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Wine picks for Chinese New Year

The Year of the Ram (or possibly sheep or then again maybe goat) is upon us once more, celebrations begin on Thursday 19 February and last for a week.

Guy Ruston, managing director of Bordeaux Index Hong Kong, explains what lies in store: “Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is one of the best occasions for unabashed feasting anywhere in the world. The sheer variety and volume of dishes served in any home or restaurant is guaranteed.

“From Poon Choi (a big casserole pot full of seafood, meat, vegetables) to Yu Sheng (raw fish salad) or dried oyster with pig’s tongue, to staples such as roasted chicken and  suckling  pig, pairing the right wine with such a diverse array of ingredients is difficult.”

About to experience the full force of Chinese New Year in situthe drinks business decided to canvas Hong Kong’s merchants and auctioneers for their top fine wine choices and the span was surprising.

As well as the obligatory Bordeaux (and one vintage and label in particular), responses covered Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône and tawny Port, a diverse and pleasing array of wines .

So click through, see what you think, let us know what you’ll be drinking and to everyone – Gong Hay Fat Choy!

Bonhams – 2000 Mouton Rothschild

OK, so it had to show up at some point, so why not first? As Katherine Wong of Bonhams’ Hong Kong wine department explains, in the Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram (all seem to be acceptable), the ultimate gift is perhaps the famous “Augsburg Ram” on the 2000 Mouton Rothschild bottle.

It has it all, the ram symbol – in gold – and it’s red Bordeaux. It may not be the most surprising choice and there may be some debate as to how long-term the impact of Chinese New Year is on certain labels but there’s little doubt that more than a few bottles will probably be opened and enjoyed over the weekend.

Bordeaux Index – 2001 Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Guy Ruston: “My pick for this year is Chateau de Beaucastel’s 2001 Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

“At under HK$650 per bottle on the table, I can’t think of too many fine wines that offer better value. Perfectly mature, with a fine balance between ripe, generous fruit and more savoury and spicy notes, it’s versatile enough to match a variety of dishes but just as good to quaff on its own too.”

BBR – 2008 Chambolle-Musigny, Patrice et Michèle Rion

Ferorsa Choi, wine club manager: “I have always enjoyed Patrice et Michèle Rion wines, not least their gorgeous Chambolle-Musigny village.

“I always find the Chambolle elegance is great for pairing with Cantonese cuisine and this 2008 is drinking nicely now. There a nice delicacy, with aromas of red cherry and strawberries with a good balance from acidity and minerality.”

Christie’s – 1999 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Schlossberg Cuvée Sainte Catherine L’Inedit

Tim Tiptree, head of sales for Hong Kong: “This powerful Alsace Riesling would match well with the rich flavours of Turnip Cake that is commonly eaten during Lunar New Year and would be a fitting tribute to the legacy left behind by [the recently deceased] Colette Faller of Domaine Weinbach.”

Sotheby’s – 2000 Krug Clos du Mesnil

Following its record-setting, ex-cellar Mouton sale last month, Sotheby’s was keen to recommend the classic (and distinctive) 2000 Mouton with its black and gold bottle.

However, not only was that choice already taken, in a back-up choice the Sotheby’s team listed this superb grande cuvee Champagne.

This April the house will hold a sale in Hong Kong featuring what Sotheby’s head of wine Asia, Robert Sleigh, told the drinks business was probably the greatest collection of Champagne to ever be sold in Asia.

Sotheby’s also had recommendations for New World heavyweights Almaviva and Opus One.

Links Concept – 2011 Jean Louis Chave Selection “Offerus” 

Pierre Legrandois, general manager for Links Concept, picks this Syrah-only wine from the Northern Rhône, saying: “’Offerus’ is a soft, balanced, peppery wine with notes of cassis, tapenade and offers a gorgeous richness. It has a great texture and fine tannins.”

LVMH – 2012 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir

The good folk at Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy suggested this offering from the group’s fine wine portfolio.

With “bittersweet chocolate, dark fruit and spice” on the palate under laid with leather and “hints of earthiness”, LVMH recommends pairing it with soy glazed pork ribs and confit of duck leg.

Fine Vintage – 1969 Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Port

Howard Palmes, managing director: “How about this delightful 1969 Single Harvest Tawny from Graham’s? I suppose the younger brother (sister?) to the 1882 Ne Oublie that we tried in the China Club that day. [Author: ‘Ah, the memories’]

“A lovely Chinese New Year gift with beautiful packaging available direct from us or through Rare & Fine Wines, Bank of East Asia Tower.”

Corney & Barrow – 2010 L’Aurage, Côte de Castillon

Thibaut Mathieu, general manager Asia: “This is a red Bordeaux which is now drinking superbly – a veritable combination of great vintage, great vineyard site (just on the edge of St Emilion in the trendy Cote de Castillon) and a great winemaking family (the Mitjavilles) making the wines – a true rising star perfect for sharing with friends and family over the New Year.”

Altaya – 2000 Château Potensac, Médoc

James Rowell, corporate and VIP sales manager: “I find that whatever people choose to drink at other times of the year, for Chinese New Year it is always red Bordeaux which is most appropriate for gift giving or entertaining.

“This is at a price point that makes it affordable for most budgets and has a great pedigree: it is owned and made by the same team responsible for Léoville Las Cases. This is a wine which needs some time to show its best and the 2000 is drinking very well now.”

Imperatrice – 2006 Chapelle Chambertin Grand Cru, Domaine des Tilleuls

“The history of the Domaine des Tilleuls dates back to 1920, it was originally created by Philippe Livera’s grand father whose family has been selling grapes to big negociant houses in Beaune such as Louis Jadot or Bouchard Pere for decades.

“The Livera family is also related to the Ponsot family through Jacqueline Livera who married Jean Louis Ponsot in the 1970’s. Damien’s wines are impressive examples of the greatness of Gevrey’s terroir, they show deep aromas dark fruits and licorice, with a multidimensional palate of concentrated fruit and a solid yet smooth tannic structure.”

Watson’s – Coravin

“The ultimate wine gift!” says Watson’s Wines’ general manager, Jeremy Stockman in an unusual but highly original pick. Now available in Hong Kong (guess where), the ingenious device allows wine lovers to “access” any wine they want and pour glasses of wine without the need to open the bottle. Very handy if you want to check that Jeroboam of 2000 Mouton is still in good shape before you serve it to your friends and family around the dinner table.

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