May 19, 2010

The Starstreet Winewalk

I have quite a bit of house-keeping to attend to. I need to write up the Lab's farewell to Los Angeles "It's All About the Dirt" dinner. I need to tell you about the bounty from the Lab's Yard Sale. There's even an installment of our historical drinking series, What Would Czar Nicholas Drink?, to draft.

But before I get to any of that, a report from the other side.

Almost as soon as I arrived in Hong Kong, Li Ping arranged for tickets to the sold out Winewalk on Starstreet. Sponsored by the magazine Time Out, the event was a benefit for the Hong Kong Women's Foundation and featured a number of restaurants and wine shops in the Starstreet Precinct of Wan Chai.

It was a great way to become quickly acquainted with a quirky, near-downtown (what HKers call Central) neighborhood. A host of participating restaurants opened their doors to serve appetizers and, unfortunately, mostly forgettable table wines.

There's no point in
reviewing the specifics, is there? (but do let me know if you need Starstreet restaurant reviews.)

The one thing I found most interesting is that I didn't recognize a single wine. The closest thing to something even vaguely familiar was a white I've never seen in the US from gigantico Spanish producer, Torres (perhaps best known for their red wine that comes with a little plastic bull attached to the neck). The Vina Esmerelda was a not unpleasant, overtly perfumed mix of Catalonian Moscatel and Gewürtztraminer. I slugged it down like an old friend.

Given global distribution realities, it's not entirely surprising to encounter a different set of brands in Asia. But even at a wine shop that specialized in Margaret River Wines -- a region I know well; I spent my honeymoon there -- I didn't recognize a single producer on the shelves.

Too soon to tell if this is a trend or a Starstreet anomaly.

For what it's worth, the wine of the event for me was a fancy/artisanal Southern Rhone poured at the roofbar of the fancy/not at all artisanal French bistro, Le Cepage. The 2008 Les Sorcieres from Clos des Fees, a moderniste blend of Grenache (corr.), Carignan and Syrah. Fruit-forward, and perhaps slightly over-oaked, the wine was a velvety blend of red fruits and sandalwood. Another example of the emergence of Roussillon as an appellation to watch for.

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