I have a couple of thoughts after a lunch and dinner last night. Modern wines are exciting, and Italy is making great wines. I guess I am stating the obvious to many, and I write about this all the time in articles and columns. But it was exciting yesterday drinking a number of great young Italian wines. The experience can be just as fulfilling as drinking legendary bottles from yesteryear—maybe more real in a lot of ways.
Yesterday, I went to lunch with Alex Wong, a 29-year-old who, with his father, has perhaps the greatest collection of Pétrus
in the world, not to mention the best cigar collection. We had lunch at his local restaurant with some wine merchant friends. Alex is open to just about anything from vineyards around the world as long as it is the highest quality, from a juicy Chinon to Brunello to California Cabernet Sauvignon, and, yes, he has trophy wines as well from all the great châteaus.
We tried five wines blind at lunch in between mouthfuls of dim sum. The first two were rare-ish: 1966 Leroy
Corton (92 points, non-blind) and a Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1967
(91). Both were medium-bodied, with soft, silky tannins and a light, plummy cedar and berry aftertaste. The Hermitage was also meaty and spicy. It was a lovely mature example of this rare Syrah.
Then he served two wines together. They were dark and much younger. They were pure Merlots, as I guessed. What would Alex serve? NO. This is too generous. These Merlots are superb, I thought to myself. They must be Pétrus and Le Pin. WRONG.
I was sort of embarrassed when I found out that they were two Tuscan Merlots from 2004: Petrolo Galatrona
and Tua Rita Redigaffi
. What a wiseguy! I never thought I would be drinking those in Hong Kong. And they work well with Chinese food. Anyway, I preferred the Galatrona to the Redigaffi yesterday. It was more open and showed all the wild raspberry, vanilla and mineral character of a top vintage of Le Pin. I gave it 97 points and Redigaffi 96.
The next wine was a Syrah called Esse
from the 2001 vintage, made near Pisa! Alex really has a sense of humor. This is a wine from consulting enologist Luca D’Attoma, and he made it only one year. Afterward, he got in a fight with his brother-in-law—long story. Anyway, it was superb as always, with lots of berry, spice, vanilla and subtle black pepper character. 96 points.
Despite missing the wines blind, I went away thinking how wonderful those young Tuscan wines showed. And I also thought that great wine doesn’t have to cost thousands, even in Hong Kong—something Alex Wong and friends also obviously know.
My Vino Today
1928 Beychevelle: I had this beautiful bottle last night for dinner with a good friend, hotel developer Tang Boon Seng. He brought the bottle from his cellar and it was in perfect condition, original cork and all and originally from the cellars of Paris wine merchant Nicolas. It went great with the fusion Japanese food at the restaurant San San Trois. The wine had an amazing dark color ruby. It showed wonderful aromas of currant, dried flowers and mint. It was full-bodied, with silky, firm tannins and a long, fruity, minty aftertaste. We decanted it just before drinking and it developed in the glass but then about 30 minutes later it started to lose its fruit. A beautiful antique wine. 95 points in this non-blind tasting. (I had the 1929
a few days before and it showed a little riper fruit and sweetness.)