Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hope you all have a great 2012 with many wine filled memories. Excuse me for my lack of activity, I’ve been in China and just came back, Many thanks to everyone who has been checking out my blog since my last post.

I was looking forward to trying some Chinese wines especially since there were reports of highly rated Bordeaux blends from China. Alas I found Chinese wines difficult to source and wine bars stocked more European and Australian wines, particularly Penfolds and Jacobs Creek. Sigh. Australian wines seems to also have a serious markup over there so if you’re looking to go, be sure to try something local.

I did get lucky though and stayed in a hotel (the Dragon) which happened to have China’s largest wine cellar! Presenting, the Cantina Wine Bar.

Cantina Wine Cellar 

The wine cellar is in the basement of a restaurant and I was lucky to bump into the drinks manager who gave us access. There is a large room where you a chill out, sip some wine and eat some food on comfy couches. Beyond locked glass doors is the cellar. The cellar was a long series of concrete squares filled with bottles of wines from all over the globe based on grape varieties. On the walls hung wooden boxes with wine labels. In the middle of the room was a wine fridge with the bad ass wines, rows of champagne buckets and a bench with the glassware. To be honest, I thought it would be bigger. I had loads of fun scouring the pages of the wine menus and the rows of wine. If you get a chance, check it out.

Some of the Bad Ass Wines

Among my travels, we ate at many restaurants and tried two kinds of wines:

Yellow Wine and Mao Tai

The first wine is Yellow Wine made from glutinous rice and dates back before christ. We had this wine most of the time because the foods we had were very “cooling” to the system. Yellow wine is very “heaty” which would balance things out. The wine was served warm and the bottle would be immersed in a bucket of how water. It was very addictive, sweet but not sugary sweet and low in alcohol. definitely check this out.

The second guy is Mao Tai, made from Sorghum (a kind of plant). This guy was lot more heavy hitting than yellow wine. The guest we had dinner with loves Mao Tai so that’s what we drank (and also some beer). Mao Tai is so so fragrant and flowery, bit like shoving your face in a bunch of flowers. It goes down like a smooth vodka without the alcohol burn and warms your belly. It also has some kind of yo-yo effect and you feel the wine traveling down your body then up and then down again. Very different and very strong but also very nice.

I did get to sample some other reds whist I was in China but wasn’t planning on making any notes on the trip. The above stuff was very different to me so I thought to share it with you guys. Be sure to check it out if your ever I China!

Ok so were back in Melbourne now. Setting the scene, we just came back from our annual ritual of crab fishing with our friends Sriyan, Cathie and Eugene. As it is also customary, we sat down to enjoy our haul of crabs in curry with potatoes, beans, papadums and other tasty condiments. Bobby (Sriyan’s nickname) broke out a Petit Manseng from Chrismont in the King Valley. Being both lazy and polite, I decided to just enjoy the wine and company so no notes on this one guys! After dinner, we broke out a sticky to go with a cheesecake and then broke out another wine just for kicks! We got talking about the wines which prompted me to take down a few notes. Enter some eye candy:

Chateau de Myrat Sauternes 2006 and La Cantina Barbera 2008

Chateau de Myrat Sauternes 2006

Label deciphering time. This guy is a Bordeaux second class (Deuxième Crus) growth in the 1855 classification located in Barsac (Grionde). Brasac lies within Sauterne meaning its a sweet wine made from Sav Blanc, Semillion and Muscadelle and sits as 13.5%. Preeetty. Smells of SPC canned peaches and a thick sweet creamy nose. Palate was not too sweet, extremely pleasant to taste and a great mouth feel. Tasted like poached pears with some of that fruit cheese with apricots and walnuts. Finished off short with peach syrup and passionfruit zing. Super sick wine, will be difficult to keep for long! Checks in at $38. I can’t help comparing this to the De Bortoli Noble One which comes it at $28. It would be very interesting to try these side by side and off the top, I think that the Sauterne is lighter and has more finesse whist the Noble One is more punchy and fuller in flavours. what to do what to do…anyone for a tasting night?

La Cantina Barbera 2008

When I first saw this I was thinking that this was a Barolo (i.e. Nebbiolo) but after some help from Google, I found that Barbera is actually Italy’s third most planted red grape! Well well well….Ok so this guy is from the King Valley and is family owned family grown by Gino and Peter Corsini (check out their site). It’s unfiltered, no added preservatives, 14.5% alcohol and uses very traditional wine making techniques. Lets see how this goes.

Smokey nose, reminds me of the bacon bits you get from old school all you can eat Pizza Huts. It also has some ripe yellow fleshed plums and some earthy dusty bits in the background. Attack starts off a bit tart (lemon curd?) and it continue into the mid palate, settles down a bit but still in the forefront. There is some vanilla essence in the background and in the finish with a touch of heat. The mid palate also has some cauliflower and kale (Tuscan cabbage) flavours and evokes holly and spiked leaf images. Finishes is a bit like balsamic vinegar balanced with cream brule and caramel. Quite nice! Very interesting wine and surprisingly nice on its own for an Italian wine, probably matches well with some Italian sausages? Hungery now…

Some other remarks on the wine, Bobby says it’s very meaty on the nose and gets some bitterness in the wine, something akin to witlof and Eugene says it’s a very easy drinking wine with alot of up front fruit flavours.

At $15, I think it’s a steal. To be honest, I’ve never been that big on Italian wines (besides Sangiovese) but this is slowly turning me around. Another one to put on your shopping list.

It’s good to be back, thanks for reading!