The 8th Estate Winery Cellar Door Visit – Ap Lei Chau

Wines Tasted:

  1. The 8th Estate Winery, Riesling 2010
  2. The 8th Estate Winery, Sangiovese 2008
  3. The 8th Estate Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
  4. The 8th Estate Winery, Rosé 2011
  5. The 8th Estate Winery, Prelude, Cabernet Franc 2007

Easter week-end in Hong Kong and it is cold and very rainy so what better to do than visit Hong Kong’s only urban winery. The 8th Estate Winery in Ap Lei Chau is a unique and intriguing concept and the cellar door visit proved to be a great experience.

Lysanne Tusar moved to Hong Kong from Canada to create this winery centred around the concept of flash freezing grapes prior to transportation to Hong Kong. After the grapes arrive they are thawed and wine making begins.

8th Estate defrosting the grapes
Barrels of frozen grapes being rotated during a three day defrosting process where they are regularly stirred to ensure even thawing. Image credit: The 8th Estate Winery.

Each year growing seasons and vintages are reviewed and grapes from a suitable location and vintage are sourced. Locations include France, Italy, Australia and the USA. To further ensure the quality of the wine a winemaker from the region the grapes have been sourced from may also invited to The 8th Estate to make the wine.

In the five years the winery has been open, four vintages have been sourced from the following regions:

–       2007 Washington State, USA

–       2008 Tuscany and Piedmont, Italy

–       2010 Clare Valley and McLaren Vale, South Australia

–       2011 Bordeaux, France

(2009 proved to be a difficult year to source grapes from any region, hence no wine was produced from that vintage.)

As I mentioned, our visit was unique because of course, no grapes for making wine are grown in Hong Kong and intriguing for the same reason but also because the journey to the cellar door was somewhat unexpected. Perhaps it was that we were visiting over a holiday week-end but our entrance was through a car park and up to the third floor in a goods lift – however, do not let that put you off!

8th Estate entrance

Having located the cellar door we caught the end of a tour around the incredibly small winery space (given the number of different wines on offer) before we headed through to a tasting.

8th Estate tanks

8th Estate filling machine

8th Estate tasting room

8th Estate tasting table

We tasted a total of five wines of which the 2008 Sangiovese and the 2007 Prelude were the stand outs for me. The Sangiovese was a good balance of red fruits and spice under American oak. Our host confirmed that mostly American oak had been used for earlier vintages but for 2011, as one might expect with grapes sourced from Bordeaux, French barrels have been used.

The Prelude is a late harvest iced Cabernet Franc. Flavours of plum and peach crumbles as well as soft fruit jubes or pastilles covered in granulated sugar make this the ideal complement to a dessert.

The Rosé while not my favourite of the day is a clever wine for the Hong Kong market. It is very forward in its sweet juicy red fruit flavours and while we couldn’t confirm the actual residual sugar there was certainly a sweetness on the front palate suggesting the wine would go very well with spicy or peppery local dishes.

The concept of The 8th Estate Winery is one which might leave you wondering how good wine could be produced from grapes that are frozen on one continent and flown to another for wine making but it is a clever concept and one that takes the utmost care to preserve the quality of the grapes used and the methods by which the wine is made. A visit to this cellar door or a taste of their wines should you have the opportunity, is one I would strongly recommend.

Happy Drinking!

Tasting Notes

8th Estate tasting line up

The 8th Estate Winery, Riesling 2010, Clare Valley, Australia

Pale lemon colour. Aromas of stuck match and lemon. On the palate flavours of lemon and grapefruit. Medium finish.

The 8th Estate Winery, Sangiovese 2008, Tuscany, Italy

Medium garnet colour. Aromas of red cherries, vanilla and spice. On the palate medium body with medium acidity and medium plus tannins. Flavours of sour red cherries, forest floor and the sweet spice of American oak. Medium plus finish.

The 8th Estate Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Washington State, USA

Medium purple colour. Aromas of black fruits – black cherries and blackcurrants. Medium body, and medium acidity with fine grained medium plus tannins. On the palate, flavours of juicy black fruits – blackcurrants, cooked blackberries and sweet baking spice – vanilla and nutmeg.

The 8th Estate Winery, Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) Rosé 2011, Bordeaux France

Very pretty deep pink colour. Aromas of sweet candied red fruits. On the palate, red fruit candy with a hint of red liquorice.

The 8th Estate Winery, Prelude, Cabernet Franc 2007, Washington State, USA

Medium minus ruby colour. Aromas of sweet damson plums, nectarines and peaches. On the palate flavours of peach crumble, cooked nectarines, cooked plums, sweet vanilla spice and soft dark fruit pastilles.

Reading

The 8th Estate Winery

Cellar Door tasting notes

About Happy Wine Woman

Wine consultant currently based in Melbourne, Australia.

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