This month, I want to explain how to taste wine if invited by a wine supplier. Here in Bali, up to 50 wines can be tasted sometimes! Unfortunately, the tastings do take place during my work hours, often in the late afternoon. Time is thus limited as I must return back to Kayuputi Restaurant for their evening service. This means I am unable to truly enjoy the wines I’m invited to try, forced to spit it out again in the spitting box. Many would say, “why even go to the wine tasting then!?” The answer is simple. It is a rare occasion for wine suppliers to invite one to try 5, 6 or sometimes 7 wines, and so is an opportunity not to be missed. I am of course a sommelier and to learn and discover new wines or new vintages is my passion.
The challenge with such wine tastings is to go through each and every one and decide which have the potential of joining our current wine list, or at least in the future. In Bali, often Asian area sales managers take the tastings. Since many of them have been involved in the wine making in their past (or are winemakers themselves), they have a good knowledge of wine. It is therefore customary for a sommelier to ask certain questions. Some typical questions I would ask are:
Why is your wine better than ‘X’ wine from the same village or area?
How many bottles of this wine have been made, and how many of these are sent to Indonesia? (Important for stock reasons)
What is the price in your country?
What kind of wood is used to make the barrels, and how were they toasted?
How old are the vines the wine is made of?
As time is limited, I reserve these questions for wines I am interested in. Most of the time these are for wines I have known for years, and am following up on the new vintages. Though, the wine supplier often does have great new suggestions or recommendations – with great taste and great prices.
At the end of the tasting, it is important to take note of particular wines that stood out, making sure to know their prices in Bali. This is an important factor, finding the best wines for the best prices.
Last month I tasted a few wines that made it on my wine list, which I have listed below. Hope you have a chance to try them, have a great tasting where you are!
Concha Y Toro Don Melchor, Maipo Valley 2006
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Petit Verdot
Nose: For this wine, only the finest ‘perfume words’ should be used. Close your eyes and smell mocha, leather, blackcurrant, toast and cedar, surrounded by a Madurese tobacco cloud and the puff of braised figs. A fine aroma indeed. One of the best in Wine Spectator every two years.
Domaine des Sénéchaux Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cote Du Rhone, French 2010
Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Clairette & Bourboulenc
Mouth: Rich and focused on the 4 grape varieties, a wonderful concert. Clairette and Bourboulenc acidity always gives freshness mingled with the fruit body of the Grenache. Altogether mixed with the power of the Roussanne grape, gives the single character of the Chateauneuf Du Pape area. The fine finish is mouthwatering and full of elegance and softness where a little sweetness is felt. The wine will benefit from cellaring. Drink now until 2020.
Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the fine dining, Asian-inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 43 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for six consecutive years since its opening six and a half years ago, and dubbed as a fine restaurant that has one of the best wine lists in the Asian region. Harald is set to publish his book, titled “Wine and Dine at St. Regis Bali Resort” in the near future.