January 29, 2010

Acker Hong Kong VII session 1: still looney bins

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After a prolonged absence - during which I tried to "rationalize" my wine portfolio and stopped buying the really good stuff - I finally returned to the auction market tonight.  I piled into the crowded hotel ballroom and sat in the very back with a couple of friends.

As we expected, there were few bargains to be had these days at auctions in Hong Kong.  Lots of people flush with cash - often without a good sense of how much wine costs from suppliers around the world - just kept raising their paddles to build up their collections.  I kept finding lots whose hammer prices reached or exceeded the high end of estimates - sometimes hitting 2x.  I know this sounds like a cliché, but Lafite just can do no wrong in this city... even for off-vintages.

All of the lots on my watch list got close to or exceeded the high end of estimates, and as tonight's lots weren't my top priorities, I didn't pursue them.  Instead, I picked up two lots of whites - an unheard of Montrachet and a mature white Hermitage, both from great vintages.

For the first time in Hong Kong, Acker held the first part of the auction in the style they do in NYC - over dinner and asking clients to BYO.  I'm not sure how many other people did, but I did bring a nice bottle of red Burg.  I think, though, that most of the clients were just looking for handouts from Acker...and the hosts weren't too stingy.  I ended up drinking some nice stuff.

2001 Marcassin Chardonnay Marcassin Vineyard - obvious nose of grass, a little musty and  we think this was corked.  On the palate this was very ripe and very short.

2001 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard - very sweet on the nose, with pine needle, eucalyptus and minerals on the nose.  Finish was slightly short, but a pretty nice Cali Pinot.

2004 L'Extravagant de Doisy-Daëne - a limited production (5 barriques made in good vintages) wine, this is still young but already has plenty of botrytis, plastic, honey and orange in the nose.  Pretty sweet as one would expect, but with good acidity balance.

1997 A.-F. Gros Richebourg - I brought this bottle to share with the table.  Nose of grilled meats, smoke, sweet fruit and mushrooms.

2004 Sine Qua Non Poker Face - SQN is one of my favorite wineries, producing really, really big wines which require years of aging before being palatable to most people.  This huge Syrah was very sweet with typical notes of iron (I always think they smell like blood), caramel, plastic and lavender.  Very alcoholic, but I like it.  Not exactly a food wine.  Wait another 10 years to drink this.

I confess that I was pretty tipsy by the end of this session... Hopefully I can recover and wake up early for the second session tomorrow morning!

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