Summary of the great 2017 vintage for reds and whites.Read More
I have been back in Hong Kong for a while now (something that you would have noticed if you follow me over on Instagram @thisyoungwino) but have busy adjusting to the new job and blowing off steam well...on Steam.
After coming back from gallivanting solo on Sicily for two weeks, I quickly set off to Taiwan on a trip that has actually been well planned in advance with my former colleagues. Originally we went in hope of being able to secure a reservation at RAW, André Chiang's new venture in his home country but ever since getting ranked on Asia Top 50, it has been impossible.
No matter! Actually Taiwan has always had great culinary traditions, from simple soy milk (豆漿) breakfast to street food plus more many more in between, so we weren't lacking in options. Last minute, a friend advised me to go to Ephernité - a tiny French menu-less restaurant (seriously don't even bother asking what kind of foods you will be eating), who had this unicorn of a wine available on their menu - Domaine de Trévallon 2010.
Domaine de Trévallon is not unknown per se but it flies under the radar because it is basically a ghost in even in a city like Hong Kong, where you can find almost anything anywhere. However I would venture that you can find more Henri Jayers and DRCs here than a single bottle of Domaine de Trévallon, simply because this wine rarely makes it out of France, let alone all the way far east. I first tried a Domaine de Trévallon 2005 during a blind tasting and was extremely and utterly MINDFUCKED by this wine. Obviously on the palate, it was from a warm ripe region but with finesse so I thought perhaps Northern Rhone. However the nose is unmistakably Bordeaux so where could this wine be from? Turns out neither was right, rather it was in Alpilles, Provence, located not far from Avignon. And the grape varietals? Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It was formerly an AOC wine but was downgraded in 1993 to a 'Vin de Pays' because the winemaker Eloi Durrbach refused to change the percentage blend – proof that one should always trust his/her gut. Ever since, I tried many an amazing bottles but none had quite the same mesmerizing effect as it had. I have been chasing after this bottle for months and I happened upon it in Taipei of all places. Serendipity, if you believe it.
Unfortunately when we did open it, it was corked. It's shite and we all know it happens now and then, particularly with such wines that don't have official distribution in Asia and probably made its way through via the secondary market. Nevertheless because it is such a unicorn of a wine, I was beyond disappointed and visibly sad. Thanks to the immense generosity of manager-sommelier Claude, co-owner and husband to chef Vanessa, shared his last bottle of 1!9!9!9!
Domaine de Trévallon 1999
Though softened by almost 20 years of ageing, it needed time to open fully. However once it did, it opened up like a Provence poppy in full boom. A blend of red and black fruits with solid mineral savoriness on the nose, it had immense structure yet complete elegance. It is punchy on the palate and delivers depth and richness, however with a soft and deft hand that is just right. Lush and gorgeous as a field of flowers in a midsummers dream.
Thanks again to Marco Gadea for the recommendation and Ephernité for their generosity.
Restaurant Ephernité No. 233, Anhe Road Sec. 2, Daan District, Taipei TAIWAN
T: +886 (0)2-2732-0732
E : firstname.lastname@example.org
I was chatting with a friend earlier on the rise of natural wines on IG – particularly those from smaller boutique estates from Loire and Beaujolais that provide great value for money. Thanks to fantastic marketing, cute labels and great efforts by different sommeliers/wine writers/importers, natural is HIP and COOL. So commonplace are these that you are staring to see them on even feeds of lifestyle influencers. Export data of Beaujolais published by The Drinks Business substantiates this theory.
At the same time, many has already talked about the Robert Parker-fication of wines and how everybody is moving away from it by creating more nuanced wines with more finesse and complexity.
One particular victim of this shift of tastes is the Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Less and less clients ask for it, rather honing in smaller special labels from Piedmonte, Loire, Beaujolais or even more obscure regions like Jura or Savoie. However when bringing it up to even existing clients who use to buy them, many comment saying somethings along with the line of "it's too much for me", "too chewy and can't wait that long" etc.
Older CdPs, such as the Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Speciale 1998 I had recently, are fantastic. Rich, textured, complex and intense, personally they are like the more interesting cousins of Bordeaux. Newer younger CdPs is harder to drink young and are much less approachable, especially amongst novice casual drinkers.
While CdPs from top estates are still considered an essential part of many private wine collections, at least amongst trendier restaurants they have much weaker footholds. Burgundy, Bordeaux and Northern Rhone will continue to be strong mainstays however the rest of the wine list has to be shared by other regions new and old.
Will CdPs as a region evolve and follow the lead set by Château Rayas long ago and make elegant, anti-Robert Parker types of wines? With global warming on the rise and finesse harder to achieve with the excessive heat, it will prove to be a challenge.
*Oh and the Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St. Jacques 2005 was bloody fantastic. Not that you didn't know already.