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10/06/2014

Vinexpo - The Wine Trade's Hunger Games

by Guy Ruston - Managing Director (Hong Kong)

“You can sleep when you’re dead” was a common rally cry from a former flat mate during the misspent youth of our early twenties. Ten years on and it at times still serves as a useful mantra, though more a private reassurance to oneself than bullish cajoling of those around me. Sleep is a precious commodity during ‘Vinexpo Week’, when clients, suppliers and friends from the world of wine descend upon Hong Kong for a few days of wining, dining, schmoozing and networking. The expo itself was somewhat low key this year, perhaps a reflection of the market but in a small city with some 2000 wine merchants, the week is a ‘last man standing’ endurance test of tastings, lunches and dinners. Indeed, at times a master class in networking too - whilst chatting to a friend a fellow wine merchant managed to slide their business card under my phone, without me noticing. Genius! However, I in fact ran out, sorry distributed, all of my business cards during the week. Does that mean I win?

In all seriousness it’s always a cracking week and great fun meeting and hanging out with fellow wine merchants and collectors alike. With just a few days to go until the World Cup it doesn’t leave a huge amount of time to detox but does offer enough hours to reflect upon the week that was and some extraordinary bottles enjoyed.

A few highlights:

1990 Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco (Magnum)

The shining star in a bumper evening of bottles. Thank you Eric! Sweet ripe, sun-kissed fruit, laden with cassis and violets. Generous and rich with extraordinary length. These wines are such great value vs the more fame-hungry estates in Tuscany. Superb.

1966 Vieux Ch Certan

Very Vosne, both aromatically and in texture, this is a gorgeous lunch time tipple. Any time for that matter. This is a great bottle of an understandably variable wine. Soft yet well defined with delicious savoury notes to compliment the still generous red fruits. Bang on.

1995 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle (Jero)

The benefits of provenance and bottle size are on show to full effect as this ex-domaine big brute of bottle is insanely fresh and vibrant vs a 75cl of the ’98 tasted alongside it. 1990 and 1991 aside, the ‘90s generally was a difficult decade for this historic estate and storied wine. A 75cl, of the same wine, with a few more air miles would undoubtedly taste a lot more pedestrian against this but make no mistake this is a very nice La Chapelle nonetheless. Rich, gamy, with all the tell-tale ‘La Chapelleness’ one could wish for; saddle leather, bacon fat, black cherries etc. A challenge worth taking on.   

1998 Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline

My name is Guy Ruston and I am a Guigal addict. I don’t know whether to thank Gary Boom or ask him to extend my terms of credit with BI as owing to his many years of eulogizing I am totally hooked on Guigal’s LaLas. An inexpensive habit it is not. This is yet another glorious showing from one of the wine world’s great back catalogues. A seamless, curvaceous La Mouline full of sappy fruit, dried herbs and a delicious hint of white pepper. Got better and better throughout the night. Awesome.