The Chardonnay Masters – Asia 2020

The Chardonnay Masters – Asia 2020, which took place at Mr Wolf restaurant in Hong Kong’s Central district, saw a panel of five expert judges blind-taste more than 30 Chardonnays. The results showed that the wines on offer were diverse with attractive qualities.

One of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world, Chardonnay is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Versatile in style, the wine can pair well with an array of cuisines.

“Generally, it is smooth and gentle, with an aromatic profile that varies according to the region and climate where it is grown. In terms of the use of oak, over oaked Chardonnay is no longer the mainstream; instead, winemakers are using it in moderation to give their wines a buttery mouthfeel and toasty vanilla aromas,” said Zachary Yu, sommelier and director of SommTech.

The competition celebrated Wakefield Taylors One Giant Leap Chardonnay 2018, whih achieved the top accolade of a Master medal in the competiion. Judged in the Oaked Under HK$100 category, the wine offered exceptional value for its price point.

“The expression is very fresh with a bouquet of beautiful floral and citrus notes; the profile is very well balanced, especially the oak. With this price tag, the wine is a great surprise,” said Tersina Shieh, an experienced wine judge and marketer.

The overall 2018 vintage in South Australia’s Clare Valley was warm and dry. The weather was relatively calm and winemakers were spared from major heatwaves, resulting in the highly aromatic wines with very pure and distinct characteristics.

Two of the estate’s other Chardonnays, namely Wakefield Taylors Jaraman Chardonnay 2018 and Wakefield Taylors St Andrews Chardonnay 2018, were also recognised with Silver medals in the competition.

Margaret River estate Vasse Felix is another Australian winery the judges raved about in the competition, as it scooped two Gold medals. In the Oaked HK$151-200 category, Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Chardonnay 2018 caught the panel’s attention due to its “elegant, juicy, generous, lingering and highly drinkable” profile, according to Yu.

Meanwhile, moving up to the price bracket between HK$301-500, Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2018 was another high performer. Anty Fung, a wine specialist and manager of Hip Cellar, said, “the wine shows great finesse. It has good tension, mineral structure and a long finish.”

The competition also proved that Sauvignon Blanc powerhouse, Marlborough in New Zealand, boasts equally outstanding Chardonnay production. Marisco Vineyards Craft Series ‘The Pioneer’ Chardonnay 2016 picked up a Gold medal in the Oaked HK$201-300 flight.

Shieh found it to be “a pleasant wine with a nice blend of fruit and oak flavours and good acidity”. Hailing from the same region, Leefield Station Chardonnay 2018 took home a Silver medal for achieving “a good balance of oak, fruit and creaminess”, according to Yu.

Again from the same price range, another highlight of the competition was a Gold medal winning Bourgogne Blanc by Francois Labet, one of the region’s pioneers of organic viticulture. The panel was impressed by the performance of Francois Labet Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay 2018.

Eva Ma, senior marketing executive of EMW Fine Wines, said, “The nose is so complex, which unveils hints of chestnuts and smokiness. On palate, it exudes a sweet flavour with much freshness.”

Greek wine is on the rise around the world and the country never ceases to surprise drinkers with its continually improving quality. Bearing a price tag between HK$100-150, Alpha Estate Ecosystem Chardonnay Tramonto 2018 impressed our judges.

“I am captivated by the palate, which offers notes of Meyer lemon, orange peel and yuzu. It’s a very perfumed Chardonnay with impressive palate weight and a refreshing finish. It’s an excellent wine that offers great value,” said one of our judges.

The panel also enjoyed some exciting discoveries from regions that aren’t well-known for Chardonnay, such as Barkan Vineyards Classic Chardonnay 2019 from Israel, which offered pretty lemon and white flower aromatics.

Another appealing expression was Emiliana Gamma Reserva Chardonnay 2019 from Chile, liked by Shieh for its intense acidity and juciness; and Cavit Maso Torsella Chardonnay Trentino Superiore DOC 2019 from Trentino in Italy, which hooked Ma with its perfumed nose and balanced structure. The comeption highlighted that there are great value Chardonnays being made around the world to suit all palates.

Unoaked

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under $100HKD
Barkan Vineyards Classic Chardonnay Judean Hills Israel 2019 Bronze
Viñedos Emiliana S.A. O Reserva Chardonnay Casablanca Valley Chile 2019 Bronze
Viñedos Emiliana S.A. Gamma Reserva Chardonnay Casablanca Valley Chile 2019 Silver

Oaked

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
Under $100HKD
Marisco Vineyards Ltd The Ned Chardonnay, 10.99 – Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough New Zealand 2018 Bronze
Marisco Vineyards Ltd Leefield Station Chardonnay Marlborough New Zealand 2018 Silver
Wakefield / Taylors Taylors One Giant leap Chardonnay Clare Valley Australia 2018 Master
$100-$150HKD
Alpha Estate Ecosystem Chardonnay Tramonto Florina Greece 2018 Gold
Cavit s.c. Maso Torsella Chardonnay Trentino Superiore Doc Trentino Italy 2017 Silver
Australian Vintage McGuigan Cellar Select Chardonnay Adelaide Hills Australia 2019 Bronze
Wakefield / Taylors Taylor Made Chardonnay French Oak Clare Valley Australia 2018 Bronze
Wakefield / Taylors Taylors Wakefield Jaraman Chardonnay Clare Valley Australia 2018 Silver
$151-$200HKD
Australian Vintage McGuigan Shortlist Chardonnay Adelaide Hills Australia 2018 Silver
Australian Vintage Nepenthe Pinnacle Ithaca Chardonnay Adelaide Hills Australia 2018 Bronze
Treasury Wine Estate Penfolds Bin311 Chardonnay Tumbarumba Australia 2017 Silver
Vasse Felix Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Chardonnay Margaret River Australia 2018 Gold
Vasse Felix Vasse Felix Estate Chardonnay Margaret River Australia 2018 Bronze
Wakefield / Taylors Taylors Wakefield St Andrews Chardonnay Clare Valley Australia 2018 Silver
$201-$300HKD
Australian Vintage Tempus Two Pewter Chardonnay Hunter Valley Australia 2018 Bronze
Australian Vintage Tempus Two Pewter Chardonnay Hunter Valley Australia 2019 Silver
Australian Vintage McGuigan Personal Reserve HR Chardonnay Trentino Italy 2018 Bronze
Francois Labet Francois Labet Bourgogne Chardonnay Vieilles Vignes Bourgogne France 2018 Gold
Marisco Vineyards Ltd Marisco Vineyards Craft Series ‘The Pioneer’ Chardonnay, Marlborough New Zealand 2016 Gold
$301-$500HKD
Vasse Felix Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay Margaret River Australia 2018 Gold
Vina Concha y Toroa Concha y Toro Amelia Chardonnay Casablanca Valley Chile 2018 Bronze

The Cabernet Sauvignon Masters – Asia 2020 results

While Australia and Chile are well known for the quality of their Cabernet Sauvignon, other countries are snapping at their heels, with China and Israel in particular impressing in our annual blind-tasting competition, writes Alice Liang.

Robust yet approachable, Cabernet Sauvignon has long been a staple in consumers’ cellars. “In Hong Kong, Cabernet Sauvignon has become a brand name for people to go after,” said judge Jessica Ochoco, senior sales executive at Altaya Wine. “Most of them encountered the grape variety because of Bordeaux, but thankfully, after getting on with the first growths, they are willing to explore the same variety made in other regions.”

The dbAsia Cabernet Sauvignon Masters brought together entries of 100% Cabs along with blends made up of at least 50% of the grape variety from popular New World countries, such as Australia and Chile, to up-and-coming gems, namely from China and Israel. The panel was able to explore the potential that the grape variety can offer.

As one of the world’s biggest producers of Cabernet, Australia showed how good it is as a producer. Penfolds, the powerhouse of Australian wine, achieved a Master with its exceptional Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2017.

The Cabernet-dominant blend impressed independent wine educator Rebecca Leung with its “supple concentration of vibrant fruit and floral flavours”. Leung said the wine was ready to enjoy now.

The panel also raved about the wines from Wakefield Taylors. Priced under HK$100, both Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 and Taylors Reserve Parcel Cabernet Sauvignon won Gold as they proved to be outstanding value for money.

According to Derek Li, Group Sommelier at JIA Group, the former has a “juicy and firm tannin structure topped with mint and herbal notes”, while the latter offers “an intense fruit flavour with a hint of cedar wood”.

Moving upscale, the winery’s costlier wines were awarded Silver medals. Hugo Poon, head of sourcing at Quintessentially, said: “The Wakefield Taylors St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (HK$250) boasts an impressive iintensity. The acidity integrates with the sweetness perfectly. Meanwhile, in Wakefield Taylors’ The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, I spotted rich scents of coffee, vanilla and cherry with a nice finish.”

Chile is another country well known for good-value Cabernets. A couple of New World Cab stars are produced in Central Valley regions such as the Maipo Valley and Colchagua Valley. In our competition, Luis Felipe Edwards Family Selection Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, costing less than HK$100, took home a Gold medal. Li said:

“The wine exudes rich and intense flavours of plum, violet, nutmeg and cinnamon. This is an easygoing wine that I find very enjoyable.” Meanwhile, Luis Felipe Edwards Doña Bernarda 2015, a Cabernet blended with Carmènere, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, was awarded a Silver medal in the competition.

Other hightlights in the competition included Silver medallists Viña Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 and Viña San Pedro Tarapaca Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon 2019. Both wines are good value, having a price tag of less than HK$100, showing the value of Chilean Cabernets.

As an emerging wine-producing country, China shone in the competition by showcasing the graceful development of its wines. Hailing from Tianjin, Dynasty Fine Wines received Silver and Bronze medals respectively for its Premier Royal Selection – Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2008 and Wisemenship Collection – Ravissantia 2010 respectively.

Carrying a price tag of HK$301 and above, the panel preferred the former as “it offers a lot of tertiary notes such as espresso coffee, caramel, toffee, and dried plums, while being powerful in style,” said Ochoco.

The Upper Galilee region in Israel has started to gain a good reputation for the wines produced there. Situated at a high altitude, Barkan Vineyards is located in the cooler northern part of the region. The high performer stood out in the competition by winning two Gold medals. Named according to the height at which the grapes are grown, The Altitude Series achieved recognition from the panel.

In particular, Gold medallist Altitude Series 624 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 delivered “a fantastic body and richness,” according to Vincent Chue, beverage director at Tapa Room. He added: “The use of oak is apparent, but it is well balanced, and shows high drinkability.” Meanwhile, Cabernet Sauvignon Superiore 2016, which also won a Gold medal, showed a totally different profile. Li said: “The wine is pleasing and elegant. I am attracted to the intense characters of cassis, roasted coffee beans and nutmeg.”

Unoaked – 100%

Winery Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
HK$<100
V.E.S.A. Birds of Paradise Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Central Valley Chile 2018 Bronze
Vinedos Emiliana O Reserva Central Valley Chile 2018 Bronze
V.E.S.A. Gamma Reserva Central Valley Chile 2018 Bronze

Oaked – 100%

Winery Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
HK$<100
Taylors Taylors Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley Australia 2018 Gold
Taylors Taylors Reserve Parcel Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley Australia 2018 Gold
Viña Carmen Carmen Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Chile 2018 Silver
Vinedos Emiliana Indigo Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Chile 2017 Bronze
HK$101 – HK$200
Tempus Two Pewter Series Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Australia 2017 Silver
Vina San Pedro 1865 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Central Valley Chile 2018 Silver
Viña Santa Rita Santa Rita Floresta Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Chile 2018 Silver
Nepenthe Altitude Cabernet Sauvignon Adelaide Hills Australia 2017 Bronze
McGuigan The Shortlist Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Australia 2017 Bronze
Katnook Estate Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Australia 2017 Bronze
HK$201 – HK$300
Barkan Winery Altitude Series 624 Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Israel 2016 Gold
Allegiance Wines The Artisan Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Australia 2014 Silver
Barkan Winery Altitude Series 585 Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Israel 2016 Silver
Barkan Winery Altitude Series 720 Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Israel 2016 Silver
Taylors Taylors Wakefield St Andrews Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley Australia 2017 Silver
Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Tarapaca Etiqueta Negra Maipo Valley Chile 2018 Bronze
Katnook Estate Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra Australia 2017 Bronze
HK$301 – HK$400
Dynasty Wisemenship Collection – Ravissantia Tianjin China 2010 Bronze
HK$401 – HK$800
Dynasty Premier Royal Selection – Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Tianjin China 2008 Silver
Taylors Taylors Wakefield ‘The Visionary’ Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley Australia 2016 Silver
Allegiance Wines Unity’ Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River Australia 2015 Bronze

Oaked – Blend

Winery Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
HK$<100
Luis Felipe Edwards Family Selection Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Chile 2018 Gold
Vina San Pedro Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon Central Valley Chile 2019 Silver
Vina San Pedro Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon- Merlot Central Valley Chile 2019 Bronze
Viña Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley Chile 2017 Bronze
Taylors Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley Australia 2016 Bronze
Vina Chocalan Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Chile 2018 Bronze
Vina San Pedro Gato Negro PeRRRfect Red Blend Central Valley Chile 2019 Bronze
Alpaca Alpaca Cabernet Sauvignon Central Valley Chile 2019 Bronze
Alpaca Alpaca Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Central Valley Chile 2019 Bronze
HK$101 – HK$200
Vina Chocolan Gran Reserva Origen Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Chile 2018 Silver
Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Tarapaca Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Chile 2018 Bronze
Viña Carmen Carmen Delanz Alto Jahuel Maipo Valley Chile 2018 Bronze
HK$201 – HK$350
Luis Felipe Edwards Doña Bernarda Colchagua Chile 2015 Silver
Vina El Principal El Principal Metropolitana Chile 2015 Silver
Vina El Principal Memorias Metropolitana Chile 2016 Bronze
HK$351 – HK$500
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz Barossa Val Australia 2017 Master
Barkan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Superiore Galilee Israel 2016 Gold

The Sparkling Masters – Asia 2020 results

Sparkling wine, in all its forms, is amazingly popular. In our annual blind tasting, we look at fizzes from all over the world, and discover some gems, occasionally from surprising locations. By Alice Liang.

The year-round popularity of sparkling wine has never subsided. The editorial team of drinks business Asia gathered with a panel of judges, comprising wine professionals from different sectors in Hong Kong, to give a verdict on flights of the versatile wine in various expressions, including Champagne, Prosecco and Cava.

When seeking out a good sparkling wine, acidity is always the key to upholding the freshness and structure. A flabby sparkling wine tastes like an alcoholic fizzy drink, or even worse, a soda water, as Tersina Shieh, wine marketer and independent wine judge, said during the judging process.

Champagne, a synonym for celebration, has been facing a tough time during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, for the reigning king of sparkling, the quality of the wine held its own in the competition. Champagne Castelnau was founded 1916 and underwent a rebranding in 2017.

Champagne Castelnau Brut Réserve – the flagship wine of the house – took home a Master, thanks to panel being impressed by its “mesmerising” character. Shieh said: “It is so fresh and lean, with attractive brioche notes. It benefitted from lees contact, as the tension is well delivered.”

And Champagne Castelnau Millésime 2006, the vintage expression of the house, won a Gold medal. As Anty Fung, wine specialist and manager of Hip Cellar, noted: “It is another vinous example with lots of autolytic character, grip and acidity that lingers.” Both wines are priced between HK$400-HK$800, meaning they offer exceptional value.

English fizz has been attracting attention from professionals. The emerging category has even been spoken of as ‘the new Champagne’. Catching up with the Champagne, it was Gusbourne from Kent that shone from this sector.

Made from a blend of estate-grown Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, Gusbourne Estate Rosé 2015 was another Gold winner, with a price tag in the HK$300-HK$500 band. Fung said: “I can taste the fresh red fruit quality wrapped in a Comte cheese rind. The sparkling wine has good length and balance, and is a great example of what a rosé sparkling wine should be.”

Meanwhile, the layered and balanced profile of Gusbourne Estate Blanc de Blancs 2014, predominantly made with Chardonnay from a Burgundian clone, caught the eye of Eva Ma, senior marketing executive of EMW Fine Wines, who said: “The wine illustrates a New World-style méthode traditionnelle; it is slightly oaky but well integrated.” The wine was awarded a Silver medal.

Looking at the Bronze winners, we saw the presence of organic sparkling production, which is also growing strong around the world. Emiliana, the Chilean winery from the Central Valley, is one of the dedicated vineyards practising organic and biodynamic agriculture in the country; its Etnico Sparkling Wine NV “exudes a lovely white floral and lychee scent with lean structure” commented Ma.

Moving back to the Old World, Vilarnau Rosé Delicat Brut Reserva NV is an organic Cava that showed a high price- to-quality ratio. Shieh described the fizz as: “Bubbly and zesty, the wine is brilliant for the price.” It is worth mentioning that both wines bear a favourable price point between HK$100 and HK$200.

The panel tasted a variety of sparklers from around the world, including Joseph Vallet Splendid Blanc de Blancs Brut from Bourgogne, Dynasty 5° Sparkling Wine from China and Andreola Mas de Fer Rive di Soligo, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG 2018 from Italy. The tasting proved that no matter where in the world you look, there is something sparkling being made that will appeal to the most discerning of consumers.

White Sparkling Brut

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
$100-1500HKD
Dynasty Wines Dynasty 5° Sparkling Wine Tianjin China NV Bronze
Viñedos Emiliana Etnico Sparkling Wine Casablanca Valley Chile NV Bronze
Domaine Pierre Labet Joseph Vallet Cuvée Splendid Blanc de Blancs Brut Bourgogne France NV Bronze
$200-300HKD
Azienda Agricola Andreola Mas De Fer Rive Di Soligo Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry Veneto Italy 2018 Bronze
$400-800HKD
Champagne Castelnau Brut Réserve Champagne France NV Master
Champagne Castelnau Champagne Castelnau Millésime 2006 Champagne France 2006 Gold
Champagne Castelnau Blanc de Blancs 2006 Champagne France 2006 Silver
Gusbourne Estate Blanc de Blancs Kent UK 2014 Silver
Gusbourne Estate Brut Reserve Kent UK 2015 Bronze

Rosé Sparkling Brut

Company Wine Name Region Country Vintage Medal
$100-150HKD
Vilarnau Rosé Delicat Brut Reserva Cava Spain NV Bronze
$300-500HKD
Gusbourne Estate Rosé Kent UK 2015 Gold
Champagne Castelnau Rosé Champagne France NV Silver

Results: Rosé Masters 2019 – Asia

If you think rosé wine is just an easy-drinking summer tipple then think again. Winemakers around the world are taking it seriously, and, as a result, are producing top-class expressions.

TO MANY wine drinkers, rosé captivates them with its romantic pinkish hue. It is usually the staple drink at a summer party; yet it can also be served in Michelin-starred restaurants with dishes crafted meticulously by the world’s leading chefs. It is a category that comes in a vast variety of colours and styles, all of which set a unique challenges for the panel judges in the latest round of the Rosé Masters – Asia.

“From a wine-merchant perspective, we find it hard to take rosé wines seriously. It is seldom that the wine drinkers would go for its complexity; instead, it is almost like a soft drink with a bit of alcohol, clean and simple,” said judge Ken Man, buyer & fine wine specialist at Ginsberg+Chan. The statement is true in that rosé is largely seen as “the fun and go-to summer drink”, in part thanks to viral trends on social media. But attitudes are changing. Eddie McDougall, award winning winemaker and wine critic, said: “The market is ever-growing and changing. Nowadays it is no longer as women-oriented as we used to perceive it as being. In the US, a lot of big guys are going for rosés, and the fad is growing even stronger than craft beers.” Thankfully, in our assessment things got off to a promising start with a clutch of Bronze medals in the entry-level category. Wine specialist and professional Anty Fung said they were “clean, crisp, easy drinking. As supermarket wine, they don’t shout complexity. For this price point, whichever wine gets everything correct deserves recognition if it’s good value for money.”

McDougall was particularly intrigued by the Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses, which he described as “obviously fruit forward, and it has a savoury element that keeps your mouth watering and wanting to have a second sip”. However, the panel spotted minor faults in the other samples, with a few tasting notes describing some of the principal pitfalls of entry-level rosé, such as, “artificial”, “cloying” and “oxidized”. Oak is another area where opinions on its use in rosé tend to diverge. Gérard Bertrand’s oaked rosé, Château La Sauvageonne La Villa, was one such wine. Wine writer Sarah Wong thought “the oak usage is distracting,” but others felt differently, appreciating its influence. She added: “I think rosé is made for a certain market. Wine producers may want to make the wine with a certain profile; in that case the most sought-after rosés are still light in style with pinkish hues to meet the perception of what the majority drinkers are looking for.”

Speaking of market recognition, we all know France has a well-established array of still rosés, particularly from Provence. Other wine regions, such as the Languedoc-Roussillon and the Rhône, have adopted the Provençal style, using the same grape varieties and production techniques. By and large, France is still the most important rosé-producing country in the world, and accounted for 28% of the total output in 2017. Living up to its reputation, the Provence wines shone in the competition, with four Gold medals awarded. Some of the most acclaimed expressions from famous wineries, for instance Château d’Esclans’s Whispering Angel and Maison de Grand Esprit’s Côtes de Provence l’Etre Magique Rosé, both enjoyed high scores for different reasons. The former performed well thanks to its concentration and zestiness, and a long and persistent finish that drew the judges’ attention. The latter was rather different. In place of sweet fruity notes, the rosé was deemed “serious”, with a somewhat orangey colour and complex, tangy flavours which belied its place in the rather humbly priced HK$200-HK$300 category. Moving beyond the classic French regions, global production has been on the rise since the early 2000s, rising from 18.3 million hectolitres in 2002 to an expected 25m hl in 2020, an increase of almost 10% in two decades. New-world regions in the southern hemisphere have also caught up with the pink craze, and have almost quadrupled rosé production over the past two decades. Refinement in quality is also rising, as our results showed. In several price categories, ranging from HK$100 to HK$300, Australian and New Zealand rosés excelled.

Australian Vintage (the parent company of McGuigan Wines, Tempus Two and Nepenthe) and Marisco Vineyards (parent company of Leefield Station, The Ned and The Kings Series), two leading wine producers in Adelaide Hills in Southern Australia and the South Island in New Zealand respectively, were the biggest winners. Both bagged a gold medal in the below-HK$150 price band, with rosés made with 100% Pinot Noir. Australian Vintage’s Altitude Pinot Noir Rosé and the Leefield Station Pinot Rose, were both “showy and vibrant”, noted Terry Wong, retail manager & sommelier at Ginsberg + Chan. The Leefield Station Pinot Rosé, with its immaculate and honest red fruit character charmed McDougall, who praised its “generous and intense style.” As an avid winemaker, McDougall added: “Most dry rosés are in blends now to create complexity. Great rosés along the Mediterranean coast tend to use varieties that ripen early, for example Grenache and Tempranillo. This way, the flavours can develop without many tannins. Pinot Noir, however, experiences more influence from the skin because it is picked later, and much more care is needed to tackle this delicate grape.”

McDougal himself makes a rosé under his Flying Winemaker brand, and talked about what style of rosé he was after. He said: “Stylistically, I am inspired by rosé wines that age. Not for decades but those that show their best after three to four years in the bottle. The wine must be dry, slightly salmon in colour in its youth and more onion-skin with time in bottle. It needs to be layered, lengthy and complex. “Technique-wise, the industry is being more thought-out now. I value the handling of the fruit with extra attention. In addition to not using sulphur, now I prefer pressing the grapes all the way through, followed by filtration, rather than cold settling.”

Among all the winners, there was one that raised a few eyebrows. Awarded a Silver medal, the Alpha Estate Rosé from Greece illustrated the increasingly mature winemaking behind Greek rosé. A blend of Xinomavro and Syrah, the rosé blend did not display ‘typical’ characteristics, but was still “very decent with impressive fruit notes,” said Jones. Moving slightly up to the range between HK$150 and HK$200, the Australian wines competing in category excited the panel, with the well-made Zilzie Selection 23 being awarded a gold. The rosé revolution has taken off. Our competition this year again proved that there is never a bad time to delve into the colourful world of pink wines.

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