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The Wall of Wine in the dining room at James Suckling Wine Central.

Hong Kong’s Wine Scene: A Tasting Tour

Article by Kelly Magyarics 02.26.2019

Since the city eliminated its wine duty a decade ago, Hong Kong’s wine scene has flourished. For those looking to venture beyond the usual suspects like classified Bordeaux and grand cru Burgundy, here are the best wine bars, shops and festivals to pique your palate.

WINE BARS

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The lively atmosphere and charcuterie board at La Cabane Wine Bistro.

James Suckling Wine Central

The new space from the renowned wine critic and his wife, Marie, has a staggering 300 offerings by the glass and 500 others by the bottle. That’s just a sliver of the 22,000 Suckling and his team of tasters evaluate every year, but to pass muster for the menu each needs to have garnered 90 points or more. The menu is divided into sections for Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Italy and the Andes; verticals of Brunello and Barolo; newly released bottles called “Great Wines of the World;” and wines he’s awarded 100 points over his four-decade career. Modern Asian shared plates round out the concept: think slow-cooked octopus gochujang, duck terrine with sesame confit, and prawn bibimbap. 22 Staunton St., 2nd Floor, jamessucklingwinecentral.com


La Cabane Wine Bistro

This cozy space focuses on natural wines: those made with grapes grown organically or biodynamically and minimally manipulated in the cellar, making terroir apparent with every sip. The list runs 150 options deep with 25 by the glass, all from artisan growers in 15 countries: méthode ancestrale bubbly from southwest France, skin contact wine from Croatia and even a syrah from Morocco. Sip them with boudin noir burgers and pork pâté, and if passionate and well-connected co-founder Cristobal Huneeus is there, get his take on why Hong Kong is such an oenophile’s paradise. 62 Hollywood Road, lacabane.hk


121BC Cantina and Enoteca

The name of this Italian wine bar refers to what’s been deemed the best vintage of falernian, an amphora-aged white wine served at a banquet in 60 B.C. honoring Julius Caesar. The list changes frequently, with 27 available by the glass and 100 by the bottle; during regional weeks each month, the staff spotlights a region of Italy through dishes and flights. The menu changes weekly but always lets the ingredients speak for themselves in seared Hokkaido scallops with smoked oyster dressing and celeriac or tagliatelle with wild boar ragu, kale and pecorino. 42-44 Peel St., 121BC.com.hk

 

WINE SHOPS

The tasting room and shop at Ginsberg + Chan.

Ginsberg + Chan

If you seek luxe liquids, pay a visit to these merchants specializing in ready-to-drink and collectible fine and rare wines sourced both from private collectors and traders. They also handle requests for investments, storage, event recommendations and cellar purchasing. Themed #WineWednesday blind tastings cover sparkling wine, grenache and the Loire Valley. 50-52 Queen’s Road, hkguide.ginsbergchan.com


La Cabane Wine Cellar

Up the street from Cristobal Huneeus’ bistro, this companion shop stocks 400 labels, all with the same focus on “less is more”: natural wines from winemaker friends vinified with grapes that see few or no chemicals when they are growing or fermenting. Huneeus is the first to acknowledge that Hong Kong’s high humidity makes it difficult to keep wines fresh, but his shop lets them show and taste their very best. 97 Hollywood Road, lacabane.hk


Oz Terroirs

Do you crave Yarra Valley cabernet, Beechworth chardonnay or pinot noir from the Mornington Peninsula? Look no further than this merchant specializing in small-batch wines from Down Under. Their sister company, an exporter based in Melbourne, sources boutique brands from the country’s cool-climate Victoria region, getting to know the stories of the people behind the wine and tasting every single bottle before it ends up on shelves. 2 Mee Lun St., ozterroirs.com.hk

 

WINE FESTIVALS

Tents at the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival. Photography courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival

Every autumn, this event beckons 140,000 wine fans to 450 booths set against the backdrop of Victoria Harbour. Stretching from the Central Harbourfront Event Space to Tamar Park, the festival highlights wines from dozens of regions around the world (with beers and spirits thrown in for good measure). Cooking classes with master chefs, cheese tastings and other epicurean activities make this a must-attend event. discoverhongkong.com


Vinexpo Hong Kong

Held every two years at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wanchai (the next one is set for May 26–28, 2020), this massive three-day show is the most important in Asia. Mostly designed for those in the wine trade (exporters, importers, distributors and the like), it also attracts rabid enthusiasts for master classes, guided tastings, panel discussions, seminars and, of course, thousands of wines to taste. vinexpohongkong.com

 

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