Which 'Margs' wines to enjoy for Chinese New Year
Sounds odd for an Australian naguoning (foreigner) to say, but I really love Lunar New Year. Every year we have a shindig, with friends coming around. I’ll let them know what we’re having, and they’ll bring along wines to match. (This year, since you asked: pork belly bao, Sichuan eggplant, garlic kang kong and fried chicken [actually masterstocked chicken that’s then been deep-fried]).
Happily, there’s lots of wines throughout the region that match BRILLIANTLY with our near neighbours’ food. Whenever in Singapore, my wife and I go to Maxwell Food Centre. And it’s Hainan Chicken and Margs Chardonnay. The Vasse Felix Heytesbury is the very best match going (all that funky, wild ferment character allied to delicious oak) just suits the ginger-y broth and perfectly poached chicken.
You say “Soft Shell Crab”? I say “Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay”. Yuuuuum. On both counts.
If it’s roast duck, people often say Pinot. But you know what? I say Grenache. And most particularly, the Happs Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre or (forgive my cheerleading) the Arimia blend of the same ilk. They’re lifted and bright, but enough acidity and slightly firm tannin to keep you coming back for more pancake and hoi sin and delicious duck.
Steaming fish? Drinking Sem. There’s a lemony, zesty quality to Semillon that makes it just a terrific match with most seafood, but steamed fish in particular. Try out the Willespie Barrel ferment, or the Ashbrook.
Braised Tofu w/Shiitake? (well, kind of anything with shiitake, but I’m trying to put together a balanced meal here) Shiraz. Ideally something with a touch of wholebunch ferment slight stalkiness and carbonic maceration lift. Naturalist Vintners Racchus is your guy.
Marron, cray or abalone? SBS or SSB. Have a geez at the Leeuwin. Ambitiously priced, sure. But this is New Year! The other spiffing option here would be, for me, the Howard Park Miamup. Zing! Zip! Refill!
Braised Beef? There’s one place I really like to go with Asiatic braised beef. And it’s Cabernet Franc. Something about the slightly greener, plummier character meeting a salty, anise-y braise rings my bell. Go see the good folks at Cape Grace. Karen, Rob (and Dylan) will sort you out.
Finally, and most importantly: “Gōngxǐ fācái (Happy New Year)” – hope the year of the Monkey is good to one and all of you.
Photo above: the annual Vasse Felix ‘Yum Cha’ event