Bottle Shock making waves…. – 10/11/16
Monday afternoon I was lucky enough to go along to the first portfolio tasting of new Hong Kong importer Bottle Shock. Not an easy time to establish a brand new wine company in Hong Kong (as if there weren’t enough already!), however, Bottle Shock seems to be coming at things with a very different approach.
Meet founder, Adam Green, formerly of Roberson Wines, one of the UK’s leading independent specialists. His mission is simple: to bring you the most exciting artisanal wines around and breathe new life, it would seem, into the somewhat stagnant wine offering that HK has become so accustomed to (with a few notable exceptions of course).
Judging by what I tasted, he’s achieving his goal. On the whole, the selection emphasizes a real purity of fruit expression as well as a certain energy and tension, things I so often find missing in more commercially standardized wines. These are wines that have a very distinctive sense of place, allowed to shine through due to minimal intervention in the winery and for the most part organic or biodynamic practices in the vineyards.
The list features producers from regions that are often overlooked in Hong Kong but can deliver wines of fantastic quality. And that leads on to the other real stand out point about this list - its very reasonable value. With wine quality this high at such fair prices it’s hard to imagine that Bottle Shock won’t be a roaring success, particularly with open minded sommerliers and consumers looking for something a little bit outside the box.
To build private client sales, the aim is to reward loyal customers in a slightly different way to the usual spot offers or volume based discounts we are so used to seeing in Hong Kong. Bottle Shock’s promo mechanism will instead offer customers a 20% rebate in credits on an account based on their spend. So for example, if you order $4000 of wine you'll pay $4000 but on completing the order you'll then have $800 in credits on your account to spend on your next order. The upside for Bottle Shock is that it rewards loyal rather than opportunistic customers; the upside for the customer is that on that basis Bottle Shock can afford to be a bit more generous in the support they provide. Win win I’d say!
I for one am looking forward to seeing more of these wines around town in the near future and the website aims to launch next week for online sales. But if you can’t wait that long, then a visit to Rhoda, where Adam’s brother Nate is the head chef, is well worth a visit. The majority of the list is Bottle Shock wines and by using Coravin, many of them are available to purchase by the half bottle/carafe, something rarely seen in HK but in my mind the absolute way forward in terms of creating more diversity and allowing consumers to experiment with wines they are less familiar with. May other HK restaurants take note!
A selection of wines I tasted:
Domaine Des Lauriers Picpoul de Pinet 2015, France - $120
Nice peach and zesty lemon fruit, very refreshing, perfect aperitif or to go with shellfish and seafood.
Domaine Le Fay d’Homme (Vincent Caille) Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, Loire Valley, France - $140
Steely mineral texture, light bodied, lemon citrus fruit, simple and crisp, would be delicious with fresh oysters.
Domaine Le Fay d’Homme (Vincent Caille) La Part du Colibri Cabernet Franc 2015, Loire Valley, France - $140
A semi-carbonic style so very fruity (cherries, raspberries) and easy to drink, soft tannins, perfect served slightly chilled as the warm up at a BBQ or on a junk
Vine Revival Muscadet Terre de Gneiss 2014 from magnum, Loire Valley, France - $500
Lovely round, smooth texture from aging on lees adding subtle touches of bread crust to the bright lemon fruit, long mineral finish, very nice.
Pierre Morin Sancerre 2015, Loire Valley, France - $190
Very restrained style of Sauvignon Blanc, flinty mineral touch with delicate lemon and gooseberry flavours.
Francois Chidaine Mountlouis ‘Les Choisilles’ 2015, Loire Valley, France - $300
Slightly bruised apple notes characteristic of Chenin Blanc, crisp linear acidity and nicely textured mid palate. Good food wine. Try with soft shell crab.
Domaine Buronfosse Cotes du Jura Savagnin ‘L’Hospital’ 2014, France - $300
Crisp acidity with red apple and nutty, gently oxidized notes adding complexity. Delicious with a cheese soufflé.
Le Grappin Fleurie 2015, Beaujolais, France - $220
Savoury on the nose with lovely ripeness of cherry/rapberry fruit on the palate, no greenness whatsoever. Exemplary of why Beaujolais has become so popular in recent years.
Bodegas Zarate Albarino 2015, Rias Baixas, Spain - $160
Bright, semi-aromatic lemon and peach fruit very classic of Albarino and certainly more concentrated than many examples out there. Lovely freshness.
Vina Zorzal Malayeto Garnacha 2014, Navarra, Spain - $180
White pepper and red berry fruit abound in this wine which has an impressive stony minerality adding depth and texture. Excellent value.
Tentenublo Wines Rioja Escondite Del Ardacho Veriquete 2015, Spain - $400
Concentrated raspberry and blackberry fruit with great depth and flavour. Perfect with rack of lamb.
Bodegas Artuke Rioja Finca Los Locos 2014, Spain - $250
Graphite minerality and smokey edge adding interest to bright red berry fruit. Very reasonable price.
Crystallum Chardonnay Clay Shales 2015, Hemel-en-Arde, South Africa - $380
The best vintage of this wine I’ve yet tasted – ripe lemon, peach, well integrated touches of spicy new French oak adding complexity and texture. Long, fresh finish. Delicious.
Crystallum Pinot Noir ‘Bona Fide’ 2015, Hemel-en-Arde, South Africa - $380
Ripe strawberry, raspberry, cherry fruit with touches of blackberry and smokey, spicy new French oak touches. Super smooth and supple. The Chambolle-Musigny of South Africa perhaps? But at a more reasonable price!
Crystallum Pinot Noir ‘Mabalel’ 2015, Hemel-en-Arde, South Africa - $380
Tangy bright red berry fruit, lovely freshness and vivacity, smokey/spice overtones, should age and develop beautifully.
BLANKbottle Limbic 2015, South Africa - $250
A masculine style in terms of firm structure and density of fruit with rich spice and meaty nuances.
BLANKbottle Confessions of a White Glove Chaser 2015, South Africa - $250
Beautiful red berry fruit (strawberry, raspberry), highly elegant, more feminine compared to the Limbic.
Craven Syrah ‘Faure’ 2015, South Africa - $240
Meaty, spicy, dark brooding fruit, lovely rounded texture and depth of flavour. Would give some top N. Rhone styles a run for their money. Great value.
JH Meyer Mother Rock White 2015, Swartland, South Africa - $190
Lovely stony mineral character with layered peach and apricot fruit and a fresh finish.
JH Meyer Mother Rock Grenache 2015, Swartland, South Africa - $240
Herbal, white pepper spice with very pale ruby, Pinot Noir like colour. Very pure, elegant, fresh, with chalky tannin structure.
Rall White 2015, Swartland, South Africa - $250
Good concentration of stone fruit with spicy oak overtones and nervy acidity giving this great tension. Delicious with Rhoda’s Hokkaido scallops.
Rall Red 2015, Swartland, South Africa - $275
A touch closed on the noes but much more expressive on the palate showing ripe blackberry, black plum and pepper spice with firm yet ripe tannins. Great with Rhoda’s slow cooked octopus and chorizo.
A Tribute to Grace Santa Barbera Highlands 2014, California, USA - $450
Wonderful luscious ripe strawberry fruit with smooth, supple tannins that have a touch of fine grip and good freshness to finish.
A Tribute to Grace Besson 2014, California, USA - $500
Very intriguing spicy, slightly herbal nose with rich, very pure red berry fruit. Long, penetrating finish.