Forty of Hong Kong’s top wine enthusiasts gathered at the Conrad Hotel on Saturday for the Hong Kong International Top Tasters (HITT) event, organised by the drinks business HK in partnership with Madison Wine.
The HITT blind tasting tested the very wits of members of the Hong Kong wine trade © Divya Rao
The event which was in aid of Hong Kong charity, the Autism Partnership Foundation kicked off with the one-hour blind tasting competition presided over by judges, Debra Meiburg MW, Stephen Mack of AWSEC, Kimberley Drake of Sarment and Lee Watson, the sommelier of the Conrad.
Wines selected for the competition included:
- NV Boschendal Brut Rose
- 2012 Château de Chamirey Mercurey 1er Cru La Mission Monopole
- 2013 Domäne Wachau Riesling Smaragd Achleiten
- 2014 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling from
- 2012 Terroirs Syrah from Sarment
- 2013 Stonier Pinot Noir
- 2012 Altano Quinta do Ataíde Reserva
- 2009 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino
- 2009 Iberica Bruno Prats AlFYnal
- 2013 Bellingham The Bernard Series Bush Vine Pinotage
- 2002 Château Guiraud
- 2007 HoldvölgyTokaji Aszú Culture
The 10 teams of four contestants battled it out to guess the origin, quality level, variety or key varieties, ageing potential and aromas of each wines and hazard a guess at the RRP of a 750ml bottle before the sheets were handed over to the judges for marking.
The winning team was announced as Team 7: The Hong Kong Wine Society Team 2 with Sarah Heller (team leader), Linden Wilkie, Kevin Tang and Alan Kwok who each won a Sensis Distal wine fridge and a three-day visit to Holdvölgy in Tokaj, in second place was Team 1: The Hong Kong Wine Society Team 1 with Roland Muksch (team leader), Ron Taylor, Claudio Salgado and Houghton Lee who won a masterclass and lunch at St Hallett in the Barossa for four people and a Corsican wine masterclass hosted by Vins de Corse Asia area manager, Vincent Cervoni.
In third place came the Openwines Team 9 with Stephen Lau (team leader), Salina Fok, Ruby Cheng, SK Ng. However a special mention goes to Team 2 The Knights Who Say Ni in fourth place with Stephen Gore (team leader), John Dibble, Patrick Siewert and Keith Pogson who only missed the joint third place by one point!
Overall, the judges were impressed with the level of knowledge demonstrated by the teams. Lee Watson said: “It was an outstanding effort made by all teams and we were astonished at the accuracy of some of their answers,” while Kimberley commented, “What a great event! I thought the wines were well-chosen, solid examples of typicity from each selected region and there were some impressive groups of blind tasters. Plus, it was for a great cause – all in all, a successful, fun evening.”
Debra playfully pointed out that Team 8 The 100-Pointers, “broke new ground by their descriptors and captured the judges’ attention by describing the Riesling as smelling of cashews…followed by shellfish!”,Team 10 Adrian’s Team were the “sexiest for spelling ‘Zinfandel’ with an X” and Team 3 “came up with some interesting options – such as Dolcetto – and showed some promise, but they left a wine completely blank. Reminds me of the MW exam: Timing! Timing! Timing!”
Stephen Mack also emphasized the role that formal wine education plays in Hong Kong’s wine industry as the top three teams had a strong presence of MW students and WSET Diploma graduates.