Our hot tropical clime may not vary very much between persistently summery and periodically balmy, but the range of wines imbibers here in Singapore enjoy is far from humdrum. Even when the heat and humidity is turned up this time of the year, or when the perennial favourites we crave are defiantly spicy, we are always spoiled for choice.
I, for one, have had a delightful experience of pairing a brilliant 2010 Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf-du-Pape with some Janggut laksa early this year. And I could, should I choose to, enjoy it again over the weekend. Point is that I also have the option to go with co-founder of Artisan Cellars Henry Hariyono’s recommendation to pair a bowl of laksa with an Indie Fuchs und Hase Pet Nat Vol. 5 (2015) from Austria.
The wine, he shares, is a blend of welschriesling and gruner that finished its ferment in the bottle, and has no added sulphur dioxide. More importantly, it’s a highly adaptive and aromatic wine with bright but not astringent acidity.
“In summer, aromatics are important,” says Hariyono, explaining that in cooler weather, body of the wine is more important. “It’s also a sparkling—juicy and quite light-bodied with a sound acidity that makes it thirst quenching.”
Similarly, a crisp white wine can be your best friend during summertime, adds Jaan’s charming wine whiz Celine Chatte. Perhaps a fruity blend of garganega and trebbiano from Italy’s north, she posits. And why not. In fact, here are more than a few other elegantly scrumptious recommendations should you crave something different.
2016 Ochota Barrels Surfer Rosa Garnacha, South Australia
Rosé wine is one of the most popular styles of wine in Europe during summer, as consumers are looking to have something refreshing, easy to drink with a bit of structure that can match most of the food. This wine is actually from South Australia, made by some ‘crazy’ but very talented Australian surfers. Mainly garnacha for the grape variety used, this dry rosé is full of flavours, especially cherry and strawberry, and has a clean and fresh finish.
Recommended pairing: This wine can be drunk as an aperitif but can be so delightful with a beetroot salad and, why not, even a chili crab.
2016 Soave Classico, Pieropan, Veneto, Italy
This wine comes from Soave, a small medieval town north of Italy in the Veneto region. Produced by Pieropan using garganega with a touch of trebbiano, this Classico boasts white flowers on the nose and citrusy flavours, a vibrant acidity with a round texture.
Recommended pairing: This easy to drink wine can match a variety of foods, such as a salad of artichoke, a cold crab dish, scallop carpaccio, grilled white fish and garlic prawns.
NV Billecart-Salmon, brut reserve, Champagne, France
“Summer is a time of many celebrations, why not drink champagne?” This non-vintage champagne is a blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, usually from the last the vintages. It is crisp, elegant and harmonious. It is also very good value given the quality of the wine, Chatte adds, made by a family-owned winery that dates back over 200 years.
Recommended pairing: It can be enjoyed on its own but is also enjoyable with a platter of aged cheese (comté or gouda), a fresh sea food platter, or even slow cooked pork jowl.
2014 Morgon, M. Lapierre, Beaujolais, France
Summer is a great time to discover lighter-style wines, such as those from Domaine M. Lapierre, the pioneer biodynamic winery in Beaujolais, located at the heart of the Grand Cru Morgon. The late Marcel Lapierre took over the family domaine from his father in 1973; it is now run by his daughter Camille and son Matthieu. This particular wine is made with 100 per cent Gamay. The nose is about red fruits and purple flowers with a hit of spice. The tannins are silky with a juicy finish. A “no makeup wine” as they like to say.
Recommended pairing: This wine can be enjoyed with barbecued sausages, a selection of cold cuts, a steak tartar or even chicken rice.
(Related: 10 Of The Best Brunello Wines To Drink Now)
2014 Banyuls, M. Chapoutier, Languedoc-Rousillon, France
For something much sweeter, Chatte recommends this fortified red sweet wine from the south of France. Made with 100 per cent Grenache, it has an intense nose of blackberry, plum and raisin and also some spice and flowers. The palate is very harmonious, with a balance of sweetness, acidity and alcohol. It has a long finish (with prominent notes of red and black berries). Summertime calls for it to be served a little colder than usual (about 10 degrees C).
Recommended pairing: It is not only chocolate that will complement this wine. Try also a cheese plater, a red berry dessert. Or just have it as an aperitif.
Lanson Black Label, Brut, NV, France
This champagne boasts a bouquet of ripe fruits and citrus, and a well-rounded feel that is light with a fresh finish. During the summer months, when there is a wider array of produce available, the menu at Spago gets lighter—with the heavier items replaced by simple and seasonal offerings that pair well with subtler champagne. The minerality, freshness, and acidity of this Lanson allows full expression of the briny aromas and texture of raw fish.
Recommended pairing: Spicy tuna tartare cones filled with Big Eye tuna, chili aioli and scallions. The wine’s ripe fruit and citrus notes balance the spice from the aioli.
2015 Miraval—Côtes de Provence, Provence, France
Aromas of white flowers and red berries, great balance and minerality with hint of wild herbs. It's the perfect thirst quencher to beat the heat and the harsh humidity of summer. Rosé is very versatile, and can go with meats or seafood. While many people like young fresh rosé, one aspect that's often overlooked is its ability to age well. Even an additional year of aging can make a world of difference.
Recommended pairing: Korean braised pork belly with vine-ripe tomatoes, Gochujang aioli and wild rocket. In this case, a wine that is fruity enough will work well. This Miraval rose has textures of tropical fruits and delicate floral touches on the palate, as well as a balance of acidity, which match the intensity of the braised pork.
2015 Jean-Luc Colombo, Cape Bleue, Provence, France
Subtle hints of rose petal, watermelon, and tropical fruit. Dry and full of finesse with notes of fresh berries. From the beautiful vineyards of The Blue Coast region in Provence overlooking the bay of Marseille in a warm Mediterranean climate. Fruity, light bodied with soft subtle hints of peach and rose petal.
Recommended pairing: Pan-roasted organic chicken with Yukon Gold potato puree, wild field mushrooms, natural chicken jus with thyme. The freshness and high acidity in this rose are great with the fatty elements in the chicken. At the same time, the delicate fruity flavours and lightly dry herbal notes do not overpower the dish but adds complexity and enhances the natural chicken jus.
2015 Wolfgang Puck Sauvignon Blanc, California, USA
Elegant aromas of pineapple, citrus, and peach. Well-structured with a rich palate and mineral tones. One could describe sauvignon blanc as a wine synonymous with summer. Fragrant, delicate and typically lighter in body means more thirst quenching pleasure for much longer, compared to varietals that are fuller in character.
Recommended pairing: Spicy hamachi tiradito. The aromatic nature of this wine complements the citrus and counter the garlic and chili found in the leche di tigre (tiger’s milk), but doesn’t overpower the delicate combination of hamachi with avocado.
(Related: 10 Chilean Wines On Our Radar)
2015 Louis Moreau Chablis, Burgundy, France
Intense aromas of pineapple and white peach. Full bodied with sensational acidity. Floral with refreshing minerality, it is perfect for hot summer days, as it is served well-chilled. This is an unoaked chardonnay, so the feeling is dry to quench your thirst.
Recommended pairing: Hand-cut agnolotti with first-of-the-season white corn, mascarpone, parmesan and sage-brown butter. Chablis helps balance the creaminess and the brown butter sauce. It cleans your palette and allows you to appreciate each mouthful of this dish.
CAILLIE GAO, HEAD SOMMELIER, THE DEMPSEY COOKHOUSE & BAR RECOMMENDS:
La Closerie Extra Brut Les Beguines Blanc de Noirs, Champagne, France
In Champagne, many producers think that pinot meunier is not as fine as pinot noir and chardonnay, and do not use it in their most prestigious champagnes. There are a handful of exceptions, and a great example is La Closerie extra brut made with 100 per cent pinot meunier from the single vineyard of Les Beguines in Gueux. It has great concentration on the nose—chalk, mushroom, apple, white florals, pears and biscuit. It is medium bodied with crispy acidity and fine bubbles, and a long, refreshing finishing.
Recommended pairing: Will be good with simple grill seafood, also steam fish with soya sauce, and some of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s signature dishes, such as the crispy salmon sushi with chipotle mayo and soy glaze, and the tagliatelle with clams, chili and parsley.
2015 Weingut Tegernseerhof Gruner Veltliner “Frauenweingarten” Federspiel, Wachau Austria
Gruner Veltliner is the most planted grape variety in Austria with high quality yield. Under the direction of Martin Mittelbach, representing the fifth generation of the historical house of Tegernsserhof, the grapes are harvested and sorted rigorously to remove any botrytis grapes, and then vinified in stainless steel, resulting in very intense and focused wines.
2015 was a hot year, which means a lot more notes of melon and white flower in the wine, as well as citrus fruits and hint of pepper on the nose. Medium acidity with very long pleasing finish, it is definitely one of the least expensive wine but one that has great value and is significantly enjoyable.
Recommended pairing: Especially good with raw salad and fresh seafood, as well as lightly aged meat. Goes really well with the restaurant’s dish of hamachi sashimi, served with chili tapioca, tropical fruit and lime.
2010 Cosse Maisonneuve Cahors Les Laquets, France
Created in 1999 by two talented oenologists and winemakers, Matthieu Cosse and Catherine Maisonneuve, Les Laquets is their very first vintage cuvee. This is also where they exploit five biodynamic hectares of Malbec. The wine is aged for 18 to 24 months in cask, and shows great intensity of chocolate, spice, dark plum and berries on the nose. Full-bodied with powerful tannic structure that goes very well with red meats when served lightly chilled.
Recommended pairing: Good with char-grilled red meat, especially beef, and Chinese-style roasted pork, as well. From the restaurant’s menu, I would recommend the prosciutto-wrapped pork chop, with glazed mushroom and sage.