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Some exciting and well-priced wines from Astrolabe Winery, New Zealand presented by Rubicon Reserve Wines

I have an irrational exuberance for Sauvignon Blanc. Which is strange – because in general I prefer red wine. Big robust, peppery reds..Brunello, Cabernet Sauvugnon, Barolo, Tempranillo, Malbec and Amarone. So it is incongruous that a crisp, minerally Sauvignon Blanc would set my heart on fire. But it does.

So when we heard that Astrolabe Wines was doing a tasting in Singapore that included the latest version of their Sauvignon Blanc that was recognized as the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc at the International Wine Show in 2008 in London, we simply had to go.

The tasting was hosted by Speakeasy. Speakeasy Singapore is on a delightfully charming colonial street in Singapore, Blair Road, and amplifies this old world feel by channelling the spirit of a 1920’s American prohibition bar. As speakeasies did in their time, Speakeasy Singapore offers a comfortable, distinctive and homey place to cozy up with friends over food and drink.

The wine tasting, presented by Rubicon Reserve Wines of Singapore, was held in the loft space upstairs where 4 Astrolabe wines were presented by Jason Yank, the new general manager visiting from New Zealand. Jason walked through all the wines with tasting notes and suggested different pairings with the cheeses and hors d’oeuvres that were served.

While the 2008 version of the flagship Sauvignon Blanc left no doubt of its award winning status, the Pinot Gris surprised me. I personally don’t have much fondness for Pinot Gris but I found this one to be quite satisfying. Northern Italian in style, it is dry but with some length and was excellent when paired with the blue cheese and quince paste cracker. Jason tells us it is a most versatile wine and can stand up with anything from Middle Eastern to Asian foods.

The Chardonnay was also rather pleasing – appropriately buttery and fruity but without that cloying sweetness that I dislike in many Chardonnays. When I tasted it I felt that it had a certain sharp elegance…in fact, those exact words came to mind. By the way, pretentious wine snobs we are not. And most any winemaker will tell you if you can articulate what you like and why you like it, that’s good enough.

And finally, the fourth wine presented was a Pinot Noir. This was a very drinkable light red…described as a “quiet orchestra” by Jason. Pairing suggestions included ostrich, lamb and kangaroo. We actually enjoyed a bottle of this at home tonight with Italian food and both complemented the food yet stood out on its own right.

What is also great about these wines is that they represent truly solid quality at a reasonable price. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is offered for $44SGD which seems fair enough given its international status. While the Chardonnay is $42SGD and the Pinot Noir is $47.50. And at $39 the Pinot Gris is a really good value.

All in all, it was a lovely event with some great wines – thanks to Joyce at Speakeasy, and the folks at Rubicon for including us. We cannot wait to go back to enjoy some of the upcoming special wine themed dinners later this month.

Astrolabe Wines

Speakeasy Singapore (Facebook Group for up to date event info)

Rubicon Reserve Wines Singapore

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