When a Belgian falls in love with Sicily and creates of the most iconic wineries on the island.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
Rarely do I try to insert my own personal life in here but last Monday I closed one chapter of my professional career. It was a hard choice to leave the company I worked at; we had amazing wines as well as great group of colleagues that I will sorely miss. Ultimately I think I was starting to get comfortable and if I were to grow in this industry, it was time to move on to other projects and opportunities.
For my farewell party I had the following wines from around the world (despite the fact my company is known foremost as Burgundy experts in town).
Bernard Gripa, Saint Péray " Les Figuiers" 2015: A lovely white made of Marsanne and Roussanne from a small domaine in St. Joseph. This is way to hard to drink young as it's quite full and lush but has definitely lemon, mineral and honey notes that will allow it very well. It is also hard to avoid the bitter notes at this stage.
Mount Mary Vineyard Valley Pinot Noir 2014: Generous of my colleague to share it with me on my last day. The nose and palate had strong almost Beaujolais like characters – dense, fruit forward and ripe – with a reductive character however very refreshing, clean and finesse. A new benchmark for me in terms of the quality of Pinot Noir made down under.
Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015: Again drunk too young but it proves that Rhys is still one of the best Californian pinots produced bar none. Layered, complex and full of rich berry characters and the faintest hint of tobacco, this has the power and opulence to compete with any wines from Gevrey Chambertin.
Philippe Pacalet Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques 2015: I remembered incorrectly that it was a Clos St. Jacques but wow the gusto and pizzazz this beauty gave off was astonishing and made me love this neighboring vineyard all over again. Philippe Pacalet remains one of my favourite natural winemakers (even more so than Bizot – personally I think there is more consistency) for good reason, there is same structure and balance that you would find in more typical Burgundy wines except this has more approachability, delicateness that is found most often in "natural" wines. Opened to soon but so so good to drink now after airing for 2 hours.
As I plan my next move, I have more to update so stay tuned to this space. Apologies for the inconsistent posting lately!
5 days and counting till Christmas day! I will be celebrating Christmas with some friends this Friday. How could I resist bringing a few bottles from work to share? Here are some bottles I've tried and loved this season:
CHARTOGNE TAILLET, Heurtebises 2010 (100% Chardonnay)
Champagne from one of the best new grower champagne producers! This cuvée is one of our most popular this year and I just to try out this blanc de blanc. Lots of complexity, structure and incredible finish. This really something to savour.
LAPIERRE Marcel, Morgon Cuvee Camille 2015 (Magnum)
Delicious Gamay from grand cru Beaujolais! This producer is one of the best in the region and offers wonderfully complex wines that are quite unlike other Beaujolais offerings (particularly Nouveau *shudders*). I cannot recommend bringing magnums to parties enough.
FELETTIG Henri, Chambolle Musigny 2012
He's one of the rising stars of the Chambolle-Musigny region. His skills and talents are already evident in his village level wines—which are nothing to scoff at even with his other 1er and Grand crus. There is surprising finesse and elegance to his Chambolle wines. Something to consider strongly.
ESMONIN, Gevrey Chambertin 2008
One of the great female producers of the moment and possessor of a oenology certificate that few others have! Often her wines are described as overly "technically perfect" but there is really is no such thing. Her best and most powerful cuvée is her Clos St. Jacques but her village has plenty to offer as well.
BARROCHE, Chateauneuf du Pape Signature 2010
Classic GSM blend from Chateauneuf du Pape's stars of the moment. Their claim to fame is their Pure 2010, which was awarded the magical RP100 points. The rest as they always say is history. This cuvée shows the best of their terroir and a "signature" of the region.
What are you drinking this season? Let me know!