Asia's best wines and spirits for the Year of Rabbit (pic: Vino Joy News)

Asia's best wines and spirits for the Year of Rabbit (pic: Vino Joy News)

If you're looking for the ultimate wine experience or a few bottle to lubricate the dinner conversations over the upcoming Chinese New Year, be sure to check out these Trophy winners from HK IWSC.

Best Wine from Japan: Kuju Chardonnay Catwalk 2021

Produced by Kuju winery in Oita, on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, the Chardonnay is a delicate and refined white wine that represents some of the best from this Asian country. Deservably, it’s a crowd pleaser, and easily stood out among dozens of samples from Japan to win a Trophy.

“A vibrant clean fresh fruit forward nose of pineapples and nectarine. On the palate the wine shows bright acidity with a good long finish. Very enjoyable!”

Jacky Lai, Head Sommelier at three-Michelin-starred Forum, and Micky Chan, Co-founder of Hong Kong Wine Academy and Chairperson of the Federation of Japanese Sake Industry of Hong Kong

Best Red Wine from Spain / Best Wine from Castilla y León of Spain / Best Tempranillo: Bodega y Viñedos Martín Berdugo MB 2014

This was the first vintage after the rebuilding of Martín Berdugo winery following the fire caused by a lightning strike in 2013 and the qualitative leap made by the adoption of a gravity-fed winemaking system. This wine honors the history of the winery, representing its pinnacle, blending the most advanced vineyard management and monitoring techniques with the traditions or our region and the essence of the environment. The Tinto Fino grapes come from the oldest plot in the vineyard, where yields are particularly low and the quality of the fruit is exceptional.

“A bit stalky on the nose, dried fruits, hints of dates, wet forest floor, a developed nose, quite integrated and still has plenty of acidity and fruits. Nicely done!”

Natalie Wang, Founder and Editor of Vino Joy News

Best Wine from Georgia: Marnaveli Kisi-Khikhvi Qvevri Wine 2019

An interesting combination of Kisi and Khikhvi aged in Georgia’s traditional qvevri (clay vessel). This amber skin contacted wine will delight even some of the most critical palates of orange wines.

“Golden yellow with notes of ripe figs, dried apricots. Slightly oxidised, intese sherry aromas with fresh acidity and good length.”

Ronald Khoo, Wine, Spirits & Beverages Manager at Cathay Pacific

Best Wine from Germany / Best Riesling: Haart Riesling Kabinett Goldtröpfchen 2018

Weingut Reinhold Haart winery in Mosel River has been making wines since 1337 using estate-grown grapes in Piesport. With only 8 ha of vineayrds on the steep hills of Mosel, the winery’s production is limited and precise. Average harvest is around 50 hl per hectare, and the winemaking process is kept as natural as possible. No chemicals are used and only wild yeast is used for fermentation.

“This works very well with the green curry, the wine’s acidity crashes down the spice, and sweetness in the wine is a relief. More importantly, it still has liveliness and brightness in the wine. Very good pairing.”

Natalie Wang, Founder and Editor of Vino Joy News

Best Wine from Portugal: Quinta de Porrais Quinta de Porrais 2018

Quinta de Porrais in Duoro originally belonged to Ferreirinha, the first Port house to produce quality dry white wines in 1952. The winery over the years has taken on renown of itself. Its vineyards span 35 ha with 60% planted to white varietals such as Rabigato, Codega do Larinho, Viosinho and Verdelho and the remaining for the red grapes of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Sousão and Tinta Barroca.

Grown on shale soils at 600 meters above sea level, its vines have an average age of 65 years and the older vines average 80 years and above. This wine in particular is made from a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Sousão, fermented in French oak barrels before being aged for nine months.

“Bold and rich in structure with a long classy finish. A clear potential for further ageing.”

Cherish Ho, Director of Wine at Auor

Best Wine from Australia: De Bortoli Black Noble Barrel Aged 10 Years Old

It has been over 40 years since Darren De Bortoli created “Noble One”, the benchmark dessert wine from Australia in 1982. To this day it is still one of the most awarded wines in history. More than three decades after this pioneering Botrytis Semillon took the world by storm, the luscious sweet wine remains an icon in Australia and a top reference point of desset wine worldwide.

The dark colored sweet wine is made when the botrytised Semillon grapes are being harvested for Noble One, a parcel of fruit at approx 20-22 baume is then selected to produce the Black Noble, which is more intense with ripe botrytis flavours. Very little fermentation occurs before fortification with a neutral grape spirit is added to inhibit any further fermentation. Black Noble is then clarified, a touch of brandy spirit added for further complexity before being transferred into used Noble One barriques.

“Warm salted caramel, fine brandy perfume and notes of apple pie and cinamon roll. An smazing dessert wine!”

Wallace Lo, Head Sommelier at Heimat

Best Wine from Austria: Zantho Grüner Veltliner Reserve 2020

Located in Andau, close to the Hungarian border in Burgenland of Austria, Zantho cultivates about 80 ha of vineyards in Burgenland, and its wines bearing the distinctly recognizable label of a lizard is exported to over 40 countries around the world.

Making white wines from Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscat, this particular Grüner Veltliner Reserve 2020 is a selection of the winery’s oldest Grüner Veltliner grapes. Around 50% of the reserve matured in small French oak barrels and the other 50% in stainless steel tanks.

“A terroir-driven aromatic wine with multiple layers of flavors that leads into a lengthy finish. Great ageing potential!”

Bojan Radulovic, Deputy General Manager of Links Concept

Best Grape Brandy: Tiflisi Marani Marnaveli 5 Years Old

For drinkers who are looking for a heavy-duty tipple to kick off the Year of the Rabbit, this award-winning brandy from Georgia’s Tiflisi Marani winery in Khakheti certainly fits the bill. Golden in colour with aromas of vanilla, coffee and spices from ageing in barrels. It is round and silky on the palate. A great companion with dark chocolate, light cheese and cigars.

“A wonderful expression with plenty of layers of taffy, chocolate, lightly bitter finishing, and deliciously fruity.”

Andrew Wong, Wine & Spirits Division Manager at Liquid Gold

Best London Dry Gin: Bulldog London Dry Gin

Bulldog London Dry Gin is a multi-award winning handcrafted at an English distillery that has been making the highest quality gin for over 260 years. The balanced flavour and crisp character of Bulldog Gin is infused with 12 of the rarest, most distinctive botanicals including Dragon Eye, French lavender, Italian juniper, Asian lotus leaves, Turkish white poppy and Chinese liquorice. Every batch is quadruple distilled in traditional copper pots at one of the world’s finest gin distilleries that has been producing gin since 1761.

“Nose is amazingly balanced, lots of balsamic notes, refreshing, sharp, could be enjoyed on its own as well.”

Matteo Salvatore Ceravolo, Co-founder of Sake Central and Spirits Brand Development Manager at Certa

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