Greetings from Hong Kong. I have been here already for two nights, and it has been non-stop upon my arrival. I still haven’t quite learned how to overcome my jet lag that quickly, but the energy of HK is about as good a remedy as one can find. The city is buzzing and alive, and I can feel the wine power! We are expecting close to 300 people yet again this Saturday for the auction, and I am excited for another active day on the sales floor. But first, we drink. The passion for wine here is second to none, and I started with an intimate dinner Tuesday night hosted by my friend Peter. Everything comes down to mathematics, and the equation for this past Tuesday was four wines, nine bottles, nine people and eleven courses. There were multiple bottles (and one magnum) of each wine, as quantity is as important as quality for many here. The meal was a very traditional Chinese one, and a special one, so I will make some rare food notes here as well at the end.
We started with three bottles of 1996 Krug and many toasts. The Krug was outstanding as usual, more balanced and fat than some recent memories. There was great toast to it and a creamy, uplifting personality. Extremely complex, the 1996 Krug is one to bank on for the next century (96).
A magnum of 2001 Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne was excellent, buttery and smoky with its aromas, smooth and sexy in its personality. Rich, lush yet tender, the palate had medium-weight and nice butter and waterfall flavors. Its finish was round and sensual, and it was quite enjoyable (93M).
There were two bottles of 1982 La Mission Haut Brion, and they were both classic. The first thing I noticed was the minerality and musk on top of its pungent core of claret. It had great smoke, smokehouse and even a little barbecue to it, with strong cassis elements underneath. The palate was full of iron and band-aid flavors, wrapped around a great plum core. The acidity was superb, so long and fine, zipping and zapping its way down my hatch. It had that great Graves flavor, that smoke and gravel, and these were perfect bottles, with the structure of the vintage coming first, but the fruit still packed in there. Vincent admired its balance. Both bottles were still very young (97).
There were three bottles of 1989 Lafleur, and I took notes bottle by bottle for academic purposes, of course. The 1989 remains one of my favorite Lafleurs”¦ever. These were no exception. The first bottle was wound and classic, with someone noting ‘raspberry cheesecake.’ There was some iron green goodness here, but it was a bit closed. The second bottle was more expressive, with still black as night fruit, forest, minerals, tannins, alcohol and long acid. It was big and brawny but agile on its finish, tea-like with its tannins and true grit personified. Flavors of plum, black fruits, spice and forest lingered on this fine, long wine. The third bottle was the most impressive, possessing the most power. These all came from the same case, mind you. It was almost a mix of the first two, but its tannins and alcohol were monumental. ‘Rich, rich, lush, lush”¦wow’ summed it up. My ratings varied from 95+, 96 to 98 points in that order, with the third bottle being the 98 (95-98).
A bit about the food, which was one of my most memorable meals in Hong Kong so far. We started with boneless barbecued pork, which is about as addictive as meat can get. I could have eaten a bucket of it! So delicious! The next course was my first Conch, and I was advised to eat it quickly while it is warm, before it gets too rubbery. Conch is very rare and difficult to come by, and it was an experience. The third course was a massive prawn, one of the best I have ever had, crunchy and meaty, just perfect. We were onto my first fried shark fin, another first for me, fried with some vegetables and/or noodles and another absolutely addictive dish. The abalone was another first for me, and not really my cup of tea, made with a brown, gravy-like sauce that would also have gone well with beef. Apparently people risk their lives to get the abalone, so I tried it 🙂 The truffle consomme that followed was out of this world good. That is what I want for lunch all winter. A steamed yellow grouper was about as fresh as fish can be, and then the Chinese monk’s duck made with eight different accompaniments had me converting. By now, I was starting to sink into my chair, and after the crispy egg noodle with shredded chicken and sautéed rice noodle with shredded beef, I had to raise the flag. That beef dish was another one I could just eat day after day and never get bored of. Unbelievably great! We ended with the Ching Dynasty Imperial soup, a rare dessert for me, but this was one meal where I would not let a course pass me by. This was a special meal, and the quality of the food was certainly a match for the wines.
Wednesday night would be one devoted to Musigny; there is Burgundy alive and well in Hong Kong, too! That news will be fit to print tomorrow.
In Vino Veritas,