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Category Archives: Sauvignon Blanc

Tree-hugging? Computer says no

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I started the week on social media talking about petitions and tokenism.

I don’t normally ‘do’ petitions but for the first time in a long time I got really very wound up about what has recently like a systematic attack on the environment. So I felt compelled to ask people to sign not one, but two petitions.

The first related to Michael Gove’s ridiculous decision to shunt climate change from the geography curriculum to chemistry. The second to bring to wider attention the disgusting corruption of one of Malaysia’s ministers – Taib, the Chief Minister for Sarawak.

There seems to have been a lot of environment-bashing in the news recently. Tokenistic care for the environment is rife – it’s all too easy to say you care, without really thinking about what that means and how you are changing your life accordingly.

Among the Guardian articles about the environment I have read recently, here are a couple of choice examples:

1. Global food production going haywire; in Chile where prawns are washing up on the shore and in China where thousands of pigs have been dumped in a river

2. Stinking rich caviar-eaters, not content with bringing about the collapse of the Beluga are driving the illicit demand for paddlefish eggs from the US

3. Poachers slaughtered 86 elephants  whilst the CITES summit was agreeing to new sanctions for trading in endangered animals

4. More subsidies for fossil fuels as the UK Government releases a budget that supports fracking

5. Another story about Chinese hunger for commodities and the sell off of forests in South America.

So, while I’ve got a (small) audience and seeing as I’m up on my soap box about environmental tokenism… it was WWF’s Earth Hour this week. As Nan, from the Catherine Tate show would say…..

In case you don’t know about Earth Hour, it’s a global campaign whereby major celebrities, businesses and everyday individuals ‘commit to saving the planet’ by switching off all their lights for one hour. This really is like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic (an expression favoured by some environmentalists to deride token actions).

No-one, not even the WWF, can say whether Earth Hour has over the years, and after all those millions of pounds in marketing spend, actually resulted in less consumption of electricity or genuinely created more sustainable consumers through increased awareness. Much needed at a time when concern for the environment is at its lowest in 22 years.

In Malaysia, trying to live with ethical consumerism in mind is hard; recycled, chemical-free, organic (organic usually means ‘village’ as opposed to farmed), fairtrade – sorry, ‘computer says no’.

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Ethical wine consumption? Here – forget about it. Luckily, one of my team kindly bought me some on a recent trip to Perth. This Cullen Vineyards 2011 Sauvignon-Semillon is both biodynamic and carbon neutral (10 points for those of you playing sustainability bingo).  And what a tree-hugging delight it is too. I had been planning on saving this li’l beauty, but instead cracked it open at a BYO Japanese restaurant with friends.

I absolutely adore Western Australian wines – the idea and image of surf salt-spray drifting over vineyards in Margaret River makes me go a bit gooey – especially Sauv-Semillon blends, the fruit and minerality of Sauvignon counter-balanced by the oily and floral characteristics of Semillon. I had high hopes for this…

…and it was everything I had wished for – a hint of oak and tropical fruit flavours followed by a whiff of cap-gun sulphur on the nose, and in the mouth it was clean, citrusy, slick and slightly saline, perfectly complementing the oily tempura and exquisitely fresh sashimi. Fantastic!

A carbon neutral and biodynamic wine would normally scream ‘tokenistic’ to me. Computer says no? Actually computer says yes!

Selamat malam

@jk_cunningham

Gorgeous Gavi

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Malaysia has been enjoying a recent festive season; Hari Raya (the end of Ramadan) and Merdeka Day (Independence from the British Empire in 1957).  In two weeks’ time it’s Malaysia Day (birth of the Malaysian Federation in 1963).  Families and companies give over whole days to celebrate.  For Hari Raya in particular the month is dedicated to traditional foods at ‘open houses’.  If you like your food, now is a time of plenty.

The feasting is amazing  – except if you get food poisoning, which isn’t uncommon – but the events, being Malaysian, are obviously dry.  The atmosphere feels a little like Christmas – apart from the arguments about Brussels sprouts and which James Bond film to watch – with lots of gift giving, colourful decorations and the sluggishness brought about from eating too much.

Trying to save money on account of some poor financial planning this month, we’ve hardly had anything to drink recently.  Poverty-related abstinence and tee-total partying can only be tolerated for so long.  The booze we bought in M&S a few weeks ago tempts us from the wine fridge (being free as we’d already shelled out for it) and last night it was cracked open at record speed. Read the rest of this entry

Slurping Spanish soup and surprising Sancerre

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After watching Spain beat the boring French in the Euros, my wife decided that the only way to celebrate the win over Les Bleus was for some Spanish food the following evening.

We were due a break food-wise as on match night we’d loaded up at a fantastic local vegetarian Indian restaurant called Saravana Bhavan, part of a global chain that boasts nearly 70 outlets. It was mind-blowingly good. I was reminded of my friend Frank’s disgust at not seeing meat on the menu at a veggie curry house we went to once for ‘boys’ curry night’. He would’ve hated it, but out here, meat can be of dubious quality, so sticking to veg is often a safe bet and boy did we cash in. Read the rest of this entry

Guilty parties?

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An altogether strange week or so since my last post.  The world seems to be descending into chaos, environmental disaster, racism and guilt.

KL was covered in smog a few days ago, and in places the pollution index exceeded safe limits.  I hadn’t quite counted on this level of pollution when moving here.  The air was thick and blue – from the condo window, downtown was totally obscured by a creeping menace – causing us to shut the windows and hunker down as if there were a plague coming.  Indonesia is blamed for its slash and burn policies resulting in plumes of smoke towards Malaysia.  Burning their pristine forest to make way for plantations of palm oil and cattle ranches is helping to prop up their economy, but boy those pesky Indonesians are a nuisance.

Rio+20, the circus-like summit of environmentalists, policy-makers, business leaders, media and oceans of hangers-on – all there to (erm…sip caipirinhas? watch the girls go by on Copacabana beach?) get a meaningful agreement on climate change and sustainable development  – has unfortunately passed most people by and is already looking like a failure. Rio+20 as a news item is competing with the economic collapse of two of Europe’s proud nations, genocide in Syria and the football. With the Greeks and Spanish queuing up at soup kitchens, it’s not surprising that environmental austerity measures perceived to be curbing standards of living are seen as a bum note.  The trade offs are short-sighted but it’s a reality we continue to fight against. Read the rest of this entry

When even bad wine is good

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One of the things about moving to a completely new country is that it totally shifts your perceptions, expectations, tolerance levels and subjectivity. It’s a strange feeling, especially when you have high standards. For a wine lover living in KL this presents a conundrum.

Having moved into our amazing new apartment, a sort of Xanadu-come-Avatar condo development in trendy Bangsar (sorry, Bukit Bandaraya to give it its posh name) we are slowly settling into a sort of alternate universe.

Ok, so some things don’t change….. cue head banging on the table at internet speeds and the feeling of stress as you hit traffic on the way to a meeting….but other things, things that you actually care about, do. Read the rest of this entry

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