Each of these geographically distinct countries from three continents offers a dynamic take on wine varieties and terroir. The New World has been trading techniques with the Old World for the past few decades (and vice versa), and results have been nothing short of groundbreaking.
In the following collection of shortlisted wines, we find one of Napa Valley's original "first-growth" labels alongside maverick winemakers from New Zealand and Argentina. Some of them have vines less than 20 years old, while others are working with vineyards and techniques that have been adapted to the New World for two centuries. One of the judges on the panel, Timothy Goh, singles out Napa Valley for praise. "California Cabernets were impressive for their lushness as always but the acidity and freshness are coming through more than ever, and it seems there is a lot more balance in their wines," he remarks. This is sweet news for Flora Loh, managing director of Top Wines, the distributors of Stag's Leap here since 2010. She says she is "confident" of the Cabernet's chances as it has been selling well.
Christine Wee from Monopole distributors sees the Singaporean market becoming more conscious of wine quality and prices. That's one reason why Monopole focuses on "reputed family-owned wineries, which means that extreme care and dedication has been invested, from growing the grapes, vinification to bottling," she elaborates. Indeed, this week's list is dominated by five family wineries. The only rule about dining and wining in Singapore is that there are no rules: drink widely and keep an open mind as to which tipple suits different occasion. The New World's modern, well-crafted selection only goes to show that every wine has its place in the conversation.
Benziger Signaterra Bella Luna Pinot Noir 2010
Retail: FairPrice Finest, #01-04/04A/05-09 Triple One Somerset, 111 Somerset Road.
Tel: 6735 5481
Does more life in the soil translate to more taste in the bottle? Proponents of biodynamic farming are growing, and critics and drinkers are taking notice, thanks to striking results from both Old World and New World vineyards.
The entire portfolio of the young-ish Benziger Family winery is certified sustainable, organic or Demeter Biodynamic. This Signaterra 2010 from its Bella Luna Vineyard marks the year that the vineyard transitioned to full Demeter Biodynamic status, and as such, you can be sure that you're drinking from clean, active soils. With no chemical and artificial controls, the estate is home to native birds and owls, with additional bugs, cows, sheep and chicken that keep nature and pests in balance.
The grapes that produce this lush, confident Pinot Noir is grown on the picturesque slopes of the Russian River valley in Sonoma, with even cooler temperatures and lower than normal precipitation in 2010. The acidity is well developed and co-mingles with soft, chalky tannins, made more complex from native yeast fermentation. Though risky to depend entirely on temperamental native yeasts to complete the delicate fermentation process, when done well, it results in a mouthfeel that is purer, silkier and fuller. Production is limited at just 629 cases.
Tasting notes: Unfiltered. Sweet red cherry entry with herbal spice and tobacco finish. Well-integrated chassis of soft, chalky tannins benefit from bright acidity to linger on the palate.