My Wine Experience – A private wine class in the comfort of your home

The French Culture Touch ! (Photo Credit C.Gryson)

The French Culture Touch ! (Photo Credit C.Gryson)

After seven years in Hong Kong - Yes ! I have my new Permanent Resident ID ;-) - working with wine, I feel it is about time to launch my own wine education program. I have called it MY WINE EXPERIENCE.

MY WINE EXPERIENCE is a unique concept where participants can organise their own wine workshop in the comfort of their home.

The idea is simple: you gather a group of four to ten friends in your home, select a theme and choose a date for the event. I will provide the service and the wines according to the theme as well as glasses, spittoons, decanter, tasting biscuits and tasting guides. Everyone can join whether you are a wine lover, wine amateur or just a beginner.

The workshops, that last two hours, include the tasting of three or four fine wines that I have carefully selected. Each workshop is designed to be educational as well as entertaining with interactive activities perfectly suited for that kind of event: games, aroma workshop, quiz and, depending on the theme, blind tasting. It’s a fun way to bring people together and learn more about wine. From experience, I can guarantee that you learn better with others: comparing tasting notes and discussing your favourite wines will definitly be encouraged.

I think MY WINE EXPERIENCE is perfect for friends gathering, birthdays, hen-does, Christmas parties or farewells. And, of course, I will add my unique ‘French culture touch’ to the workshop!

All I want to do is to share my passion about wine and to give you the opportunity to have a fun, practical and interactive approach to wine tasting while spending an entertaining evening with your friends… simply at home! See you soon!

For more information and quote please contact me.

List of themes proposed:

  • Wine Etiquette: Tasting and Serving Wine
  • Wine 101: Styles, Grape Varieties and French Regions
  • A Few Secrets about Bordeaux
  • The Villages of Burgundy
  • Rhone Valley: the Road to the South of France
  • Champagne and Sparkling: Know Your French Bubbly
  • New World vs Old World 
  • Rosés Wines: Perfect for Hong Kong Sizzling Summer
  • Iberica Tour: Hidden Gems from Spain
In the comfort of your home... 

In the comfort of your home... 

Chablis: one of a kind and yet, such a diversity!

Magical Seven

Magical Seven

What a delight to have in front of me seven different Premier Cru Chablis to taste! A rare opportunity that gave me a chance to compare seven wines that come from the same appellation (Chablis), grape variety (Chardonnay) and quality level (Premier cru) but that show differences depending on where exactly they come from.

The whole concept of terroir and climat made sense at the tasting. Indeed we were able to understand how the specific location, the soil characteristics, the steepness and the exposure of a slope can change the style and taste of the wine. Some wines were very mineral and had a distinctive purity (Premier cru from Côte de Léchet, Vau de Vey, Montmains) while others displayed fruitiness and floral characteristics (from Vaulaurent and Beauroy).

It was quite fascinating to analyse the subtle differences that revealed the true meaning of terroir. However, for me, the concept of terroir is not only the geological and climatic condition of a specific plot of land but it also encompasses the know-how and experience of the wine maker.  It is his talent that will truly reveal the personality of that terroir.

Here is a list of some of my favourites:

Chablis Premier Cru, Côte de Léchet, Domaine des Malandes, 2015

Pure expression of Chablis Premier Cru: oozing of freshness on the nose with lemon, lime, grape and flinty minerality. On the palate, the wine is pure, focused and full of energy with a long finish.

Chablis Premier Cru, Montmains, Domaine des Malandes, 2015

Same producer, same vintage but different climat and winemaking, hence a different style. The freshness is still palpable but with more depth than the first wine: here, the minerality is chalky, there is a touch of fresh bread and saltiness added to the lemon/grapefruit palate. Definitely rounder and denser than the Cote de Lechet.

Chablis Premier cru, Beugnons, Domaine Sébastien Dampt, 2014

This wine, aged in concrete egg, is a bit closed on the nose but reveals an extraordinary palate of savoury character and nuttiness (walnut). Very intense and long finish.

Chablis Premier Cru, Vaulorent, La Chablisienne, 2014

One of the climat giving the most floral character to the wine. Indeed the wine has a distinctive floral and fruity nose with peach, strawberry and cream. On the palate, the notes become more lemony and have a clear redcurrant character.  Powerful and expressive with a very long peach finish. My favourite.

Chablis Premier Cru, Fourchaume, Domaine William Fèvre, 2014

Yet, another expression of what Chablis can be. This time, minerality comes back with a cheesy (comté) and creamy expression and some hazelnut notes. Very distinctive.

Chablis Premier Cru, Beauroy, Alain Geoffroy, 2012

Back on the floral/fruit spectrum with white flowers, peach, lime, grapefruit, green apple and notes of tropical fruits (mango) and yet, still expressive minerality. Round and grapefruity long finish. Another favourite. 

French Aperitif Time: Rosé Wine and Champagne on Tartine's Terrace: 20/06/17

Join me at Tartine to taste an exclusive range

of Rosé Wines and Champagne!

From the fresh and delicate Rosé from Côtes de Gascogne, Pays d’Oc and Veneto to the prestigious Rosé Champagne, you will taste an extensive range of Rosé wine styles in the relaxed atmosphere of Tartine's outdoor terrace.

This will be a great opportunity to learn more about rosé thanks to an informative and fun workshop.

Come and discover these delightful pink treasures, whilst enjoying delicious canapés.

Featured producers:

La Galope Rosé 2014, Côtes De Gascogne, France

Famille Fabre L'Instant Rosé IGP 2016, Pays D'Oc, France

Torresella Spumante Rosato NV, Veneto, Italy

André Clouet Rosé NV, Champagne, France

Braida Brachetto D'Acqui DOCG 2016, Piedmont, Italy

When ? Tuesday 20th June 2017

Time ? 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Where ? Tartine - 38 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central

Limited space available on a first come first served basis.

RSVP – Marjolaine Roblette Geres: mroblettegeres@gmail.com

This event is brought to you by Cuvees.com

The Magic of Wine and Food Pairing

A magical pairing exercise ! 

A magical pairing exercise ! 

Thank you:

Cyrille Thebault and Yuna Tegani for providing the Caviar Sturia

Vincent de Beler for bringing Château Guiraud.

For more information:

cyrille@sturia.com.hk; y.tegani@kaviar.com; vincent@chateauguiraud.com

When my friend Cyrille suggested a wine and food pairing exercise between Sauternes and caviar, I thought: “Hum, not sure about that one!” Then I remembered how Sauternes goes well with foie gras; the sweetness and the acidity of the wine cutting down the saltiness and fat of the meat. Could the same effect work with caviar? I had to try!

Our Sauternes was the renowned Château Guiraud. It is the oldest property in Sauternes (dating back from the 15th century), one of the largest 1st Great Classified Growth and the only one to be certified organic. Château Guiraud stands out. Not only because of its black label, apparently chosen to commemorate the death of Napoleon, but also because it is the only Sauternes château that uses a high proportion of Sauvignon Blanc in the blend (30%). As a result the wines have a unique freshness and minerality.

Such a great wine had to be accompanied by the finest caviar and Cyrille treated us to the best French caviar that you can find in Hong Kong: Caviar Sturia, which epitomises what caviar is all about: luxury, subtlety and depth. We had three caviars to taste. Aged only for one month, the Primeur is delicate, light and creamy with aromas of butter and hazelnut. The Vintage has been refined for 6 months and has much stronger seafood aromas mixed with grilled hazelnut and some fruitiness. Third but not least, the Oscietra, aged between 3 to 8 months, full of iodine and walnut with a touch of undergrowth aromas.

With three vintages of Château Guiraud (2011, 2004 and 1998) and three different styles of caviar, we started our tasting to try to find the best pairing possible.

The 2011 vintage has distinctive mandarin, yuzu and orange peel notes. Extraordinary fresh and vibrant, it matched really well with the Sturia Primeur bringing out the citrus notes of the wine and the hazelnut notes of the caviar. Both products benefited from the pairing bringing out aromas that we had not seen when we had tasted each product separately. Similarly, the 2011 vintage brought out the undergrowth notes of the Oscietra in a very subtle way.

The 2004 has aromas of candied fruits, hazelnut with peach and apricot notes while retaining its amazing freshness and long finish. It paired beautifully with the Sturia Vintage revealing the iodine and the sea freshness of the caviar. We felt like we were standing right in front of the Atlantic receiving a wave a sea air while the wine interacted with the caviar. It was truly amazing! Same impression with the Oscietra with more subtlety. The two revealed each other with perfect harmony bringing out elements that we had not tasted when isolated. That was our perfect match: harmony and revelation.

The 1998 is absolutely gorgeous with candied fruits mixed with dried fruits (figs, dates) and almond paste and a surprising note of tobacco on the back palate. Extremely powerful, it proved just too powerful for the caviar. We had a very nice match with the Vintage but it did not reveal new elements.

 I loved the exercise. How many times in your life do you get to taste some of the best caviar with some of the best wines in the world? Not that many I am afraid. What I loved the most about the experience was the surprise that it provided. What a pleasure to get this ‘wahou’ effect when the wine reveals the essence of the food and vice versa. This is pure magic. 

My Wine of the Week: Chimère 2007

Tasted a few weeks ago at Ciak: Famille Fabre Corbières Boutenac Chimère 2007

This wine is a reminder that Languedoc can do some great wines with exceptional concentration and purity of flavours.

The fact that the wine is so good should not come as a surprise. The Fabre Family has been growing vines for 14 generations (!) making it one of the oldest estates in the Languedoc. Clemence who used to work in Hong Kong has come home to work with her father and continue the family tradition. She was in Hong Kong to present her wines. 

Thanks to its four châteaux, Famille Fabre can offer a broad range of wines: some refreshing whites, some floral and lively roses and some easy drinking reds. But it is the Chimère that really caught my attention.

Tasting Note: 

Deep colour: just by looking at it you know that you are going to get intensity. First on the nose with powerful aromas of black berries, spice and dried herbs, then on the palate as the wine delivers its personality: full bodied, smooth and concentrated. The carignan gives ripe black berry fruits flavours while the syrah gives spicy notes. A surprising hint of mandarin adds an extra dimension to the wine creating a perfect structure and balance. The long finish is smooth and velvety. Rich, concentrated, pure: this is my kind of wine.

 

 

 

 

Technical notes

  • Carignan (40%), Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre
  • Yield: 25 hl/ha (which explains the concentration)
  • Organic
  • 12 months in French oak (which gives the wine potential to age – 10 years at least)

Chimere 2007, Famille Fabre, Corbieres Boutenac AOC

Available in Hong Kong at Cuvées for 286 HKD

A Mi Gusto Mouchao Mucho !

This year, Portugal was the guest of honour at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Fair. I do not know much about Portuguese wines but what I know is that every single time I try one, I am hooked, spellbound, in love. And, this year, it happened again. I stopped by Mouchão stand at the fair and started tasting their wines. I loved it so much that I came back for a proper tasting with David Ferreira at Adega Royale.

Mouchão is located in the Alentejo [alentech’] region, in South East Portugal. Picture rolling hills dominated by cork forests and olive trees; imagine a very hot summer day and you are there, looking at an old winery built between two small rivers by John Reynolds in 1901. With its white washed walls and its traditional red-tiled roof, the adega looks like it has not changed.

Today, the Herdade do Mouchão continues to be run by the descendants of the original family. They take their time when making wine, and it shows. The quality is exquisite. They mostly use a local grape variety called Alicante Bouschet (originally French) that is thriving in this hot climate and clay soils. The grapes are picked by hand and foot-trodden in traditional stone lagares. The resulting wines are stunning, renowned for their ability to mature with grace and their longevity.

Dom Rafael 2013 – White

Antao Vaz - Arinto

A wine that makes your eyes go pop because you have never smelled or tasted that before. It took me a while to pinpoint the aromas but I think I almost got it: honey, vin jaune/sherry, minerality, bread notes, quince, dried figs on the nose. Apple, grapefruit and again these yeasty and mineral notes on the palate with a long finish. Unique.

Ponte das Canas 2011 – Red

Alicante Bouschet - Touriga National - Touriga Franca – Syrah

Beautiful nose of freshness (eucalyptus and mint) and purity of fruits (red and black currant, black cherry). Smooth palate with fine grained tannins, black fruits mixed with fresh spices and a long finish. Perfectly well made, straight to the point, pure and refined. A new world wine made in the old world.

Mouchão 2009 – Red

Alicante Bouschet – Trincadera / 100 years old vines

Intense in all the sense of the word. Raspberry, sweet cherry, almost candylike, or if you prefer ‘marinated in alcohol’ like. Sweet spices as well (liquorice) and yet a touch of freshness. Definitely dry, though, with a full body, an intensity of black fruits and a very long finish. It reminded me of a dry Ruby port.

Mouchão 2003 – Red

Alicante Bouschet – Trincadera / 100 years old vines

The same but with age. The sweet notes are even stronger here: candied fruits, sweet spice (vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate), perfume of violet mixed with dried herbs. On the palate, the festival continues with sweet red fruits and port notes and an overlying freshness that keeps the wine vibrant and elegant with a very long finish.

Herdade do Mouchão 2008 – Red

Alicante Bouschet

The flagship wine of the estate, only done in the best vintages and only 10000 bottles produced because they use Brazilian wood and they only have two barrels of it (!). Two years ageing in barrels + two years minimum ageing in bottle before release.

Extraordinary complex nose of cherry combined with freshness (eucalyptus), spice (black pepper, liquorice and chocolate) and dried herbs. A surprising note of Parma ham adds dimension. Dry, smooth, high acidity and smooth tannins: all the elements for a long ageing are here, combined with black cherry, dark chocolate, figs and a freshness that lingers on the palate for a very very very long time. Ab-so-lu-te-ly gorgeous.

I am very happy that Portugal was the guest of honour this year at the Hong Kong Wine Fair. I must say that Portuguese wines keep surprising me by their intensity and their quality. Over the past thirty years, Portugal has come a long way with its wines… So much so that I am starting to think that I could retire there one day and be a very happy lady drinking wine and port as the sun sets on the rolling hills of the Alentejo.

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Keep surprising me !

I once interviewed Jancis Robinson MW (the Financial Times' wine writer, considered like a goddess in the world of wine) and asked her what kept her going. She replied that it was the constant novelty that the world of wine was offering. “It is so exciting that there are still new places producing wine, new techniques, obviously new vintages… There is always something new.  There is never a shortage of something to write about”, she said. 

A few months ago, when I went to the New Zealand Wine Fair in Hong Kong, her words came back to me. Since I have had my first Cloudy Bay, I have always loved New Zealand wines. But, what impresses me the most is the Kiwis' ability to keep experimenting - planting new varietals, trying new terroirs, etc. - while continuously focusing on quality. In other words, New Zealand wines keep surprising me.

I wanted to share with you some of my favourite discoveries. Obviously, I tasted some great Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir at the Fair. But I also tasted some of the best Pinot Gris, Syrah, and Chardonnay that I have ever tasted. Here is a short selection of my new favourite New Zealand wines:

AKARUA – Central Otago

Pinot Noir Bannockburn, Central Otago, 2013***

Nose of black fruits and forest floor, with a touch of cedar and perfume. Perfect balance on the palate with a powerful structure and a long finish.

Akarua Brut NV Sparkling Bannockburn, Central Otago, 2012

Floral, delicate fruits with a touch of brioche on the nose. Yeastiness and minerality on the palate. Delicate, fresh and elegant. Perfect.

ARA – Marlborough

Ara Single Estate Pinot Gris, Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, 2014***

Perfume, fruit and spice provide a lovely nose with balance and high acidity on the palate. Fruity and spicy finish.

Ara Select Block Pinot Gris Waihopai Valley, Marlborough, 2013:

Extra dimension compared to the 2014, with spice and pear aromas. A lovely palate of complex sweet spice that linger forever. Superb. Would be perfect with Sichuan cuisine.

DOMAINE THOMSON – Central Otago

Surveyor Thomson Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Lowburn, Central Otago, 2011

Strawberry, raspberry and violet on the nose. Smooth, very well balanced with structure, black fruits and wood on the palate. Very long finish. The French way of making Pinot Noir and one of the finest in the Southern hemisphere. Biodynamic.

GREYSTONE WINES – Waipara Valley

Muddy Water Slowhand Pinot Noir Waipara Valley, 2010***

A complex nose of cherry, ripe wild strawberry, liquorice and earthy tones. Very smooth, very ripe and elegant with a beautiful long finish. Perfect.

Greystone Sauvignon Blanc Waipara Valley, 2014***

The only SB that I have kept for these tasting notes for its extra dimension. Stone fruits and minerality on the nose. Beautiful fresh palate with complexity. Long finish. A winner.

MURDOCH JAMES – Martinborough

Murdoch James Blue Rock Syrah Martinborough, 2013

Delicate but expressive forest fruits (wild strawberry) with pepper and fresh cedar. Smooth on the palate with a very long finish.

TE MOTU – Onetangi Valley (Waiheke)

Dunleavy – The grafter Syrah, Waihekle Island, 2013***

Very expressive peppery and floral nose. Smooth and balanced with a long finish. One of New Zealand most exciting wine growing region.

TRINITY HILL – Hawke’s Bay – my favourite !

Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay, 2012***

Very mineral with yeastiness and smokiness on the nose. Elegant and pure. A gorgeous cool climate Chardonnay with a long finish.

‘The Trinity’ Hawke’s Bay 2012**

Cabernet/Merlot blend. Very fragrant with black fruits and fresh mushroom. Exhuberant nose. Super smooth and yet structured and powerful. Full of black fruits on the palate and yet, very fresh.

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah Hawke’s Bay, 2012***

Peppery nose with prune and blackberry. A beautifully structured Syrah. The 2011 is equally gorgeous with peppery and floral character on the nose and smooth and savoury elements on the palate.

Homage Syrah, 2009***

A stunning wine with a perfect mix of pepper and black fruits, mushroom and perfume. Perfectly done with structure, smoothness and long finish. 'Du grand art', as we say in French. 

A Glimpse Into 2012 Bordeaux Vintage

One week I taste wines in Margaret River, The next I taste the Grands Crus from Bordeaux... Life is good.

Last Friday,  the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux made a stop over in Hong Kong to showcase the 2012 vintage. So here I was, navigating between Pauillac, Pomerol and Graves, tasting wonderful wines and meeting very nice people. It was a great exercise to compare the different chateaux and appellations, to get to know the 2012 vintage and to analyse its strengths and weaknesses. 

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2012 was not an easy vintage. The spring was wet and the flowering was disturbed (hence no or uneven fruits), then the summer was too hot and dry (so dry, in fact, that ripeness was difficult to reach). The rain finally arrived in mid-september and brought the long awaited water to the vines. Unfortunately, Bordeaux got a bit too much of it: the autumn became so humid that grey rot started to appear here an there. As I said, not an easy vintage. How is it possible to make great wines in these conditions ? Thanks to great terroir and experience. Pomerol's clay for instance proved essential to retain humidity during the heat wave. In the vineyards, green harvesting (removing bunches from the vines) was necessary to achieve homogeneity. In the winery, you had to be ruthless by operating a strict selection of berries. Afterwards, you had to tone down the tannins of the cabernet sauvignons by controlling a gentle extraction. If you did all that, you made a great wine in 2012. They might not last for 30 years but they are certainly great to drink now and for the next 10 years. Here are my top sixteen with my 'uber' favorite (XXX). 

White - Pessac Leognan

Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion - Nutty and mineral nose. Great balance with acidity and body. Great Length. XXX
Chateau Smith haut Lafitte - Delicate nose of cream, butter and smokiness. Mineral on the palate. Good length. 

Red - Saint-Emilion 

Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere - Freshness of red fruits with extra dimension of spice and plum. Great balance on the palate, elegant. Good length. 
Chateau La Gaffeliere - Complex nose of red fruits and plum, parma ham and mushroom. Structure with acidity and tannins. Long finish. XXX

Red - Pomerol

Chateau Beauregard - Ripe black fruits, plums and mushroom. Smooth palate with great structure thanks to tannins and body. Fully there. XXX
Chateau Clinet - Perfume of violet with red fruits, spice and herbs. On the plate, great structure with elegance, balance and long finish. XXX
Chateau La Conseillante - Delicate perfume of undergrowth, black fruits, prune and mushroom. Fantastic presence with perfect balance. A beauty. XXX

Red - Haut Medoc

Chateau de Camensac - Black fruits, herbs and spices. Well balance with good structure and freshness. drink now.
Chateau La Lagune - Nose explosion: black fruit, spice, tobacco, cacao, forest floor. Great balance with complexity on the palate too. Great length. XXX

Red - Margaux

Chateau Kirwan - Floral, Red fruits and spice (liquorice). Tannins still strong but will die down. Pure fruit on the plate. Great finish. 
Chateau Prieure - Lichine - Explosion of blackcurrant and tobacco. Beautiful fruity palate with full body and smooth presence. Long finish. 

Red - Saint Julien

Chateau Gruaud Larose - Powerful nose of violet, blackcurrant and undergrowth. Smooth and velvety body. Mouthwatering with black fruits and coffee. XXX

Red - Pauillac

Chateau Clerc Milon - Complex black fruits and sweet spice nose. Palate showing depth and balance with purity and elegance. A gem. XXX
Chateau Lynch-Bages - Blackcurrant, prune, undergrowth. Pure flavours of black fruits and dark chocolate. Body, complexity, elegance & long finish. It has it all. XXX
Chateau Pichon Longueville Contesse de Lalande - Black fruits, plums and forest. Complexity, depth, balance and elegance. A beauty. XXX

Red - Saint Estephe

Chateau Phelan Segur - Sweet spice, plum and black currant. Balanced, full body with cacao and tobacco flavours and a long finish. Simply great. XXX

A Trip to Margaret River

I have just been back from Margaret River where we (hubby, kids, friends and me) spent a week relaxing, lying on the beach, rolling in the waves, exploring, climbing trees and... drinking wine. One of my highlight of this trip was to visit wineries after a relaxing day at the beach. We let the kids go wild while we were sipping some great wines and enjoyed some delicious food. My favorite winery was without doubt the Credaro Family Estate. We arrived there at sundown, discovered a beautiful vineyard lying on the slopes of the valley and started tasting some impressive wines in a Tuscan style cellar door overlooking the beautiful scenery. Pure bliss. 

The Credaro family arrived in Margaret River in 1922 from Northern Italy and planted a few plots of vines for their own consumption (as one does when immigrating in a country where you cannot find decent wines ;-)). For four generations, they continued growing vines and in the 80's they started selling the grapes to neighborouing wineries. Ten years ago, they decided to create their own brand. Today, the family has three separate vineyards. They keep a quarter of the production for Credaro Family Estate while selling the rest to larger producers. In other words they keep the best for themselves and it shows. Here are my top five wines. 

2013 Credaro Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon - 25 AUS$

I loved this Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend for its presence on the palate. Loaded with tropical fruits and a touch of apple, gooseberry and pear, it has an extra dimension thanks to the time it has spent in French new and old oak. The result is stunning, giving a light creaminess, nuttiness and fumé style to the wine. This combination gives a nice structure and presence on the palate with a perfect balance of acidity and complexity and a very good length. 

2013 Beach Head Shiraz - 19 AUS$

An explosion of red and black fruits (black cherries and plum) accompanied by a perfect balance of fully integrated tannins and acidity. This wine made me think of a young Côte Rôtie (but with less spiciness). Perfect to drink now, it brings great instant pleasure thanks to the purity of its fruit, great texture (not overpowering at all), elegance and most of all stunning length. I wish I could have brough back a case of this one. At this price, it is a steal of a deal. No wonder it got so many awards over the past few years. 

2012 Credaro Family Estate Cabernet-Merlot - 27 AUS$

A bordeaux blend typical of Margaret River, this Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (65%/25%) is oozing with fruits (blackberry and plum) and benefits from great texture, presence on the palate with a perfect balance of integrated tannins and acidity. What I loved about it is the length that stays forever on the palate and makes you reach the glass for another sip, and another... 

2011 Credaro Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon - 45 AUS$

The star of the estate. This wine is the pure expression of a grape variety that needs full ripeness to shine. Thanks to green harvesting, we have here concentration of fruits (blackcurrant) with the added layer of cacao, coffee and cedar. The balance between acidity, tannins and alcohol is perfect. Beautifully structured, the wine breathes elegance and purity. Again, the finish seems to never end. At least 10 years ageing potential. This is a keeper. 

2013 Cane-Cut Semillon - 25 AUS $

This was the icing on the cake of the tasting. This sweet wine is neither late-harvest nor botrytis affected. The grapes are simply cut at harvest time and left hanging on the vine for a few months to let the water evaporate and the flavours concentrate in each berry. The result is stunning with freshness, concentration and purity of fruit flavours (apricot, almond). The sweetness is delicate and not overpowering. Perfect to drink on its own in a sunny afternoon. 

We left Credaro happy and contented with a few bottles under our arms... and we might take the opportunity to order online for more as Credaro is not available in Hong Kong... yet.

www.credarowines.com.au

 

Precious Encounters

What I love the most about Wine Fairs are the encounters and the discoveries that one can make. I was particularly lucky at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair last November as I met some passionate people, in love with what they do: WINE. 

Franz Jägersberger is one of them. Being a fan of Italian wines, especially Amarone and Recioto, he decided to make his own version of Amarone in Austria. Just like that. And he has crafted them with such love and passion that you cannot help but be impressed.

I must say that I am a big fan of Austrian wines. But nothing prepared me for the perfection and depth of Franz's wines. When I arrived at his booth, I was curious and intrigued. Once I had my first sip, I was spellbound.

The Rosolo Babino Caro 2010 offers an extraordinary and intense combination of black fruits (amarena cherries, prunes) and spices (frankincense and mint). Medium sweet (44.3 g/L residual sugar) and balanced by high acidity and silky tannins, I had black cherry mixed with kirsch and a hint of cedar on the palate. With tremendous power, character and depth and an infinite finish, the wine has clear potential to age. Up to 30 years, according to Franz. 

The Rosolo Babino 2009 is equally mesmerizing with amarena cherries, vanilla and kirsch on the nose but with black and blueberries on the palate and a touch of creamy and buttery biscuits. Drier, (7.5g/L residual sugar), it is closer to Amarone. The finish is also amazing. 

The Rosalito 2010 is the answer to Recioto. Black stewed fruits mixed with cedar, floral (roses pot pourri) and spicy (sichuan pepper) character on the nose. It is insanely luscious on the palate (208.9 g/L residual sugar) with flavours of dark chocolate, blackberry, kirsch and a touch of cedar. Perfectly balanced by a high acidity, it has a long finish with flavours that stayed with me long after I had left the booth. 

These are no ordinary wines. Made from Austrian grapes (Zweigelt for the Rosolo and Blaufränkisch for the Rosalito), they have dried up for so long that they have lost 80% of their water content. What is left is a pure concentration of aromas and flavours and of course sweetness and alcohol. But these wines have a personnality of their own: neither Port, nor Maury, nor Amarone or Recioto, They are Rosolo and Rosalito from Austria and I love them.

I was talking about encounters at the beginning of this post and I think that these wines are extra special  because the one who makes them is so passionate.  Franz is doing these wines on the side of his 'real job' (IT Project Manager), just because he happens to be in love with sweet red wine and he wanted to make his own. Well done, Herr Jägersberger, you have succeeded ! 

Wiengut-jb.com

Distributed by RTW Wines in Hong Kong

My Wines of... Last week

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I give regular wine classes at Ecole du Vin de France and last week was our second session for EDV 1 (a six-hour class giving all the basics about wine knowledge and wine tasting). On this occasion I selected a few little gems that I would like to share with you. 

We started with Pol Roger Brut Champagne. Each Champagne has its own personnality but what strikes me about Pol Roger Brut is its sheer elegance, its subtlety: all the elements are nicely integrated with delicate notes of brioche, floral touch and fruity notes. Nothing stands out but everything is in perfect balance. The mousse is so delicate on the palate that it feels like velvet and the sensation lingers nicely on the palate. Yes, I can drink it all night. 

We continued on with a fantastic Gewurztraminer from Domaine Schlumberger: Les Princes Abbés 2011. Here we have the quintessence of Gewurz': rose, peony, peach and litchi on the nose with an added touch of passion fruit on the palate. Gewurz is such a unique wine; for me, it epitomises  the meaning of 'aromatic wine'. This one is particularly good because the body and alcohol is not overpowering and the acidity holds it together. Perfect with Thai food. 

We carried on our feast with a 2011 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Combe aux Moines from Domaine Faiveley. First, I have to admit that Gevrey and Musigny are my top favourite red Burgundy, but this one surpassed my expectations. It was a symphony of aromas and flavours, each very distinct from the other: First floral and vegetal (violet, undergrowth) and then fruity (red cherry, raspberry, wild strawberry, red currant). The amazing thing is that all these distinct components bathed in a kind of dusty smokiness. The word that comes to my mind is ethereal... The effect was superb: very delicate, elegant wine, round and beautifully long on the palate. 

Then the star of the evening arrived in our glasses and I could not help but to let go a few 'oh my god' and 'hummmmms'... Wonder what my students think of my comments sometimes ! Anyway, Cote Rotie 2010 from Domaine Michel Ogier is out of this world. We have so much complexity here. First spices (pepper, cinnamon, camphre, cardamon) then the vegetal touch (garrigue, mint) and then, finally, the beautiful rich black fruits (black cherry, blackberry). Each time I dipped my nose, each time I took a sip, something new was coming up. Perfect balance with enough acidity and tannins to stand the test of time, with the additional touch of cigar and dark chocolate on the palate and with elegance and finesse. This was my outstanding wine of the week. I don't know how easy this is to get in France/UK/Canada but if you live in Hong Kong, get your hands on it now!

We finished the class with Bordeaux, first with Chateau Potensac 2000, a gorgeous vintage for a glorious wine (a Cru Bourgeois exceptionnel) and a great occasion to be able to taste a wine that is 14 years old at a reasonable price. Here the maturation has brought down the fruit aromas (except some blackcurrant liquor) to reveal some undergrowth, prune, leather and savoury (parma ham) aromas. On the palate, we still have acidity and tannins with plum, kirsch and cacao flavours and a long finish. One should drink it now. It will be perfect for Christmas. 

Last but not least, we had a Barsac 2007, Les Cypres de Climens (2nd wine of Chateau Climens). Absolutely gorgeous sweet wine (from noble rot) with floral (acacia) fruity (apricot, quince, pineapple, candied mandarin, peach) and spice (tarte tatin, vanilla, orange marmelade, xmas spice)... Can you believe that I wrote all that ? Well, if you do not believe me, open a bottle of this Barsac and you will see what I mean ! 

Cheers ! 

All the wines were bought at Altaya

Jules: New Kid on the Block

Another French restaurant in Hong Kong? When a friend of mine mentioned Jules Bistro, I wondered if there were not too many French restaurants in Hong Kong already. But he raved so much a bout this one that I had to try! 

Jules Bistro is a truly authentic (and being French, I know what I am talking about) French homely cuisine: no fuss, tasty, traditional cooking with regional products and good value wines. Some dish might surprise your palate but if you want real French cuisine, this is the place to be.

Not only the food is typically French but the whole atmosphere will take you to France. It is as if by magic you had landed in a small brasserie in a village of the Rhône. Red and white checkered cloth napkin on your knees, Laguiole knife in your hand, French musique in your ears: You are definitely not in Hong Kong when you eat at Jules Bistro. The Chef, Laurent Brouard is even more French than the French, bossing around his staff, multi tasking between the kitchen and the dining room while making sure that his clients have a great time. 

You will be spoiled for choice for food: you can share a 'plateau' of charcuterie (cold cuts) or of French gourmet cheeses with friends; you can discover the mysterious French Boudin Noir (French blood sausage), the famous Saucisse de Morteau (smokey sausage from the East of France) with lentils or a 'real' Fondue Bourguignone (no cheese). You can also choose to take away some of the goodies home made by Laurent (rillettes, terrines, foie gras, etc.). 

I had the Saucisse Coupée au Couteau with Aligot (unctuous potato purée with melted cheese from the Auvergne region) served in a cute little Le Creuset individual pot and it was a hit: the sausage was tasty and perfectly cooked while the Aligot was melting away in my mouth. It came with perfectly seasoned tomatoes confites and green beans. I could not leave without trying the Apricot Tart: again, rich flavours melting in your mouth. A real nice French lunch indeed. 

So if you feel like eating in rural France without having to take a plane, take the tram to Happy Valley and look for Jules Bistro. 

Jules Bistro

King-Inn Mansion, 13-15 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley

www.bistrojules.com

My Wine of the Week

My Wine of this week will have to be Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012. Tasted on Tuesday in the beautiful setting of the China Club in Hong Kong, it was simply superb. 

With a perfect ruby colour, light red fruits (wild strawberry, forest fruits), perfume (light violet) and slight spiciness (white pepper), it offered the perfect example of New Zealand Pinot Noir at its best. The lively acidity was perfect to cut down the fat of the roasted duck and barbecued pork while the tannins were perfectly integrated and smooth. It provided silkiness and smoothness to the palate and the delicate red cherry flavours lingered for a long time in the mouth. 

The 2009 was equally superb with more freshness coming from a distinctive forest aroma on the nose: a hint of wood and mint reminded me of a walk under the trees, after the rain. The palate was rounder than the 2012 with more black fruits (blackberries) and hints of chocolate. Again an amazing finish lingering with delicate flavours and silkiness. 

Owned by two of the three original founders of Cloudy Bay (Ivan Sutherland and James Healy), Dog Point was set up in 2002. The winery only started in 2004 but from the beginning has used  the original vineyards of Cloudy Bay which were, and are still owned, by Ivan Sutherland. Dog Point now produces some of the best Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that are truly distinctive and capable to age. I have been lucky to taste 10 years of their vintages for the Pinot Noir and the Sauvignon Blanc (section 94) and they age beautifully, showing the character of the vintage and of the terroir. 

So you can be sure that that 2012 Pinot Noir will age beautifully for some time in your cellar... or like me, you can drink it now! 

 

 

 

 

Pinot12DPVCMYK.jpg

Perrier-Jouët & Japanese Food: a Match Made in Heaven

I was invited by Perrier-Jouët to conduct a food and Champagne matching dinner Monday night.
The prospect filled me with joy as Perrier-Jouët is one of my favourite Champagne. I was not disappointed.
The event took place at Inagiku, one of the top Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong. As the entrance door slided to open, I entered a world of refinement and 'zenitude'. The atmosphere is very Japanese indeed: calm, purity of the decor, diffused lighting; and the view onto the harbour is simply stunning.

We had a seven course menu to pair with three Perrier-Jouët Champagnes, each of them having a distinct personality. The pairing was perfect.

The Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut is full of floral character and fruit (lemon & peach) with a lively acidity that cut through the delicate flesh of the hairy crab. That pairing brought roundness to the wine. On the other hand, the delicate flavours of the sashimi were revealed through the minerality of the Champagne. It was as if a big pacific wave splash came out of the wine bringing freshness and seafood characteristic to the palate.

Blason Rosé was perfect with the sushi as the blood orange flavours of the wine were brought to life thanks to the White Shrimp and Giant Yellowtail. Meanwhile the acidity of the wine managed to cut down the oiliness of the tempura and helped us focus on the multitude of flavours that were coming through the food and the wine.

Finally, we had the stunning Cuvée Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Rosé which is an ode to complexity, delicacy, finesse and elegance. The multi-layered flavours and aromas kept coming out as the wine breathed. The pairing with Teppanyaki pork and lamb was the highlight of this perfect dinner.

The more I drink Perrier-Jouët, the more I love it. For me it epitomises 'femininity' in a Champagne: delicate and yet, straight to the point, floral and fruity but elegant. A Champagne that is not right in your face but which takes time to reveal its delicate flavours... I do not know if this is 'feminine', but it feels like that for me ! 

 

Inagiku

Perrier Jouët

Maramia - The perfect wine for the perfect evening

I fell in love with this wine... Maybe it was because of the two Italian gentlemen who talked to me about it, or maybe it was the delicious food at Ciak... I guess it was a combination.

Maramia 2012 is magical. With 100% Sangiovese, its colour is balancing between ruby and garnet with a medium intensity. The aromas are vibrant and lively: Complexity of floral aromas (violet) and red fruits (mostly red cherry, kirsch and strawberry) mixed with some spices (cloves and white pepper) and a touch of tobacco leaves and cedar box... I kid you not, I could go on... The palate is extremely smooth with fully integrated silky tannins, medium acidity, mouth coating without being full body. Completely approachable now, easy and yet complex, with darker fruits on the palate (black cherries, olives) with a touch of dark chocolate and balsamic vinegar.  Intense and yet, easy peasy...

The best news is that this wine is completely biodynamic.  Tenuta Mara is just another proof that biodynamie is the only way forward. How not to be convinced when you try such a wine: it is not only great but also respects nature and soil. The history behind Tenuta Mara is actually quite interesting: family business, quite successful in bakery stuff, decided 14 years ago to buy a vineyard and make wine: so far nothing exciting... More interesting is that, from the beginning, they wanted to follow the biodynamic route and had to wait five years before the soil was ready. Then, they used some of the best soil experts, oenologists and sommeliers to help them in the vineyard and winery.  Now they are even playing music to the vines. So when you try the wine, there is only one word that comes to mind: respect !

So yes, I  am hooked to Maramia,  and it is no wonder that Umberto Bombana, from Otto e Mezzo, has chosen to be the ambassador of the wine in Hong Kong... To think that they are only presenting their second vintage is quite something... What are they going to produce in 3, 5 or 10 years? Personally, I cannot wait. 

 

www.tenutamara.com

Welcome to my blog

After years of postponing the delicate task of writing a blog, I am jumping in. Plouf !

Determined to dedicate time to writing everyday, I hope I will be informative as well as entertaining and that, with me, you will discover new wines, new restaurants and new food & wine combinations. 

So, enjoy the journey through my wine tastings, my reviews of restaurants, my food and wine pairings and my teaching experiences.

May this journey bring you as much pleasure as this 'dream job' is bringing to me! 

Marjolaine