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Tuesday 21 February 2012

Great American Pinot Noirs

"Oh, its flavors! They are the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle on the planet."

So eulogized Miles in the 2004 cult-hit movie Sideways about that most magical, recalcitrant, frustrating and certainly most expensive of all red wines, Pinot Noir. As he goes to great pains to point out it is a difficult grape to grow, it isn't a survivor like Cabernet Sauvignon. It also produces low yields and is hard to ripen, at least in Burgundy, it's home territory, and often times results in thin, watery wine.

However, if you grow Pinots where there's a abundant sunshine, like California, it's too easy to wind up with over-ripe grapes and sweet jammy wine that tastes like stewed fruit. It is hard to find very well made American Pinot Noirs and that is why Western Taste wants to provide its readers with good recommendations.

In Sweden American wines are not that shown on the shells at Systembolaget which is a shame since USA makes amazing wines.

Western Taste recommends the fallowing American Pinot Noirs:

Fetzer Barrel Select Pinot Noir 2008
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA

Nr at Systembolaget: 70556
Cost in Sweden: 149 SEK
Cost in China: Approx. 350 RMB
Cost in US: 25 USD

Belle Vallee Grand Cuvee Pinot Noir 2003
Willamette Valley, Ore, USA

Nr at Systembolaget: Spec. import
Cost in Sweden: Spec. import
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: 49 USD

Chalone Pinot Noir 2003
Salinas Valley, California, USA

Nr at Systembolaget: Spec. import
Cost in Sweden: Spec. import
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: 25 USD

Cloudline Pinot Noir 2003
Willamette Valley, Ore, USA

Nr at Systembolaget: Spec. import
Cost in Sweden: Spec import
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: 18 USD

Clos Du Val, Carneros Vineyard Pinot Noir 2001
Carneros, California, USA

Nr at Systembolaget: 70359
Cost in Sweden: 219 SEK
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: 34 USD

Cristom, Jessie Vineyard, Pinot Noir 2002
Willamette Valley, Ore, USA

Nr at Systembolaget: 71242
Cost in Sweden: 349 SEK
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: 45 USD

Written by: Alexander Yü

Monday 13 February 2012

Article: Planeta - the heart of Sicily

Planeta is a Sicilian wine company established in 1995, with 6 estates that produce their wines across the island of Sicily. These 6 estates makes it possible for Planeta to use the resources of the lands different aspects and create highest potential of quality.
Planeta’s patient and meticulous procedures shows as much to the past as to the future, with on one side the oldest Sicilian traditions with varieties such as Grecanico, Carricante, Moscato di Noto, Frappato, Nerello Mascalese and Nero d’Avola, and on the other side appraised varieties of classics such as Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet.
What we love about Planeta is that they have the vision of taking its wineries to the future and are open to new and innovative ideas in terms of communication, labelling, management and corporate structure.

Western Taste was invited by Philipson Söderberg to attend a specialised wine tasting hosted by the lovely Export Director of Planeta; Penny Murray.

Planeta wines that were tasted:

White Wine

Planeta Cometa 2009
100% Fiano which is a native local white grape variety which is now starting to get world renown and a lot of attention.
The colour is straw yellow with evident green tints. On the nose it gives a surprisingly intense aromatic nose and charm. They differ litchies, nectarines, pineapple, mandarin, peppermint, and scents of Mediterranean as chamomile and thyme. On the palate it gives elegance and fat at the same time. It moves dynamically between the soft sensations on alcoholic and a vibrant acidity. Final full of aroma and varietals nuances that lead to a considerable persistence.

Grade 3,5 of 5
Nr at Swedish Systembolaget: 82491
Cost in Sweden: 239 SEK
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: Appr. 29 USD

New! Planeta Carricante 2010
This wine is called the volcano wine. The grapes are from Sciara Nuova vineyards which is Planetas first venture and first vintage on the volcano Etna.
100% Carricante grape with colour of pale yellow and shades of green. The nose gives you Green apple, typical of vines grown at an altitude, white flowers and wild honey. Some hints of mineral and very evident mint is also distinctive in the nose. The palate is mouth sour and fresh in the style of Etna with long and persistent obvious fragrance.

Grade 4 of 5
Nr at Swedish Systembolaget: 94355
Cost in Sweden: 159 SEK
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: Appr. 21 USD

Planeta Chardonnay 2009
From the oldest part of the estate Ulmo Sambucca, where the grape saw the dawn of light for the first time in 1994 it struck the world with its powerful innovative fresh taste and is by far one of our favourite Chardonnay from Italy to find.
The wine gives you golden yellow with lively green glints of colour. The nose is rich and intense. Aromas of peach, golden apple, white figs, vanilla cream, meringue. It also gives hints of hazelnut and honey. The wood is shy but well balanced. The palate is soft, round, energetic and full. The wine is balanced in its character by fine acidity, fresh flavours and substantial extract.

Grade 5 of 5
Nr at Swedish Systembolaget: 72882
Cost in Sweden: 249 SEK
Cost in China: Appr. 663 RMB
Cost in US: Appr. 29 USD

Red Wine

Casa Planeta Nero d’Avola Syrah 2009
The Casa Planeta collection was earlier called La Segreta one of the better great value wines.

Grade 3 of 5
Nr at Swedish Systembolaget: 72139
Cost in Sweden: 79 SEK
Cost in China: Appr. 217 RMB
Cost in US: Appr. 14 USD

Planeta Plumbago 2009
A single variety with Nero d’Avola grape. Its name comes from the purple wild flower that grows in the woods surrounding the vineyards of Ulmo. Its soft and fruity character comes from the grapes grown in the old vineyard around Lake Arancio. The perfect maturation in wood with its rounded tannins makes this wine a pleasure and elegant experience.

Grade 3,5 of 5
Nr at Swedish Systembolaget: 71800
Cost in Sweden: 129 SEK
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: Appr. 14 USD

New available in May! Planeta Dorilli 2009
This is a whole new wine variety and Planetas version of Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico. 70% Nero d’Avola and 30% Frappato. Its expression is refined and elegant with a perfect mature blend of the dignified Nero d’Avola and the Frappato. The wine is very elegant and not the typical Nero d’Avola, it gives more balance to its structure and provides wood, red fruit with soft and silky tannins.

Grade: 4 of 5
Nr at Systembolaget: 90008
Cost in Sweden: 149 SEK
Cost in China: Not yet available
Cost in US: Not yet available

New Vintage! Planeta Santa Cecilia Nero d’Avola 2008
This is one of Planetas icon wines. The company’s name is Planeta di Santa Cecilia, so we understand why this wine lies close to the family’s heart. The grapes grow in Noto, where the first Nero d’Avola stocks once was planted long ago in Sicily. Santa Cecilia has been the landmark for this Sicilian national grape. This is really a food wine were you should match some heavier dishes like game i.e. deer, moose or reindeer. Also stronger cheeses are suitable for this wine.

Grade: 4 of 5
Nr at Systembolaget: 72882
Cost in Sweden: 249 SEK
Cost in China: 663 RMB
Cost in US: Appr. 29 USD

Written by: Sofie Yü and Alexander Yü

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Restaurant Review: Seikoen, Stockholm, Sweden

Japanese cuisine is delicate, minimalistic, balanced flavours and very fresh. What Seikoen has done is that they brought the real Japan to Sweden with its authenticity of flavours, fresh ingredients and combining that with innovative cooking. What the Japanese cooking has been criticised mostly in the resent years is the deny and bad reputation in environmental fishing and treatment of animals, however Seikoen has taken this into account and using only environmental raw materials to its cooking. They have taken the King Prawn out of the menu and also the blue fin tuna and replaced with environmental friendly bred animals.

The kitchen is run by the famous Japanese owner Tamiji Yasumoto. His wonderful wife that always brings a smile to its dining room is Eva Yasumoto. They have together brought this wonderful restaurant group to a higher level of perfection when it comes to the Japanese cuisine in Sweden.

Do start with the lovely and fresh Sashimi selected by the chef or tuna tartar quail eggs. For main we can recommend the Tempura Moriawase and the duck presented with foie gras, parsnip pure and pickled mushrooms & red onions. The down side of Seikoen and perhaps all East Asian restaurants is the dessert selection. There is no new and innovative approach on the selection and you have to settle with a kind of mainstream and boring Crème Brule which I am not really interested in after a very nice Japanese dinner.

When it comes to the wine selection it is a bit short. I would have loved to see a wider and broader selection of wines that are presented in the menu for its guests, however the selection that is presented are suitable for the East Asian cuisine.

Overall we loved the visit at Seikoen and knowing that Mr. Yasumoto is in the kitchen giving orders to his chefs to perform on their best behaviour at all time is really comforting. The food is very well presented and the flavours are very good. We like the service very much and the open kitchen to its sushi bar.

Final Grade: 4 out of 5

Tegelbacken 2
08-100 310

Written by: Alexander Yü

Sunday 5 February 2012

Restaurant Review: Green Tea House, Beijing, China

This restaurant gives you with an amazing woaw upon entry. The restaurant is focused on two aspects; design and food. The restaurant is an art exhibition gallery on its own with modern day art from sometimes famous artists but also by the owner herself; Mrs Jin R.

The food is made with high delicacy and with absolute most prominent ingredients. It is a mixture and fusion of contemporary French and Chinese cuisine. The dishes are very delicate and balanced in flavour. Please go for Greent T House special fennel dumplings or black sesame veal which is very delicious. Something that we also liked was the Yunnan Black T Rice and to end with Naugh T Ending T Chocolate.

The food is an art by itself and is to be visited and tried. We loved the wine list with a good variety of dominant French selection. Although the staff could be a bit more knowledgeable and confident in wine presentation/ suggestion the whole experience at Green T. House was amazing and is highly recommended to visit when in Beijing, China.

Final Grade: 4,5 out of 5

Green T. House

Written by: Alexander Yü

Thursday 2 February 2012

Article: Top 5 Airlines in the World by Sofie Yü

Recently, as they do every year, the World Airline Awards was held. 18.8 million travellers gave their vote, and as so often, the Asian airlines made it to the top of the list. Qatar airlines took the first place on the list.

We thought we would compare some of the 5 star airlines and see what you get when it comes to e.g. service, food and comfort and these are the results from Western Taste:

1. Qatar Airways, Qatar

Qatar Airways have an amazing 34” seat pitch in Economy Class as well as a 10.6” seatback TV; in Business Class they have a 15.4” seatback TV. Full-flat beds in Business Class and an award winning 5-star service cabin crew. When arriving, starting off or transferring in Doha, Qatar has the luxury of providing you as a  First Class passenger a personal pick up by a BMW 7-serie all the way to and from the airplane. On the plane you will be served a well composed 10 course meal mixed of different delicacies such as caviar, lobster, Arabian mezzas and fine chocolate. Along with your dinner you can select from different exclusive wines and champagne from Qatar’s own wine cellar. The food will differ depending on which destination and according to the passenger’s requests. E.g. on a trip to Osaka, Japan you may enjoy a meal consisting of sushi, seafood noodle soup, wagyu beef, smoked salmon, goose liver and fresh fruit.

2. Singapore Airlines, Singapore

Singapore Airlines gives you an award winning Business Class cabin where you’ll get KrisWorld AVOD IFE on long haul flights. They have a quality meal service across all cabins and on the A380 you’ll get a First Class Suite. You can wine and dine in style at your preferred time when you travel in Suites or First Class. Select your meals from their exquisite menus meticulously created by their International Culinary Panel comprising highly praised chefs from around the globe. A classic favourite on the menu is their famous Satay, a local delight of skewered slices of chicken, mutton or beef. Each satay dish is grilled to perfection and served with a tantalizing peanut sauce, along with some fresh cucumbers and onions. Of course Singapore Airlines offer you a wide selection of wines which includes e.g. Dom Perignon and Krüg Champagnes. They also provide travellers on Japan flights the traditional Kyo-Kaiseki service which originates from the 1500s as a meal preceding the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The Kaiseki has evolved into an art form cleverly balancing visual elements and a numerous different flavours.

3. Asiana Airlines, South Korea

The South Korean airline Asiana, provides you with a award winning Economy Class cabin, and in almost all their flights they have flat-bed in First and Business Class. The seats in First Class are extra wide and spacious for maximum comfort. They also got the price for the world’s best cabin crew in 2011.
For its First Class passengers Asiana Airlines has worked in partnership with the nation’s best restaurants and experts in order to provide healthy and premium meals by the best chefs. As a step to diversify in-flight food service, their menus on the long-distance flights are developed together with La Cucina, which is Korea’s leading Italian restaurant; star chef Edward Kwon; and the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine, which has maintained the traditions of Korea’s royal cuisine. Asiana's high-end wine selections in First Class are well composed together with top sommeliers. Fresh and elegant, high-quality champagne, XO class cognac, fine whisky, dessert wines, and a variety of other wines and beverages are offered to round off the pleasure of a great meal. In addition, the Asiana Tea Garden service, which offers environmentally friendly coffee (Rainforest Alliance), and selected teas, will satisfy the individual preferences of their customers.

4. Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong, China

Cathay Pacific has an award winning First Class seat, flat-bed Business Class seat in all their flights and they also have premium arrival lounges in HKG for Premium Class passengers. One of the highlights awaiting every First Class passenger is a superb array of Asian and International cuisine, all freshly prepared in our state-of-the-art galley boasting rice cookers, toasters, steam ovens and fresh coffee-making facilities. Because all dishes are made to order, you can choose what you’d like to eat. Cathay is among the first airline to have a rice cooker onboard. Cathay also offers a wide range of high-end Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, such as Domaine des Malandes Chablis 2009, Château Lynch Bages 2007 & Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 2008.

5. Hainan Airlines, China

Hainan Airlines have a 5-star First/Business Class lounge in Beijing T1, as well as an award winning cabin staff service. They have high quality meals in all cabins and they’ve won best airline in China for many years. Hainan Airlines is the first 5-star airline in mainland China. In First Class you can enjoy your flight in a luxurious seat. You have your personal privacy and space ensured with seat partitioning, and an automatic and precise control system customizes seating to each passenger's body and guarantees a comfortable in-flight experience. As the Chinese saying goes," Etiquette originates from table manners", Hainan Airlines showcases traditional Chinese cuisine with Western cuisine generously. Their In-flight gourmet restaurant offers an exquisite selection of Chinese and Western entrees and accompanying dishes. Passengers have two main course options to choose from. The menu is changed regularly to provide a variety of choices to frequent travellers. For international routes, the meal selection will be enhanced by the local culinary flavours.

We must say that these top airlines will give you a flight experience of a life time, and we must praise the Qatar Airways for having their own wine cellar on their planes.

Written by: Sofie Yü

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Wine of the Month: Lirac Les Chenaies 2010

Patience, know-how, observation and intuition are the essential qualities to create and age our wines. Our team has shared this goal of Excellence since 150 years.

This passionate quest for making Rhône valley wines was born in the prestigious vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Ogier ages the greatest appellations of the Rhône valley wines in ancient cellars.

Vine cultivation on the Lirac appellation has been part of the local resources for two thousand years. Over the centuries, the port of Roquemaure became important and prosperous and it was from here that "Côte du Rhône" wines left for Paris, England and Holland. The "Lirac" local Appellation was awarded by decree in 1947.


60% Grenache, 25% Syrah & 15% Mourvèdre, Cinsault


Southern Rhône Valley vineyard located at the right bank of the Rhône.

Tasting Notes

Colour: Deep red colour with bright tints.
Nose: Bouquet of ripe red fruits with hints of leather and spices.
Palate: This is a full-bodied wine with smooth tannins and a long finish.
Serving Temp: 16 - 18 ° C
Food Matching: Serve with game, red meat, full-flavoured dishes and strong cheese.
Cellaring: Will reward cellaring for 3 years.

Cost in Sweden: 99 SEK
Nr at Swedish Systembolaget: 2214
Cost in China: Unkown
Cost in USA: 11 USD