Asian Masters round-up

Taking in a variety of wines and spirits, dbHK recently staged a quartet of Masters competitions, to gauge the quality of wines and spirits that are available in Asia.

Thanks to Burgundy, the delicate traits of Pinot Noir have swept through both the Chinese and Hong Kong markets; yet beyond the prestigious region, what else does the variety have to offer? In our 2019 Pinot Noir Masters – Asia competition, the judges had a chance to discover this for themselves.

“The problem for Pinot Noir is the grape is so hard to grow, and as such the production cost is relatively high,” said judge Hugo Poon, head of sourcing at Quintessentially. “At times at retail level, drinkers are faced with a rather expensive price point to get some decent quality.” This held true in our competition because the panel did not think much of samples under HK$200, But there were exceptions, including Aldi’s Exquisite Collection Pinot Noir and the Montalto Pennon Hill Pinot Noir, both of which were Silver medal winners. The former, which was priced under HK$100, revealed a powerful and concentrated palate with a decent finish; while the latter was a good example of “a simple wine in an old world style that’s good value for money”, according to Vincent Chue, manager and sommelier of Lá Bò Lá.

Hahn Pinot Noir from the cool-climate Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County in the US received a Silver medal too. Romain Loriot, founder and managing director at Think Wine Bar, said: “The New World-style Pinot Noir has good intensity, with good integration of oak, pleasant to drink.”

In the lower price range, Pinot Noir being made as rosé wine provoked some positive responses from the judges. Silver awardee McGuigan Rosé 2018 was a particular standout. Moving up to the category of wines costing less than HK$300, the wines became more desirable.

Preparing to judge the Pinot Noir Masters

In recent years, the continuing evolution of New Zealand’s Pinot Noirs has received a lot of attention. Rockburn Pinot Noir 2017, made in Central Otago, is a good example, and its quality was worthy of a Gold in the judges’ eyes. Jean Benoit Issele, founder and executive Sommelier of Think Wine Bar, enjoyed its “rich and smooth layers with silky tannins”.

Santolin did a great job with its two single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, although the judges preferred the one from the Gruyère Vineyard better and awarded it a Gold. Food-and-beverages consultant Yu-Kong Chow liked its “deep and rich palate filled with rose petals, spice and vanilla notes”.

The panel was in awe of Montalto’s Pinot Noirs from Mornington Peninsula. The single-vineyard creations were highly praised by the judges. Merrick’s Block Pinot Noir, one of the Masters winners, reminded Chue of Pinots from Chambolle-Musigny with its pure nose and floral-driven palate. Tuerong Block Pinot Noir attained a Gold medal. Chow reckoned the wine had “fresh acidity, soft tannins and good balance”.

Hailing from California, Duckhorn Protfolio passed with flying colours, receiving two Master medals. Issele said Migration Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir illustrated the best example of Pinot Noir in a New World style with ageing potential; on the other hand, Poon admired Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017 because of its sumptuous flavours, including sweet rose petals, spicy blueberry, nutmeg, violet, perfect integration with its alcohol and a luxurious long finish. He said the wine could have aged up to 10 years. With regards the three Masters, with the exception of Kosta Browne Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2017 which is priced under HK$1,000, the other two fall into the sub-HK$400 category, showing the value for money there is in many New World wine regions.

Pinot Noir Masters – Asia 2019

Company Product Region/Country Medal
Oaked under HK$100
Aldi Aldi Exquisite Collection Pinot Noir South Australia, Australia Silver
Wakefield/Taylors Promised Land Pinot Noir South Australia, Australia Bronze
Oaked under HK$200
Hahn Family Wines Hahn Pinot Noir California/US Silver
Montalto Montalto Pennon Hill Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula, Australia Silver
Corners Mahoney Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir Los Carneros, California, United States Bronze
Viña Cono Sur Cono Sur Single Vineyard Pinot Nor, San Antonio Valley, Chile Bronze
De Bortoli Wine R/Piorvet Lusatia Park Pinot Noir 2018 Yarra Valley, Australia Bronze
De Bortoli Wine Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 Yarra Valley, Australia Bronze
Marisco Vineyards The Kings Wrath 2018 New Zealand Bronze
Australian Vintage Tempus Two Platinum Series 2017 Australia Bronze
Australian Vintage Adelaide Hills 2017 Australia Bronze
Australian Vintage Winemakers Selection Australia Bronze
Oaked under HK$300
Santolin wines pty Santolin Gruyere Vineyard Pinot Noir Yarra Valley, Australia Gold
Duckhorn Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir 2017 California, US Gold
Rockburn Rockburn Pinot Noir 2017 Central Otago, New Zealand Gold
Montalto Montalto Estate Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula, Australia Silver
Santolin Wines Santolin Gladysdale Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Australia Silver
Hahn Family Wines Hahn SLH Pinot Noir California, US Bronze
Wakefield/Taylors Taylor Made Pinot Noir Adelaide Hills, Australia Bronze
Oaked under HK$400
Duckhorn Migration Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017 California, US Master
Montalto Montalto Merricks Block Pinot Noir Australia Master
Montalto Montalto Tuerong Block Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula, Australia Gold
Viña Cono Sur Ocio Pinot Noir Casablanca Valley, Chile Gold
Duckhorn Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2016 California, US Silver
Rockburn Rockburn The Art Pinot Noir 2016, Central Otago, New Zealand Bronze
Oaked under HK$500
Marisco Vineyards The Journey 2015 New Zealand Gold
Oaked under HK$1000
Duckhorn Kosta Browne Russian River Valley 2017 California, US Master
Rosé Oaked HK$200
Australian Vintage McGuigan Rosé 2018 Australia Silver
Judged by Ginsberg
Australian Vintage Nepenthe Altitude Australia Silver

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