Hong Kong, a bustling metropolis, has always been a hub for culinary and wine enthusiasts. Over recent years, this city has seen a shift in the wine culture with an emphasis on natural wines, captivating the younger generations. The allure of these wines lies not just in their taste, but also in their authentic representation of the terroir, their minimalistic approach, and the break from over-manipulated commercial variants.
The history of natural wines, though somewhat obscured, can be traced back to several notable influences. In the 1950s, France’s Beaujolais region saw a group of winemakers who were inspired by Jules Chauvet, a renowned French oenologist. Chauvet advocated for wine-making methods that used fewer additives. Similarly, Georgian poet Ilia Chavchavadze, in the late 19th century, emphasized the beauty of natural winemaking. He championed the idea of preserving wine’s intrinsic nature rather than altering it with artificial additives.
In today’s wine scene, defining natural wine remains a challenge. As Brett Goss, co-founder of Hong Kong’s Yatbui, aptly puts it, wines exist on a spectrum. On one end, there are the mass-produced supermarket wines, while on the opposite end lie the completely natural wines made purely from fermented grape juice. The core philosophy revolves around organic or biodynamic farming without the use of harmful chemicals, minimal additives, and minimal technological intervention. The recent shift in global trends towards lighter, fresher styles is what makes natural wine resonate more with the younger audience. It represents a break from the traditional and offers a fresher and livelier approach.
For those looking to embark on a natural wine journey in Hong Kong, there’s a plethora of options. La Cabane Wine Bistro, established in 2010, is a haven for those seeking natural, organic, and biodynamic wines. Their collection is expansive, ranging from classic French wines to new-age southern hemisphere wines. LQV, another prominent name, boasts of a vast selection, predominantly French. Over 80% of their collection is organic, with a substantial part falling under the natural wine category.
Then there’s ThinkWine, which adopts a more analytical approach, categorizing its wines based on natural, organic, biodynamic, or conventional labels. Vivant is another establishment with an emphasis on sustainable, organic, or biodynamic farming practices. Shady Acres provides an exciting blend of artisanal wines while Blue Supreme offers a delightful array of modern natural wines, including pét-nats and orange wines. Lastly, Crushed stands out with its dedication to small-batch and New World wines, acting as a beacon for those seeking unique and under-represented variants.
In essence, Hong Kong’s thriving natural wine scene is an ode to authenticity, simplicity, and the age-old art of winemaking. It’s a journey that takes one closer to nature and the true essence of the grape, promising an experience that’s as refreshing as it is enlightening.