Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tasting of Pichon Comtesse de Lalande@ Hilton

Happy Chris Low with Gildas d'Ollone
Director General of
Vintage 2004 Ch Pichon Comtesse De Lalande,
in line or better than the 1986 and 1996 Vinatge?
I am thinking of Teppanyaki Wagyu while savouring the fine tannin of this wine...

Reserve de la Comtesse 2003-lots of cassis, warm, up front and already enjoyable at this stage.
and Chateau Bernadotte 2002-Supprisingly backward and green, lots of green pepper linger with some cassis and black olives.

Under ground cellar of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
(Spring 2008)

Vineyards of Ch. Pichon Comtess de Lalande that oversee Ch. Latour and the Garonne river.
Do you see the tower(La Tour)?
(Spring, 2008)

Happy Chris Low posting infront at the Garden of Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande during the 2007 En Primuer Campaign.
(Spring, 2008)

Chris Low: The Cork Brothers was invited to the Trade tasting of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande organised by Milawa. We had the oppercunity of sampling 3 wines from the esteem Chateau and presented by Mr Gildas d' Ollone-Director General of the Chateau.
Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a 2nd Cru Classe of Pauillac.
History of Pichon.
This prestigious viticultural estate was created by Pierre de Mazure de Rauzan in the 17th c. Château Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse-de-Lalande has carefully kept important archives including a great many records relating to the purchase of lands the estate is composed of between 1686 and 1689. Pierre de Mazure de Rauzan gave the vineyard to his daughter Thérèse as her dowry when she married Jacques de Pichon, baron de Longueville, the first president of the Bordeaux parliament.
In the 18th c., baron Joseph de Pichon, born 1755, died 1850, through his intelligence and strong personality, left his stamp on this estate by his great qualities as viticultor. The poet Biarnez celebrated baron Joseph’s 90-year long life linked to the quality of his wines. In 1850, in execution of his will, kept in the château’s archives, baron Joseph’s estate was shared between his five children, 2/5 to his two sons and 3/5 to his three daughters who entrusted their shares to countess Henri de Lalande. From then on there were two châteaux Pichon-Longueville, one belonging to the baron and the other to the countess.
Precious documents reveal rigorous management by the countesses de Lalande and Lacroix who looked after the estate in succession: day-books, books of accounts and despatch are an inexhaustible supply of information covering the period 1860-1910. In 1925, Louis and Edouard Miailhe bought the estate from the descendants of the Pichon-Longuevilles.
Since 1978, Madame de Lencquesaing, daughter of Mr. Edouard F. Miailhe administers Pichon-Longueville-Lalande with the help of a young professional and dynamic team. To this day all the furniture as it was arranged by the countess de Lalande plus several pictures painted by Sophie de Pichon Longueville remain as faithful witnesses of this illustrious family’s daily life.
Today Pichon is extremely up-to-date with its equipment - cellars and fermentation-room - allied to a profound respect for family tradition. Overlooking the estuary and the vineyards of Pauillac and Saint-Julien, an enormous panoramic terrace has two majestic wine stores. Similarly a precious collection of ancient glasses includes very lovely articles from Roman to modern times.
Thanks to the regularity of their quality, their elegance and their complexity, the wines of Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse-de-Lalande have won the esteem of wine-lovers the world over...I mean, for those who loves the finess, and feminine touch of the countess.

PS. This estate has been sold to the Louis Roederer/Deutz champagne firm .

An afternoon with 'Baron of Barossa'

Nigel Dolan-Chief Winemaker of Wyndham Estate
with 2 Jimmy Watson trophy under his belt.
Wild Mushroom Consomme with Oxtail ravioli
paired with:-
Wyndham Estate Bin555 Sparkling Shiraz- Work interstingly well, the oxtail ravioli provide just enough punch to the consomme that lingers with the soft tannin of this rare red bubbly.
Foie Gras bon bon,caramalized apple
paired with:-
Wyndham Estate Show Reserve Cabernet Merlot-we let the acidity of the Merlot to cut through the fatty liver and it work ok, but the tannin of the cabernet give a dry after taste in the end.
I left a small sips of this wine for the beef main course and it becomes my favourite pairing of the day!Nigel makes this Cab Merlot Bordeaux style and he is please that some of us actually picked up the France Oak that he used during the making of this wine.
Confit of Salmon trout with poached oyster, dill & cucumber veloute
paired with:-
Wyndham Estate Show Reserve Chardonnay-The Chardonnay gives intense, ripe tropical fruits with light creamy yeast which compliment the flavoursome salmon and the tangy dill and cucumber veloute. It's a good marriage!
Oven roasted beef fillet, caramelized shallots,roasting jus
paired with:-
Wyndham Estate Show Reserve Shiraz-Opaque Red/Purple color with spicy, peppery nose. Ripe red and black fruits and careful balance of oak. I would love a lamb cutlet with this? I actually prefer the Reserve Cabernet Merlot with this juicy and perfectly done steak.
Happy Chris Low with Nigel Dolan.

Chris Low: With the 1992 and 2003 Jimmy Watson trophy wins, worked in Seppelt, Saltram and later the Group Red Winemaking at Fosters...surprisingly Nigel is extremely humble but you will quickly influnce by his overriding sense of fun and adventure in his character. An ordinary Australian who is serious of his barbie and i must say he loves his food too.
I was at Chinoz, KLCC over the famed Friday lunch last Friday of November, featuring Wyndham Estate and their newest Chief Winemaker-Nigel Dolan. Nigel winemaking skill is in his blood? or inherited from his father Brian Dolan-a legendary, respected winemaker who was the Senior winemaker of Saltram. When i asked what is his famous wine in Wyndham, he replied spontaneously Show Reserve Shiraz.
When the great lunch was closer to the end, i ask a very private question to Nigel and it's suppose to be of the record..."If tomorrow is the last day of your life, what is "the" wine that you will drink?" He wonder carefully:"I don't mine a 1962 DRC"

PS. Bravo Chef Haffiz and Wee Jey Teng!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Prestige Wines 2008

Lionel: One of the projects Chris and I worked on this year was the Prestige Magazine Wine Extravaganza. This was a project that had three parts, starting with a wine judging, a wine gala dinner and prize presentation and followed by a wine fair complete with masterclasses which was to be held in December but due to our unique culture at city hall, it has been deferred to January next year at the Pavilion. 

We started the judging by separating the entries by pricing and varietal as much as possible. The format for awarding the wines was based on a medal system of bronze, silver and gold for each category and then best red of the show, best white, best sparkling etc.

We had a total of close to 200 different wines and judging was held over just one day with 6 judges and yours truly as the chairman. Below are some of the pictures from the event including the winning wines at the end.

Wines all wrapped up and tagged, ready for the tasting.
The panel of judges receiving their briefing from moi! The judges were a good mix of wine professionals and informed consumers including a chef and we had 4 men and 2 women.
More wines being prepared
No, he didn't get his black eye from drinking too much wine buthere we can see him hard at work!
some of the whites being chilled
some of the winning wines!
Best white - Anura Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa.( Casa Vino)
Best red  - Chateau Cosse Coutelin 2005.( Casa Vino )
Best sparkling - Duval Lerol Brut N/V. ( Milawa )
Best sweet wine - Konrad Late Harvest Riesling. ( Milawa )

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Extreme Chinese Cuisine

Lionel: I know this post is so late but like they say, late better than never. I was in Hong Kong in December and one of the restaurants that I made a point to visit was a one that was featured in one episode of "No Reservations" with Anthony Bourdain.

The restaurant is called Bo Innovation( x-treme chines cuisine). First of all tracking down this restaurant was no easy feat as the address listed on most websites as well as restaurant guides was apparently outdated( we found out later). So we were sent on a wild goose chase but finally 3 different taxi rides later we arrived( at the very first location that the taxicab dropped us, sigh!).

Anyway, it was a relatively quite evening and the chef/owner was away in Spain but nonetheless the food was excellent and interesting. Deconstructed chinese cuisine presented in a modern western style. No, its not fusion but actually chinese cuisine.

Wine list was pretty good with a small but nice selection of wines by the glass as well.

Finally, just last week the Michelin Guide printed its first ever list of Hong Kong Restaurants and Bo Innovation received its first ever 2 stars! Bravo!

I can't remember all the dishes but these were part of the starter selections; I know they look completely western but trust me once you take a bite, you know your eating chinese, just not quite sure sometimes what the ingredients are.

Okay, this was foies gras but the sauce was definitely chinese
Rice with peas, shirmps 
That red piece leaning on the fish is actually preserved ginger

Yabbies on rice
A nice littel Pinot Noir from California to go with the duck
Ngau Lam soup
rice with crab roe

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sage Restaurant Part ll

Lionel: Well, I said I'll be back and true enough we went back to Sage for dinner again. Now, this was a special occasion in that we were celebrating my sister's 50th birthday. As such, we brought some pretty special wines to enjoy dinner with. Starting with a simple but wonderful Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut champagne. Slightly fruit forward but with a love dry, clean finish. We served this with the lightly smoked Saba(Mackerel) fish with Karashi mustard. 

Holy Mackerel! This dish made the champagne ever more slightly sweeter by bringing more fruit flavours to the front palate, lovely.

The Karashi mustard is slightly creamy with nice hint of tanginess.
As the first champagne finished, we proceeded to serve another champagne and this time it was from the great house of Moet. The Dom Perignon 96 was a spectacular year, full of finesse and power. We had this together with pate en croute of chapon and foie gras(pictured above). Trust me, this dish taste much, much better than it looks. The Dom handled it beautifully and we actually served more of it together with the panache of Japanese Fish with Pistou.
The main course of grilled Wagyu with fine beans and yuzukoshu was served with my last bottle of the Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 1996. A classic red Bordeaux from St Estephe with lovely minerals, cedar, pencil shavings and earthiness.This wine had been decanted earlier on and showed very little signs of aging.
We finished the savoury portions of this wondeful meal with a fantastic fedellini pasta with Hokkaido scallop.

Now, if you had read my last blog with regards to Sage, you would recall that I had some grouses about the service which I felt did not meet the standards that the kitchen was producing. Well, I'm please to say that there seem to be a slight improvement in this respect but unfortunately it still wasn't up to par in my view. 

I'm not sure if it is due to a staff shortage, or training but on more than one occasion throughout dinner, plates were not promptly cleared. Wine service was also again a dissapointment as we had to get up and reached for our wine to serve ourselves or remained completely void of wine for the entire course. 

It seems, that the service staff is just going through the processes without really understanding why they need to do it with regards to wine service, there seems to be a genuine lack of passion and pride in the service which is so obviously evident when you watch the kitchen staff in action!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Japanese food and wine

Lionel: Our regular wine group met up this month in a Japanese restaurant out in the "burbs"! Subang Jaya to be exact. Now this wasn't the first time we have had Japanese food for our monthly dinners and Japanese food with wine is actually a given as it is light, clean and pure in its flavours and pretty uncomplicated on the palate.

Generally white wine is ideal and reds would definitely be of the lighter variety with the exception of certain meat dishes. But most importantly would be wines with good acidity as this works well with food the ensymes from the predominatly sea food cuisine.

We started with a Sashimi platter(raw fish) which had from the lighter more delicate fish right tru the Toro( Belly of the Yellow fin Tuna) which has an uncanny resemblance with a excellently marbled meat. This was served together with a version of shrimp toast. We paired this with a Sake but it would have been excellent with a Riesling as well.

Grilled chicken breast served with pickled Yuzu was paired with an Anura Sauv Blanc from South Africa, this is a lovely wine that is made in a very Sancerre style but with much riper grapes, lovely, not as perfumy as the N.Z. Sauv Blancs but defintely more minerally and savoury, excellent with food.
We also had a pretty rare white wine, a St Aubin from Roux Pere & Fils. This is a Chardonnay of course from Burgundy, minerally and a bit austere but wonderful mouthfeel.
Of course we had a German Riesling as well, I always am of the opinion that this is possibly the best type of wine to handle shellfish. In this case, we had a Riesling Kabinett from St Urbans-Hof, Mosel. A wine thats fruity on the front palate, slightly spritzi but finishing med dry.
We were all stumped when we tasted this wine blind, no one guess it. A very nice Verdelho from Sirromet, Australia.
A localized version of a Japanese roll complete with Chilli Padi inside worked really well with the Riesling Kabinett.
The pic right at the top of this post is a rare dish, a braised Angler Fish Liver, lovely textured and slightly similar to foie gras but firmer mouthfeel, we paired this with a great value Corton Charlamagne Grand Cru from a negotiant in Burgundy named Louis Max. Buttery, toast and nutty and mineral flavours abound in this lovely Chardonnay.

Port Lovers

Lionel: Had an interesting tasting session not too long ago with one of the Oenologist from the Symington group which owns Graham's, Warre's and Smith Woodhouse Ports. These are of course some of the biggest and best port houses in Portugal and therefore the world as no country produces port as well as Portugal.

Now most people think of port as a dessert wine but technically its a fortified wine, this means that its a wine that has been added grape spirit before fermentation has been complete, thereby increasing the alcohol content and residue sugar, resulting in a strong and sweet wine that can virtually outlive you and me!

Although what was laid out before us was the usual suspects of sweets, such as kaya puffs, creme brulee and egg tarts. Chris very swiftly decided that we needed that take some action and purchased a small serving of roast pork(siew yoke). This proofed a hit with all three wines we tasted that day and the oenologist had to agree.

There are many categories for ports, we tasted a 10 year old tawny which I would happily have as an apperitif and I believe would do very well with some savoury snacks and dishes.The ruby port is also quite well known and can easily handle some more robust dishes such as roast meats. The Late bottled vintage probably would work better with stronger foods and definitely strong cheeses.
Oenologist, Jorge Nunes stating his point. I must say, its good to see these old established companies looking seriously at these market and not being afraid to experiment different cuisines with their classic wines.

Apart from the vintage ports that will come with a normal cork closure, most of the other ports have a reusable cork closure. These wines can be opened and reclosed with the same closure and remain good for quite a few weeks in the fridge, great idea if you want to enjoy your wines slowly!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Hardy Boys

Lionel: I was invited recently to a wonderful lunch featuring some of Hardys new premium wines. Lunch was in a restaurant named One Noodle but we definitely had more than noodles. The wines showcased included the new and unreleased(hence the unfinished label below) HRB range of wines. Now HRB means Heritage Reserve Bin and it wants to show off the multi regional blends that Hardys prides itself on. Yes in this day and age where we talk about single vineyards and single estate wines, Australia actually build its wine reputation based on its ability to have multi regional blends.

The HRB Chardonnay showed just the right amount of oak, with very nice tropical fruit flavours. It reminds me of a mix fruit juice with alcohol, very refreshing!
Some of the dishes served with the wines, although I have to admit that a little bit more effort in pairing the wines would have been better.

The other wines served that afternoon included the Oomoo range, these is a very popular range and the word Oomoo is aboriginal for beautiful!
The next day, Chris and I attended a masterclass tasting with Bill Hardy. Now, Bill is a fifth generation winemaker and now the international brand ambassador for Hardys. he also represents Australia in the world wine making body having learned his winemaking skills in Bordeaux under the famed Emille Peynaud. His views are quite unique and actually quite a shy man inspite of his great achivements.
We tasted a vertical of both Hardys Flagship wines, Eileen Hardy Shiraz and Thomas Hardy Cabernet. Amazing wines and very interesting to see the difference as the years go by. Although, most people associate Hardys with the basic entry level range, the fact that the winery is still producing wines of these uniqueness and quality inspite being corprotize since the merger with Constelattion wines is a testament to the Hardy family!

A happy Chris with Mr. Bill Hardy!