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HK somms see room for grower Champagnes

Hong Kong sommeliers have voiced their opinion that an increasingly sophisticated Champagne drinking market in Hong Kong has opened the door for grower Champagnes.

Speaking to the drinks business at Imperatrice’s portfolio tasting of grower Champagnes several sommeliers commented on the willingness of Hong Kongers to try new Champagnes suggested by them, ranging from vintage to blanc de blancs and noirs – even if one style hasn’t yet broken free of the pack as a clear favourite.

Yves Nizan, the new hotel sommelier for the Grand Hyatt, said that the new Champagne bar was offering a tasting flight of three different Champagne styles which would allow the bars sommelier, Patty Sze, to “talk about these differences”.

Furthermore, Nizan thought that Burgundy’s increasing popularity could be beneficial for grower Champagnes as well.

“We still want to have the big houses but with people understanding Burgundy and the specifics of appellations and terroirs this helps grower Champagne,” he said.

Sze added that especially when it came to by-the-glass servings, consumers were looking for different things and happy to be offered something different.

She said that vintage was a popular choice and blanc de blancs as well, “especially for ladies” though preferences were still “quite diverse”.

Yvonne Cheung, director of wine at The Upper House, agreed that while most Champagne drinkers were “still comfortable with the big names”, there were many sommeliers “who have been integral to bringing grower Champagnes to their customers and making a market for it.”

Likewise, Bhatia Dheeraj, chief sommelier at The Peninsula, said that while there was a clientele that still demanded Cristal and Dom Pérignon, there was also a “gourmet clientele” with “open minds” and “willing to experiment with grower Champagnes.

“It’s still a very small percentage,” he said, “but it’s growing gradually.”

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