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Why is May special?

May is the month Vinopolis Hong Kong started operating 6 years ago. We are indebted to all of you for your support. Many of you have also made suggestions which are really useful and motivating as we continue to be of service in this challenging economic environment.  

May/2024 is when the English Premier League season would end and with legendary Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp overseeing the last of the 491 matches that he was in-charge before taking a sabbatical. Earlier, yours truly wrote about not being too sentimental to the football management carousel. That does not diminish the achievement of Mr. Klopp at Liverpool over the last eight and a half seasons. He has also impressed us as a person of humility. He insisted at the onset, amidst all the fanfare of welcoming him to the club, that it is not important what people think about you when you arrive, the true measure of achievement is what people think about you when you leave. Now leaving under his own terms, everyone connected with Liverpool will no doubt be grateful to the man who has rebuilt the club as well as restored its pride and belief.

May is the time when the Bordeaux En Primeur (EP) gets started as the distribution/consumer side of the wine world eagerly look forward to getting all chateau release information based on which they will position their purchase/sales. About a year ago, yours truly wrote in this newsletter how the 2022 EP was very over-priced. This year, the supply side tries to impress consumers in that 2023 EP prices are some 30% lower. But 2022 is actually a better vintage and also, 30% lower than a ridiculously high price does not automatically make it a good deal. If we also factor in storage and financial carrying costs, there are strong arguments to suggest many older vintages are better buys (see chart below for Angelus as illustration). One such older vintage is 2015.

For Bordeaux reds, after the truly outstanding 2009 and 2010, subsequent vintages of 2011-2014 were somewhat underwhelming (although 2012 has eventually turned out to be quite good). So the wine community really rejoiced when 2015 came as being very good. Prices were set rather more modestly and have remained quite reasonable especially in comparison to 2023 EP. Many 2015s are also beginning to get into the drinking window now. We therefore are recommending quite a few of them below, among other things:   

2015 Gracia (WA 95 at HK$650/bottle) – This small production red from St-Emilion rocks up with an audacious nose of blueberry compote, plum preserves, chocolate box and touches of charcuterie, scorched earth and yeast extract. Full-bodied, rich and firm in the mouth, you feel its plush frame and a lively backbone, all to give an epically long, savoury and spice-laced finish.

2015 Haut Bailly (WA97+ at HK$920/bottle) – This is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and rest mostly Merlot. It offers a tantalizing nose of smoke meat, chargrill, cigar, black truffles surrounding a core of black fruits. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is velvety and the finish goes on and on. Great wine to enjoy now but it will also handsomely reward those who are patient.

2015 Leoville Barton (WA95 at HK$720/bottle) – This St-Julien offers notions of red currants, black raspberries and dark chocolate with wafts of cigar box, violets and bay leaves. Elegant, medium-bodied and sporting great freshness, the palate shows intense red fruits and floral accents with grainy tannins that gives a lingering and mineral finish.

2015 Leoville Poyferre (VN95 at HK$700/bottle) – This vintage has more swagger and greater fruit intensity on the nose than a typical wine of this estate. The palate is medium to full-bodied with sweet tannins that gives the wine quite a muscular and firm mouthfeel. Surely there is weight in the structure but also harmony which makes the wine quite irresistible.

2015 Smith Haut-Lafitte (WA97 at HK$900/bottle) – One distinct feature of the 2015 Smith Haut-Lafitte is the special black main label to commemorate the chateau’s 650th anniversary. As such, it commands a slight premium. The wine has a totally dazzling nose of exotic spices over a core of chocolate-covered cherries, wild blueberries, plum preserve, violets, truffles, moss and forest floor. Medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, it fills the mouth with so many layers of flavours and the finish is of epic length. This is already a show-stopping, heart-pounding beauty but should also age incredibly so the small premium is total worthwhile.

2015 Smith Haut-Lafitte Blanc (WA96 at HK$1,150/bottle) – This Bordeaux dry white has an incredibly compelling nose of ripe apricot, passion fruit, honeyed lemons and crushed stones. Medium-bodied but intense with super minerality, the palate is layered with stone fruits and citrus, and the finishing very persistent. Same as its red counterpart, this vintage has a specially designed black main label to celebrate the estate’s 650th anniversary.

2021 Diatom Chardonnay (WA98 at HK$300/bottle) – This dynamic and delicious unoaked Californian white has inviting poached pears, quince and lemongrass aromas with touches of baker’s yeast and honeycomb. The medium-bodied palate is fresh, offering exotic fruits with textural grip, acidity and a long flavourful finish. And such great value too!!!

2020 Jean-Michel Gaunoux Meursault 1er Cru les Perrieres (VN94-96 at HK$1,050/bottle) – Coming from a tiny land plot, this Burgundy white has a precise and focused bouquet, crushed stones filtering through the citrus fruits, vivacious and yet understated as if it doesn’t need to show off. The palate is beautifully poised, with ample concentration and acidity to give great drinking pleasure now and also ensuring good aging potential.  

2018 Domaines Lupier El Terroir (WA95 at HK$200/bottle) – This great value Spanish red out of Garnacha (Spanish for Grenache) grape varietal disappeared in no time when we had it previously and we are re-stocking it now. The wine is aromatic, fresh and elegant, making one to almost think of Mencia. The palate is medium to full-bodied, with very fine, slightly chalky tannins.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to go to our website 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.  


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