Winemakers in concert


Maria-Teresa Mascarello,   of Bartolo Mascarello,   Barolo. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Maria-Teresa Mascarello, of Bartolo Mascarello, Barolo. Photograph: Jason Lowe

While the pool of touring rock stars is rather small in Hong Kong, Josh Rubenstein – Head of Wholesale in our Hong Kong office – finds that the wine world supplies the city’s oenophiles with a steady stream of vinous celebrities.

I have few gripes about life in Hong Kong, but I don’t mind whinging about the lack of touring bands that stop in Hong Kong whilst on tour. (Don’t get me started on the local concert venues either.) However, where we are short on visiting rock stars, we are utterly spoiled to receive the ‘rock stars’ of wine with great frequency. When Au Bon Climat’s Jim Clendenen or Barolo legend Maria-Teresa Mascarello walk the streets of Hong Kong, the reaction of wine collectors is often the same as mine upon seeing Bruce Springsteen (I am from New Jersey).

As a wine merchant, there are so many ways that we can deepen the relationships that our customers have with wine. Wine education, of course, builds a solid foundation, helping consumers better understand what’s in the glass, and why; but introducing someone to the personalities behind their most admired bottles is always uniquely rewarding and memorable.

Many wines are like personality in a bottle, and meeting the folks who put their blood, sweat and tears into a bottle is usually reaffirming of what we enjoy most about it – otherwise we would drink Coca-Cola. Only rarely do we meet a rock star and find that their personality is completely unlike their art, although seeing footage of Alice Cooper playing golf is always strange.

We invest a great deal of time organizing events, however I am always astounded by the great lengths that our producers go to in order to meet faraway strangers who may already be passionate about their wines, or just curious to discover something new. I know that these winemakers find the interactions equally rewarding, and quite flattering as well. The tables are often turned when a well-known winemaker meets a sommelier far from home: they know that sommeliers are responsible for the final step in their wine’s journey, introducing it to a new customer.

Too often we over-complicate the courtship between a wine and a customer, just as we do with business contacts that we have not met in person. Once face-to-face, we find that we have similar interests and the wine encourages us to put our best foot forward. After all, wine brings us together and is made better by great company and new friends we never imagined we would make.

You can meet some of the characters behind our wines at our events.