Category: Wines

19 Crimes and Baby Doll


You may be curious, am I right?

What kind of title is that?

19 Crimes is a “Proclamation: 19 Crimes – Each declared by His Majesty to be punishable on Conviction by Transportation” – is actually a 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon wine named “19 Crimes”! As per the bottle, “over 200 crimes could see you sent to Australia” – by the British Empire. “This Cabernet Sauvignon celebrates 19 of them because, well, one must start somewhere”!!!

Back to my review – this is an excellent wine at a very decent price. In fact, I will be heading out later today to pick up another bottle of this wine because my wife and I decided it is really a good wine which needs to be repeated (we rarely give that honour to inexpensive wines which are the usual fare based on my value-picking methodology – very few such wines have qualified for repeats).

The 19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon is a very smooth Cab and goes well on its own. I enjoyed its smooth finish as well. The velvety hit on the palate was a sensation which I relished – it also had a complex sweetness which my wife appreciated. This is a vibrant wine well structured to be enjoyed right away. I would recommend this wine any time, and happy to see that this wine was not atrociously out-priced which would have limited the number of folks who would have chosen such a wine not knowing how good it really is.

Surely worth going for one more!

The second wine I am reviewing in this post is “Baby Doll Sauvignon Blanc 2015 Marlborough NZ”. This is a good white waiting to be discovered in Singapore – I had not seen this wine on the shelves all these years. I found this at the Singapore Swimming Club’s multi-cuisine restaurant ( I went through a real experience of forgetting to pick up the wine while leaving the Club, and then found out next morning that the Club has impeccable housekeeping practices which resulted in the discovery and return of the bottle to me unscathed!).

This is a crisp and pleasant wine with a mineral finish. A fruity wine with a balance characteristic of Marlborough wines, this is a wine which can be enjoyed on its own. A bit pricey though at SGD 33, needs to be within SGD 25 to meet my criteria of excellent wine at a good price. There are several world-class Sauvignon Blanc wines from Marlborough and I have enjoyed many of them over the years. It is difficult for me to say no to a Marlborough wine any time!

Enjoy your wines responsibly and do not drink and drive.

I am sure you will agree that these two wines are out of the ordinary, not widely encountered, and still pretty good.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

10th September 2017

 

 

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Montes Classic Series 2015 Merlot


I have written about Montes wines in the past blog posts. Montes vineyard is famous for its outstanding wines, located in the Colchagua Valley of Central Chile.

Merlots are getting more and more popular out here in Singapore, I see many Merlots on the shelves in supermarkets as well as in specialty wine stores. Obviously, the flavourful fruity medium-bodies Merlot wines are catching the attention of new (as well as seasoned) wine drinkers.

The Montes Classic Series 2015 Merlot is a fantastic Merlot, very drinkable, very fruity and was surprisingly available at an affordable price! I quickly grabbed it, and I was not disappointed at all. I have never tried the Merlot from Montes in the past – it has been Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay so far. However, once you see the familiar Montes name and the flying maiden’s picture on the bottle, it becomes an easy decision!

I have developed my wine tasting skills over the past decade and a half, and so I was able to sync up with what Montes claims to be the characteristics of the wine – in this case, I can clearly feel the “fruitiness” (and most people will do almost instantaneously), however the flavour of black pepper takes some time to discern. The wine was very smooth, with an oakiness which comes from aging the wine in French oak, which adds a distinct complexity to the wine.

In a nutshell, the Classic Series Merlot 2015 is a well-rounded Merlot, beautifully fruity, with an acidity which tingles on the palate. I really enjoyed this wine – I kept it for one whole week before I finished it. I am surely going to look for another bottle. I was really taken aback with the price differential – you can get this wine for less than USD 10 in most Western countries, as compared to over USD 18 – 20 in Singapore. Well that has been my grouse for a long time as my blog readers know.

Strongly recommended.

Have a great weekend.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

5th August 2017

My favourite Wine Duo


Recently I was wandering around the Dubai Airport Duty Free Shops, which remain as one of the more exclusive types of airport shopping around the world. Premium shopping, I should say, with an ambience which is yet to be beaten by other global airports. And, the number of people milling around these shops – well that is simply amazing. I cannot resist the comparison in my mind with Singapore Changi Airport, which has similar DFS shops, but more widespread around the airport terminals. I have seen a lot of people at the Changi Airport shopping areas, but have seen few people actually buying anything, except in Chocolates and Liquor sections. Most of the branded shops in Changi are at the very high end, with hardly any shoppers inside.

At Dubai DFS Shopping, almost everyone who walked in bought something, at least during the time I watched. Of course, prices do matter and Dubai is strictly tax free and it helps. Changi Airport DFS prices are not much different from what one would get in the city shops, especially for liquor; chocolate prices, are in fact, higher than what one could get at the Mustafas. Further, there were no overbearing sales people unleashed on shoppers at Dubai – they were around but kept a discrete distance unless there was a request. Even the chocolate varieties were better and different from Changi, so obviously I bought some chocolates.

Now, let me come to the Liquor section. Dubai DFS has an excellent collection of wines (though not large), and has a great selection of whiskies (reflecting the tastes of passengers passing through!). I saw some very good wines on offer at prices which you can never get in Singapore – whether at DFS or not. After some browsing around, I chanced upon one of my favourite wines of all time – the Montes Alpha from Chile. I had written about this winery in the past, and would recognize it instantaneously anywhere!

Well, let us look at what I bought: the Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2014 D.O. Aconcagua Coast, which is a great white with golden colour in an inviting bottle for USD 18.89 (SGD 26.06 at current exchange rate) which costs between SGD 44 and SGD 58 in Singapore via online ordering! At the high end of these prices, it is expensive by more than 100% compared to Dubai.

I also bought a red wine from Montes Alpha: the Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 D.O. Colchagua Valley, which is one of the best cabernets that I have ever tried, with deep red ruby colour and a fruity nose. Again, the pricing was exactly the same as above!

I love both these wines, they are creamy with a smooth finish and linger for quite some time. The effect is pleasing and wonderful. The Chardonnay is crisp and fruity, and the Cabernet is aromatic and complex. Amazing wines indeed.

Well, I can only envy the folks in Dubai. I will never get these kind of prices in Singapore. I will be very happy to get these wines at SGD 35, but I know it would not happen. So, let me grab such wines whenever I travel to airports like Dubai. That is the least I can do!

Enjoy your wines or drinks responsibly. Do not drink and drive. Do not drink beyond two glasses of wine or two small pegs of whiskey or any other hard liquor.

Cheers, and Have a wonderful weekend,

Vijay Srinivasan

03 June 2017

Chateau St. Jean Merlot 2013


Chateau St. Jean is not located in France. It is a piece of France located in Sonoma, California.

Chateau St. Jean has a long history of winemaking, and it was not surprising to see an excellent quality Merlot wine from them, though I have not heard about the winery previously.

Merlot is a dark blue-coloured grape variety which produces inky, purple-coloured wines which are fleshy and fruity. I pick up Merlot wines when I am tired of the stronger Cabernet Sauvignon wine types, and want to have a red wine with full-body impact while delivering the fruitiness associated with plum and blackberry. I also like the slight acidity of Merlot.

Chateau St. Jean Merlot 2013 was very good (for a moment I forgot it was from California – no slight here, but I felt it was an Australian or Chilean varietal). Its fruitiness combined with its long finish delivers an outstanding result, which would urge folks like me to pursue more of the same! The beautiful texture and the velvetiness of the wine amazed me. I pinched myself to feel the wine, praising my selection from ordinary wine shelves where the Australian, New Zealand, French and Chilean competition was rather severe.

I have always found Merlots to be easy to drink, and this one was not an exception. Easy on the palate, sweeter than Cabernet Sauvignon, and a bit more complex to decipher. And, the finish is always smooth with a Merlot.

I would recommend Chateau St. Jean Merlot anytime. While food pairing is suggested usually for Merlot, I enjoyed it on its own. Just let the wine breathe for some 15 minutes, and you are ready to go with the right kind of red wine glass – you can see the stickiness of this wine on the walls of the wine glass as you swirl the wine.

Please drink responsibly, and do not drink and drive. I know this advice is difficult to follow, but you should follow the rule for your own safety.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

9th April 2017

Stonebarn Cabernet Sauvignon 2013


This is a California wine. It has been a very long time indeed since I wrote about a wine from California, as I had been overwhelmed over the years by the incredible new world wines – what I define as new world could be different from the wine lingo, I generally mean wines from South Africa, Chile, New Zealand and some from Australia.

As my readers know, I am a “value” wine drinker, and am not taken in by expensive wines which I cannot afford as well. Several of my friends who are wine aficionados focus on the mid to higher end of the range, which sets you back by an average of SGD 50, and at the max could cost as much as SGD 200. I am clearly not in that range, as I belong to the socialistic class of wine drinkers (generally socialists do not drink wines but other stuff) who is more interested in wines which could be afforded by the middle class. So in my lexicon of value wines, I typically pay an average of SGD 20 for what I consider as a good wine and a maximum of SGD 35 for what I consider as very good wines. This does not mean that I have not tried the very expensive wines in parties; I did experience some fabulous wines which do justify their outlandish prices either by vintage or their outstanding quality – they are all rated above 95 on the Parker scale anyway.

When I found my type of socialistically priced average class wine from California with some decent reviews, I went for it, and that is the Stonebarn Cabernet Sauvignon 2013. This is a good fruity wine (the sort I usually like), with the delivery of a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon to the palate which I relished. Aromas of vanilla and to a certain extent, blackberry, can be detected. The flavours that I could figure out were plums and cherries, but it was hard to distinguish the fruity flavours emanating when you concentrate on the total combined effect. This wine comes from the Delicato Family Vineyards of California which produces a wide range of wines and I chanced upon the “Elvis The King of Rock & Roll Cabernet Sauvignon” in their range which I have tasted before.

Excellent value for money (could always be better), and recommended drink for value wine connoisseurs. California is back in my game (of course, I hear people shouting “it was never out of the game”).

Enjoy your wines responsibly and do not drink & drive. Wines make you more elated than a simple beer or two, so watch out.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

11th March 2017

 

Finca Del Marquesado Crianza 2013


This is the first time I dared to buy a Spanish wine off the shelf, without knowing for sure what it is – I saw a very good discount at a wine store which usually does not sell Spanish wines, and made a quick search on the web, before deciding to go for it.

I was not disappointed on this buy, and even managed to get the approval of my wife which is usually hard to come by when it pertains to wines. So it is indeed a good red wine. This wine comes from the most famous wine region of Spain, which is Rioja in Northern Spain.

I am sure that Spain produces a variety of excellent wines from the Rioja region. But somehow, I don’t see these wines on store shelves in Singapore. I have seen Rioja wines in bars and hotels but not beyond……good things are difficult to get, I guess.

The red Rioja wine is a blend of several grape varieties – in this case, it is 70% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha and 5% Garciano. This particular wine spent 14 months in American oak barrels and is therefore categorized as “Crianza” varietal. The whole subject of viticulture is complex and sometimes mind-boggling, given the huge varieties of grapes, and the conditions under which they are cultivated.

I was expecting the wine to be rather complex, but surprisingly found it easily drinkable with a lightness which made me relate this varietal to Shiraz. I may be wrong here, but I felt that this Crianza wine is destined for first time wine drinkers who wish to just enjoy the drink rather than get into the details of the look, nose, taste, etc., My wife and I enjoyed the wine very much, and this experience has given us the confidence that some more experimentation with Spanish wines may not be out of order. I did some research already (!), and we will soon get some very good ones. The only issue is the long and difficult names of all Spanish wines, unlike those of Australian, South African or American wines. But then again, good things are tough to get, right?

In the meanwhile, enjoy your drinks responsibly, and do not drink and drive. It is critical to leave the car back at home or office, if you are going to indulge in some good wines outside your home. Take care, and have a great weekend,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

11th February 2017

Two Good Reds – Alkoomi and Chateau Des Tourelles


I had the good fortune of enjoying two excellent red wines at the start of the New Year, and was waiting for finishing the bottles before embarking on this post. Both are outstanding wines, and again I found that my wife is a better wine connoisseur than me – she was specific in her comments about both wines, and asked me to get these two wines again! That does not happen easily!

Alkoomi Frankland River Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

This is a fabulous red wine from Western Australia. Dark ruby red in colour, I could see the viscosity of the wine on the wine glass walls. The wine has a lingering finish with cherries and chocolatey flavours. Indeed this is a complex wine with great affinity, induced by the quality of the wine discerned to be worthy of a pricier varietal. I loved this one at the price it came, combined with the additional 8% off that I get as a wine club member. Strongly recommended. I am now looking for the same sticker price that I got, but unable to find it! Would go for it at the drop of the hat at the next available opportunity.

Chateau Des Tourelles Lalande de Pomerol 2012

French wines are difficult simply because they make it challenging even for a wine connoisseur to exactly describe their complexity and the superiority – probably people spend a lifetime before they get a grasp of the Bordeaux region of France. The above wine comes from one of the sub-regions of Bordeaux – the Lalande de Pomerol region just north of the famous Pomerol region known for its outstanding wines.

Coming back to the wine itself, it was smooth silky wine with great finish. It is probably a Merlot, or a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I realized that it is better to enjoy the wine rather than try to describe it accurately when it comes to French wines. So, here you go – this is an excellent wine, and I would not hesitate to buy another bottle more so because my wife strongly favoured it and recommended that I have made a great choice. The real fact is that this was a birthday gift for me, and I would not have bought it (due to my lack of knowledge) off the shelf in a regular wine shop (I would have gone for Chilean or South African wines).

Now, I have to appreciate such wines as well to cater to the preferences of my spouse. So, here I go……….

Enjoy your wines responsibly. Do not drink and drive. Do not drink more than 2 glasses of wine. Do not mix other drinks with wine.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

15th January 2017