Jim White, Technical Director of Cloudy Bay in New Zealand’s South Island Marlborough region, which is renowned for its Sauvignon Blanc, should have been in Hong Kong last week for the release of the 2020 vintage. COVID-19 forbade him from travelling, but luckily the wine still arrived in time!
Cloudy Bay 2020 was launched with a three-course lunch at beautiful Central restaurant SEVVA. Via video link, White said that the 2020 vintage is one of the finest in the 35 years of Cloudy Bay’s history, when Mother Nature was at its best. Cool nights and dry conditions resulted in disease-free grapes with fresh acidity and vibrant aromas of lime, lemongrass and white peach – a perfect aperitif on the rooftop of SEVVA, overlooking the harbour.
But the harvest was not without its challenges. The New Zealand government raised the COVID-19 alert to level 4 and announced a month-long lockdown in March, in the middle of harvest. Although picking was allowed to continue, wineries had to devise a set of strict guidelines in just two days to ensure social distancing and to keep everyone, from winemakers to pickers, safe. Work was divided amongst teams and there was no mixing between teams during the entire harvest. White said that not only Cloudy Bay, but all wineries in Marlborough, had to be ultra-careful not to turn from “hero to zero” – because if one person got infected, all the wineries would have to cease operations. The last day of picking at Cloudy Bay was 2 April, and the wine was ready in six months’ time.
Most of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is best enjoyed young for its freshness. While Cloudy Bay is lively, it does not have the typical pungent nose that is sometimes over the top. Its subtlety and poise are what make the wine stand out from its peers.
Turning to the pairing menu, it was created by talented, young SEVVA guest chef Christopher Ho, who skilfully blended European techniques with Asian flavours and gave each dish a witty name. The starter – named Sing Zi (蟶子, razor clam in Chinese) – was a beautifully presented razor clam with red pepper and seasonal vegetables, while the dessert – Hung Yun Dau Fu (杏仁豆腐) – was a delightful almond panna cotta.
For me, the highlight was the tender and flavourful black cod with scallion and ginger named Yu (魚, fish). I have attended numerous wine events and this was the first one where I had only one wine with the entire menu – and it worked.
This menu, with a choice of two starters (tom yum soup or razor clam) and main courses (black cod or #Ho La Ho Sando), is available from now until 2 November at SEVVA for $780 per person and includes a complimentary glass of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2020. Chef Ho treated us to a bite of the second main course, a Wagyu beef sandwich, and it went surprisingly well with the wine.
Reserve your table now!
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