Well Easter has come and gone, and from what I've been seeing on Facebook and Instagram, most Hong Kongers have been drinking and drinking and drinking their way through this most recent extended holiday. We've been on relatively good behaviour, but last night a friend from the wine industry in London stopped by and we opened up some fun bottles to try out.
For dinner we decided to buy some roasted goose and barbequed pork, which are some of our favourite pairings with wine - they work with basically everything as long as the wine has good acidity (and if you know us, you know that above almost all else we value wines with a clean, cool streak of acidity), so off we went to San So Kee (新蘇記) on 205 Nam Cheong Street in Sham Shui Po for the goods.
We got some excellent, fatty cuts that were succulent inside yet crispy outside. I don't think this place is particularly famous as I can't find much information about the store online, but it's always been consistently great.
Anyway let's get down to the wines.
Domaine Jean Dupont - Bourgogne 1966
You know it's just another casual Tuesday evening when there's a 49 year old bottle of wine on our table.
I'll just let that sink in, and move on...
The wine itself was interesting. It poured out very youthfully with a light lemon/honey colour and amazingly it still had some primary fruit on the nose. It was slightly oxidized, but at this point I'm not terribly surprised. What did shock me was really just how well preserved it was. I admit I was a bit suspicious at how this could be. It's a basic Bourgogne from an unknown producer. It wasn't especially complex, yet it was very alive. Honestly it tasted more like a sub-par Bourgogne from the 90's, although to its credit it was very well balanced. Personally I'm wondering if there isn't a bit of Pinot Blanc blended in as the acidity was so high still. Also the wine seemed choked from an excess of added sulphur (probably why it survived so long). I'm not going to say that sulphur causes headaches, but I'm going to be perfectly truthful when I say that after a few sips of this my head started to spin.
Verdict? A curiousity that cost only around $290~.
Domaine de L'Ecu - Muscadet Sevre et Maine 'Orthogneiss' 2012
After that interesting old wine I felt like I really wanted something refreshing, pure, and clean. I've tasted on numerous occasions the sparkling and red wines of landmark Muscadet producer Domaine de L'Ecu, but funnily enough I've never had the pleasure of trying his Melon de Bourgogne (the white grape of Muscadet). I bought this bottle while traveling in Taipei last year.
This is a Demeter-certified, biodynamic producer who has been working chemically free since 1975. The estate is famous for making very soil-focused expressions of Muscadet; Orthogneiss means 'igneous rock' or something like that in French, which means the wine was grown on volcanic soil.
Instantly we could see quality. Orthogneiss seemed to be like a blend between the exotic Rieslings of the Nahe (where volcanic soils are coincidentally common) and the flinty, saline Chardonnays of Chablis.
All three grape varieties are thrilling in their focus and cut, with a naturally high acidity and textured minerality. The main difference for me if blind tasting is that Orthogneiss had a clear white floral aroma from the very start, and that it started showing peach notes as it warmed up. I think it is aged on the lees (which explains its depth).
Verdict? Don't ignore (good) Muscadet.
Arianna Occhipinti - 'Il Frappato' Sicilia DOC 2012
Disclaimer, disclaimer - we stock Arianna Occhipinti's wines. But that isn't really going to stop me from effusing about how absolutely stunning this is because to be honest it doesn't matter too much since we have only a tiny bit left of 'Il Frappato' in our warehouse. (Allow me to put on my sale's hat here and say that we do have plenty of SP68).
This is only the second time I've had the pleasure of trying 'Il Frappato' 2012. I erroneously said it wouldn't be ready until 2016 the first time I tried it. I'm kind of glad I'm wrong though. I decanted this last night for an hour, and after two hours in the decanter it was a star burst of flavours and aromas.
This is sunshine in the glass with a splash of blood oranges, violets, herbs, and minerals. It's like I can feel the hot Sicilian sun lovingly lavish attention on these Frappato grapes, yet the wine is so balanced at only 12.5%. How good is it? It's really damn good. Probably one of the best wines we've had in a long time. My friend V said it was his favourite for 2015 thus far.
Verdict? Worth the hype.
Side topic: Zalto Burgundy vs Lucaris Burgundy. Zaltos are unabashedly expensive. They cost over $550 dollars from what I remember. I bought these Lucaris Burgundy glasses at around $60 retail. Am I a fool? Yes maybe. Is there a difference? Yes.
V here is testing out how Arianna's wines are showcasing in each glass. With Lucaris, the glass is great for allowing the wine ample room to breathe. It's a good value, expresses the aromas pretty well, and does its job.
But the Zalto elevates Occhipinti to another level. The thinness of the contact, the silkiness of the wine, but most of all the way the aromas just seemed so precise and pin point. I sound like I'm bullshitting. But I'm not.
Domaine de L'Ecu - 'Mephisto' Cabernet Franc 2012
Last wine of the night was fun. Mr. V mentioned he has never been a huge fan of Loire Cabernet Franc because it's just too earthy, green, and funky. But still, he was open to trying Mephisto, since we had just tried the brilliant Orthogneiss from the same producer.
This is a crazy wine - 100% Cabernet Franc aged in clay amphora with no oak and no added sulphites. It drifts out of the glass dreamily; there is tension, yet delicacy in the texture. I loved it, and my friend remarked how pure the fruit seemed.
We then got into a conversation about precisely how the purity of fruit stems from good vine management (which makes sense I hope without being too scientific). Everything I love about biodynamic wines involves how pure the expression of fruit is at the end of the day. This was a vibrant showing of blackcurrants and plums with that forest floor, earth, and green pepper that defines Loire Cab Franc. But there was nothing stinky or off-putting about it. It was just a honest, unadulterated, and subtle wine that got better and better as it had air. After two hours a lot of the green pepper and earth mellowed out, leaving this perverted demon of a wine to show its gentler side.
Verdict? A wine for wine lovers.
This post turned out to be a lot longer than I expected it to be. But we'll be making a greater effort to post more about what we are drinking at the moment because hopefully it can explain more about the style of wine we appreciate, and how we make our selections for the online store. Keep drinking the good stuff, everyone.