ceremonies.