Starry, starry night…Constellation

By Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM

All rights reserved

All food photos are of REAL food, NO photoshop!

The indomitable and intrepid Travelling G0urmet goes to ’10 Scotts’ in the Grand Hyatt Singapore for an exclusive interview with Oxford educated Jake Jacobs, the new Vice-President of the world’s BIGGEST wine company…Constellation Brands Inc. I was honoured as Jake flew in from Hong Kong to sunny Singapore for the interview. Well groomed, intelligent and very approachable, jolly Jake told me. “In Duty Free Sales, Inniskillin Ice Wine is our global best seller and core brand! I just joined Constellation after being with a boutique winery called Gerard Betrand wines (featured on page 8 and 9 of TRDFM Jan/Feb 2013 Edition). We have a team of eleven from Shanghai to Singapore, Hong Kong and Manila and we cover Asia. There is a team of three based in Singapore and two in Shanghai, and a Brand Ambassador in Philippines We have a special VP for the China market because China is a huge market…and a very different & special market…China is a growth market…We deal directly with our Duty Free concessionaires so we ensure our products don’t have a problem with counterfeit wines.”

I asked him, “What is your Duty Free Sales best seller for red wine?”

“That would be Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi in Japan while the best seller for still white wine is Kim Crawford from Marlborough New Zealand…Sauvignon Blanc.”

Dr. ML: Do you find a shift from Chardonnay to unoaked Chardonnay? I have observed too that unoaked Chardonnay plus Sauvignon Blanc is becoming trendy among wine drinkers?

JJ: Yes, absolutely! Unoaked Chardonnay is getting a foothold on the market that was very much dominated by Sauvignon Blanc…

Dr. ML: Do you have any cutting edge plans for your Inniskillin Icewine?

JJ elaborated excitedly, “Now, for Inniskillin Icewine we are trying to get consumers to see the other side of Icewine…it is NOT just a dessert wine but is excellent in Cocktails and matched with rich Foie Gras. Cocktail-wise, we have created a new cocktail called Martiniskillin that has another product in our brand portfolio, namely Svedka Vodka from Sweden!  We’ve launched the cocktail in Kuala Lumpur already. We’re the global leader with Inniskillin Ice Wine in Duty Free. We also want consumers to see Inniskillin as an Aperitif…changing the image somewhat.

ML: That is excellent diversification indeed! Many enlightened Chefs have paired rich and gamey Foie Gras (goose or duck liver) with dessert wines like Ice Wine, myself included. The sweetness and spritely acidity is a perfect foil for the decadently rich and luscious foie gras.

JJ: We are introducing this year a Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume Blanc in addition to the Cabernet Sauvignon. We have a Commemorative wine to celebrate Robert Mondavi’s 100 year birthday if he were still alive. For Constellation we are not slow, we are fast…to respond to the market.

ML: What are interesting projects are Constellation involved in?

JJ: Well…we have a Sommelier, Edmund Liew, who won the 2012 South-East Asia Best Sommelier Competition and as his prize, Constellation Brands sponsored his trip to Robert Mondavi To Kalon Winery in California. It is a way to have more brand awareness.

Interview with Sommelier Edmund Liew of Osteria Mozza Ristorante in Singapore
ML: Tell us about your prize, namely the training program in To Kalon, Napa Valley, California?
EL: The main objective of the training program is to understand and explore this specific area of Oakville AVA which is To Kalon, the grand cru area within Oakville AVA. It is like the Chateau Lafite of Pauillac in Bordeaux. Through this training program, they have brought us into the world of Cabernet, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to see the differences between premium selections in the world with To Kalon/ Robert Mondavi. Everyday, they feature different selections of wines and allow us to taste and compare the wines with To Kalon selection. On the first day, we tasted the selection of premium wines from the all over the world together with Robert Mondavi’s private reserved selection. The following day, we tasted and compared the range of the world’s top selection of Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay with Robert Mondavi’s selection. On the third and fourth day, the organizers brought us to understand the vineyard in To Kalon, learning its geography (Mayacamas mountain), soil, weather and clonal. We also had the opportunity to cycle through the vineyards to explore and taste the different barrel selections of wines. The last day, we were allowed to taste the 4-decade wine of Robert Mondavi and it was an amazing experience.
ML: How did the To Kalon experience benefit your career?
EL: To start off, old world wines such as wines from France, Italy and Spain, are my expertise. New world wines from California, Australia and New Zealand are not strangers to me but they were never my best friends as compared to the old world. Having to work in a company that carries a full range of wine selection from both old and new, I must admit that I was a little biased towards the oldies [laughs]. However, the experience and knowledge that I gained from the program was totally an eye opener to me and I have changed my perception towards the newbies. Most importantly, this has contributed to my professionalism of being a sommelier at my current level of career.

Incidentally, To Kalon in the ancient Greek language means “the highest beauty”.

Zum Wohl! (old German toast) 🙂

About thetravellinggourmet

As a renowned Travel, Food & Wine Writer he has travelled the world in a keen & indomitable pursuit of exotic delicacies & fine wines. His articles have been published in over 20 prestigious publications, both local & international. Dr. Lim has toured and trained in Wine Evaluation & Oenology in most of the world's top wine producing areas from France to Australia. The Travelling Gourmet says, "Gastronomy has no frontier. These are the gastronomic voyages of The Travelling Gourmet. My unending mission. To explore strange new cuisines, to seek out new wines and new culinary experiences, to boldly go where no gourmet has gone before...." Have pen, will travel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any other information storage & retrieval system, without permission from Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet and/or MSN. Material may be works of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents may be true but may also be products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance whatsoever to actual person or persons, either dead or living, events, or locales may be entirely and purely coincidental and unintentional. No part of this website may be used to villify others or for criminal purposes. Interests: Travel, Food, Wines, Cooking, Wine Appreciation, Parachuting, Languages, Music, Reading, Swimming, Hunting, Ballet, Fencing, Archery, Anthropology and more... The Travelling Gourmet is a copyrighted trademark. All rights and photos reserved. No part may be reproduced without permission.
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