Every year, I like to visit different wine regions, but having been unable to do so for the past two years, I was excited to be invited by Bottle Wander, a local boutique wine merchant, to taste their new arrivals.
Les Vignes de Paradis is from Savoie, a wine region in south-eastern France adjacent to Switzerland. The winery and vineyards are located on the slopes of the southern shore of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). Owner and winemaker Dominique Lucas has his roots in Burgundy, but he did not want to be tied to the strict rules of the Burgundy appellation, so he moved to Savoie in 2008. Here, he embraces biodynamic farming, experiments with different fermenting vessels (including amphorae, barrels, concrete eggs and even a concrete pyramid made from sand and rocks from his property), makes wine from unpermitted grape varieties and plays music to his wine under maturation.
We tried two Chasselas, a fairly neutral white wine more well known in Switzerland than France. The Terroir du Léman Un Matin Face au Lac 2020 was aged in concrete eggs for eight months, while the Terroir du Léman Chasselas Amphore 2020 was aged in clay amphorae for 12 months. The former displays fresh citrus, white fruits and floral notes, while the latter is more textural on the palate, with a distinct herbal note.
Also aged in amphorae for 12 months is the Pinot Gris Amphore 2020. However, this wine has a much deeper colour, with a pink hue, and a slightly tannic palate, probably owing to the thicker skin of the grapes. It is fresh, with yellow fruits, floral and herbal notes that will appeal to someone who appreciates Chinese tea.
We then moved on to try Chenin Blanc made by French-South African couple Vincent and Tania Carême. Chenin Blanc is a grape variety that originated in France’s Loire Valley, but it has the most plantings in South Africa. Vincent is from Loire and is passionate about Chenin Blanc. While working in South Africa, he met Tania. Today, the couple run Domaine Vincent Carême in Vouvray, home of Chenin Blanc in Loire, making a wide range of wines, from sparkling and dry to demi-sec and moelleux. They also make a Chenin Blanc in Swartland, South Africa, under the label Tania & Vincent Carême.
Comparing the Chenins made by the same people but from opposite hemispheres, one can understand the influence of terroir in winegrowing. Tania & Vincent Carême Terre Brûlée Le Blanc 2019 from South Africa has the typical ripe yellow fruits, depth and smooth finish. Domaine Vincent Carême Vouvray Sec 2019, on the other hand, has notes of white fruits, citrus and blossoms, with a racy acidity. Both wines are pleasant, and it is really up to personal preference which one you prefer (or if you like both!).
Johnson, the owner of Bottle Wander, was excited to show us the wineries from the many wine books he has in-store. I presumed he must have visited these wineries or tasted their wines before he decided to import them, but this is actually not the case. With these two wineries, he only read about them and likes their philosophies. I have to admit that he made the right decision!
Bottle Wander is not your average wine shop. The team believe that wine is about the people, stories and hard work behind the labels. They aim to introduce artisan wines to wine lovers, who, like themselves, are passionate about trying different wines, acquiring wine knowledge and travelling to different wine regions (someday!). Don’t worry if you don’t know that much about wine – the shop is welcoming, and the team are happy to share their wine stories. You can also join their regular in-store tasting sessions.
83B Hollywood Road, Central, 2572 0028 (open daily, 12–8pm)
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