A Wine Expert's Guide to Bordeaux En Primeur


May 20, 2016 | BY Charmaine Mok

With Bordeaux Confidential En Primeur kicking off May 23, wine aficionado Paulo Pong gives us the essential primer to enjoying tipples from the region

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Paulo Pong (second from left), with fellow wine experts Jim Thompson, Peter Lam, Vincent Cheung and Antonio Ku. Photographed by CS for Hong Kong Tatler

You've heard of Bordeaux Confidential – the sell-out events hosted by Hong Kong Tatler and wine editor James Suckling – and this year we are presenting something even more unique. Bordeaux Confidential En Primeur will debut on May 23 at Asia Society, bringing more than 30 of the region's finest chateaux and their 2015 vintages, which is said to rival the exceptional wine harvests of 2005 and 2010. Guests who have been fortunate to bag tickets for this sold-out event will get the chance to meet owners and winemakers and share a glass (or more) of some truly exceptional wines with potential.

Ahead of the event, we spoke with noted wine aficionado Paulo Pong of Altaya Wines who has been a vocal advocate of the 2015 Bordeaux En Primeurs. Here's what he has to say about everything Bordeaux, and how to get the best out of a wine tasting event: 

Photography by King Fung (Hong Kong Tatler)

Bordeaux is the world’s largest region producing quality wines, with over 120,000 hectares under vine, so not only does it produce some of the best wines in the world, it is also significant in terms of volume.

One of the most frustrating misconceptions about Bordeaux is the perception that it only produces prestigious, expensive wines to be saved for big events. Bordeaux excels at producing wines at all different price points, suitable for all occasions.

While 80% of Bordeaux’s wines are red, that means that 20% consists of dry white, sweet and rosé wines, many of which are of very high quality and mostly very affordable.

Every Bordeaux vintage is different and En Primeur gives a chance to taste the wines and talk to the winemakers and chateau owners about the factors which determine the style of the wines. 

2015 was without a doubt the most exciting vintage to taste since the 2010’s. There were so many wines that it was simply a delight to taste with great energy combined with ripe, plush fruit, acidity and a structure which means they will develop well in bottle.

When tasting En Primeur, it is important to assess whether a wine has the potential to age, so we have to look at ripeness, acidity and tannin. Does it have concentration? Most importantly, are all the elements in balance? If not the wine will become disjointed as it ages.

At a big wine tasting, pace yourself. You will wear out your palate if you try to taste everything in the room.

Do some advance research. Look at the organisers catalogue or website and work out your plan of attack.

Save some time at the end to taste some dry white wines which will taste very refreshing after the reds. And maybe a Sauternes as a treat to finish!

A great Bordeaux is one that has all the right elements in balance and has had time to mature in optimum storage conditions until it has reached a stage where those elements combine together to offer something harmonious which is greater than the sum of its parts. The greatest wines reach a plateau, rather than a peak, and can offer great drinking pleasure over a period of many years or even decades.

Bordeaux Confidential En Primeur takes place at Asia Society Hong Kong on May 23, 2016. For more information, visit www.jamesuckling.com