– By Jim Boyce
Palette held the Beijing tasting of the year thus far as if offered patrons samples of 100 wines for a mere RMB 100 (USD 14). The seven-hour February 2 event drew more than 100 people who tasted wine grouped primarily by grape variety.
I’m a big fan of the portfolio assembled by owner John Gai, and will have an interview with him on his trials, tribulations and adventures in picking the wines.
Palette is particularly strong in Australian and Italian wine, though the Argentine Michel Torino – newly added to the portfolio – stood out as a highlight for me. The fragrant Sauvignon Blanc 2007 had nice acidity and is good value at RMB112, while the Pinto Gris has an incredibly (some might think too) fragrant rose nose and checked in at RMB125.
Among the sweeter wines, Peter Schandl Cuvee Beerenelnauslese 2002 (RMB208) and Domaine de Cabidos Petit Manseng (RMB218) offer excellent taste and value.
I also liked the Mercury AOC Pinot Noir (RMB320), Michel Torino CUMA Organic Malbec (RMB125), Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz (a big funky in-your-face wine; RMB390) and Heartland Shiraz, both the Director’s Cut (RMB289) and the entry level version (RMB157; among the best values in town).
I asked John Gai which wine in the room he would pick to drink on a long plane ride. After much thought, he went for a Will Taylor Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. I also asked Palette’s Stefan Fleischer, who – after showing shock that I wouldn’t let him take a red and a white – chose the Shaw Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2006, and Leo Liu, who chose the Mercury AOC Pinot Noir
As with the December tasting, attendees tasted some excellent Gouda being made in Shanxi province. Kudos to Palette’s staff, which did a good job overall in pouring the wine and making sure there was plenty of water on hand. Palette’s wines are available via the company’s Shunyi wine shop and restaurant, Central Park outlet, or Web site.