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Why Hong Kong's sipping Bourgogne this summer

Why Hong Kong's sipping Bourgogne this summer

Bourgogne boasts more appellations than any other region in France

The Bourgogne Wine Board was in town this month, showcasing the diversity of its UNESCO World Heritage, terroir-based viticulture and uncorking the 2022 harvest.

The wine roadshow hit Hong Kong following its debut in London and then travelled on to Japan. Bourgogne: The Winemakers’ Cut tour took in just two Asian cities, bearing in mind that last year vine-loving Hong Kong was Bourgogne’s fourth largest market by value at 1.27 million exported bottles. Bourgogne wine accounted for 14% of all French wines exported to Hong Kong.

So what’s special about Bourgogne, or ‘Burgundy’ wine as it was formerly known, compared to other origins?

From a geological point of view, its terroir is composed of layers of limestone and clay, a phenomenon which allows good drainage and encourages roots to go deeper for water, forcing them to struggle and thereby producing wines of “elegance, precision and character”. It’s also worth noting the longevity of wine growing in Bourgogne - families have been taking care of Bourgogne vineyards for centuries and will no doubt be doing so for centuries to come.

As a result, Bourgogne has a huge 84 appellations (geographic areas in which grapes are grown), more than any other French region. What’s more, 33 vineyards are classified as Grand Cru appellations, considered the pinnacle of winemaking. A further 44 appellations are classified as Village Premier Crus.

Why Hong Kong's sipping Bourgogne this summer

Harvest at the vineyards of Bourgogne

But that’s only half the story. A new generation of winemakers are challenging conventions and uncovering the region’s vast untapped potential. This year’s tour aimed to spotlight the myriad hidden treasures of the Bourgogne region and the wines nurtured in lesser-known Village and Regionale appellations. According to the Bourgogne Wine Board, these discoveries are ideal buys this summer.

After a tasting lunch in Hong Kong including nine wines from various appellations, we caught up with host Anne Moreau, president of the Communication Commission at the Bourgogne Wine Board. 

Summer’s coming, what should we be drinking?

Bourgogne whites are the perfect match for summer drinking. Thanks to their freshness and fruitiness, Bourgogne whites are refreshing in the heat. And a special mention to Chablis wines which combine crispness and minerality.

What would you pair with a barbecue or picnic?

For a barbecue, I’d recommend a Marsannay, red or rose. The reds have an intense colour and fruity aromas of blackcurrant, cherry and strawberries, while the roses reveal delicate notes of redcurrant and vine peach.

With deeper flavours such as grilled beef or pork ribs, Irancy would be a good pairing thanks to its vibrant tannins and aromatic richness.

For a picnic, a white Macon (look for Macon, Macon-Villages or a geographical denomination such as Macon-Lugny, Macon-Chardonnay or Macon-Peroone) would go well with a salad or chicken.

Why Hong Kong's sipping Bourgogne this summer

Anne Moreau of the Bourgogne Wine Board

How should Bourgogne whites be stored and served?

I recommend storing whites in a ventilated room, or even better, in a temperature-controlled wine cabinet at 13 degrees Celsius. When serving, I think it’s best to keep the wine at between ten and 15degC, but not too cold because you will not experience their delicate white flower and white pear aromas and their minerality, salinity and crispness.

If you’re dining inside with air conditioning, I’d say serve them between 13 and 15degC, but if you’re outside in warm weather, serve them cooler at between ten and 12degC as they will warm rapidly in the glass.

We were surprised to enjoy a white wine with cheese at the Winemaker’s Cut lunch, which labels generally suit a cheese plate?

For dry cheeses such as Comte, fresh goat cheese and Brillat-Savarin, I’d recommend round-flavoured wines, including Chablis Grand Cru, Meursault and Mercurey. For stronger cheeses such as blues, I would suggest a red wine like Rully.

Which reds that can be enjoyed in a hot Asian climate?

Givry and Santenay are ideal for their light-bodied fruitiness and not heavy style. I’d also recommend the Regionale appellation wines such as Bourgogne Epineuil, Bourgogne Cote Chalonnaise, or the most recent of them, Bourgogne Cote d’Or.

Are there any particular vintages we should be looking out for?

Overall, every vintage has its own personality. I know it’s difficult to find back vintages, but 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are beautiful. Another good vintage was 2021, but that was very much a winemaker’s vintage and volumes were low. The new vintages, 2022 and 2023, have two different expressions. It will be interesting to explore them.

Tasting notes

We enjoyed the following wines at the Winemaker's Cut lunch

Why Hong Kong's sipping Bourgogne this summer

Hong Kongers drink more white than red according to the Bourgogne Wine Board

Chablis, Les 8, white, 2021, Domaine Louis Moreau (HK$290 from Victoria Wines) - 'a generous and supple wine that expresses aromas of fern and ripe fruit supported by a discreet, worthy of a Chablis Premier Cru.'

Macon-Bussieres, white, 2022, Maison Joseph Drouhin (HK$150 from Connoisseur Wines) - 'clear and bright in colour, the wine develops mineral notes with hints of white flowers. Precise on the palate and with a long aftertaste, it shows an amazing purity.'

Bourgognes Cotes d'Auxerre, white, 2019, Domaine PL et JF (HK$225 from La Petite Cave) - 'bright and golden in colour with aromas of almond, then hazelnuts and white flowers on the nose this enjoyable wine quickly builds up its power with a beautiful minerality.'

Montagny Premier Cru, Les Bonneveaux, white, 2019, Olivier Leflaive (HK$330 from Corney & Barrow) - 'a full and rounded mouthful, accompanied by captivating flavours of minerality, spices and hazelnut. Its zesty and enjoyable character makes is a delightful choice.'

Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru, Les Hauts Jarrons, white, 2020, Domaine Francoise Andre (HK$600 from King's Wine Cellar) - 'buttery with complex aromas and rare harmony, it is a true Bourgogne nectar.'

Marsannay, Les Longeroies, red, 2020, Domaine Charles Audoin (HK$330 from Caroline Que) - a shinning bright purple colour with impressive fruit compote flavours, the wine is very relaxed in style, with a juicy central core of sweet dark fruit.'

Santenay, Clos de Malte, red, 2017, Maison Louis Jadot (HK$358 from Regis Wine) - 'with aromas of ripe red fruit, almonds and earth, this is an elegant wine with depth and potent tannins. It will develop in the bottle for five to ten years.'

Pouilly-Vinzelles, Les Quarts, white, 2021, La Soufrandiere (HK$400 from Ginsberg + Chan Wine Merchants Asia) - 'the wine exudes balance and complexity, with a lemony, mineral nose and length on the palate.'

Givry Premier Cru, Clos du Cellier aux Moines, red, 2020, Domaine du Cellier Aux Moines (HK$500 from Fine Wine Experience) - the red fruit-driven nose has perfumed notes of flowers and touches of spice that lift the aromatic profile. The palate is fresh and elegant, with smooth tannins and great complexity.'

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