Winery of the Year – Schubert, New Zealand
Schubert Wines Block B Pinot Noir 2008

Must-Have Wines Best of the Lunar Drinking Year Tiger 2010

Its six years since I first visited Schubert winery and I have been an avid follower of their wines ever since. Indeed, I would go as far to say Kai Schubert and Marion Deimling make some of the most profound pinot noir on this planet from their tiny vineyards in Martinborough and the Wairarapa, literally only a cupful relative to most wineries.

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Undhof Salomon Pfaffenberg Riesling 2005

The Salomon’s are a remarkable wine family, acquiring the Undhof around 1780, which was once the farm building of a Capuchin monastery, and have been producing wines since 1792. The Undhof is located in twin town of Stein (Krems/Stein), one of the oldest wine centers in Austria, founded on wine a millennium ago when the monks who followed Charlemagne’s army down the Danube saw the potential of its south-facing terraces. They are one of the most progressive and quality-driven wineries in Austria today, making Riesling’s and Gruner Veltliner of stunning purity and elegance.

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Churton – Stunning results from Biodynamic Viticulture in Marlborough, New Zealand

With the vintage in New Zealand drawing closer, Sam Weaver at Churton in Marlborough reported in correspondence to me, “The vineyard is looking great (see picture), we had a very good fruit set which was then followed by a much wetter, earlier summer than normal.

This has led to very healthy looking vines and vineyards. Very good fruit set and potentially very good bunch size in Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. We’ve just finished our first round of crop thinning so will be on target with good but controlled yields. For us this means 40hl/ha for Pinot and about 55hl/ha for Sauvignon Blanc.”

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Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir 2009 Central Otago, New Zealand

Most Auspicious Wine for Chinese New Year 2011 Year of the Rabbit!

The Wandering Palate has gone lunar! Notwithstanding I reside in Asia, the nucleus of my ideologies revolve around a back to nature approach with wine, food and the environment – sustainable, organic and biodynamic principals that revolve around the lunar calendar, its roots in ancient feng shui and Chinese gardening that have evolved over the eons yet pivotal today.

As the Year of the Tiger comes to an end, Chinese New Year is fast approaching and a significant proportion of the world starts searching for the answers to 2011, the Year of the Rabbit. Being a Tiger/Scorpion, I was searching all last year for the answers and whilst there were plenty of highlights it was a challenging year, to say the least.

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Must-Have Wine for the Christmas Table 2010

The Wandering Palate is heading to our Melbourne residence for the festive season and preparations for the Christmas day feast are already well in hand.

Priority of course is procuring the appropriate turkey, and I can tell you after enduring a commercial frozen turkey from the USA for the last three years here in Singapore, we are looking forward to a free-range, chemical-free, wholesome, flavoursome bird (one of the issues Singapore has yet to come to terms with) moreover, at a third of the price!

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Riecine Rose 2008 Chianti Tuscany, Italy

With onset of the southern hemisphere summer the mood in this half of the world is swinging towards fresh, crisp whites and rose.

The surge in popularity of rose is underpinned by the increasing number of genuine wines made in a drier style moreover, from dedicated vineyards and undergoing brief skin contact to achieve their colour, as opposed to just adding a bit of red. There are also more single grape styles being made, expressive of their varietal characteristics and region.

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Arlewood Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Sussex Loc 3991 Australia

Best Bordeaux Recipe, Barrel-Fermented Semillon Sauvignon Blanc of Year

Winery Profile

With a bevy of praiseworthy wineries, contention over the pecking order of Margaret River labels is constant and subjective. However, a small producer called Arlewood is materializing as the sleeper of the region and making infinitely more complex and refined white wines in the Graves style.

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Mitchell Watervale Riesling Vertical 2000 – 2006

Establishing the criteria for the best-value white wine producer of the year, encompassing both the new and old worlds, is not about identifying the best cheapest white wine on the market.

Rather, it is about price-quality rapport, consistency of quality, distinctiveness, synergy in the Asian market and how it compares on the world wine stage. Mitchell Watervale Riesling over-delivers in every aspect.

Having followed this winery for over two decades I can attest to their consistency of quality. A vertical tasting of 2000 to 2006 vintages reaffirms their unfailing capabilities.

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Chateau Leoville Las Case 1978, 1981 & 2001
1978 Chateau Leoville Las Cases, France

Our Wandering Palate wanders down to the cellar – the merits of off-vintages from top Bordeaux Chateau.

A Chateau Leoville Las Case wine dinner held recently by the Singapore wine merchant Hermitage wines highlights the virtues and intrinsic worth of less-exalted vintages from a producer with impeccable standards.

As some of my readers will know, I am not exactly enamoured with Bordeaux. I concur with James Laube in his assessment and commentary in his latest column in Wine Spectator, 30 Sept, “A Farewell to Bordeaux.”, who said that “I have enjoyed Bordeaux, but I’ve been driven away both by prices and a style of wine that no longer holds the same allure for me that it once did. I moved on a long time ago. There are simply so many other enticing wine experiences to discover and enjoy.”

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Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis Villages 2008 Chablis, France
Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 2007 France

Back on the chardonnay crusade however, a diversion from the new world to the old world, and to a region that many wine enthusiasts believe is the purest, most pristine expression of the chardonnay grape and par example of terroir – Chablis.

Indeed, it almost impossible to mistake Chablis as anything else, such is the redolence of the soil in the wine; an infusion of minerals and chalkiness drawn through vines roots reaching deep into an ancient limestone seabed, and imparting an unmistakable sense of place.

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