First iDealwine Masterclass in Hong Kong

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Taking advantage of our presence in Asia for the first edition of ProWine Hong Kong, we organized a series of dinners, tastings and iDealwine first masterclass in the region. In the wake of the success of previous masterclasses in Paris and London, we organized this one in partnership with The Drinks Business, world’s leading wine trade publication and a long term partner of iDealwine. We are already planning more of them towards the end of this year in Brussels and Singapore.

 

Hong Kong, a sophisticated market and a great opportunity for iDealwine

Hong Kong is probably one of the most fascinating wine markets with a high level of education and disposable income spent on wine. As French people immersed in the wine culture, we are sometimes unfortunately too inclined to think that this knowledge is ours. Meeting wine lovers who know the vineyard better than many of us do, helps us remain humble and is a great motivator for learning even more.

Since the government of Hong Kong abolished all custom duties on wine in February 2008, the city has become an essential platform both for domestic consumption and as a gateway to mainland China. Having established our office in 2013, we are consolidating our presence every year more. Since the beginning of 2017, our sales have more than doubled on a solid base of amateurs and wine collectors. According to a study carried out by the HKTDC statistics office, the wine auction market in Hong Kong is estimated at US$92 million in 2016, which still gives us interesting prospects for growth with less than US$2 million sales made in Hong Kong last year.

Alix Rodarie, in charge of the Asian office, is constantly in contact with our customers from the area, which facilitates service’s proximity and quality. Arthur de Lencquesaing, in charge of International development and based in London, comes to Asia at least 4-5 times a year and takes the opportunity to meet and taste with iDealwine customers. Professionals and enthusiasts from Hong Kong particularly enjoy the platform where they don’t only find the classic crus, but also discover a large range of wines and vintages that they cannot find elsewhere. Considering this, the theme of the masterclass became rather obvious: « Tour de France of Mature Wines » a mixture of great classics and discoveries.

 
The China Club, an ideal setting

The China Club is an institution in Hong Kong, located in the heart of the island in the historic Bank of China building. With a retro-chic inspiration from Shanghai in the 1930s, the club’s 3 floors are decorated with a wise mix of classical and contemporary art. Our first masterclass took place in this elegant setting. Ivy Ng, Asia Manager of our partner The Drinks Business, invited a great mix of wine lovers and professionals together with a selection of customers of iDealwine.

 

The key trends of the market in a wine tour of France

Arthur started by presenting the key trends of the fine wine market based on the analysis of the 60,000 lots sold by iDealwine in 2016 and detailed in the 48 page document offered to the guests: The Barometer.

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The first wine was the Cuvée 738 from Jacquesson (€45), a 28 hectare family house located in Dizy, north of Epernay. A multi-vintage with a base of 2010, a dosage of only 2.5g/L and a majority of Chardonnay. A delicate Champagne dominated by floral notes, lively with a creamy structure and fine bubbles. A persistent finish with seductive aromas of brioche. Arthur gave the auction perspective of Champagne, highlighting a few recent records like this rare magnum of Krug 1959 at €6,480 on iDealwine. Having worked for LVMH during 8 years, he retraced the fantastic history of Dom Pérignon and the boom in recent vintages with the development of Oenothèques and the cuvées Plenitude.

The following wine was a classic Pommard Comte Armand Clos des Epeneaux 2000 (€85). Produced in biodynamic since 1988, it didn’t display the classic tannic structure of most wines of the appellation, a rather elegant and harmonious wine dominated by red fruit and black cherry. The conversation about Burgundy quickly slipped to the Asian demand for the finest grands crus like DRC, Mugnier and Rousseau. Illustrating this trend, in the most recent auction, 23 of the 51 lots from Lalou Bize-Leroy were purchased by our Asian customers.

We then moved to Bordeaux, more precisely Pomerol, one of the appellations on the rise at auction due to very qualitative recent vintages and overall small volume. As explained in our monthly two page analysis in the Drinks Business of March 2017, La Conseillante has been booming recently and we strongly believe this trend is not going to stop. We thus decided to taste the 1986 (€100, 93/100 Wine Spectator, 17/20 Jancis Robinson): silky, elegant, at its peak, a delightful balance of fruit and old leather notes.

We headed South with Rhône Domaine Marcoux 1999 (€65, 90/100 Parker). Expecting a more powerful, tannic and full-bodied wine, everyone was surprised by the finesse of this Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Rhône was the region whose prices rose the most (+11%) in 2016, driven in particular by some great wines like Hermitage La Chapelle 1961 with perfect pedigree, sold on iDealwine in May 2016 for €13,320. Setting the record for the most expensive bottle of the year. In the South, other treasures such as Henri Bonneau wines reached high prices. Indeed the Réserve des Célestins 2010 sold for €420, which is 88% above its average auction price.

Then, we tasted an unusual wine, Madiran Montus 2000 (€22, 90/100 Wine Spectator) from Alain Brumont, also owner of Bouscassé. Tannic and spicy, its quality and its maturity surprised us, considering its very affordable price.

Finally, we tasted the expected Domaine de la Grange des Pères 2002 (€120, 88-91/ 100 Vinous Galloni), a producer whose prices have recently climbed to above €100 on average and gradually became Languedoc iconic wines, with a biodynamic approach. Others follow the same trend, as Peyre-Rose, Montcalmès or Mas Jullien. The 2002 vintage was the 10th of the domain. A complex, powerful and original wine due to a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Audacious compilation of Laurent Vaillé, in the wake of his neighbor Aimée Guibert de Daumas Gassac. Already tasted at the masterclass in London, we were delighted to be able to taste it again.
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We continued our tasting with white wines starting with a Jura, Vin Jaune from Château d’Arlay 2006. A very fashionable region with recent record prices. For example, Vin Jaune Domaine Overnoy sold at €1,032 in November 2016 and many more lots have sold at similar price point since the beginning of the year. This oxidative wine has mainly sweet almond notes. It is not to the taste of all, but has the merit of surprising everybody.

We finished our journey with two sweet notes. First the Sauternes-Barsac Château Coutet 1988 (€72, 19/20 La RVF, 91/100 Wine Spectator). A very good value for money, especially in mature and ready-to-drink vintages. You can also buy a superb Guiraud 1983 for €62 or a  Climens 1990 (95 points Parker) for only €114. Investors have to be patient, because it takes a long time for prices to rise like the Yquem 1914 sold €3,120 or the 1945 one at €4,080. These wines suffer from weak consumption, due to their sugar level and their image of dessert or celebration wines.

Finally, the Rivesaltes La Sobilane 1947, deep, powerful with complex aromas of chocolate, truffle and leather. There are only a few bottles left in the world. These wines, completely forgotten about, have slept in cellars for many decades before a dynamic entrepreneur came and revived these hidden treasures. Working with customs to confirm the vintages, he was able to identify and bottle these wines. iDealwine was chosen as a partner for the distribution of these unfortunately very limited stocks. A very nice way to close this tasting!

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