Wine Blog

3 ways to get serious about your Home Drinking.
Nick Willcock December 23, 2020

3 ways to get serious about your Home Drinking.

Drinks at home have always been the best way to catch up with friends. With bar closures and dining options limited, why not bring the wine tasting home? Crisp rose and cool fuller body whites are the way to go when staring down some charcuterie with friends, so what are the three things to get right for that relaxed wine-hang? Easy - wine glasses, the wine and some great music.
So, where to start? 


1) Treat yo’ self to some awesome glassware (‘Stemware’ if you want to get real fancy)

Why do we care about wine glasses? Without getting too scientific, or pretentious, think of a glass as the loudspeaker for your wine - it’s there to amplify all the best features of the drink. Take the Aussie designed Plumm 1 universal glass (HK$495 for a pack). A universal glass doesn’t have as large an aroma collector like a white wine glass, or an oversized bowl for red wine aeration - it is a compromise, which when you are short of space in a Hong Kong apartment is more important than 20 different glass sizes for wines “just in case”. A thin rim for sipping with ease, thin crystal stem, and pouring enough wine to allow a good swirl without spilling all over the house poodle is the way to go when it comes to glassware. Pour, inspect, swirl, sniff, think, taste, enjoy! It’s not all that hard, just don’t use a coffee mug.

2) Go unique. Set your own pairings.

Everyone has a different opinion on what to order when it comes to wine. A wine you have tried before and know is a great place to start - crisp sauvignon blancs, shiraz with a steak, everyone has a style or a pairing that’s a ‘go-to’. But we like using home drinks to try new wines, especially against varied finger food where you can see what goes and what doesn’t. Plus - trying a new variety is such a great talking point with friends, a rabbit hole for you to go down googling tasting notes, or just something to mix it up if you’re tired of the usual suspects.

3) Music + Wine. It is science. 

A great glass of wine needs the right music. The Hong Kong construction site sounds don’t quite cut it - and equally so turning it up to 11 and drowning it all out with trance won’t do. It’s called sensory masking - if the tunes are too loud your other senses get drowned out. Also, some studies have shown the sense of smell is the quickest to tire. This means all those aromatics and flavours will be lost! So crank up the beach vibes, acoustic sessions, or something to let your mind wander, the wines open up and the good times roll.

Now, choosing your wines.

Little Rara Rosè and Bondar Rosè

Rosè is more than a colour for winemakers - it’s a passion, an unending quest for balance between crisp acidity and fruit forward ripe grapes. In a way almost all wines are blends in one way or another, and rosé is no different. Two wines to try are the Little Rara (HK$190) and the Bondar Rose (HK$160). These are made in two different styles - Little Rara uses free run Shiraz (which means the grape is not overworked to get flavor but the colour is rich and pure) co-fermented Sauvignon blanc (a white grape, but giving roundness and acid to the shiraz). Bondar has Grenache with cinsault through a more Provence style from the South of France - a lighter rose, still dry but with a more fruit forward approach. Put them up against each other (don’t worry, they are screw caps do you can easily reseal) and see what’s your style, and does your preference change after a few glasses?
Both bottles have fresh strawberries, with Little Rara having some white peach from the riper sauvignon blanc, and the Bondar holding a gentle rose water. Sunset drinks, finger food, chicken skewers and hummus - sip away and pick away. 
Onto the Aussie whites! As winemakers in Australia travel the world in the ‘off-season’ after their own harvest, new grapes varieties and know-how in producing great wines come back to the land down under. If you’re getting two whites to go with your great rosés, here are my picks!
All Saints Marsanne  (HK$180)

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.

Bondar Chardonnay (HK$220)

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.


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Top 4 tips for Christmas Wine Pairings this year...#2020
Nick Willcock December 23, 2020

Top 4 tips for Christmas Wine Pairings this year...#2020

1. Christmas Morning Deserves Sparkling Wine

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.

2. Pink Wine For Finger Food

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. 

3. Great Reds for Great Lunches

Christmas mains have a bit of everything - creams, fats, meat, roast salad, prawns. This makes a one-size-fits-all wine near impossible to find, so you have to have a wine that goes with the flow, or one that pushes back. For the sake of the argument, I’m going to go for two reds just to prove that two very different styles can work very nicely.
Tomfoolery Young Blood Shiraz (HK$180) has been one of my favorite wines of 2020. Barossa shiraz, lovely bold flavours from ripe fruit and made in an off-dry style. A lot of winemakers are doing this now because sugar makes a young wine very appealing on its own, and easier to pair - which is great for a wide selection of dishes on Christmas Day. A small amount of residual sugar means the flavours won’t be competing on your palate if there is some sweetness in the dish - glazing on the ham, a chocolate dipped strawberry, some very rich berries with the turkey leg. An uncomplicated wine that is going to pair with almost everything at the table. Red plums, minimal oak, a minerality and tannins are kept smooth.

But if you want to go the other way - try something more bold….

A) Son of a Gun shiraz, Tomfoolery (HK$210)

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.

B) The Sang de Pigeon Shiraz, Michael Hall (HK$240)

This shiraz is a show stopper, and a great Barossa shiraz. Blackberry, sarsaparilla, black fruit and even some black olive saline quality at the end against chalky tannin. Would I decant? No, because you’ll miss the first act of this play as the wine opens up - it’s a beautiful drop to be experienced in it’s entirely. Handpicked from the Northern Grounds, known for opulent and rich grapes. Red brown earth over sand means yield are low, concentration is high and the tannins are chalky and the wine keeps its structure. Violet and spice on the nose, redcurrent runs through the palate along with ripe cooked cherries and allspice. This bottle seems to disappear quickly every time we bring it out! 

Sparkles, rosé, great reds. It’s a winning combo.

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Whistler Wines - The 'New' Barossa
Wine Brothers Media July 28, 2019

Whistler Wines - The 'New' Barossa

Whistler Wines are not the new kids on the block in the Barossa Valley, but they are certainly creating some noise. Hear how Josh and Sam are changing the face of Australian Wine...

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Auld Family Wines
Wine Brothers Media June 25, 2019

Auld Family Wines - Behind the scenes

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. 

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Fox Gordon - Wine is fashion
Wine Brothers Media April 19, 2019

Fox Gordon - Wine is fashion

"Like a good book, an inspiring song or a little black dress, wine is meant to be fun and make you feel fabulous." Sarah Atkins - Fox Gordon Wines

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Meet Mary Hamilton, CEO of Hugh Hamilton Wines
Wine Brothers Media March 01, 2019

Meet Mary Hamilton, CEO of Hugh Hamilton Wines

Mary Hamilton is the 6th generation of one of Australia's oldest wine making families and also just happens to be the CEO. Mary first started her career in the cut-throat industry of advertising before finding her way home to the family business where she ignited her entrepreneurial skills to help build the Hugh Hamilton brand and business to what it is today. 
Most of you know and love Hugh Hamilton Wines and would be familiar with the Black Sheep on the label and the names such as 'Trickster', 'Floozie', 'Rascal', 'Mongrel' and more... and so we asked Mary about her background, wines, Hong Kong and more.
Tell us about your background and how you ended up back in wine?
 Wine was all around me as I was growing up, some families have water on the table, we had wine. The smell of barrels and wineries is fundamental to childhood sensory memory. Perhaps it is because it was so unremarkable that I never considered a career in it. There were two things growing up that I liked – glamorous magazine ads and understanding why people do the things that they do. Early on I decided that the world of advertising was for me and I plotted my path to it via work experience and study. I really began at the bottom of the ladder in what was probably the lowest paid ad job in Sydney, but it was a foot in the door and that is often all that a young person needs to begin. I ended up working on lots of big brands and my last assignment was running the brand and creative work within McCann Erickson for Penfolds, Lindemans, Wynns, Rosemount and a swag of other brands – it was a pivotal experience and I left the industry on a high. Not long after I received a call from my Dad in McLaren Vale saying he needed marketing help, so I did some part time work for him from interstate; I found that I loved the variety of being in a small busy business that was growing. That was 16 years go and I now run the company and still find it just as stimulating. I realised that I am entrepreneurial not corporate, but you can get a lot of great lessons from different styles of work.    
 You've been to HK... how does the wine scene differ here than from Australia?
Australians by and large like to drink Australian wine, it probably because most of us have a connection to our wine regions which Hong Kong doesn’t have. Hong Kong is a global market with a more global approach and a strong base of European wines, so Australian wines are just part of the choice. It’s a fascinating market because it is a crossroads of east and west – the gateway to China yet with a strong expatriate community of people from western countries. What we all have in common however is that we have plenty of choice when it comes to wine and that our taste buds don’t lie. Across the world people love Australian wines because they are flavoursome, generous and straightforward in labelling, price and variety.
What is your greatest challenge in producing and selling great wine?
It is very expensive to produce wines in the manner that we do. Owning vineyards and running them as a patchwork of small exquisite parcels is very time consuming and costly – it would be cheaper to buy other people’s grapes or wine and just label it as ours, but that’s not our approach. Small production runs are also very cost prohibitive but we love little gems and experimenting with blends and varieties that are not commonplace. We have great authentic stories which are essential in an age of mass produced copycat wines; the issue these days is that we all spend so much time plugged into technology that our attention for hearing stories and digging deeper into them has diminished and wines made with love need time to tell their story and to appreciate them when you drink them. Learning to be more mindful will be a skill for the future – forget the adult colouring in books, grab a great glass of Shiraz and slow you brain down smelling and tasting it!     
What wine would you choose if you could only choose one?
The ‘Bloodline’ Grenache. To celebrate 180 years of our family growing grapes and making wine we wanted to do something special and put together three wines that represented the first three grape varieties that were planted in South Australia 180 years ago, which were Shiraz, Grenache and Pedro Ximenez. The real joy is that it was my great great, great, grandfather who planted those first vines. He was a real black sheep, as well as being a pioneer, so we created his smuggler’s bounty box (he had a colourful past). The Grenache we made for this box is divine – bursting with fresh red raspberry & spice, very fine tannins, really elegant acid line that makes it refreshing yet silky smooth.   
Best music to pair with Hugh Hamilton Wine's 'The Mongrel'
The first sip of Mongrel is classic aperitif, it gets the saliva glands going and ready for a meal. I like this wine very much with Mediterranean cuisine, particularly a nice oily spaghetti with cherry tomatoes that have caramelised in the oil, garlic & chilli, add capers, Kalamata olives and maybe an anchovy in the background for some salty flavour depth, fresh basil and tangy parmesan cheese to top. In that frame of mind which is upbeat and pretty soulful, I love to cook, drink and eat. All of this goes so well with Motown – think The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, The Temptations – oooh yeah!   

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Mulled wine for your merriment
Wine Brothers Media December 14, 2018

Mulled wine for your merriment

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!

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Pontifex Wines - NEW Summer 2018
Wine Brothers Media July 27, 2018

Pontifex Wines - NEW Summer 2018

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. 

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Melbourne Cup 2017 Hong Kong
Wine Brothers Media November 12, 2017

Melbourne Cup - Angels for Orphans

Melbourne Cup 2017
The biggest day of the Australian Racing Carnival?
An all-star team of sponsors including Farmers Kitchen, St James Place Wealth Management and Amber Rebellion. 

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The Barossa Valley Vs McLaren Vale....
Wine Brothers Media January 17, 2017

The Barossa Valley Vs McLaren Vale....

We at Wine Brothers have fallen in love with South Australia. It could be the beaches, it could be the long lunches, or it simply could be the bloody good wine. We thought about writing an article. That didn't work well. Then we thought about getting an expert. That was too serious. Then we called Sam (who, despite popular belief, is a professional journalist, but the cool kind), and here we are....

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A glass a day, keeping the doctor away?
Wine Brothers Media August 11, 2016

A glass a day, keeping the doctor away?

Hong Kong may not be renowned for its moderation and, truth be told, drinking and excess went hand-in-hand in the fragrant harbour long before Allan Zeman got hold of Lan Kwai Fong and created a beast.

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