Monthly Archives: November 2015

Hong Kong or Frong Kong

I’ve just returned from two weeks teaching and tasting in Hong Kong. It’s always a pleasure, such an exciting place to visit. This year what struck me was how French Hong Kong has become. It could be because I spent my time talking about Bordeaux but hearing French being spoken in the street seems to be more commonplace.

According to a recent blog post on the WSJ Hong Kong might be heading that way.

Up to 20,000 French citizens currently live in Hong Kong, a 5% growth rate over the past five years; this is the strongest growth rate among any expatriate population, according to the Hong Kong government. What’s the attraction? Well, the ease of setting up and doing business for a start.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of them seem to working in the wine and food sector, with many opening French restaurants. Yes, the big names are here and this month’s announcement of new Michelin stars for the city included a few French names including Serge et le Phoque, who received their first Michelin star

Other favourites are Upper Modern Bistro managed by Jeremy Evrard and Cocotte  in NoHo central, owned and run by Brice Moldovan. Joël Robuchon is in town with his stars but also cafés and patisseries. French baking seems to be in vogue with the successful French baker, Kaiser,  the place to go for your morning croissants and baguettes. Kaiser opened his first shop in Dec 2012 and now has 4 throughout the city. Agnes B has branched out from couture opening a series of cafes with one in Gough street including a beautiful flower shop, just across the road from the Caudalie shop and spa. Food and wine is a national sport in Hong Kong and France with its gastronomic image is surfing the wave as are Bordeaux wines.

Party time at Hong Kong Wine and Dine

Party time at Hong Kong Wine and Dine

If you needed confirmation about the Hong Kong passion for food and wine, you need look no further than the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival; one of my reasons for visiting. This was the 7th annual edition and Bordeaux has been the leading partner from the start, exporting the ‘Bordeaux Fête le Vin concept as they have done in Quebec.

Almost 150 000 people visited, of whom 2700 came by the Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux stand to participate in one of our classes. But Bordeaux wine education in Hong Kong is not limited to one weekend. The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux currently has 14 accredited Wine educators in Hong Kong alone and 5 accredited schools. In 2014 they taught over 4500 people between them.

The Students from IVE discovering Bordeaux wines.

The Students from IVE discovering Bordeaux wines.

And the future looks bright; there was a party atmosphere at the festival with young people very much the target audience. They are interested in wine, consuming but also understanding. This was confirmed when teaching a series of Bordeaux, Médoc and Graves Master classes at the IVE Hotel school I was impressed with the quality and enthusiasm of students.

Sweet wine and food matching - it doesn't have to be dessert!

Sweet wine and food matching – it doesn’t have to be dessert!

The International Culinary Institue at Pok Fu Lam showed the skills of the future generation with a food and wine matching dinner designed specifically to showcase a range of Sweet Wines of Bordeaux.

The students and staff of the Culinary institute match up with Sweet Bordeaux producers.

The students and staff of the Culinary institute match up with Sweet Bordeaux producers.

 Hong-Kong remains an important market for Bordeaux wines, it is the 7th largest market volume wise  but the 2nd in value (after China and on a par with the UK) with over 11 million bottles shipped there for a value of 214 million euros last year. Even enthusiastic French expats can’t be responsible for all that consumption!

White on white

If you are a regular reader, you’ll know from previous posts I am a fan of Bordeaux dry white and in particular those from the terroir of Sauternes.
It takes beautifully ripe berries affected by noble rot to create the spectacular sweet  wines from the south West Bordeaux of the Bordeaux vineyards. Some wine growers pounce on this fruit before the treasured fungus attacks it, and make lovely aromatic dry whites from them.

Sémillon is the signature grape of the sweet white wines of Bordeaux, making up 80% of the blends on average complemented by Sauvignon Blanc and sometimes a little Muscadelle. Although this obviously varies from estate to estate and vintage to vintage.

Normally the dry whites invert the ratio and are dominated by Sauvignon, But not always.I have already mentioned La Semillante, the 100% dry Sémillon made by Laure de Lambert at Chateau Siglalas Rabaud in a previous post.

At the start of the 2015 harvest I interviewed her along with Jacques Lurton who, with his global experience of Sémillon, is acting as a consultant for the third year running on this wine.

The dry whites from Chateau Sigalas Rabaud with the 1er Cru Classé Sauternes

The dry whites from Chateau Sigalas Rabaud with the 1er Cru Classé Sauternes

Jacques owns and make the Islander Estate wines on Kangaroo Island in Australia, as well as in Bordeaux and the Loire. Jacques is part of the Lurton family, a Bordeaux wine dynasty. He studied and worked with Denis Dubourdieux, known as the ‘white wine pope’ of Bordeaux – having been at the forefront of innovation in white wine making for the last 20 years when these wines really started to shine.

The dry white harvest at Chateau Sigalas Rabaud

The dry white harvest at Chateau Sigalas Rabaud

You might enjoy the conversation between two of the new generation from old Bordeaux families about how they are facing some of the challenges. It’s a long video but I couldn’t bear to cut anything out; they talk about the Sauternes too of course. This is such a perfect example of the dynamism and openness that now characterises Bordeaux.

Click here to see the interview with Laure and Jacques. With many thanks to Graham Booker of Avalon Images. http://www.avalonimages.fr/