Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Champagne Wednesday

Another wine soaked week, albeit certainly less so than last.  With my bum toe I'm learning the art of relaxing.  Monday I came home from work and wrote my blog and read a book.  When's the last time you sat down and just read?  It was nice.

my new 25 minute walk home from work
Tuesday was slammed with preparing for events (if you're in HK come to Burgers & Bordeaux March 4th) with a mid-afternoon pause to go judge some wines.  This is my second time judging for the Chine Wine & Spirits Awards and it's a total blast.

You're assigned a table and have a bunch of wines wrapped up in front of you.  You taste, and spit, and give a rating of 1-5 on various aspects like color (I don't get this at all), genuineness (again, what does this mean?), quality of aromas and flavors, value for money and then make some wine pairing matches with various Chinese dishes.  

I find it incredibly difficult to judge wines as it seems rather cruel to rate them low, especially based on very vague criteria, so I tend to go pretty neutral with a solid 3.  The best part of this exercise is trying to work out what you think each wine was. 

For the whites some were very obvious, New World Sauv Blanc and overly oaked Chards, although there were some really nice ones too, to some more obscure Italian varietals.  Overall it was a much better showing than last year and it was fun to collaborate with my table over which wines were totally ick and which were standouts, and there were quite a few. 

Tuesday evening found me at the Foreign Correspondents Club for the first time. I almost went once for a going away party but couldn't figure out which bar within the club the party was at so left.  This time fared better as I met my date at the door and he guided  This is now my 5th or so date from Tinder and I don't really understand why it gets so much slack.  I've met nothing but really nice interesting people.  Like really nice people.  And while there probably won't be another date, it was still a nice night out with a new friend.  

 Champagne Wednesday!  The weekly wine tasting at work this week centred around vintage Champagne, many of which are from the highly lauded 2002 vintage.

2002 Pommery Cuvee Louise- super elegant, delicate, and although not my preferred style, it was delicious. (60% Chard, 40% Pinot)

2002 Gosset Celebris Brut- a more masculine (50% Chard, 50% Pinot) and powerful style.

2002 "B" by Boerl & Kroff - the second champagne from the most expensive champagne in the world, this was outstanding and maybe the best champagne I have ever had.  Super complex, youthful, but so interesting. We decanted this:
 Toffee, vanilla, apples and pears, and citrus, but with seamless integration and it just kept changing.  Pre-decanting it was like a rollercoaster, afterward it became a little less up and down but still continued to evolve.  Now I need to find me their first wine (only bottled in magnums in the best of years ~$50,000/mag)

1995 Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millenaires.  This is always one of my favorite champagnes as it was one of the first I had that made me stop and say holy delicious champagne is great.  This also has quite a bit of oxidation character which I love.  1995 wasn't a widely declared vintage, but among those who did this is supposedly the best.

1997 Salon de Mesnil- I had high expectations here and was pretty let down.  It was totally tight and definitely would have benefited from a couple of hours in the decanter.  Unfortunately when we got these in we got them at the best price in HK and they promptly sold out.  Not likely to try it again for a while...

And we finished with a lovely 2004 Bollinger Grand Anee Rose.  It was very pale pink and had really restrained notes of berries, iodine, and minerality.  I loved it but found it to be a polarizing wine among others in the group

And my cheese man Julien hooked it up again.  I send him a list of wines and he does the pairings for me and they're always spot on.  I can't speak highly enough of the selection at Classified.  Give Julien a visit.  

Afterward I met up with Neil and Andy for some Sai Ying Pun action.  We met at 10 or so and it was incredibly difficult to find something still open.  It's much more neighborhood-y and residential over here than even Sheung Wan, and as such the restaurants close for noise reasons.

We stumbled into an Italian bistro and sat outside on a secret semi-outdoor patio.    We had an interesting although not great bottle of Montepulciano/Sangiovese from the Marche, some duck parppardelle and beef cheek and head out to hit the town.  Unfortunately by 11:30 town this side of the island is closed so we retired on our own merry little ways.

It's always funny to go out with Neil and Andy to get their perspective on life and the world.  They're both self employed, one American one British, not married although both in relationships, and together are similar to a married couple themselves.  And the best thing about them, a thing that many many people in HK lack, is that when they say they're going to do something or go somewhere- they actually do it.  Nina and Kenny used to be my reliable friends, now it's Andy and Neil.  
Doesn't Maria make the cutest babies?
 Anyway, I'm into the new hood. There is definitely a sense of community here.  There's one main street, High Street, where you can find everything from Thai to Korean to Indian, Pizza, Pubs, and more.  And then cute side streets with flower shops and cafes, and also a lot of pedestrian or low traffic streets where people are just soaking it in. There's great integration between locals and ex-pats, more so than I have felt anywhere else.  

I saw this teeny tiny 300 year old woman walking down the street Sunday am.  This much younger, although probably 70, year old man stopped and greeted her, but by holding her hands and looking her in the eye and giving a big smile.  It was a very sweet and tender moment between 2 people who had probably known each other their whole lives.  Next time I'm running at cursing at the slow old people (in my head) I'm going to think back to this.

Time to shower in my new hot (for about 5 minutes) water and get to work.  Lots to do at work and then off to meet the ladies for a bite...ciao.

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