Savored….Portuguese Wine from Alentejo

I have been practising for months, and I can, with some humility, will be able to speak Portuguese quite fluently soon.  Words such as Colheita, Perrum, Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, Alentejo, Aragonez, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cao, Barroca, Reguengos, Monsaraz, and so will be rolling out of my mouth with ease without getting my tongue knotted. Actually, these are the only words I can handle as I crash back to Earth….LOL.

If you follow or read my blog, you know that I work with wine. Sometime the middle of last year, I decided to take on the challenge of working with Portuguese wine, with one of the three major wineries in Portugal that I have been friends with for several years. Although I am fascinated about them because I have not had an update of their taste profile since 7 years ago when the winery sent me a couple of bottle,  I was and still am very impressed by it quality and value. When some samples were sent to me in September last year, I ripped it open quickly and shared with a group of friends who mostly drink French over some Cantonese food. Although the Portuguese wines are not the regular 1989 or 1998 Bordeaux, 1997 Californian, I was hoping that it will pleasantly surprise and impress my friends.

Portuguese Wine

At the end of the evening, we wre definitely pleasantly surprised and impressed.
White from Spain and Portugal are normally clean, crisp and aromatic, but the Regia Colheita Reserva is nutty, slightly smoky, floral-like aromatic with citrus note without compromising crispiness. It had a nice weight that matched the Roasted Pork that was served with.

Both Bom Juiz and Monsaraz Reserva are mid-weight red made from indigenous grape varieties of Portugal. Very approachable with good structure, dark fruit notes and rather well-balanced.

The next pair are rather intriguing. Monsaraz Premium and Garraferra dos Socios are bigger in terms of weight and style. There are complexity that requires some patience. The youth of Monsaraz Premium was revealed in its sweetness. It is the brand that the winery is trying to be “New World” with the blend of Syrah. The decision of the adding Syrah showed itself with notes of coffee and cocoa. This wine needs patience, and decanting will definitely will help.
On the other hand, Garraferra dos Socios was like a Chairman with a lot to share. Affectionately known as the “Shareholders’ wine”, it is enduringly round, balanced tannin, and embracing with notes of spice, nut and creaminess. This wine spent longer time in the barrel and it helped as late release vintage release means that the wine is carefully aged…at least 5 years before being released.

We ended the evening with a 10-year old Port, matched with Mooncake. And we learnt something new that evening, Mooncake and an aromatic Port do go hand in hand.


Departures and Duties

April has ended and I am still thinking about February. It was a month of smiles, tears, and WTFish.

The month galloped in with the celebration of the Lunar Chinese New Year, welcoming the year of the Horse. While it was great to catch up with relatives and friends, but the good feeling was soon taken over by news of lost. Within the 28 days, 4 people I know succumbed to illness. Three of them were relatives and the fourth was a mother of a good friend, with the youngest in the 20s to the oldest at 104. Although the month was doted by events of dinners, house parties, wonderful conversations, I could not help to be particularly sensitive to the subject of health and mortality, specifically my mortality and health. Simply put, life is just too short and unpredictable. Although I still think about it, but thankfully and strangely, I started to pull myself out when March began. While I will miss them, I found comfort that I was fortunate enough to be a part of their life.

February 2014 was not going to end without a statement. On February 21st, our government announced an increase in alcohol duties of 25% against the alcohol level.  So this is the WTFish part of the month. This new increase will raise the duty to about $9 to $10 per bottle, depending on the value of the wine as GST (sales tax) is still payable on duty. While our pockets still feel a little sore, I believe eventually we will adjust. Furthermore, it just makes more sense to pay a little to drink better because the increase doesn’t hurt the pocket too much, such as this…

Silver Oak AV 1996_Asueba

And this…

90s and 2000 Bordeaux Feb 2014_Asueba


Savored…a 16 Year-Old Zinfandel

It has been a while since I had a Zinfandel.
Fife 1997 ZinfandelFife, or “fee fee” as it was how some of my clients pronounced in this part of the world
was a label I used to work with. Even as a non single-vineyard label, it was a wine of impressive weight and intense sweetness. For me, Zinfandel requires aging and this benefited. I shared it blind with my Makankakis friends over our first Lunar New Year gathering. Despite the elegant balance and good dark fruit notes as a result of some careful aging, the sweetness, although a lot more tamed, gave it away. The 14% alcohol level seemed to calm down from being served slight chilled. Patience in the glass revealed jam-like structure of fruit flavour and velvety roundness in the finish. I am glad I saved this bottle and resisted opening it sooner.
I think I have a Redwood Vineyard bottle somewhere….hmmm.


Weekend Treat…twenty-five

I don’t know who is The Reacher, but I have four words for you…..


It is not fun to be hacked. I can’t figure out why and whatever for. I just don’t get it because they didn’t do anything further with it.
Alright, I had to spend some money, stayed up late for a couple nights to try to get it back on my own, took my frustration out on my host, considered throwing my laptop out of the window, and maybe shed a tear or two. But I am not going to dwell on that. I am going to tell you about the treats I got out of it.

First, I learnt that there are friends out there who will help. A shout out to Bryan Lee of whom I met once and keep in touch via Facebook. I messaged him for help and he immediately responded with a referral of Bryan Lim (BLim), who is super familiar with WordPress. BLim started to helped me on Sunday and by Tuesday my site came back to live after several text messages and email correspondences, a couple of conversations and a small fee.

Second, I now know what SSL is. I see on my post page as I write my blog, but never knew what it is. Well now I do. Without good SSL, I should not be logging onto any sites or write any emails on public wifi, particularly when I travel.

Third, when prompted to update, remember to update promptly.

Fourth, review my passwords and change them frequently for various account.

Fifth, back up, back up and back up. It will most likely happen again because there are a lot of hackers in the world and they basically have nothing better to do than to stress-out folks like me who just want to write and share
My little blog is now revived, rather patched up and healing, I hope.
Lets hope with the lessons I have learnt, I will be able to keep it hack free.


Weekend Treat…twenty-four

This is a weekend of Cinnamon and Sugar, and a light pat for my shoulder.

For some reasons, I am slightly intimidated by cinnamon rolls. Not the eating part, but baking them. It has taken me quite a while to look at different recipes to find the ones that I am comfortable to try. So I narrowed it down to two recipes that are not using instant ingredients, except for yeast, and reasonable numbers of basic ingredients that I will always have in my pantry, and most of all easy to follow. So last night just before midnight, I decided to execute it.
Cinnamon Roll_1
The dough was easy to put together although I think I made a mistake by having the milk mixture a little too hot. But after putting aside for proofing, I realized…I FORGOT TO ADD SUGAR IN THE FLOUR MIXTURE!!! Here I am, at 1am looking at the dough thinking: you are not going to double in size. Hmmm… It may not be a good idea, but I took out the dough and re-knead the dough lightly while sprinkling sugar on it. And then there was the issue if I can let it proof in room temperature while I sleep because egg is one of the ingredients in the dough. After some considerations, I put it in the refrigerator. I woke up at 830am and took it out of the refrigerator and let it come up to room temperature, and then I went back to bed…*v*. Woke up half hour later (because it is a Sunday), the dough rose a little and I decided to roll it out and move on to the next process.
Cinnamon Roll_2
So far, it was looking exactly the way I anticipated it to be. 10 minutes before it was done, the aromas of cinnamon filled the kitchen and I was feeling very anxious. When oven finally “DING”, I looked through the glass door and was thrilled by the colour.
Cinnamon Roll_3
It may not be as fluffy as store-bought type, but the flavours were spot on. I am happy because now I will have more money in my pockets and I am not intimidated by it anymore. What a treat!!!