Off the beaten track wine regions

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Tersina Shieh   January 2020
Finding hidden gems 

Welcome to 2020, the year of the Rat! 

2019 was a full on year with not only wine related activities. It was also an emotional year for most of us. Therefore, I am glad that I could still manage to have travelled to three wine regions, all unique and inspiring in their own ways.  

The most impressed trip was the four-day  whirlwind visit to Colchagua, a sub-region of Central Valley in Chile. The organiser, Colchagua Singular, is an association of small wineries where the owners must be hands on and annual production not more than 50,000 bottles. Some of the eleven members are still finding their styles and perfecting the skills but they are all passionate. A few memorable wines were a Carignan made from an abandoned vineyard by Villalobos, a partial skin contact Semillon from a 1928 vineyard by Maturana Wines, and Zafarrancho, a blend of all leftover wine by Vinos Lugarejo. They are a far cry from the big players that dominated the Chilean wine industry. Full article here.

Although I have visited South Africa 15 times, there are always something new to discover. Bill & Co Swartland Street Market is a perfect place to explore Swartland wine under the guidance of capable Johan if you are time short to visit the wineries. This is also the hangout joint of winemakers so chances are you will be sharing a drink or two with them and learn more about their philosophy. Johan recommended me a case of assorted wines that I haven’t come across. 

The most unexpected wine region I visited was Jura, the smallest region in France sandwiched between Burgundy and Alsace. Its wines may not be as famous and its neighbours’ but they are certainly interesting with a rustic charm. Savagnin can be sparkling (Crémant), dry (fruity or oxidative style), Vin Jaune, Vin de Paille (naturally sweet wine) and Macvin du Jura (liqueur wine). A seldom known fact is that the most widely planted grape varieties in Jura are actually Chardonnay and Pinot Noir! Full article here.

2020 began with another wine trip on 1st January to Hebei and the highland of Yunnan where vineyards are located in remote areas at altitude between 2,000m and 2,800m. Watch out for Domaine Franco-Chinois and Canaan 詩百篇 from Hebei (not available in Hong Kong yet), and Xiaoling from Yunnan (available from Watson’s Wine). Will share more on these wineries in my blog. 

Drawing inspiration from these travels, I am planning wine events with a twist. Watch out for some excited South African and German parties, amongst others! 

2020 preview
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We trust you have discovered South African wine by now so we are renaming our annual April campaign to Spectacular South Africa, a word that every visitor utters no matter how many times they have been to the Cape Winelands. We’d also like to welcome nine exciting brands: BLANKbottle, Boshcendal, Craven, Crystallum, David & Nadia, DeMorgenzon, Gabriëlskloof, Leeu Passant and Mullineux. You can now find them in Hong Kong alongside other premium South African wine.

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This annual, market-wide campaign is to celebrate South Africa’s Freedom Day on 27th April. We welcome F&B outlets and retailers to devise their Spectacular South Africa campaign to excite their customers. Last year, Wooloomooloo won the trade competition and the prize was a trip to the Cape Winelands.. Let me know if you want to be part of the campaign.

Video ThumbnailThe annual tasting, raved by guests as an event full of vibes and enthusiasm, will return this year in the format of African marketplace with even more fun, creativity, and of course yummy wines on 23rd April (Thursday). Stay tuned for ticketing and more information. Enquiries here.

Don’t forget these key South African events: 

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20th June: #DrinkChenin Day

1st September: #CapClassiqueDay

24th September: Braai Day

10th October: #PinotageDay

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And a big congratulation to Derek Li, Group Sommelier from JIA Group who competed against 10 top sommeliers from around the world and won the third place at WOSA Sommelier Cup 2019. The other Asian sommeliers at the finals were Chek Wong from Singapore and Taku Iguru from Japan. Stay tuned for the next Sommelier Cup in 2022.

Watch Derek’s performance at the here:

WOSA SommCup 2019 Final, Asian finalist highlight

Follow WOSA Hong Kong on Facebook

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Last year we introduced German Wine x Asparagus promotion in Riesling Weeks Hong Kong June campaign and it was a huge success. Therefore this promotion will be extended to all Riesling Weeks participants this year. We invite sommeliers and beverage mangers to work with their chefs to create asparagus menus to go with mouth-watering German wine. Please contact me for more information.

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Wines of Germany runs the Best Campaign Award to recognise the effort of the best 10 participants. The 2019 top three winners were Duddell’s, Conrad Hong Kong and Maximal Concepts. Their prizes were a Germany Sommelier Class trip, Marie Claire Hong Kong one page advertisement and Vintec 120 bottles wine cabinet respectively. Well done all winners!

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We are honoured to have the 71st German Wine Queen, Angelina Vogt from Nahe, for the kick-off tasting on 5th June (Friday) where over 100 German wines will be featured. Angelina will also conduct various wine events during the second week of June at Riesling Weeks' outlets. You can book a slot with Angelina here.

Watch the German Wine x Asparagus Foodie’s Riesling Ride here:

Riesling Weeks Hong Kong 2019 Foodie Riesling Ride

Follow Riesling Weeks Hong Kong on Facebook

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The Vintage Port Academy celebrated its 10th anniversary last year! The Academy, with the aim of promoting the appreciation of premium port, started with one workshop in Hong Kong in 2010 and now conducting workshops in six cities: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Seoul and Tokyo. All attendees have to pass the examination before becoming alumni of the Academy. The 1,000th student to become alumni was Cheng Teng Teng from Park Square in Beijing 2019 workshop, and she was awarded the VPA wooden box containing 6 half-bottles of 2000 vintage port, one from each member of VPA. 

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We also ran an Aged Tawny Port Photography Competition for alumni and the winner was James Teng from The Middle 
House in Shanghai, who took home 6 x 75cl 10YO Tawny port, one from each member in a tailor-made wooden box. James graduated from the VPA in 2014 when he was a sommelier at Hakkasan. 

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The trade tasting this year showed the newly release 2017 Vintage ports and a selection of earlier vintages. This is the first time to have two back to back declared vintages (2016 and 2017). If you missed the 2016 vintage, here’s your chance again. 

The VPA workshops are open to F&B trade and front line service staff. Please get in touch if you would like to attend. 

Follow Vintage Port Academy on Facebook. VPA alumni can join the Facebook VPA Alumni group or WeChat group.

Stay tuned
I’m contributing to these publications and websites, hope you will find the readings interesting. 
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CULTURE Magazine, Hong Kong, China
Cru Magazine, Hong Kong
Foodie, Hong Kong
OpenRice, Hong Kong
Global Gourmet, China
WINE, China
And Facebook is always the platform for the latest news.

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