The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2013

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Page 22 of 152

Steven Spurrier's Letter from London Tasting in Hong Kong PHOTO: DECANTER T A Note on French Wine in Asia Whether the French think they already have the Asian market tied up and don't need further exposure, I don't know, but I was told that warehouses in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore and bursting at the seams with wine, dominantly from France. Considerable quantities of 2010 Bordeaux purchased en primeur by the Chinese have been cancelled, as the profit they led to believe would be made never happened. The 2011s had very few takers, the better and cheaper 2012s were similarly ignored and with Bordeaux facing a "difficult" vintage in 2013, there are rumours that even some of the bigger merchants "sur la place" are feeling the pinch. One thing is plain: The Asian market cannot be taken for granted. his is written after five days in Hong Kong as Co-Chair of the Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA), which is now in its second year. The entries were just 100 up on 2012, with 2,300 wines, over one quarter from Australia with Argentina, Chile and Spain slightly up, Italy stable and a lower showing from Germany and especially from France. In fact, there were more wines from India than there were from Burgundy! My Co-Chair at the DAWA is Jeannie Cho Lee, Asia's first Master of Wine (but there are a few more in the pipeline) and our ViceChairs were Gerard Bassett MW MS OBE and Andrew Jefford from the UK, Michael Hill-Smith MW from Australia, Ch'ng Poh Tiong from Singapore and Shinya Tasaki from Japan. All the judges were either Asian or had worked in Asia for many years, as the purpose of the DAWA is to have a competition judged by Asian palates for Asia. The other purpose during this week is to drink as many varied bottles as possible and the home team brings supplies with them. We all met up on arrival at West Villa Restaurant, a bustling family affair with top quality food, to kick off with a creamy Champagne Jacquart NV Brut Mosaique before moving onto a delicate but firm Krug Rosé. Then came what is locally known as an "orange wine" from Georgia, Vinoterra 2011 from the Kisi grape, which is vinified in huge amphoras that are embedded in the earth and bottled unfiltered, showing an oxydised orange-yellow colour and full rich but bone dry flavours. Michael Hill-Smith presented his first release from his and his cousin Martin Shaw's Tolpuddle Vineyard in cool climate Tasmania, a marvellous lemony Chardonnay 2012 that we preferred over Olivier Leflaive's 2008 PulignyMontrachet Les Referts, but was outclassed by a vigourous 2007 Meursault-Genevrières from Bernard Bonin, a domaine I hadn't come across before. A remarkable 2004 Tyrell Vat 1 Hunter Semillon, still spicy and fresh and just 10% alcohol led the way to Michael's 2012 Tolpuddle Pinot Noir (the grapes previously being sold to Hardy's Eileen Hardy Icon brand and also to Heemskerk), which showed most of us a new benchmark for Australian Pinot Noir. My offering was the first bottling of Finca La Remota from Mendel in Argentina's Uco Valley, a still massive 2006 for the long term, then a rather tannic Wynn's Coonawarra 1990 (perhaps my palate was tiring?) before ending on a wonderfully warm Quinta do Noval 1997 Colheita Port. Michael Hill-Smith hosted a small dinner at the very glamourous China Club, founded and owned by David Tang, who is responsible for the brilliant China Tang at London's Dorchester Hotel. A beautifully precise Louis Michel 2011 Chablis Fourchaume was followed by a splendid Georges Thibault Liger-Belair 2005 Nuits Saint Georges Les Saints with two decades in front of it. The next night I was invited to the prized Man Wah restaurant on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, where my hosts had brought their last bottle of Bouchard Père et Fils 1961 Corton-Charlemagne, amber/ topaz in colour with a nutty amontillado nose and silky almost red wine texture and a beautifully vibrant Domaine Joseph Drouhin 1990 Bonnes-Mares, to end on the crackling sweetness of Dyznoko 2005 5 Puttonyos Tokaji. Our final dinner was at the home of Jeannie and Joseph Cho Lee, the meal prepared by Jeannie, author of Asian Palate and other works, herself. An elegantly muscular 1998 Krug was the aperitif, followed by the very rare 2011 "Venissa" from Bisol made from the historic Dorona grape on a tiny island next to Venice, quite floral, nutty, hard to pin down, then a rich yet balanced Du Mol 2010 Russian River Chardonnay before going onto the reds. First, due to its age, was my contribution— Beaulieu Vineyards 1976 Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon—still firm in colour with a fine youthful fragrance, a lovely wine and for me the unexpected star of the evening; then a nicely mature Sloan 2001 (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot) from a 13-acre estate on Napa's Rutherford Bench, and two 1998 clarets: a superbly elegant La Fleur Pétrus and a surprisingly brooding Haut-Bailly, which we should have allowed to breathe. Jeannie and her friend Jenny Pan, who lives on the family-owned Sloan vineyard, took us all off to her father's motor yacht to join in a two hour long tour of Hong Kong Bay, celebrating the Moon Festival—the moon was indeed full on schedule—eating moon cakes and washing them down with Krug Grande Cuvée and Pavillon Blanc du Ch. Margaux 2006. A great end to a great week. 22  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2013 TP1013_001-33.indd 22 9/23/13 10:34 PM

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