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Uncorked: Elias El Daif

Elias El Daif is the owner of Figaro, the latest bistro and wine bar to hit Hong Kong’s dining scene with ex-Akrame chef, Jon Irwin at the helm. El Daif carefully sources wines from all over France, Spain and Italy but has an affection for wines from Lebanon – his beloved home country. He started his professional life working in public policy for the French Government before following his heart to work in hospitality which led him to Hong Kong. He speaks to dbHK about drinking Chambertin with Dumas and Napoleon and where he feels happiest.

What vintage are you? 

1979. Unfortunately it wasn’t really an exceptional vintage but was quite good for sweet Bordeaux wines.

What bottle sparked your love of wine?

It was two! Bonnes Mares Domaine George Roumier 2005 and La Mouline Guigal 1992.  Perhaps not the best bottles ever made but these ones I really remember. Ever since I have been a big fan of Côte de Nuits and Côte-Rôtie

What would you be as a wine?

A red from the Côte de Beaune.

Where are you happiest?

I am easy and can be happy in many places. But it would undoubtedly be somewhere in the countryside or mountains.

What’s your greatest vice?

A passion for single malts. Most recently I’ve taken to expressions from the Scottish Lowlands.

Best advice you ever got?

Do not go in this addictive business – i.e. the drinks trade!

Most overused word?

In the trade I hear a whole bunch of words used when someone feels that they have to give a technical opinion about a wine – whether it is fruity, mineral, acidic, etc. Sometimes we should take easy and just appreciate wine for its sake.

Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?

Most probably a Vosne-Romanée – Les Jachées from Domaine Bizot and Aux Brulées of Meo Camuzet – one in each hand! On the way out, I will try to get a Clos de la Mouchère of Boillot, it’s just next to the door!

What’s the best and worst thing about the wine business?

In Hong Kong, the market is very competitive and mature which makes the business exciting but very challenging .

What’s on your wine bucket list?

A lot. But maybe I’d start with some wines from lesser known French regions and then perhaps some Barolo and Rioja wines. There also a couple of rums I’d like to get my hands on.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Napoleon or Alexandre Dumas to share a glass of Gevrey-Chambertin with them. Chambertin was Napoleon’s favourite wine and Dumas once said: “Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin.” I’d tell them to also enjoy it without water as before, they mixed wine with equal parts water.

Normally, I just enjoy drinking with my friends whom I think and taste wines with every week in Figaro!

Personal satisfaction (Parker points – out of 100)

Average to okay. I feel there are still so many wines to discover and drink! It never stops.

Which wine would you like served at your funeral?

Jurancon of Dagueneau. Something sweet and fun.

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Yes, take me to the Asia edition No