Singapore is a country of food lovers. From hawker hunters to haute cuisine gourmets, Singaporeans can find something to their taste. Naturally, with such an embarrassment of food riches, one would expect a bustling wine culture. Few things pair better with food than wine; people have been doing it for literal millennia.
Well, we’re getting there. Singaporeans are starting to appreciate wine, and two important facts along with it: wine need not be expensive, and inexpensive wine can be excellent.
As if to prove it, 1-Group has organised Wine Lust, a month long wine affair involving 300 wine labels and varietals from around the world. We get to drink ourselves silly over fourteen different events in four destinations, all at very reasonable prices.
Sounds good to us.
From sea to sky, garden to city
While the best place to enjoy wine might just be at the dinner table, the best place for the dinner table is a subject for delightful debate (preferably over a few glasses of vino). As enjoyable as having good wine in a city restaurant is, we do occasionally yearn to switch it up a bit.
For Wine Lust, the locales are decidedly varied; from the heart of Marina Bay to the somewhat remote Seletar Aerospace Park, there’s plenty of variety in setting- and wine offerings.
Signature Journey – Wine Lust Afternoon Affair in the Gardens at The Garage (27 August)
The journey starts off in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, at the Garage. The name is something of a misnomer, as The Garage is housed in a beautiful 1920s colonial bungalow. Regardless of the confines, the events on 27 August look to be a veritable spread:
- Wine Lust Afternoon Affair in the Gardens: Our pick for best value for money. 6 wine partners and 48 featured winemakers will bring 69 labels together. The wine tasting with cheese and snacks is priced at a slim $35nett per person- and comes with a complimentary Riedel glass. If the copious amount of wine proves insufficient, house pours are available at $10nett. For the truly parched, wines are available by the bottle for dine-in and take-away.
- Wine Lust Brunch(12noon to 3pm): A 4-course set brunch of freshly shucked oysters, Ham Croquettes, Fried Cauliflower and Smoked Mackerel. A choice of starters, mains and desserts is then offered. Starters include Smoked Organic Egg, Inka-grilled Sucrine Lettuce and tender Beef Tongue. For mains, choose from the Chargrilled Ibérico Pork Belly, Catch of the Day, Truffle Tagliatelle and Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek. For those so inclined, you can continue on with the Afternoon Affair tastings after the brunch. Wine Lunch Brunch (without the Wine Lust Affair) is priced at $65++.
- Wine, Water & Food Masterclass (3pm and 4pm): San Pellegrino and Culina showcase wine, water and food pairings. Price: $30nett per person
For reservations and enquiries please contact Botanico at The Garage at 9831 1106. Tickets are available here.
2nd Journey – Wine Lust in The Park at The Garage
If you can’t make it on the 27th, consider heading down to Garage anyway for a series of other activities. The featured wines are from Katnook estate, an vineyard that showcases all the characteristics of the Coonawarra region. Coonawarra is known for its excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, thanks to its fertile red soil. The Katnook Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, for example, is full of earthy blackberries, spices, oak and a good dose of tannins.
Katnook Estate Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs are available at Botanico (on the second level) for $60++ per bottle, or $14++ per glass. On 30th August at 6.30pm, Katnook Estate sommelier Raphael Viale will co-host a dinner showcasing the estate’s award winning wines. The 5-course wine-pairing dinner features contemporary-bistro, seasonality-driven cuisine inspired by the natural cycles of the year. Price: $90++ per person.
For something a tad less formal, Bee’s Knees, located on the ground level of The Garage, offers a pizza and wine promotion for the whole of August. A bottle of Santa Rita wine and Bee’s Knees signature handmade pizza will be offered at $55nett per set. If wine is all you desire, the Santa Rita Gran Hacienda Sauvignon Blanc and Santa Rita Gran Hacienda Merlot are available at $45nett per bottle and $12nett per glass.
3rd Journey – Wine Lust in the Countryside – The Summerhouse
On our last trip to The Summerhouse, we were struck by the beauty of its garden and its isolation. Indeed, with birds, bees, and a distinct lack of people, it’s as close to the countryside as we can get in Singapore. The team there has ratcheted it up a notch and the restaurant will showcase wine experiences from 5 to 31 August in a specially created vineyard setting.
- Cellar Door Experience. The first-ever-large- scale pop-up features up to 100 labels handpicked from family-owned wineries. These bottles will be available at retail prices at The Summerhouse Dining Room from 5 to 31 August, and consumed with no corkage charges.
- Wine and Dine: the Aussie Experience. Replicating well-known dishes from Leeuwin Estate at Margaret River, Woodstock at Mclaren Vale, and Kaesler at Barossa, a special menu will be available from 5 to 31 August at Wildseed Bar. Wine-pairing options are available for diners looking to elevate their dining experience. The special menu will be available at Wildseed Bar from 5 pm to 9.30 pm daily.
- Two 4 and 5- course wine pairing dinners by Chef Florian Ridder will be hosted in the lush garden. Limited to 30 diners per seating, the dinners will feature premium vintages from Chateau De Tracy and Woodstock. Sadly, the Chateau De Tracy Wine Dinner has already happened, but you can still enjoy the Woodstock Wine Dinner on 25th August at 7.30 pm. The price is $125++ per person for the 5-Course dinner, featuring Woodstock Shiraz Cabernet 2014, Shiraz 2014, Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 and The Stocks Shiraz 2014.
Take special note of the Woodstock Shiraz 2014 while you’re here. The Shiraz exhibits the peppery, spicy flavours typical of the varietal, but adds on a healthy dose of earthy blackberries and a pronounced dark chocolate flavour. A sensual, full bodied wine that goes particularly well with the grilled meat available at The Summerhouse.
4th Journey – Wine Lust at The Peak, Stellar
Wine Lust at the Peak will be hosted at Stellar at 1-Altitude. The restaurant, which is located in the former OUB building, clocks in at 62 stories high, provides breathtaking views of the city. Something to contemplate with glass in hand, we’re sure. The focus here is Cabernet, with the grape and its blends from all over the world available by bottle ($75 to $100++) and by glass ($16 to $22++).
- La Tunella Cabernet Sauvignon, Italy, Friuli
- Bliss Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Mendocino County
- Arido Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina
- Reyneke Cabernet Blend, South Africa
- Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Sonoma County
International Cabernet Day (31 Aug, 6pm-9pm): We’re not quite sure how Cab came to have its own day, but we’re certainly not complaining. At Stellar, a tasting selection of Cabernet and Cabernet blends from 6 wine makers will be offered, along a selection of cheeses to match. Additional wines, available for sale by bottle or case, can be enjoyed with no corkage charges. A place costs $50 nett per person.
International Cabernet Day Wines:
- La Tunella Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Friuli, Italy, $32nett
- Tenuta Argentiera Poggio ai Ginepri 2014/2015, Tuscany, Italy, $32nett
- Bliss Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Mendocino County, California $30nett
- Reyneke Cornerstone Cabernet Blend 2014, South Africa, $65nett
- Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Sonoma County, California, $50nett
- Arido Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Argentina, $28nett
5th Journey – Wine Lust by The Bay, Monti, The Fullerton Pavilion
In this last journey, we were ensconced in the Fullerton Pavilion, a tiny nook jutting ever so slightly into Marina Bay. Monti is a modern Italian restaurant, and the offerings for the month included the expected (but not unwelcome) Italian wines, along with some labels from Spain and France.
What was unexpected, however, was that those wine came in Magnum and Jeroboam bottles. An uncommon sight in Singapore, magnums are double the size of regular wine bottles, holding 1.5 litres. A Jeroboam is twice or thrice the size of a magnum, holding either 3 or 4.5 litres of wine- which either means a superhuman personal alcohol capacity or a roaring good party.
One does not release poor wines in such a format (who would drink it?), and so the contents of these bottles are eminently drinkable. We particularly liked the Isole e Olena Cepparello 2013, a fine Chianti from Tuscany. Full of oak, cherries and red berries, it makes a fine accompaniment to a fine Italian dinner. Other interesting bottles on the list are the Bodegas Roda Roda 2011 and Chateau Potensac Medoc 2009- though only the Roda Roda is available by the glass.
If one is thirsty for something else, Monti also offers selected wines by the glass at $10nett each.
- Descendientes de J Palacios Las Lamas 2008 Magnum (1.5L) $600++
- Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Bricco Gattera 2001 Magnum (1.5L) $520++
- Elizabetta Foradori Granato IGT 2008 Magnum (1.5L) $550++
- Isole e Olena Cepparello 2013 Magnum (1.5L) $650++
- Nino Franco Grave di Stecca 2012 Magnum (1.5L) $480++
- Bodegas Roda Roda 2011 Jeroboam (3L) $22++ per glass / $520++ per bottle
- Chateau Potensac Medoc 2009 Jeroboam (5L) $950++
For the Wine Lust fesitivities, Monti is also organising a 5-course pairing menu dinner, paired with Cordero Di Montezemolo and Nino Franco wines. The dinner is priced at $148++ per person, and will be held on 28 August, 6.30 pm.
For reservations or enquiries on the listed events, please contact Monti at the Fullerton Pavilion at [email protected].
Summing it all up
Well, the month of August brightened up considerably thanks to Wine Lust. With an excellent variety of food, drink, and menu, you’d be hard pressed to find any other event quite like it- especially considering the reasonable prices. There’s some time left on the clock, so we’d like to make a humble suggestion: go out there and enjoy some wines before time runs out.