FINE WINES

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Hong Kong’s relatively recent love affair with wine continues. The Reserve caught up with some of the industry’s biggest players to find out more

Mark Holguin, managing director, Asia – Berry Bros. & Rudd.

mark holguin Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s original wine and spirit merchant with a 15-year presence in Asia.

Do you remember the first time you drank wine?

Actually the first time I tried wine was as a child, drinking wine out of the cupboard at a friend’s house! I recall it was Manischewitz wine… not something to brag about. My first love for wine came while I was living in San Francisco and began drinking heavily-oaked Chardonnays from Napa Valley. They became a favourite of mine back in the late 90s.

How often do you drink wine?

At least two glasses daily, and a bottle while entertaining.

New World or Old World?

I have switched my preference to Old World wines, but some of the wines coming out of South Africa are beginning to catch my attention. I have recently become a fan of the surfer/winemaker Eben Sadie.

Which wine region do you find yourself most drawn to?

Currently I am all about Burgundy for the complexity and mineral content of the wines, and it retains my first love of Chardonnay, but in a much more interesting way. I also like the fact these wines are made by winemakers who are actually farming the grapes themselves and know their terroir intimately.

Any up-and-coming regions we might not be aware of?

Italy is definitely getting more and more attention, hence one of the reasons why Berry Bros. & Rudd hosted one of its biggest ever Italian tastings in Hong Kong in late November.

What do you think is the most versatile wine?

Pinot Noir. It has a lighter style compared to the reds, and can pair very well with a variety of foods.

Which wine do you think is underrated?

Sherry. They develop such great and complex flavours, and yet they are very fairly priced.

And the most overrated?

Bordeaux. There are definitely a lot of good wines from Bordeaux, but when you search through other regions there are hidden gems that are just as great at a fraction of the price. This is where Berry Bros. & Rudd, as a wine merchant, steps in and finds our customers those alternatives.

What wines do you think make a good long-term investment?

The Grand Crus of Burgundy. The demand is rising as we speak.

Favourite food and wine combination?

Japanese sushi with Puligny-Montrachet.

If I could only drink one wine for the rest of my life…

This is a very tough decision, as there are so many wines I appreciate and so many more I wish to try. If I really had to pick one, I would say 1999 Echézeaux Domaine Jean Grivot, I had it in the cellars of Jean Grivot and it tasted incredible.

Tell us a surprising fact about wine.

Never judge a wine by its label.

Best cure for a hangover…

An ice cold Bloody Mary!

Vincent Feron, head sommelier – Winebeast

Vincent_High Winebeast is one of Hong Kong’s best wine destinations offering a curated selection of authentic French and Spanish wines with personalised sommelier services.

When did your interest in wine begin?

I was 18. I’d arranged to go to dinner with some friends and asked my father to choose a bottle for me to bring along. When we tried it, I remember we all really enjoyed it and that was the moment I realised that this was something of real interest to me. I even helped set up a wine tasting club which took place every Thursday evening at my university and we would invite winemakers and sommeliers to join.

How often do you drink wine?

Around once or twice a week. I’m not a heavy drinker and I’ve always preferred drinking a little of a range of good wines rather than a lot of average ones.

New World or Old World?

I personally drink Old World wines because we have 670 different references at the shop, and as I’ve selected them, I like them all!

Which wine region do you find yourself most drawn to?

My roots are in Burgundy. In my opinion Pinot Noir is one of the greatest grape varieties in the world, expressing its terroirs and getting a lot of complexity while ageing. But I also really like Shiraz and Viognier, that’s why I’m very sensitive to the Rhône Valley wines, especially the northern part.

Any up-and-coming regions we might not be aware of?

The Languedoc-Roussillon is an up-and-coming region of France. A lot of grape varieties were planted there, and the yields are quite high. A new generation of growers and wine makers have arrived and have converted their vine to organic farming.They’ve selected the grapes according to their soils, they’ve reduced the yields and improved the techniques for making and ageing the wines.

What do you think is the most versatile wine?

Pinot Noir from Burgundy is the easiest to pair with food, due to its medium body and fine tannins.

Which wine do you think is the most overrated?

I think the wines from Bordeaux have become a little overrated. A lot of people are writing about them and that has increased their popularity.

What wines do you think make a good long-term investment?

The major investment for wine is the pleasure you’ll have tasting it. Having said that, en primeur 1er Grand Cru classé are always a good long-term investment, as their value won’t drop too much.

If I could only drink one wine for the rest of my life…

I would choose a wine that’s able to last and change over time so that I would feel like I was drinking something different each time. I really like the Shiraz from the north of the Rhône Valley especially those produced in Côte-Rotie. So I would choose an AOC Côte-Rôtie 2010 Domaine Jasmin.

Best cure for a hangover…

Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. So a small glass of wine can help recover a hangover. A hangover is an uncomfortable feeling from your body missing the good feeling of alcohol!

David Ko, angel investor and digital marketer – The Daylight Partnership

david David is a veteran of Asia’s marketing industry and currently runs his own digital marketing firm. He is also an investor in Michèle Wines, a private-label winemaker based in Aix-en-Provence and Hong Kong.

Where did your interest in wine begin?

When I was 18 we took wine appreciation classes in Hospitality School and I was hooked after Mrs. Kilgour guided my first tasting of Bordeaux wines. My first glass was a Pauillac. I have not looked back since.

How often do you drink wine?

With every meal if I have company. I don’t drink alone so I can’t be accused of being an alcoholic!

New World or Old World?

Frankly I don’t think in those terms anymore. Thinking that New World wines are full-on and fruity while Old World wines are reserved and need ageing just doesn’t apply anymore.

Which wine region do you find yourself most drawn to?

There are mixed reviews about China, some condescending, but mostly optimistic. I recently tasted a Silver Heights Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that I really liked. LVMH is making a version of Champagne in China so something right must be happening.

Any up-and-coming regions we might not be aware of?

Lately I’ve been drawn to South African wines, so I’m travelling there with my partner over Christmas to try a few vineyards near Capetown. I try to be adventurous and it pays off occasionally. I tasted a Suvla from Turkey recently that was somewhat promising. Slovenia is another region I’ve heard great things about.

What do you think is the most versatile wine?

Rosé, without a doubt. Gastronomique-style rosé designed for food-pairing is a joy with most Asian cuisines that can hold its own through several courses. Yet on a hot summer day there’s nothing like a wellchilled Californian blush to cool you down.

Which wine do you think is underrated?

I’m surprised that Asia still hasn’t caught up with the rest of the world when it comes to rosé. There’s a lot of uninformed snobbery leading to the ‘Bordeaux red or nothing’ attitude that is off-putting. As tastes grow more sophisticated we will see this change.

And the most overrated?

Beaujolais Nouveau. Is this fad dead yet?

Which wines do you think make a good long-term investment?

Buying wine to age and resell just feels wrong to me. I am prepared to drink every bottle I buy.

Favourite food and wine combination?

Reblochon with a big Cabernet Sauvignon.

If I could only drink one wine for the rest of my life…

Castello Banf i Brunello di Montalcino holds a special place in my heart. My most cherished memories of wines are all about where, when and with whom I drank them. But practically? Dry rosé because of its versatility and quality.

Tell us a surprising fact about wine.

Rosé sales are exploding all over the world, with Asia catching up.

Best cure for a hangover…

Advil and lots of water.

Stephen Williams, founder and CEO – Antique Wine Company

Antique Wine Company Antique Wine Company (AWC) is a luxury wine and spirits company specialising in contemporary vintages which are capable of becoming the antiques of the future. Irrespective of age, the company only trades in exceptional fine wine.

Where did your interest in wine begin?

It was sparked following a visit to the Rhine Valley in Germany and on subsequent holidays to vineyards in Spain, France and Italy. I used to bring wine back for friends and colleagues and as my knowledge grew I started hosting wine tastings. The idea for AWC came about after I started to find old vintages of Bordeaux Grand Crus of great interest.

How often do you drink wine?

I normally only drink wine when I eat, but I tend to eat quite frequently! Very rarely does a day pass by when I don’t enjoy wine.

What is it that makes wine such a good ‘antique of the future’?

Wines age well for so many different reasons. Science tells us that the levels of acidity, tannins, alcohol and sugar all contribute to the ageing process, but these rules are very general. Soil type, the age of the vines, how it is stored and even the size of the bottle in which the wine is stored all contribute to its ageing. With really great wines, as the years pass by, the secondary and tertiary flavours gracefully develop to yield a complexity that you rarely find early in the wine’s lifetime. Most importantly, it is this unusual complexity that provides intellectual engagement as well as enjoyment.

Do you prefer New World or Old World wine?

Today I don’t see a lot of differentiation in quality between the two. I do think, however, that traditions are more preserved in the Old World, both by regulation and culture. This has maintained the unique properties of the greatest wines in the world. I enjoy both New World and Old World wines, as long as they are top quality and distinctive.

Is there a wine you can recommend as a good long-term investment?

By far the majority of AWC’s clients are wine enthusiasts, people whose primary motive for buying wine is to enjoy the process of accumulating it, maturing it and drinking it. In all probability its value will increase over time, making it feasible to sell off a proportion of stock from time to time to fund the purchase of a new vintage or extend the range in the cellar. I’ve never seen pleasure in day trading fine wine and in normal market circumstances I don’t think that it’s financially viable as a purely speculative commodity. The wines which rise in value are those with longstanding international appeal – that means Grand Cru Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy, perhaps also a handful of Italian wines.

What has been your greatest discovery?

In the early 90s over lunch with a winemaker at the restaurant Savoie in the village of Margaux, I discovered a bottle of Chateau Margaux 1900 on their wine list. The bottle approaching a hundred years old seemed very modestly priced in comparison to where its value was heading on the international market. I told the waiter I wanted to buy it, he took my credit card, and then returned with the bottle… but also a corkscrew! What I’d intended to be a shrewd inventory investment almost turned into an expensive lunch mistake.

Best cure for a hangover?

I don’t know because I don’t think I’ve ever had one!

Matt Reid, owner – Maximal Concepts

Flawless_MG_8391 Maximal Concepts is a Hong Kong-based restaurant and lifestyle group with numerous award-wining venues including Mott 32, Blue Butcher, Fish & Meat, Stockton and Brickhouse.

Do you remember the first time you drank wine?

My father is extremely passionate about wine and he shared that with me from a very young age. He always impressed on me the patience and virtues that made a fine wine.

How often do you drink wine?

We do find ourselves tasting wine very often on a weekly basis.

New World or Old World?

I grew up with quite a lot of Francophile influences and so err to the Old World, but increasingly I have many favourites that come from the New.

Which wine region do you find yourself most drawn to?

Burgundy is the region that offers the greatest challenge and reward. There are so many nuances and variety with undoubtedly some of the world’s finest wines.

Any up-and-coming regions we might not be aware of?

I have grown a huge love for Italian wines since opening Fish & Meat. Not an unknown region by any means but still one with much distrust and so much complexity it’s often overlooked outside of its core grapes and known varietals.

What do you think is the most versatile wine?

Rosé is a wine that is much loved in Europe but rather overseen in Hong Kong. I think it has a lot to offer particularly because of its versatility. Whether snacking on bread and olives or enjoying a hearty leg of lamb, a good rosé will stand you in good stead.

What wine do you think is underrated?

Alsace white wines are often overlooked for a variety of reasons such as the bottle shape and design which is akin to some German wines. However, many are surprisingly flavourful, fruity and not overly sweet as often perceived. They can also be very good value.

And the most overrated?

I think that Albariño is rather overrated. Despite being one of Spain’s most popular I find the grape rarely makes world-class wines. It’s very one-dimensional and actually pretty expensive when sat side by side with other aromatic dry whites.

Which wines do you think make a good long-term investment?

I think with increased impact of global warming, we will continue to see a trend of declining or nonperforming vintages of Pinot Noir in Burgundy. Inevitably as these become harder to produce, their value will increase significantly.

Favourite food and wine combination?

A bottle of 1984 Henschke Hill of Grace and Mayura Farm M9 Wagyu sirloin steak charred medium is a combination very close to my heart.

If I could only drink one wine for the rest of my life…

I would ask what I did wrong to be given such a fate.

Tell us a surprising fact about wine.

It has been proven (by an Italian of course) that women who have two glasses of wine daily enjoy an improved sex life compared to women who don’t drink wine at all.

Best cure for a hangover…

A glass of cold Bandol rosé in the sun at our new restaurant Limewood, which is on the beach in Repulse Bay.

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16/F Chao's Building  |  143-145 Bonham Strand  |  Sheung Wan  |  Hong Kong
T: +852 33620 3157  |  F: +852 3753 1811  |  thereserve@infonation-asia.com  |  Data Policy  

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