Reading…and more reading
When one reads, the great novelist and essayist Virginia Woolf suggested not to dictate the author but become him/her…be his/her fellow worker and accomplice, be completely open-minded as that would bring one into the presence of a human being unlike any other and allow the getting of the fullest possible value from what one might be reading. Is there a similarity in tasting wines?
Yours truly like to read…biographies, Chinese poems and verses, writings related to art, cinema, sports and sure enough, books on the subject of wine. A very good friend recently gave me this one titled “Adventures on the Wine Route” by the US wine merchant Kermit Lynch. It is one of those that is “un-put-downable” once you get started. The book is based on the writer’s real encounters during his wine buying trips in France over many years. Lots of wine knowledge to learn without doubt, but it is also about personalities in the wine community and his insight in the making, trading and the appreciation of wines.
One aspect is his skepticism about wine ratings. Some may not like the subjectivity of the wine critics but that may actually not be so bad. It is like…some love Van Gogh and some not as much. It can be a matter of subjective preference. The bigger issue is what used to be personal critics (Robert Parker, James Suckling the person, for example) have now become institutional businesses with many critics working as employees and you bet there are people turnovers, changes of responsibilities and so on. The institutions, out of good intention, are setting “standards” so that wines can be assessed and rated systematically with consistency, regardless of the changes in personnel. If the “system” has wine body being an assessing criterion and would reward intensity with a higher score, the more elegant wines will always be at a disadvantage in that sense. The problem being, wine, like art, is often a matter of personal taste. It is therefore always advisable to take any ratings merely as a reference. The better approach for us wine lovers is not to start judging a wine but rather, through drinking it, try to understand what the wine wants to tell us.
The part on his encounter with Burgundy legend the late Henri Jayer is also fascinating. Part of that relates to Jayer’s perspective on winemaking and technology...why too much science might not be good. His philosophy about retirement is also interesting: Isn’t it better to quit while holding your head high than to wait too long and get kicked out?
Anyway, I would strongly recommend the book to you😊
Coming back to wines per se. Our recommendations this time focus on value, and with high quality, of course. In terms of exploration, we are bringing a couple of Greek reds on the table. We hope you will find them interesting.
2022 Michell Watervale Riesling (JS97 at HK$150/bottle) – An incredibly elegant and delicate white from South Australia with tons of floral aromas, there is the flavour of lime which grows in intensity as the wine flows gracefully over the palate. With wonderful textural complexity, the polished acidity drives a brilliant and long finish.
2019 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling GG (WA95 at HK$320/bottle) – This dry German Reisling is clear and with a remarkably fine, flinty and herbal nose. Full bodied, lush and intense, with fine crystalline acidity, flavour of slate and a little salinity, this is an elegant, round and mouth filling wine.
2016 Rieussec (WA96+ at HK$320/bottle) – This Sauterne estate with the same ownership as Lafite Rothschild has always been our favourite sweet wine producer, with this one jumping out of the glass with beautiful floral and citrus perfumes, pink grapefruit, yuzu, lemongrass and hints of nutmeg and ginger. The structure is elegantly layered and the finishing long with fragrant freshness.
2010 Larcis Ducasse (RP98+ at HK$820/bottle) – Deep garnet in colour, this St-Emilion red opens a little subdued, offering glimpses of tobacco leaf, iron and dusty soil over a core of raison cake and Indian spices plus a touch of figs. Full-bodied, rich and seductive, it has plush tannins and bags of freshness, finishing long and spicy.
2012 Gazin (RP95 at HK$570/bottle) – If ever it needs proof of Gazin’s great terroir, one might just point out that the legendary Petrus acquired part of the vineyard of Gazin in the late 1960’s!!! This often under-rated 2012 vintage hits you with a complex, mercurial bouquet comprising of raspberry coulis, wild strawberry, marmalade and minerals that you could nose all day. The palate is medium to full-bodied with fine tannin and crisp acidity, with all elements balanced harmoniously.
2019 Alpha Estate: Xinomavro Ecosystem Reserve Vielles Vignes Single Block "Barba Yarnis" (WA93+ at HK$250/bottle) – A red from Greece out of old vine (some up to 100 years) Xinomavro, a grape varietal that was exclusively grown in Greece and Macedonia in the past although now in more places. This wine has a refined style that shows good fruits, moderate tannins, a silky texture and a precise finish. Very approachable now, there is though the feeling that when the new wood further matures, it could offer the potential of an even better drinking experience.
2019 Alpha Estate Blend S.M.X. (WA93 at HK$250/bottle) – From the same Greek producer as a blend of Syrah, Merlot and Xinomavro in 60/20/20 proportion, this red projects ripeness and intensity while retaining fineness in its silky, sensual texture. The finish is filled with flavours that are graceful and nicely balanced.
2020 Luna Beberide Paixar (WA96 at HK$240/bottle) – From Bierzo of Spain, the vines are grown on high altitude. There are 5% white grapes blended into the red, and that has probably given the wine an extra spark of acidity. It has a perfumed nose, elegant and floral. The texture is fine, with a slight chalky thread, finishing off long and dry. Only 8,000 bottles produced.
2019 El Enemigo Gran Enemigo Guallantary (WA100 at HK$530/bottle) – Last but certainly not least, our all-time favourite Argentinian producer, and this is one of their finest vintages that reminds many of a great Lafleur. As the wine develops in the glass, layers and layers of aromas emerge. There are fruits, herbs, flowers and rocks. It has great balance and a silky mouthfeel, with refined, elegant tannins and a long, dry finish. Great wine to enjoy now but one can be sure that it has its best years still to come. Just 9,000 bottles filled.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to go to our website www.vinopolis.com.hk to browse the full wine list. Purchases can be made through the website or by sending us an e-mail or simply WhatsApp 9195-7383.