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Last night Joanna and I were invited to join my new friend, Chris Milliken, to join a wine tasting of four PengWine wines at Asia Wine Network (44 North Canal Road).

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I was introduced to Chris from across the globe. My chef friend, Joel Trueblood, put me in contact with Chris via Facebook when he heard I was moving to Singapore. Chris and I have now met up a couple times to discuss wine and living in Singapore. He’s very knowledgable about wines, having studied wine and winemaking in Australia. After his coursework in AU, Chris had the opportunity to return to Chile (where he previously owned restaurants and worked as a chef) and immediately purchased land and began experimenting with the different wines that make up PengWine. Chris loves to educate drinkers of his wine in the history of the grapes used, types of wood barrels they’re aged in, histories, penguin facts and anything else of interest – someone seeking to put wine drinkers at ease and increase their enjoyment. In the picture above he’s talking grapes with a tasting guest.

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The event was held at the Asia Wine Network (very near to our Chinatown restoration flat). The intimate shop is a perfect location for tastings or other small wine gatherings. The staff was friendly and attentive throughout the event. According to the staff they are looking to do more networking and social events in the shop and sponsored events elsewhere around town, so get in contact if you’d like to stay informed of any future wine events/promotions they might run.

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We sampled four different wine varietals starting with theMagellan 2005 Chardonnay. The Chardonnay was very crisp and cleansing, perfect for an early evening treat or as a mid-meal substitute for a sorbet to cleanse the palate. I’m not a huge fan or knowledgeable of whites so I just listened to the group on this one.

Next up was the Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec. The Rose was a definite hit with the women of the table (Joanna excluded

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). It had a bit of spicy overtones, but to mine and Joanna’s tastes fell a bit flat – however some in the group raved about it, so it’s obviously for certain tastes.

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Third on deck was the Rockhopper Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere. Carmenere is a French grape varietal once believed extinct and only recently rediscovered disguised as a Merlot variety in Chile. Traders has long ago brought the grapes to Chile, but the grapes were believed to be Merlot since they are similar in colorĀ  (Carmenere has a thinner skin and is different in taste). Chris and his team are still trying to find the right way to use this tricky grape. This blend was interesting with a flavor I couldn’t quite put my finger on. One taster of Indian birth rightly said the wine would pair perfectly with curries and other spicy dishes. As he was making the suggestion I tried Rockhopper with some of the provided blue cheese and found that the wine held up to the pungent flavor of the cheese, revealing new distinct flavors previously unnoticed.

The tasting finished with the Humboldt Reserve 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Blend. This was mine and Joanna’s favorite of the night and we took home two bottles.

PengWine is surprisingly well marketed and branded considering it’s a “micro-boutique” winery currently producing no more than 500 cases of any one varietal a year. The team put together educational table tents that talk about the wine, the grapes used, and a fun factoid about the namesake penguin – all things that increase the overall experience of drinking the wine.

I look forward to tasting more of the wines – one was just awarded an 89 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, but sadly wasn’t present at the tasting. PengWine is available in the US and is building a following in Singapore. Check out where it’s available on their website.

www.pengwine.com

Asia Wine Network
6533 2646

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