May 24, 2010

Knee Jerk

Okay, okay, I haven't really been in Hong Kong long enough to make general pronouncements, but I've noticed something. It's something similar to everything you hear about the Chinese and wine. It's something obvious.

So maybe I'm just joining the chorus, saying nothing original.

It would hardly be the first time that's happened.

But as far as I can tell, in Hong Kong, "fine wine" means Bordeaux. And that may be understating the fact. It may be closer to true to say that just "wine" means Bordeaux. The grocery store shelves are full of it. I've seen huge Bordeaux displays at department stores. And the wine shops sell little else (unless they specialize in something besides Bordeaux, but even the Italian wine shop I visited had a Bordeaux section).

As far as I can tell it's pretty much all anybody drinks, except for some industrial, grand marque Champagne. I was at dinner last night, a very cool dive bar meets Thai restaurant, right on the beach at Deep Water Bay. A big group at another table had brought their own wines. Do I really need to tell you what it was?

As it happens, I don't drink much Bordeaux. The best examples are prohibitively expensive. There's not many natural producers in the region. There's no overlooked areas of great terroir. It's just not my thing.

So I'm screwed, right?

Not so fast.

At my local grocery store, alongside the overflowing rows of low to really low-tier Bordeaux (pictured above) and right next to the Veuve Clicquot (what else would Bordeaux lovers reach for when a festive mood strikes?), I found 3 bottles of Fleury's Brut Rose. A 100% Pinot Noir, rosé de saignée, made by Champagne's first (maybe) converts to biodynamics.

Best part? It's on sale for the Hong Kong dollar equivalent of forty bucks. Apparently, biodynamic, grower Champagne isn't a big seller with the local crowd.

Like shooting fish in a barrel of Bordeaux. N'est-ce


Edward said...

When I was there 2 years ago for a short week visiting my sister, who lives there, I noticed much the same. Lots of Bordeaux, but also a pretty good range of Burgundy. Everyone (but me)seemed to be drinking La Tache when I would look around. Conspicuous displays of wealth etc etc

Keith Levenberg said...

So, how do you like Bordeaux with Chinese food?

dukeofhurl said...

The only thing lower than your expectations of finding good wines in HK were your readers expectations that your blog would survive the relocation. But as you would say - not so fast. Cheers to an excellent post.

I won't take the vuuhv klee-koh comment personally but it did sting a bit...

max said...

Not all that bordeaux in the picture is low rent --I saw some D'Issan and Giscours on the top row, both top notch wines.

Director, Lab Outreach said...

Doc, I haven't really had time to explore extensively. My data points are a few grocery stores, a couple department stores and a few wine shops that I just walked past. I did manage to find a guy who brings in a fair amount of Margaret River wines at reasonable tarifs. No retail store. Home delivery!

KL, I'm going to stick to the Rieslings until I run out. Then we'll see...

Duke, No offense intended. Besides, you're educated now.

And Max, you do get top-marks for observational skills. I wondered if anyone would clue in on the labels. So that I'm clear, HK is awash in Bordeaux, including first growths. I've seen plenty of "fine" wine in my short time here. Even, my grocery store has Ducru on the shelf. But it's $350 for a 2005! That's a bottle I could buy at Wally's in LA (I checked), an establishment hardly known for its value pricing, for $220. The Giscours was an 04 for $78. The D'Issan, both 2006, Chateau and Blason, were $58 and $35. So my point isn't that you can't find good Bordeaux -- clearly you can if you want to. But you pay a premium. Meanwhile just down the shelf is a great grower Champagne at 30% under US retail. All I'm saying is that I'm playing the arbitrage. Cheers.