November 11th, 2014 @ 02:41am
Well – I feel as though I’ve been around the block a little! Seven countries (one twice) in two weeks doing wine-lunches, master-classes, press and wine-dinners each day (and the weekend!) is more suited to a twenty old than a man of a mature age (looking good nonethelessJ). So thanks Myriam for making sure that I was wa-ay busy!
It’s been great fun – and so diverse. I went from Bordeaux to Paris, Dubai, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Hong Kong, Macau, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul and home.
Where to start? In Bangkok I stayed at the Grand Hyatt and we did a master-class for around 40 sommeliers from all of the best restaurants and hotels there. Joe, who is the President of the Sommeliers association, professionalised my, as normal, off-the-wall delivery. Dinner was at ‘Tables’ in the hotel – upscale.
Kuala Lumpur with Michelle was great. I haven’t done a wine-dinner for 154 people before (nearly, but not quite). This was for Starwood and Citibank. My presentation was Nuremberg-like and with a mike, a stage and two 20 foot screens showing the 2014 vintage at TEYSSIER. I felt that I'd had a rock-star moment. All this was helped by the group that played in between. A more casual wine-dinner the next night for 45 people was a little more intimate!
Manila is quite unbelievable. Pockets of skyscraper suburbs surrounded by abject poverty. I stayed at the Peninsula which wasn’t too shabby, happily. Ben, reassuringly French, guided me through this. The business he works for is, without doubt, the pinnacle of the wine-business in the Philippines and the punters that I met at the master-class at his top-shop were really knowledgeable and open to both Bordeaux and Napa.
I’ve been travelling to Hong Kong for what seems ages (I first went back in eighties in my last business as a guest of Jardine-Matherson). It doesn’t stop constructing, re-constructing and changing itself. Watson’s (Ben, thanks for subsidising my taxi back to Kowloon), have some old vintages of LE DOME from our Justerini & Brooks exclusive period right at the beginning. So it was a real pleasure to present these at a very cool Japanese/French place called Suzuike restaurant in Wan Chai.
And then on to see one of our oldest clients in Asia (and good friend) – Luis – in Macau.
What a place! It puts Las Vegas in the shade. He’s had his Rolls Royce re-sprayed red to match the colour of the new casino that he’s involved in. How’s that for branding! I’ve met both of his delightful kids before (kids no longer!). We rolled out two new wines that we’re working exclusively with Frank and him in Hong Kong. I did a TV interview replying to questions in Cantonese. Raymond managed everything, as ever, perfectly.
Back on the hydro-foil to Hong Kong for a wine-dinner at the superb top-top restaurant Tien Yi (literally ‘the pinnacle of the world’) with Frank and seriously great company. Good to hear that Grant loved the wines and will list them at the new Louis XIII Casino that will open next year. They’ve just put in an order for 30 Rolls Royces – the largest order received by them!
Up for lunch the next day with WORLD’S END importers Herly and Domonal. They are looking well and happy that Hugo, their son, is doing so well at Salisbury in the good country! Straight on to a master-class in Central with a
really delightful couple Mandy and Jason of Ginsberg & Chan, ably assisted by Lauren. It was great to see Rami again, who must be fed up with people in the wine-business saying that he’s Gil’s brother!
No rest for the wicked. On to a wine-dinner with our long-term importer, One Red Dot at Lawry’s organised by the effusive Ross and attended by Vernes and his new wife – Congratulations!
5 o’clock alarm for the flight to Taipei, Taiwan – my first visit. Sunny is one of the characters of the wine scene, and really respected. I was ‘guest of honour’ at her champagne ‘Armand de Breignac’ wine-dinner at the W Hotel. Terribly elegant and this was followed by a master-class the following day, an interview with Mark Pygott and a wine-dinner with a great crowd. Well done Carlos!
When I got to Seoul the following day, I discovered that Armand de Breignac had been sold to Jay-Z. Korea is a really technologically advanced country putting Europe and the US to shame with its infrastructure. Soobee represents the best retailer/wholesaler here and organised two great wine-dinners – one very grand and the second far more relaxed. In the middle of this was a lunch at, what must have been, one of the best restaurants that I had the pleasure to go to – Mingles. If you’re in town – try it (and drink TEYSSIER of course!).
I think I alluded to my age at the start of this post, but for those of you that don’t come from Korea, the term ‘Oppa is Gangnam style’ means your elder brother or – way more likely – a ‘sugar-daddy’ who trawls the ‘Gangnam’ area of Seoul which is similar to Mayfair or Manhattan. As in www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0.
In Asia, as in the Britain, you play down any achievements that you may have. I was, however, asked in most countries about getting 100 Points from Robert Parker. I explained that he had said to me, when I met him afterwards and had thanked him for the review - ‘Don’t worry, Jonathan, its downhill from now on’!!
When asked my ambition for the future? ‘To prove him wrong!!’