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An Australian Icon: Wine Times, Hong Kong

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When one thinks of the Margaret River region of Australia a few names spring to mind – none more so than the iconic winery Moss Wood who has been producing world class wines from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, among others, since the 1970’s. With vines planted in 1969 and the first vintage in 1973, Moss Wood set out to pioneer winemaking in Western Australia and with the emergence of the now current owners Keith and Clare Mugford’s winemaking prowess in 1979 the winery has arguably become the benchmark for red wine production in the region.

Lunch @ Armani Aqua

Keith and Clare held a lunchtime audience with some of Hong Kong’s prominent wine media and sommeliers last week on a quick trip to Hong Kong on the way through to visit other cities around Asia. Wines were tasted and Hong Kong was introduced to wines from their most recently acquired vineyard Ribbon Vale. The vineyard itself was planted in 1977 by the then owner John James and, fortunately for the Mugford’s, their timely purchase allowed them to make a vintage right from the start with the first vintage made in 2000. Ribbon Vale wines from Moss Wood are far from ‘entry level’ – but do represent a more affordable wine and a more approachable wine at a younger age.

Clare and Keith Mugford

Moss Wood’s red wines are set for aging – although in the current climate it is very hard to find aged Australian wines on the market as they usually work on current vintages. Over lunch attendees were able to taste the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (rated as exceptional in the Langton’s V classification). Other wines tasted included the Ribbon Vale Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Ribbon Vale Cabernet Merlot 2011 plus the Moss Wood Chardonnay 2011 and the Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

Scallop Carpaccio - a great pairing for the Semillon Sauvignon Blanc!

Keith and Clare lauded recent vintages and the group also spoke at length about the vinery’s use of Stelvin closure – a closure widely used in Australia and one that Keith favours in an attempt to ensure that every bottle of Moss Wood reaches the drinker in its optimum condition. Cork taint is something that Moss Wood wants to avoid and, regardless of the perception of screw cap in Asia, the change from cork to screw cap at the turn of the millennium has had no effect on the sales of their wines worldwide.

The Iconic Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon

As with any producer of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc in either the Margaret River region or Bordeaux, we had to ask why they did not make a straight Semillon but continued to blend it with Sauvignon Blanc! Of course, our misgivings were incorrect and they do make a straight Semillon and it is available in Hong Kong – so look out for our review of this wine coming soon as we are going to hook up with importer Summergate / Pudao wines and pick up a bottle in order to tell you what it’s like! The Ribbon Vale wines are approachable, affordable and easy drinking which makes them ideal for everyday restaurant wine lists – not as opposed to the Moss Wood wines which, although on the higher level of price point are well worth the money (but probably better to buy, cellar and pay corkage on a bottle or two than pay the mark up in a restaurant).

Line up including The Ribbon Vale

The Moss Wood Chardonnay 2011 comes in at HK$495 while the Moss Wood Cabernet 2009 is priced at HK$825. Ribbon Vale Semillon Sauvignon Blanc is HK$255 while the Ribbon Vale Cabernet Merlot is HK$375. All wines are available online from Pudao wines; for more information you can contact Kanas Lau on orderhk@pudaowines.com and more information can be found on their website www.pudaowines.com

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