Hong Kong wine importer L’Imperatrice is organizing a wine auction event to help the city’s battered dining industry, which has been among the hardest hit during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Hong Kong’s restaurants are hanging by a thread amid an economic downturn that first started with the monthslong anti-government protests and now worsened by the ongoing pandemic.
Over 1,000 restaurants have closed since last year’s social unrests, and another 1,000 could face closure if the pandemic persists beyond April, according to estimates by the Association for Hong Kong Catering Services Management made in mid-March.
A wine auction is now rallying the city’s wine lovers and collectors to offer a lifeline to the city’s most affected restaurants and some of L’Imperatrice’s favourite eateries including Belon, Arcane and Club Qing to name a few.
The auction from April 19 to 29 will feature a selection of rare lots from wineries from France and Italy including Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg, Domaine Cecile Tremblay, Domaine Anne Gros, Domaine Arnoux Lachaux, Domaine Felettig, Champagne Ulysse Collin, and Emidio Pepe.
The showstopper though is an old-vine cuvée G-Max magnum by Weingut Keller, one of the best estates in Germany and whose wines are lauded by wine critic Jancis Robinson as the German Montrachets.
According to the wine importer, only six bottles of magnum of this wine are produced, and “magnums are never sold and kept by the domaine for their own wine library or special events.” The lot, a 2018 vintage in magnum, carries an estimate of HKD 40,000 – HKD 100,000 (US$5,160 -US$12,900).
Other highlighted lots include a bottle of Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Reignots 2009 by Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux and a magnum bottle of Ruchottes Chambertin by Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg.
Though Hong Kong never introduced a complete lockdown, the fast-spreading virus alone has driven regular dinners home.
Restaurants are ordered by Hong Kong government to adhere to strict social distancing rules and operate at 50% capacity maximum to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Restaurants are among the businesses set to benefit from a HKD137.5 billion (US$17.7 billion) relief package. Under the scheme, the government will cover a part of workers’ wages for six months, capped at HK$9,000 monthly, for employers who do not lay off their staff.
Critics however complained the relief package is inadequate without rent subsidies for Hong Kong’s restaurant and bar operators and left out employees who previously were laid off before the government announcement in April.