Now, choosing your wines.
Marsanne is a Rhône valley variety that shows rich fruit and aromatics in its own refreshing style. Acid is low, body is high, fruit is powerful. Some people even call it a ‘chubby’ wine, which in short means it will be rather mouth-filling compared with higher acid, lighter whites. Traditionally used for blending in France with Syrah, and its ‘sister’ grape Roussanne, as a single varietal goes with fish and Asian spices - but be warned the higher alcohol can make fresh chilis really pack a punch! This wine can age a little - hazelnuts appear where the citrus once was, but I don’t like seeing all that fresh fruit disappear for my afternoon drinks, so drink now! Try and see if you can taste that white peach from the Little Rara rosé in this white, but riper, with some apricot as well. The minerality makes it very food friendly - definitely some nice complexity.
Chardonnay got overhauled in Australia after years of being known for high alcohol oak bombs putting a lot of people off the grape for life (ABC - Anything But Chardonnay). Today bespoke wine producers have risen to the chardonnay challenge as the plantings from the 80’s reach maturity and offer more concentrated fruit. A better understanding of the grape, an ear to the ground for what people want, this blank canvas grape speaks now more about the vineyard than the winemaking thumbprint (this grape is actually quite non-aromatic, and therein lies the challenge for the winemaker). Bondar has a soft butter note, fuller body than a steely Chablis (also a chardonnay, but cooler climate and less ripe), with flavours of rockmelon and peach. All on a leash with 25% new oak, aged on lees (expired yeast) for a few months for roundness, and partial malolactic fermentation leaves competing acids for complexity. If it were from Burgundy, it would be closer to a Pouilly Fuisse in style, a sign of Aussie winemakers bringing ideas and skills back from the old world, with a cool Aussie twist (and a great beach-vibe label!).
So now we have a gameplan for an afternoon at-home wine tasting - glassware with a purpose, four different wines and a soundtrack to boot.
Bacon and eggs, chorizo, french toast, these delights need the acid that comes from sparkling wine to cut through the fat and give a refreshing edge. Tar and Roses King Valley Prosecco (HK$180) will be beside my morning feed - early harvests in the cool King Valley means high acid grapes with strong citrus and green apple flavours, with the second fermentation in tank to preserve these pure flavours. Citrus, grapefruit, refreshing acidity - it’s a crowd pleaser and even if you have only a few glasses of it think about some Aperol Spritz with the leftovers before lunch (90ml Aperol, 90ml Prosecco, 30ml club soda and some orange to garnish). Now - if you’re looking for the big old sparkling “pop” like on the F1 podium, you’re not going to get it from this bottle - it has a crown cap! Expect to see more of this from producers in the future who want to preserve the fresh fruit in a drink-now style - so get that beer opener ready for this sparking.
The guests are arriving and they all have different dishes, from cheese to hummus to oysters - time to whip out the Rose. Deep Woods Rosé (HK$230) is not just a great wine but has enough talking points for even the shrudest critic to nod in agreement - winemaker Jules Langworthy won James Halliday’s winemaker of the year a few years back, this rose won rose of the year, it’s in a unique tall bottle so you can reach across the room whilst pouring, towering over it’s peers. There is a bit more structure and boldness in this than a typical pink-wine so it will hold up against a lot of varied dishes, or by itself (and it’s very Instagram-friendly). Margaret River Tempranillo, Shiraz and some Vermentino give this wine backbone, but still holds on to the wild strawberry flavours with a vanillin texture and a hint of spice from the shiraz. Get a few bottles of this one - it disappears quick.
Cabernet Shiraz has become a real Aussie wine representation - the shiraz softens the cabernet, whilst the cabernet gives more backbone for the shiraz. It used to be done more in France, but since the appellation system came in the blending of Rhone Valley Shiraz and Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon would mean operating outside of their strict rules, and so the style sort of faded away. But the Aussies still do it in a typical “She’ll be right” attitude, and that’s a good thing! This is a bold wine, more oak than the Young Blood shiraz and a boldness that means the wine is going to be sitting beside the food, not playing with it - but that’s a good thing when you want to be chatting about wine nuances over a full lunch plate. Gamey flavours that will suit a roast turkey, and a spiciness to the finish. It hasn’t got the knock your socks off characteristic of the 100% cabernet sauvignon which is good because not a lot of Christmas food can handle the tannin - bold, ripe fruit, ready to exist besides the meal so people will remember it.
Sparkles, rosé, great reds. It’s a winning combo.
We sit down with Jock Auld, Co-Founder of Auld Family Wines for a deep and meaningful on what it all means....
Auld Family Wines is the work of brothers, Sam and Jock Auld. They produce great value South Australian wine for the Australian domestic market, and export to Hong Kong and China. Their wines are available through Wine Brothers for home delivery through out Hong Kong.
Christmas is upon us and it is the season to be merry! You certainly won’t need any help from us trying to find a place in Hong Kong to be merry, but if the darker and cooler December days have convinced you that place is with friends and family, on your couch with a winter warmer, then check out this Wine Brothers tried and tested traditional mulled wine recipe from festive guru Jamie Oliver.
Ingredients (serves 4)
• 2 bottles of red wine left in the sun over summer
• 2 clementines
• 200g caster sugar
• 6 whole cloves
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 whole nutmeg, for grating
• 1 vanilla pod
• 2 whole star anise
• 1 lemon
• 1 lime
1. Peel large sections of peel from the clementines, lemon and lime.
2. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice.
3. Add the cloves and cinnamon stick, along with about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan, then stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
4. Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a thick syrup. This creates a good flavour base, and really lets the sugar and spices infuse the wine. You need to make the syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you use both bottles of wine too early, it will burn off the alcohol.
5. When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add the star anise, along with the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine for around 5 minutes, and then ladle into heatproof glasses to serve.
Be sure to adjust your measurements to accommodate for quantity and have fun tasting as you go, sometimes a splash of wine is not enough!
Serious Small Batch. Seriously Good. This summarises what our friends at Pontifex wines are doing. Pontifex, as a brand new project, is the husband-wife effort of Sam and Helen Clarke. They are passionate about small batch wine and are passionate about putting their own name to a project.
Pontifex Wines has launched in Hong Kong and we at Wine Brothers could not be more excited about what they are doing.