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wine talk:
Taste Test

In this monthly column, Shanghai’s most committed dipsomaniacs get together to share and compare some of the wines available around town. It’s a no-nonsense guide to the good, the great and the bloody ordinary of wine.


Mat Ryan – Booze dude

Thomas Geffre – Wine guy, defected recently to Jebsen

Denny Zhuang – Wine supplier, Jebsen Wine

Mark Williams – Financial guy, GWM

Chris Prior – Financial guy, Montpellier

Ken Hitts – Consultant to an economic zone, not Zimbabwe we hope

Violet Tai – Watson Wine sales

Wine 1 – Mannenberg Chenin Blanc 2009 – South Africa

Chris noted, “Like water with a bit of taste.” “Subtle,” said Mark. General consensus was that it was a bit light, but probably okay for the price. Affordable again was what some people were thinking. A few palate cleansers were ordered as much of the posse had already been on the beer, or even some stronger red wines, meaning they were probably not getting the full flavours. For some reason, the conversation turned to weight problems, but that shouldn’t have anything to do with the wine. Denny thought it was “ok”, and maybe would pair it with some salmon. Ken said definitely a raw fish food. General impression was a bit watery, but again, nothing hugely wrong with it. Chris declared later on that it “gets better as it warms up”.

Price: RMB 150

Wine 2 – Leon Bayer Pinot Blanc – Alsace, France

Mat’s actually been to this vineyard. He was lucky enough to be shown through the cellar at 9.30am, sampling 29 wines out of the tanks and then having to drive four hours into Germany! Chris asked if this was a good temperature to be served at, maybe a bit cold he thinks. “Infinitely better,” said Chris. “Fruity,” said Ken, backed up by Chris who noted it was “a hell of a lot more fruity than the last one.” Honey tones reckoned about half of the participants. “Classic Alsace,” says Violet. Soup for Denny with this wine; shark fin was what one or two people thought, but the rest of us refuse to eat the stuff, because it is tasteless and cruel! Conversation changed to the impact of prawn fishing. Apparently prawns eat other thing’s crap, so they’re good for the eco-system. Chris then came out stating that the Italian melon and prosciutto thingy would go ok with it.

Price: RMB 315


Wine 3 – De Martino Reserva Carmenere – Chile

Violet liked the label. It is a good looking bottle of wine, that’s for sure, but we all know looks have no effect on taste. Mat loved it, but Chris reckoned the label looked like a subway map and was a bit messy, but none worse than some others on the market. “Always affordable,” maybe with some stews was the consensus. “Instantly gratifying,” threw in Chris. Mark is putting it with a ripper English Sunday roast with a horseradish sauce. Mat puts it with Chinese food, probably even Beijing Duck, it’s that soft. “Need a strong food dish with this,” Chris declared. An Aussie burger with beetroot and egg!

Price: RMB 150

Wine 4 – Mannenberg Shiraz – South Africa

“Needs to open up a LOT,” declared Mat. Some off topic conversations were put down, and Mat demanded we get back to the wine. Violet loved the smell on this one. Chris asked, “Is this the male version of the Chenin Blanc?” “Yes it was,” said Thomas. Chris was impressed. Violet actually thought the smell was so much better than the taste; however a few of the guys thought the opposite. For some reason, this appealed GREATLY to the poms. Chris has had this wine at home a few times – lamb, mint and coriander is the way to go apparently.

Price: RMB 150



For the first time we actually had some Chinese tasters, two in fact, male and female. The different palate tastes were very interesting and gave us all something to think about. Denny was reluctant to make a decision as to his favourite, but maybe the Pinot Blanc gets his nod; Violet agreed. The yank and two poms thought the last wine was the winner, while the other Brit agreed, but said the first was good for summer. Thomas also liked the Shiraz. Value for money, the Shiraz obviously wins. The Pinot Blanc was probably a bit too elitist, but still a very good wine. After using a completely unbiased points system devised by Mat, the Pinot Blanc came out a narrow winner over the Shiraz.


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