Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wine in Indonesia

Pictures: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Christian G.E. Schiller having an Australian Wine at Bintan Lagoon Resort on Bintan Island in Indonesia. Suhaemi Opened the Bottle.

In 2014, I spent the month of October in Singapore. A number of beach resorts in Malaysia and Indonesia are just about an hour away from Singapore by ferry. Singapore residents go there for long weekends. We went for a few days to Bintan Lagoon Resort on Bintan Island in Indonesia. One of the advantages of Bintan Lagoon Resort is that it has its own ferry shuttle service and its own border crossing point, which is very convenient.

Exchange rate at the time of my visit: S$1 = US$0.8. Prices at the  Bintan Lagoon Resort were in S$.

Pictures: From Singapore to Indonesia

Indonesia

Indonesia straddles the Equator between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. With 18,110 islands, 6,000 of them inhabited, Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world.

Picture: Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia

Indonesia is a member of the G-20, the 20 largest economies in the world. The Indonesian economy is the world's 16th largest by nominal GDP. While the rich shop and party in Jakarta and Bali, half of the population still earns less than USD2/day.

About 240 million people live in this fourth most populous country in the world — after China, India and the USA — and by far the largest country in Southeast Asia. Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population (Sunni) in the world, accounting for 90% of Indonesia’s population.

The first Europeans to arrive were the Portuguese in the 1500s. By the end of the century, however, the Dutch had pretty much taken over, leading to 350 years of colonization.

Pictures: Bintan Lagoon Resort on Bintan Island in Indonesia

Wine Consumer and Importer Indonesia

Indonesia is a Muslim country. Muslims are not permitted to consume any alcoholic drink. Indonesia’s wine sector is therefore small relative to its large population.

Pictures: Wine at Bintan Lagoon Resort on Bintan Island in Indonesia.

The wine industry is tightly regulated by Government, although Government has relaxed its grip on the sector in recent years. The Government imposes steep duties and taxes on imported wines. Not too long ago, wine could only be imported by one state-owned enterprise, which was in charge of wine imports. Today, there are about 20 private official distributors that import directly wine, within a mandated quota.

Pictures: Chinese Soup for Breakfast

Wine imports are growing at a fast rate. The growth is fueled by increasing wine consumption among affluent Indonesians, mainly in Jakarta, including the burgeoning middle class that is increasingly young, educated and urban, and at the Hindu majority tourist island of Bali.

Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, China, South Korea, and Taiwan accounted for the majority of tourist arrivals by nationality, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, and France. In the tourist sector, wine and spirit consumption is only permitted in licensed four and five star hotels, upscale restaurants, and bars.

Pictures: Afternoon Tea

Most imported wines in Indonesia come from South Africa (30 percent), Chile (20 percent), Australia (20 percent), France (10 percent), and other European countries like Italy, German, and Spain (10percent), and the United States (10 percent).

The consumption of red and white wines is of equal amount in general. Red wines tend to be favored more among consumers in Jakarta and other Indonesian cities, while white wines are the preferred choice of consumers in Bali, which tend be mostly tourists.

Pictures: Coconut Juice Cocktail

Wine Producer Indonesia

Launched in 1994, Hatten Wines on Bali is the only Indonesian winemaker of some relevance. Winemaking in the tropical climate is very challenging, due to equatorial heat, monsoons, fast growing fungi and voracious root-munching termites. Hatten Wines buys its Alphonse-Lavallée grapes from several growers and has its own vineyards with Belgia white grapes.

The tropical climate of Bali makes for the unique character of winemaking in Bali: grapes are harvested year-long from evergreen vines and wine can be produced in several vintages per year (every 120 days, in fact) instead of the traditional yearly vintage production of other wine areas.

Back to Singapore

Pictures: Last Drink and Back to Singapore

schiller-wine: Related Postings

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3 Wine Tours by ombiasy Coming up in 2014: Germany-North, Germany-South and Bordeaux

High Tea at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore

Street Food in Singapore: Dinner at Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Schiller's Favorite Wines of Madagascar

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiler with Malagasy Wines

It is not well known in the rest of the world that Madagascar produces wine. Typically, it tends to be of good table wine quality, not more. The main grape varieties are traditionally Petit Bouchet, Villardin, Chambourcin and Varousset for vins rouge (reds) and the Couderc Blanc for vins blanc (whites). Little known in the world of fine wine, these so-called French-American hybrid grape varieties have the advantage of being robust, but do not match the Vitis vinifera varieties – like Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir – for elegance and refinement. Vitis vinifera varieties dominate worldwide wine consumption, but there is increasing interest in French-American hybrids in the 'green' movement.

Currently seven producers in Madagascar make wine with French-American hybrid grapes. Each winemaker produces one or more brands, each of which typically comes as vin rouge, vin gris (white wine made from red grapes), vin rosé and vin blanc. In addition, you find vin blanc moelleux, a white wine with noticeable remaining sweetness. All these wines are non-vintage (NV) wines.

Here are my favorites.

Antsirabe Viticulteur-Encaveur Chan Fao Tong, a first-wave Chinese winemaker, currently produces Madagascar's best (and most expensive) wine from hybrid grapes: NV Grand Cru d'Antsirabe. It comes as Rouge Alicante (medium bodied), Rouge Seyve Villard (earthy), Rose Viala (good summer wine), Gris de Gris (goes well with Malagasy food) and Blanc Couderc (medium bodied, dry).

Another interesting wine producer is Lazan'i Betsilio, a large co-operative created in Fianarantsoa in 1971. Supported by Swiss development aid, they used to make the best wine of the country. Quality has suffered since that funding project was terminated, but they are now trying hard to get back on track, with some success. Lazan'i Betsilio offers one wine, NV Haute Matsiatra, which comes as Rouge (medium bodied), Rouge Primeur (lighter), Gris (my favorite Malagasy food wine), Blanc (dry, fruity) and Blanc Moelleux (medium sweet white).

In a new development, there is now one winery that is radically different from the others. Owned and run by Pâquerette and Jean Allimant, Clos Nomena exclusively uses noble Vitis vinifera grapes. From 2001, they set up a five-year experimental vineyard in Ambalavao and the four grape varieties that showed the most promising results were selected to be grown commercially. With the first wines released in 2011, Clos Nomena's portfolio now includes a Blanc Sec (dry, fruity, crisp), a Rose (great aperitif wine), and a Rouge (medium bodied, elegant, lingering finish). They are available in Tana's top restaurants and some special shops but at considerably higher prices than traditional Malagasy wines.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Jean Allimant with Marie Nomena Allimant and their Clos Nomena Wines in Antananarivo

This posting is a revised version of a box which I contributed to the 11th edition of the Bradt Travel Guide “Madagascar”. The 11th edition of the Bradt Travel Guide “Madagascar” (first published in 1988) was published in July 2014. For the first time, the Bradt Travel Guide “Madagascar” contains a box entitled “Choosing Malagasy Wine”, which I was asked to draft by Daniel Austin and Hilary Brandt, the authors of the 11th edition. The box is based on an earlier posting on schiller-wine: The Wines of Madagascar.

Schiller’ Favorites

This posting is part of the Schiller’s favorites series.

Europe

Germany

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Berlin, Germany
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Frankfurt am Main, 2013, Germany
Schiller's Favorite Apple Wine Taverns in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Mainz, Germany

France

Schiller’s Favorite Restaurants, Brasseries, Bistros, Cafes and Wine Bars in Paris, France 
Schiller's Favorite Seafood Places in Bordeaux City, France
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux City, France
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in St. Emilion, France
Schiller’s Favorite Restaurants, Brasseries, Bistros, Cafes and Wine Bars in Paris, 2012 France
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux (City) (2012), France

UK, Spain, Austria, Hungary

Schiller's Favorite Winebars in London, UK
Schiller’s Favorite Tapas Bars in Logroño in La Rioja, Spain
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in London, 2012, UK
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars and Other Wine Spots in Vienna, Austria
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Budapest, Hungary
Schiller’s Favorite Spots to Drink Wine in Vienna, Austria (2011)

USA

Schiller's Favorite Oyster Bars and Seafood Places in Seattle, USA  
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in New York City, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Seattle, USA
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Washington DC, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Crab Houses in the Washington DC Region, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in New York City, 2012, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in San Francisco, USA
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars and Other Places Where You Can Have a Glass of Wine in Healdsburg, California

Asia

Schiller s Favorite Winebars in Beijing, 2014, China

Africa

Schiller's Favorite Wines of Madagascar
Schiller’s 12 Favorite Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

schiller-wine: Related Postings (Madagascar)

Choosing Malagasy Wine, in: Bradt Travel Guide Madagascar (Author: Christian G.E. Schiller)

Schiller’s 12 Favorite Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

A Comprehensive Guide - in Alphabetical Order - to the Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

A Comprehensive Guide – Ordered by the Number of Stars - to the Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

The Wines of Madagascar

Wining and Dining in Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar – Christian G.E. Schiller’s Private List of Restaurants in Antananarivo

The Wines of Madagascar - Good and Interesting Table Wines

Christian G.E.Schiller’s Private List of Restaurants in Antananarivo That Serve Malagasy Wine

Clos Nomena: Taking the Wine of Madagascar to New Heights

Fine Wine and Fine Oysters in Madagascar: Oysters from Fort Dauphin and Wine from Clos Nomena

Restaurant and Hotel AKOA – An Oasis of Tranquility in the Buzzing Third World City Antananarivo in Madagascar

Tsiky – Charming Restaurant in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Serving Good Food and Malagasy Wines

Sea, Sand, Soul and Sakafo, and Whales and Wine – At Princesse Bora Lodge on Ile Sainte Marie in the Indian Ocean

Foie Gras and Lazan’i Betsileo at Restaurant Villa Vanille in Antananarivo, Madagascar

Foie Gras in Madagascar

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Street Food in Singapore: Dinner at Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center

Pictures:  Dinner at Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center in Singapore

Singapore’s hawker food is the stuff of legend, and celebrities like Anthony Bourdain have raved about the dazzling array of cheap delicious dishes available. There is a large number of hawker centers in Singapore. Wherever you go, you will have to share a table, queue for food and sweat it out. There are dishes from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.

Pictures: Delicious Hawker Food

CNN: The street food scene in Singapore is now less “street food” and more “food court.” Regulated out of existence years ago, street food vendors moved into government-sanctioned "hawker centers" where they still sell the same dishes. While this may undermine the cuisine’s credibility as street food, it offers those with delicate stomachs the opportunity to partake -- strict safety and hygiene regulations make Singapore's hawker food some of the safest “street food” around. Hawker centers offer a blend of inexpensive Malaysian, Indian and Chinese cuisines, which combine to offer a uniquely Singaporean eating experience. A strong food culture also means that Singaporeans feel passionately about their hawker centers and the dishes found there, keeping standards of tastiness and authenticity high.

Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center

Offering a spectacular view of the Marina Bay skyline, Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center is one of the best hawker centers in town. About 12 hawker stalls flank an assortment of plastic-covered stone tables and long wooden tables topped with large umbrellas (the only concession to the weather); the area has enough seating for over 500 guests, who come every night to take in the view and the authentic hawker fare.

Pictures: Dinner at Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center in Singapore

"Marina Bay is a very iconic part of Singapore - Gluttons Bay is about delivering a street food experience in the slickest part of Marina Bay," says Makansutra founder and Singapore Street Food Guru K.F. Seetoh. "I said we should bring back the old style, open-air street food stall that we used to have in the 60s and 70s. And we keep prices as cheap as possible."

Pictures: 12 Hawker Stalls at Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center in Singapore

You can choose from a wide range of famous local treats such as fried carrot cake, oyster omelet, chilli crab and roti jala (lacy pancakes served with delicious curry).

Pictures: Cooking at Makansutra Gluttons Bay Hawker Center in Singapore

After dinner, you can watch free street performances frequently organized by arts center Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, located just next door. Or you can walk over to the Marina Bay Sands or the Fullerton Hotel to take an after dinner drink.

Pictures: Marina Bay Sands and the Fullerton Hotel

schiller-wine: Related Postings

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3 Wine Tours by ombiasy Coming up in 2014: Germany-North, Germany-South and Bordeaux

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