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Rhone Rangeing in Hong Kong


I was very lucky to be invited to another dinner this week. The theme this time was Rhone “Rangers”, further proof, if it was needed, that Hong Kong is not quite the Bordeaux only drinking town some people assume it to be.

In fact when, towards the end of the evening, I suggested that”we really must have a Bordeaux evening soon”, the response was “ok, but lets do another Pinot night first.” Don’t get me wrong Bordeaux plays a big part in the wine drinking culture of Hong Kong but other wines are also getting a chance to strutt their stuff.

The wines were served in flights and first up we had two glorious whites from the Rhone, Hermitage Blanc Chave 1999 with Hermitage Le Meal Chapoutier 1999. The Chapoutier in a more advanced stage than the Chave but I felt both wines were probably at their prime although others felt they needed more time. Both had excellent concentration and good enough acidity to suggest they could be kept longer but I like acidity in my whites so, if I had them in my cellar, they would be in my “next set of victims” category.


On to the reds – an excellent, now fully mature and spicy 1984 Grange that was not yet in decline, but as good as its ever going to get, alongside a fully ripe and if possible meaty, yet fine, Hermitage La Chapelle Jaboulet 1989.


Next up a brilliant duo. Clarendon Hills Astralis 1996 (concentrated sure, yet dignified, almost restrained, showing really well with life ahead) against a quite lovely Cote Rotie La Landonne Guigal 1996 (bit of pepper and spice, touch of leather but with a cleanness and elegant complexity that grew in the glass) which was one of the stars of the evening. Interesting.


Then three wines, two of which were new to me. Hundred Acre Barossa Vally Shiraz 04 made from vines that went into Grange before they started making their own wine, and Sine Qua Non Syrah In Flagrante 2000. The SQN was sexy, exotic and spicy, yet balanced. The third wheel was a very modern 2000 Clos des Truffieres from the Coteaux de Languedoc. Of the three I’d like to have the SQN in my cellar.


Then two more reds from California, BIG reds…Turley Hayne Vineyard Petite Syrah 2001 (rich, oaky, powerful, tannic, modern, hard to get to know) followed by a much friendlier, kinder, easier Scholium Project Babylon Petite Syrah 2003.


Back to earth now with two great 1981 Chateauneuf du Pape’s. Beaucastel was in tip top form despite coming from perfect cellar temperature into the warmth, being decanted and poured immediately. The Rayas was slighly oxidised so difficult to judge accurately.


On to two sweeties, a really quite brilliant Romano del Forno Nettare 1995 made in Soave from late havested Gargenega. New to me and a wine to seek out. Then a really excellent Tommaso Bussola Recioto della Valpolicello Classico, also from 1995.


Then there was a vote to see if we needed to open a bottle of Taylor 1963. My arm was the first up and I managed to coax a few others so one of hosts generously pulled the cork. So youthful, so sweet and pure. Great finish to a lovely evening.

Happy days…