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,
03 June 2017
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.
9th April 2017
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.
11th March 2017
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,
11th February 2017
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.
15th January 2017
Today is 31st December 2016 – the last day of 2016, the last weekend of the last month of 2016 – and the New Year’s Eve is not far off as I type this blog post. It is 12:20 PM in Singapore, lunch time now. I am nursing a chardonnay (sorry folks!) as I know I cannot drink this evening. Why is that, you may ask. Because I am going to drive to a party some 20 KMs away which is indeed a long distance in Singapore ! And, the police are very vigilant about drunk drivers – the punishment is jail, my friends. I am not going to touch any drink along with my dinner this evening. Just enjoy the evening get-together, and get back home safely.
However, I can write about wines, right?
This post is about a fabulous South African wine – Nederburg Pinotage 2014 (Winemasters Reserve). Reasonably priced, this is a great wine for connoisseurs of pinot noir, that ever so precariously balanced wine, which is unique in almost every aspect.
I loved this wine – it is a medium-bodied red, with excellent fruit flavours and a great after-taste. It is dark ruby red in colour, it is silky and crisp – a great addition to any cellar. I like this wine very much, and was tempted to go in for a second bottle, and had to restrain myself.
Well, wines are always good, and carefully chosen reds are especially very good. I would categorize this wine as very good. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.
Well, now we come to the end of 2016 year. It has been an eventful year, with several surprising things happening around the world. It was not a “bad” year, as some people tend to characterize it. I think it was a decent year, given the changes happening around the world. These changes are to be expected.
In any case, drink your wines (or, spirits) responsibly, and do not (for heavens’ sake) drink and drive this evening or even tomorrow or at any time. You do not wish to go to jail, or be the cause of horrible accidents. Plan the evening, and you can always find time to enjoy yourself with your family and friends. May be try taking a taxi, for a change. It is always safer. Better safe than be sorry, folks.
Cheers, and Wish you all a Great and Prosperous New Year in 2017 !
31st December 2016
Excellent fruity wine from South Eastern Australia, so good that you don’t know when you are on your second glass.
A crispy wine with fulsome fruity flavours on the nose and the palate, I enjoyed it on its own – it is simply a good wine but costs 2.5 times as much as it does in Australia, even on a promotional price offer. But then, don’t look at the price (it costs SGD 19 on promotion in Singapore and around AUD 8 in Australia). I can easily say that this wine compares well with slightly more expensive Chardonnays (greater than SGD 22) any time, and will now become my first choice if available at SGD 19 or less. I get 8% discount for being member of the Fairprice Wine Club, and this discount also applies to promotional offers, which is really a good thing for me!
This wine strongly displays Citrus, Melon and Peach flavours. The complexity of the wine probably arises from its oak maturation. Most high-priced Chardonnays are complex, and this wine is no exception even at its moderate price. It took me sometime to decipher its nose and palate, and revel in its complexity, but at the end I was persuaded to go for a second glass. I tested out this wine with my wife, and she liked it almost instantaneously. She is fond of white wines, and is partial towards fruity Chardonnays, and I was not surprised when she warmed up to what was an excellent choice for an evening rendezvous.
The Rawson’s Retreat Chardonnay is a vibrant, crisp and fresh wine that one can enjoy on its own, without any food pairing. I liked it so much that I am going to get another bottle as I believe a good wine should lift our senses and make us admire the beauty of nature and its fruits. This wine made my evening.
Enjoy your wines and act responsibly. Do not drink and drive.
6th November 2016