Curtis Marsh shares why it’s impossible to make up his mind when it comes to a favourite wine.
Whenever I’m asked, “What is your favourite wine?” I reply, “The wine I haven’t tried yet”, emphasising that I gain the most pleasure in discovering new taste sensations.
The fact is: I have a wandering palate for food and wine, greatly influenced by my mood and by different cuisines, although inevitably, there are certain flavours, varieties and regions I enjoy more than others.
Having recently moved from Hong Kong to Singapore, we are drinking a lot more Riesling, conducive both to the warmer climate and the spicy Peranakan and Thai flavours that we are relishing. It may appear unadventurous to offer five Rieslings, but I can assure you each wine has a distinctive personality and minerality that reflect its terroir, whilst retaining core characteristics of lemon-lime and exhilarating, cleansing acidity.
Presently, I am absorbed in the renaissance of Tuscany’s indigenous Sangiovese grape with its intoxicating bouquet redolent of wild berries, earthy bramble patch and cedar wood, and palate-piercing sour red berries, nervy acidity and ever-present tannins, yet supremely elegant.
However, my main obsession is Pinot Nair, particularly from the New World (Australia, New Zealand and USA), and I confess to enjoying rose immensely, now that it is okay to drink pink. Notwithstanding, rose is unquestionably the most versatile, well-suited wine style for unceremonious Asian food and cormpotation in the tropical climate, Life is filling in time between meals”. and as they say, a meal without wine could only be breakfast!
DOMAINE GRAND CROS, L`ESPRIT DE PROVENCE ROSE 2005, FRANCE
The quintessential Grerrache-bascd rose, symholically tactile of the joie de vivre and radiant Mediterranean clilmate with its fragrant bouquet of raspberries and Wild strawberries and infused dried herbs. A lively, crisp-crunchy and tangy style
With sweet-sour raspberry fruit, accelerating with rnouthwatering freshness, squeezed lemon-juice acidity and ginger spicnces, with wild thyme and sage seasoning and bitternut twist towards a tantalising dry farewell.
Requisite versatile wine for congenial Thai, Peranakan, Penang and Straits-Chinese restaurants with communal sharing of dishes and kitchens that bombard you with dishes in illogical order.
FONTODI, CHIANTI CLASSICO 2003, TUSCANY, ITALY
There are limitless excellent Tuscan wines I could recommend.However, I have a soft spot for Fontodi. Plus, it is a definitive example of contemporay Chianti Classico made with 100 percent Sanngiovese.
A melange of captivating aromas: rose petal, black cherry, violets, aniseed, sage, earthy morel mushrooms, cedar wood, coffee grinds, salty Parmesan cheese and iron-flinty minerals.
Sour red berry fruits becoming rich in black cherry opulence and texture, grilled meats, ever-present fine-grained, mouth-drying savoury tannins with balsawood-dry timber nuances finishing with tangy acidity. Fabulous paired with Teochew braised duck.
GEORG BREUER, TERRA MONTOSA RIESLING TROCKEN 2004, RHEINGAU, GERMANY
This is my hand-to-hand combat Riesling for seriously hot curries and a countermeasure for chilli broadsides. Possiblythe most powerful, racy, profound Riesling on the planet armed with breathtaking G-force four acidity.
A new-breed German trocken style (in this case, bone dry) bursting with lime-citrus, grapefruit, apricots, hints of marmalade, Thai mint and white pepper spice.
Accelerating palate entry with laser-ed lime-lemon and tangy grapefruit, crunchy sour apples with an all encompassing mountain-stream freshness and heroic ginger-spice farewell. The essence of Riesling.
MOUNT HORROCKS, WATERVALE RIESLING 2006, CLARE VALLEY, AUSTRALIA
Mount Horrocks is red-hot and enjoying a cult following globally. It’s listed in top restaurants from FatDuck, Berkshire to Tetsuya’s, Sydney.
It even gets the royal nod -its Cordon Cut Riesling was served at Queen Elizabeth II’s official 80th birthday luncheon. Irresistibly perfumed with orange blossom and cut apple. Mouth watering lime and pears, fleshyand intense, yet bright and crisp with chalky minerality and a lingering ginger spiciness.
My consummate aperitif wine and a much smarter option than Champagne, it also carries through nicely with the first course of tangy Thai starters.
TEN MINUTES BY TRACTOR, PINOT NOIR ROSE 2006 MORNINGTON PENINSULA, AUSTRALIA
Only Australia’s fertile marketing minds could incubate a catchy, wildly successful label on the fact it takes 10 minutes to drive between different vineyard paddocks.
However, don’t let Aussie humour belie the serious quality of this rose, or that the cool-climate southern regions of Victoria are championing the world with 100 percent Pinot Noir rose. Eye-catching, brilliant amber-salmon pink, equally alluring bouquet of ripe strawberries and raspberries.
Instantly mouthwatering with fantastic interplay between the sweet and sour. Soft, textural midpalate, turning savoury with bitternuts and finishing crisply dry. A great all -rounder with spicy Asian fare- try with Thai-style whole deep-fried fish and sweet chilli sauce.
TARRAWARRA, PINOT NOIR 2002, YARRA VALLEY, AUSTRALIA
Many people do not associate Pinot Noir with Australia when, in fact, there are countless world-class producers in the cool-climate states of Victoria and Tasmania.
I am sure Tarrawarra’s luscious style would convert even the most stalwart sceptics. The 2002 vintage is current in the Asian market, which is convenient as they do take around four years to come together.
Evocative aromas of blood plums, stewed rhubarb with cinnamon spice and flinty metallic acidity with a hint of spearmint. The palate is a crescendo of silken layers, rich in dark red berry fruits with a penetrating sweetness, and culminating in steely acidity and soft tannins, oscillating towards a herbal complexity with a spicy farewell.
PEGASUS BAY, RIESLING DRY 2006, WAIPARA, NEW ZEALAND
The jury is still out on Riesling styles in New Zealand, although the evidence points towards off-dry, taming the naturally high acidities in the same vein as Moselle, Germany.
Pegasus Bay excels in both styles and is arguably the top Riesling producer in the country Bursting with fresh cut green apple. mandarin peel and apricot, wet stone minerals and straw characters. Fresh pineapple tang coupled with juicy mandarin and lime.
Invigorating acidity with cold volcanic rock minerality and an air of fresh snowfall; chalky and dry as Taranaki on a Sunday, with a long apricot tang, reminiscent of Riesling from Austria.
NEUDORF, MOUTERE PINOT NOIR 2004, NELSON, NEW ZEALAND
My favourite antipodean Pinot Nair. Supremely silky smooth and extravagantly perfumed with wild strawberries and blackcherry kirsch-like concentration; hedonistic complexities of tobacco leaf; rosemary and lavender; espresso coffee; iron ore; hints of washed-rind cheese and harmonious fatty bacon.
One could simply nose this wine for hours. The palate begins with gentle spiciness and herbal nuances, chased by tartcherry and stewed rhubarb, building towards a chewy mid-palate with indelible sweet and sour cherry, and seesaw interplay between richness and sappiness.
The wine evolves to savoury. meaty and gravely mineral elements, checked by super-fine tannin’s and steely acidity. Savour with Thai red duck curry.
TRIMBACH, RIESLING 2004, ALSACE, FRANCE
Consistently reliable, impeccably made and offering exceptional value, this wine has rescued me on many occasions from a dry argument on wine lists.
Lime scented with peachy stone fruit, hints of clover honey, straw fields and chalky characters amongst wet slate and smoked pork.
Explosive palate, freshly squeezed lemon that fleshes out to grapefruit juiciness amongst cold slate earthiness, finishing crisp and chalky-dry with zingy acidity and linge ring citrus and wet river stones.
Always have a case at home for emergencies.
SALOMON, PFAFFENBERG RIESLING 2005, KREMS, AUSTRIA
The Riesling drinker’s Riesling. Tight, mineral-focused style that is a perfect expression of its terroir – a single vineyard perched on a granite cliff shelf overlooking the River Danube.
Perfumed with summer fields and freshly squeezed lemon, apricot and wet slate mineral notes, it has an intense and expansive palate that’s racy citrus. apricot flavours and mandarin juiciness, yet lean and chalky with a core of biting lemon, finishing seriously dry with bracing acidity and distilled slate minerality.
Ambrosial with freshly shucked oysters and synergistic with authentic tom yum soup.
This article was publish in Appetite Magazine. All Rights Reserved.