Little did I know that when I began my first "dig for China" as a small child on a sandy, California beach, that I would make it here, almost 40 years later.
But I hate that sort of sentimental crap. For much the same reason, I hate corks. Nostalgia for corks is like all other forms of nostalgia... borderline proto-facism. Think I'm wrong? Read Mussolini's early writings (with Gentile). But you don't have to be Antonio Gramsci or suffer through a Tea Party rally to understand that warm feelings for idealized history are the first step on a road to labor camps.
I don't want to get into the cork debate. Because there is no debate. The baseline science is there. This is like global warming. You either get it. Or you're wrong.
But I will posit my disdain for cork as a reason why I've had so many astonishingly good Australian Chardonnays since I arrived in Hong Kong. Australia has all but given up on corks and so I'm favorably disposed towards the wines when I see them here.
Of course, it might also have something to do with the multi-million dollar marketing campaign the Australian wine industry has recently launched in China.
Anyway, here's a short list of great Aussie Chardonnays I've had recently in Hong Kong:
Leeuwin, Art Series, Margaret River, 2006
Yabby Lakes, Mornington Peninsula, 2007
Mas Serrat, Yarra Valley, 2006
Ocean Eight, Verve, Mornington Peninsula, 2008
Punch, Lance's Vineyard, Yarra Valley, 2008
Two of these, the Mas Serrat and the Yabby Lakes, were made by the same guy, and made quite elegantly. The Leeuwin was so good I was convinced it was Burgundy (thanks Roger; both times). I'd actually been avoiding these wines for the past few years, thinking they were too expensive. The 2006 (and 2007) are well worth the money. I can't say enough about the whole range from Ocean Eight; but it's the Pinot that's the killer. And the Punch Chardonnay is consistently unique and site-specific. It's a vineyard I'm sure I will recognize on sight.
You would be doing your cellar a favor to buy any of the five.
None had a cork (well... correction forthcoming...).