|Photo courtesy of Ali Nicol|
Did you know that even though there are no vineyards in Hong Kong we do have a handful of winemakers living here? Apart from myself—although I don’t think I should really be counted since I don’t make wine for a living at the moment—there is Eddie McDougall, a Eurasian Hong Kong-born flying winemaker who makes his own wine in Australia using grapes from King Valley and the Pyrenees and is the owner of The Flying Winemaker, a wine store cum bar cum school in Lan Kwai Fong.
Eddie had a series of activities lined up for the launch of his latest wine recently. The wine was originally named Umami, but for technical reasons he could not register that name so chose to market it under his own name: Eddie McDougall. So don’t be confused when you see the name Umami in a much more prominent position than his own on the label.
At one of the launch events organised by the The Elements Club, we had four of Eddie's wines with a Chinese dinner. I particularly liked the Frederica’s Pinot Gris 2010. The wine was barrel-fermented in old barrels, lees-stirred and matured for eight months. The flavours are intense yet well-integrated. Its structure and relatively high alcohol of 13.8% make it a nice pairing with heavier seafood or stir-fried pork dishes (we had it with wok-fried prawns with Sichuan chilli sauce and deep-fried scallops coated with taro crust 川汁蝦球，荔茸帶子).
Little Pig Rosé 2010, using the nickname given him by his grandmother, has an attractive pale pink salmon colour. I was expecting a soft delicate wine but instead my first impression was of something savoury and structured. Eddie explained that the wine, from Merlot grapes, underwent cool temperature fermentation and was aged for 12 months, so no wonder it developed the characters that Eddie highly recommends be paired with Cantonese style barbecued pork (叉燒). A delicate rosé would not stand up to the pork's robust flavour.
Eddie’s wine philosophy is that wine should be fun and enjoyable and that good quality wine is not necessarily expensive and out of reach. I totally agree. Indeed this is what I would like to promote in Hong Kong—a wine culture that values quality over price, enjoyment over pretentiousness, and, above all, sharing over showing off. I would love to see that one day, hopefully in the not too distant future, it is the norm that consumers have their rice box dinner at home in front of the television with a glass of wine rather than a can of soft drink. I have been discussing this with a few people recently, including Eddie and Betsy from Northeast and I think they share the sentiment. I hope we can start to generate enough support from other like-minded people to make this happen. Let me know if you agree.