Nebbiolo finds its perfect match in China as BB&R leads Piemonte producers to Hong Kong…
Author: David Berry Green
I’m very excited; I’m very, very excited. In fact I’m as excited as a steamed-up Dim Sum dumpling that’s just realised he’s been served up as the Hong Kong representative in the annual Chinese Dim Sum Cup! And no, of course it’s not linked to the symbolic win of Italy over France in the Six Nations Rugby…but plenty to do with having just returned from a week leading five Piemontese producers – Cantinas Giovanni Rosso, Cascina delle Rose, E.Pira, Cascina Fontana and Mascarello Bartolo – to BB&R Hong Kong, their exclusive importers.
You only have to watch the video interview below to witness the buzz the trip generated. In fact so successful was the trip, the first for all bar Davide Rosso, that they’d barely touched down back in Milano and they were already planning their return!
Several areas really touched the producers: the way their wines tasted so good so, so far from home, notably twenty and thirty year old vintages poured at the Mascarello Bartolo dinner; how their Nebbiolo wines found a perfect, seamless match with the Chinese food (putting other nations’ wine firmly in the shade!); they enjoyed the Chinese’s reverential and cultural approach to food and eating; the youthfulness, open-mindedness, and curiosity of journalists and consumers alike; the apparent lack of hand-made, artisan Italian fine wine such as their own – shop shelves packed with the same-old brands; and they were struck by the professionalism, spirit and drive of the BBR Hong Kong team in promoting their products.
This was my first visit to China too. I loved the experience, the people and the food in particular. I loved the way the Chinese lingered over the meals, Italian-style, which consisted of a series of small dishes that included favourites such as suckling pig, goose, duck, lamb, prawns, fish – each one totally at home alongside Nebbiolo. And given the taste for tea during the meal, Nebbiolo’s fine tannins, cleansing acidity and rich sunny fruit were in perfect company.
I enjoyed the Chinese’s studied, open approach to meeting the producers and drinking their wines. Meeting Beatrice Zhai, Editor of the Chinese newspaper South Metropolis Weekly, Guangzhou, was one of my highlights. She travelled two hours by train to make the tasting, and then proceeded to taste and enquire with real care. Perhaps it was due to an intrinsic, cultural appreciation of artisan products, an awareness that these producers and their wines offered something truly special…and so they do.
Crucially though it was my BB&R Hong Kong colleagues that made the biggest impact. The way they put together such a balanced yet full programme, introducing the producers and their wines to sales colleagues, journalists and consumers. And how they accepted and enthused over the wines for what they are, and not for what the market might have them believe. This was a seminal week. I – and the producers – will be back to continue the momentum. Avanti Savoia!