As the demand for eco-friendly, better-for-the-body, socially conscious food and drink continues to rise in Hong Kong, natural, organic and biodynamic wines – with the minimal use of additives and manipulations – have justifiably captured the attention of our city.
Cultivated organically or biodynamically, natural wines are produced without additives such as sugar, acidifiers or powered tannins. The production process is also kept simple, free of chemical and physical manipulation – this includes the use of spinning cones to remove alcohol, micro-oxygenation to accelerate ageing and the use of laboratory-cultivated yeast. The wine that results is unique in its ability to retain the individuality and complexity of the vineyard from which it originates, enabling the drinker to directly taste and appreciate the terroir.
Here are eight of our favourite spots to buckle down with a glass of natural wine:
ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge
Featuring the personal favourites of Nicolas Deneux, former head sommelier at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, ON Dining's wine list boasts a comprehensive list of natural, organic and biodynamic wines. Whites include Les Grandes Vignes Grenache Blanc, Le Rocher des Violettes Chenin Blanc and Patrick Hudelot Bougogone Chardonnay; reds include Domaine des Roches Neuves Cabernet Franc, Domaine Hauvette Grenache and Domaine Ledogar Corbières. And a sole orange wine has won a place on the menu: the Italian Kaplja Damijan. Sit back and enjoy your glass while enjoying Michelin-starred chef Phillipe Orrico's comforting, colourful dishes, inspired by the vibrant flavours of southern Europe and the Mediterranean.
29/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, 2174 8100
Located in Kennedy Town, this French tapas and wine bar provides a comfortable, intimate setting for guests to socialise over food and wine. Pair a glass of Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon (natural) with an innovative range of French-inspired Mediterranean tapas – beef carpaccio with pesto, Parmesan, capers and rocket, squid tempura with wasabi mayo and tuna tartare with soy sauce and coriander dressing, to name a few. Domaine de la Pousse d'Or Volnay 1er Cru Clos de la Bousse d'or (sustainable), Yann Chave Crozes-Hermitage Le Rouvre (biodynamic) and Château de Revelette Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Grand Rouge (organic) can also be found on their wine list.
42 Forbes Street, Kennedy Town, 2453 9873
All 121BC's artisanal wines are hand-selected by the restaurant's sommelier on his travels to vineyards across Italy. Keeping it natural is a priority – the chosen wines are made from indigenous grape varieties and are natural, organic or biodynamic. The Italian family-style food is similarly thoughtful, consisting of hearty sharing plates, homemade bread, pasta, gelato and cheese. In addition to their Regional Week (where for one week each month, the restaurant creates a themed menu inspired by a different region of Italy) and private dining room for up to ten guests, wine fanatics can also join the 121BC Wine Circolo, which entitles members to taste exceptional, unique wines at an exclusive monthly gathering.
44 Peel Street, SoHo, Central, 2395 0200
DiVino Wine Bar & Restaurant
Our preferred natural wine at DiVino Bar & Restaurant (which, by the way, offers the largest selection of wines by the glass of any independent wine bar in Hong Kong) is the award-winning Gulfi Nerojbleo Nero d'Avola Sicilia IGT – a deep, comforting red that is intensely driven by rich fruits and spices. While this wine is best paired with beef, venison, pasta and risotto dishes, the rest of Chef Michele Senigaglia's creative, authentic and ingredient-focused menu is just as enticing. His signatures include cream-filled burrata with Italian cherry tomatoes and red onion salad, vitello tonnato and penne 'Jerome' style with Gorgonzola and black truffle sauce. It's no wonder the restaurant has been named one of the best in Hong Kong for Italian food. The weekday set lunch, which is $128 for two courses and $148 for three, is both affordable and delicious. DiVino have also paired with Agricola Eccelsa in Sardinia to bottle three bespoke wines that are a treat for the taste buds.
Shop 1, Winsome House, 73 Wyndham Street, Central, 2167 8883
La Cabane a Vin
If you're looking for natural, La Cabane is a must. At the forefront of the natural wine movement in Hong Kong, La Cabane offers over 700 wines from France and the rest of the world and houses the largest collection of natural, organic and biodynamic wine in Hong Kong. Launched in 2012 to offer a modern take on French bistro cooking, La Cabane Wine Bistro serves an ever-rotating menu of authentic French dishes, platters of hand-sourced charcuterie and seasonal cheeses, as well as over 130 non-interventionist wines. La Cabane a Vin will also be setting up shop at Taste of Hong Kong presented by Standard Chartered 2017, educating guests on the characteristics of natural wines and how they pair well with a variety of cuisines. An eclectic selection of bottles will be offered to show the complexity and versatility. Rare ones include a Sato Pinot Gris from Otago, New Zealand (made by a Japanese couple) and a Chardonnay from Ningxia, China.
62 Hollywood Road (corner of Peel Street), Central, 2776 6070
Neo-Parisian bistro Belon boasts a refreshing selection of French cuisine, all created using the finest ingredients from Hong Kong and abroad. By keeping the manipulation of ingredients to a minimum, Chef Daniel Calvert ensures that the dishes are perfect to pair with the light and layered character of natural wine. Belon's extensive wine selection features natural wines from the south of France and Loire Valley but also includes several Italian and New World varieties.
41 Elgin Street, SoHo, Central, 2152 2872
Le Bistro Winebeast
At the Wanchai-based Le Bistro Winebeast, customers can pay retail price to drink any wine from the extensive selection located at the next-door Winebeast shop. The shop offers over 150 organic, biodynamic and eco-friendly choices, including familiar names such as Zind-Humbrecht, Marcel Deiss, Nicolas Joly, Catherine and Pierre Breton, Gérard Gauby, Olivier Guyot and André Beaufort. Combined with Chef Johan Ducroquet's ever-changing menu of innovative French modern cuisine (inspired by his head chef experience at restaurants in France, Spain and South America), Le Bistro Winebeast ensures that you can visit as many times as you like without ever getting bored.
G/F and 1/F, Tai Yip Building, 141 Thomson Road, Wanchai, 2782 6689
Frantzén's sommelier, Jean-Benoît Isselé
Rounding out the list is our most recent natural wine discovery, Franztén's Kitchen. The knowledgeable and charming sommelier, Jean-Benoît Isselé, waxes lyrical about his beautiful wine selection, of which he says a good 30–40 per cent are natural, organic and biodynamic. We sampled an elegant Chardonnay from Domaine Patrick Hudelot (who converted his vineyard to produce only organic wines back in 2000) that was an exceptional complement to Chef Jim Löfdahl's exquisite scallop and salmon dishes that sing with the fresh Nordic ingredients from the new spring menu.
11 Upper Station Street, Tai Ping Shan, Sheung Wan, 2559 8508