Leonardo da Vinci is not a DOCG!

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da Vinci’s seven most beautiful children

很多人討論意大利酒時,用得最多的詞是 “confusing”

對一般消費者而言,這原來是很自然的事。可是我想不到的是,一位頗有名氣的 Master of Wine 竟然也用這個角度討論意大利酒。

我看過她在 South China Morning Post 發表的文章後,心裏很不舒服,于是有點激動的告訴 K 說﹕

I’m just wondering what an MW is really about: as an adjunct to the wine trade, or a force of vino enlightenment. 




I have a struggle inside my head.  With my limited experience in wine, I think a lot of Italian wine is the most natural, honest and for this reason the most beautiful wine in the world.  The only exception is perhaps Burgundy, but the best Burgundy is only for the super rich, and therefore is not my concern.

I have this friend who is the owner of a wine retailer that I introduced to you some time ago, who once told me that from his years of selling wine in Hong Kong, most lovers of fine wine start with Bordeaux and end up with Burgundy.  Between these two points, they may try a lot of different wines, from Italy, California, Australia or some other countries.  He himself loves Barolo, and I know he appreciates Italian wine, but he is facing customers who are chasing after famous brands, and the most famous brands are French: Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Two weeks ago, there is this Korean lady who wrote an article in the leading newspaper in Hong Kong, in which she discusses how Italian wine is doing in the market.  I am attaching a copy of her article for you.  This woman is a Master of Wine (MW) who, as you may know, is like the most respected Philosopher in wine, although this is more a British institution.  She is one of only two MWs in Hong Kong, and is very well respected in the market.

But I think she is talking rubbish!  I was enjoying wine with another wine expert in Hong Kong, and I told my friend K that I don’t respect this MW at all.  As a Philosopher, she should understand that the true quality of a bottle of wine is not a result of clear regulations like the French.  Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh created their greatest paintings according to what they think are the best representations of beauty, rather than a rule book called AOC or DOCG!  Great Italian winemakers like Giacosa, Soldera and Cerbaiona are artists and not merchants!  A great Master of Wine should teach wine lovers how to discover the beauty of any wine although they do not have a good set of regulations (like the Italians).

But this gives you a very accurate idea of the bias the market has for French wine.  And the same thing is happening in China.  I would say the bias is even more serious in China.  Part of the reason Bordeaux prices are so crazy is that new drinkers in China believe like a religion that French wine is the best in the world! 

My wine expert K has been in the business for about 15 years, and he now teaches wine courses at universities and at the same time runs his own company selling wine.  But like almost all wine professionals, his training was mainly in French wine.  I have been drinking with him many times since more than a year ago.  Every time I shared with him great bottles of Italian wine, and he would tell me that the Italians really make some of the best wines in the world.  I once asked him if he would be interested in becoming a specialist in selling Italian wine, and he told me that it is easy to import wine into Hong Kong, but who is to teach his customers?  What he means is: if he himself knows so little about Italian wine, he would not be able to train up his sales team to sell Italian wine!

K also told me something that I heard from other people in the wine retail business as well.  Since Hong Kong abolished wine import duties, it has become more difficult to make money because there are now a lot more competitors: everybody can bring in wine!

All I am trying to say is this: Italian wine has a huge potential because of their unique and excellent quality, but you have a great obstacle because nobody taught the Bordeaux and Burgundy lovers why Italian wines are good: both quality and price.

Another big factor to consider is: Hong Kong is a very expensive place to do business.  Property prices are expensive, staff costs are high.  The only advantages are: we have a simple tax system and a very low corporate tax rate (currently 16.5%), and we are close to China and other affluent Asian countries. 

You would therefore have to be very cautious before you really set up a business in Hong Kong.

It is easy for me to say: C, come and do something for Italian wine!  And it would be a lot more convenient for me to buy wine, I believe.  But as a friend, I would really ask you to consider all the pros and cons before spending money.





17 則評論在 Leonardo da Vinci is not a DOCG!.

  1. 〝令我覺得痛苦的是,我力勸他要三思而後行,因為我不想我的好友當個殉道者。〞 ~ Agreed no more! If I were you, I would say the same thing!
      May the Year of the Rabbit bring you & your family happiness and prosperity!   Kung Hei Fat Choy!
    [版主回覆02/03/2011 21:46:00]如果我年青一點,或許會有膽量與這位意大利友人嘗嘗傳道者的滋味。今天我只想賞畫,讓其他人去開畫廊吧!

  2. 首先我恭祝心兄你身體健康 , 事事順利 , 長飲長有
    其實意大利有好多令人驚歎的好酒 , 好似我前幾天飲那批 , 以同年同價的法國酒來比 , 以酒質及 Enjoyment 來講根本無乜邊支比得上它們 。 只是香港人的速食文化及偏見習慣 , 加上市場上很少有意大利酒的專家導師去推廣 , 市面貨源亦不多令市場一面倒地傾斜。
    發掘意大利酒是要有股冒險家的探索精神 , 不能期待支酒一開瓶就乜都俾晒你 , 但越飲越有 , 越變越精彩過癮。 以香港人的速食文化 , 飲其 Label 不知其味的劈酒式牛飲法 , 對靚意大利酒是種浪費。 我覺得 Enjoy 方法要有所調整 , 第一要調整的是 “ 量 ”, 不能一晚飲得太多支 , 個人認為 2 支最好 , 飲的時間最好長一點 3 小時以上 , 每支酒每人最好有 2 – 3 個 round , 同埋環境要靜 , 咁先可以試真支酒及其中個性。 以我有限的意大利酒經驗來說 , 我覺得它的精粹在於 “ 靈性 ” 而非一般商品般無個性。 我不能在嘈如街市的環境中去感受到靈性 , 而這個層面亦非常人能體會感受或追求 , 我武斷地說喜歡意大利酒是真正的飲家或鑑賞家。 我反而不太希望它步 Bordeaux or Burgundy 的後塵變成抄家的搖錢樹及淘金樂園 , 否則價錢會越搶越貴 , 那絕不是飲家之福 , 這片大地是的葡萄酒的 Avatar 要由懂欣賞的人去保肓。
    [版主回覆02/03/2011 09:35:00]謝謝 AM 兄賜教,希望您未來一年諸事
    我記起 Chianti 名莊 Castello di Ama 的莊主 Marco Pallanti  曾說過﹕"Today, all wine is good.  The difference is whether it has soul or not."
    我最近得知,Northern Rhone 也有一位傳統的 winemaker 名 Auguste Clape ,看介紹他是屬于法國酒史前期的人物,與我熟知的意大利巨匠大概會稱兄道弟。我正打算一試。

  3. Hi, 心無罣礙.  First of all, wish you a Happy Chinese New Year and Kung Hei Fat Choy.  I have been reading and following your blog and found your blog is one of the best, original and inspiring blogs.  I really enjoy reading your post.  So, please keep it on!
    However, I have to disagree with you on this post.  I don't know Jeannie Cho Lee personally and a title of MW is nothing more than just an academic achievement to me, so I have no reason to defend for her personally.  However, after reading her post in SCMP, I didn't find anything offensive and actually agreed with her.
    Burgundy and Barolo are my favorite wine regions and I also enjoyed a lot of other Italian wines.  I believe one of the main reason I enjoy Italian wines is it is full of individual character or as you said, their winemakers are artists.  However, I agreed with Jeannie Cho Lee that Italian wine law is creating a lot of confusion and hinder its growth in popularity.  Supposedly DOCG is a bearer of outstanding quality.  Yet, Italian regulation seems to give out DOCG so easily.  I doubt if Moscato d'Asti qualify its DOCG status.  IGT is also very confusing.  By reading the wine label, there may be no clue what is the style of the wine since it literally means a wine is not following established practices and grapes.  In Burgundy, the classifiation of village, 1er and Grand Cru gives people a relatively easy guide to the quality of the wine.  In Italy, there is no such system.  For all these, I think Italian regulation is not doing any good in promoting its wine.  While many Italian wines are really very good and I enjoyed them very much, it is not easy for a layman to understand.
    Just my 2 cents.
    [版主回覆02/05/2011 08:34:00]Jeannie was right about the facts, and I was wrong about my expectations.  I was expecting someone like her to pooint out that a lot of times, great wines rise above bad rules.  She could have pointed readers to some of her fellow MWs for help, like Nicolas Belfrage.  I was wrong. 

  4. 意大利酒可能比burgundy更深, 好多摸不著頭腦,但這样我们才可買到較相宜的酒,很多人不願花時間去研究,要普及确有难度
    [版主回覆02/05/2011 08:44:00]
    Barolo 與 Barbaresco 不比 Burgundy 難懂,兩者同樣是 vineyard driven 的。不過很多人懶得去翻資料,像 AM 說的快餐心態。
    最令人摸不著頭腦的是 Toscana 的 Chianti ,但這是意大利最有創意之地。Nicolas Belfrage MW 的一本專著第一篇即題為 Renaissances in the Land of Vines ,馬上點中要害! Jeannie 要向她師兄多學習!

  5. 飲burgundy的人部份是給別人看,像較有體面,現在已有部份內地有錢人轉飲burgundy,意大利酒沒人知是否好東西,況且可能花一二天時間才見真章,難和朋友或客人分享,他們要快!大口大口喝,好不容易才令他們等一等,意大利酒是好,都是留給愛酒的人吧
    [版主回覆02/05/2011 16:28:00]先生講得幽默兼「抵死」。妙!

  6. 經常有個疑問, 意大利酒農, 莊主真的介意自己的酒不夠受歡迎或得到欣賞嗎 ? 我想他們滿不在乎, 既然釀酒喝酒是天性使然, 文化和家族承傳, 普羅大眾不欣賞也不相干, 世間總有識貨之人.
    旁人替他著急, 覺得不值, 道盡各種好建議, 爛建議又如何, 他們滿不在乎.
    [版主回覆02/07/2011 09:05:00]
    我可能在胡說八道,但我想 Latour 和 Lafite-Rothschild 也不是從第一天開始便渴望自己的酒受歡迎或得到欣賞的。須知道市場經濟的出現是比較近代的事。可不可以把問題倒過來問﹕為什麼 一小部分 法國酒莊取得了半個世紀前難以想像的商業成就?究竟何者為正常,何者為不正常?我說的正不正常是 statistical 的概念而不是優劣的判斷。
    回到您原來的問題,我不夠資格為意大利人說話,但具體地看,大企業如 Antinori 和 Frescobaldi ,以及嘴邊一直說自己是 artisan winemaker 的 Angelo Gaja 同樣可以說名利雙收。但對其他的 winemakers ,他們唯一可以很實實在在去做的事是「做好這份工」,其他的事自己管不了,這裏面既有性格的原因,也有文化的因素,這點我打算以後議一議。

  7. 心大,先敬祝新一年心想事成,身心康泰! 小弟都鍾愛意大利酒,深明「慢喝」的道理,但要找到同類知音實太難。儘管制度上有不足,實不足以影響意國人民藝術文化風格,他們可不是只看著sales target來做酒的,這才是其可愛之處!
    [版主回覆02/06/2011 15:37:00]也祝您新年發現更多新發現!知音難求才值得我們花時間去求,是嗎?希望你挖到更多寶。
    這兩天我找到幾瓶 Rhone 地區的傳統制作的酒,酒莊名 Auguste Clape ,這在法國算是稀有動物,與意大利的傳統酒莊真可稱兄道弟。

  8. 現在的bordeaux酒已經成為賺錢的商品和以前的出品大有分別,全部沒個性一様,意大利酒暫時未被廣泛認識,不知他們會否眼紅法國人賺得滿堂紅?錢會否令意大利人改變,做一些如法國一樣的國際口味?美酒是一件藝術品,不應受市場去改變,所以現在來部分意大利酒還可保持傳統,好像是農家制作般,但有天如它們跑出城市便可能變質!是好是壞呢?忽發奇想,有天意大利酒給中國人看上了,便有如法國酒和奶粉一樣給人搶清光,真正用家,飲家可沒好日子過了,成天價了,到時小飲家們要戒酒了
    [版主回覆02/06/2011 15:41:00]今天聽起來,您講的是科幻故事。但二十年前您如果預測祖國同胞會把 Bordeaux 搶貴,人家會認為您是瘋子!

  9. 心兄,恭喜發財、身體健康 欣賞你對酒的熱情和無私的分享令小弟獲益良多 。 感謝感謝
    [版主回覆02/08/2011 16:11:00]太客氣了!自說自話罷了。

  10. People like certainty and dun want to take risk, so do MW! Market of course can shape the taste of people. On the other way around, people can shape the taste of the market also. 心兄, I can understand what you feel. Anyway, there will be ripple effect when there are still Italian wine lovers sharing their experience with passion and love.
    [版主回覆02/08/2011 16:09:00]MWs come in all shapes and sizes, like wine perhaps, and this one is pretty normal.  I just used it to illustrate that we all have prejudice, Francophiles or Italianophiles.  Accepting this is the first step to enlightenment, as the Buddha taught.

  11. Interesting reading. Thanks.
    [版主回覆02/10/2011 22:45:00]I believe another MW said: "Wine is a serious beverage that we should not get too serious about".  I should have remembered this when I wrote!

  12. No, not at all! You have always put enjoyment along side with certain seriousness, which is, in my view, just good. Surely we all dwindle in between at times: on the one hand we write and talk serious enough, on the other we could just play around it. So? Is it not wines are socially for? Of course, we should not be too serious about anything(I am getting tautological-the word is 'too'.) 2 cents.
    [版主回覆02/11/2011 10:16:00]Thanks, my friend.  This is worth keeping in mind, in wine and other things in life.  

  13. 心兄  我很喜歡你的blog,但是我相信你誤解李小姐的文章,FYI, ,我的職業是Italian Wine Sales.

    [版主回覆02/11/2011 18:56:00]她舉的事實是完全對的,所以這不是對與錯的問題。如果「意大利酒」是一首音樂作品,我對一位 MW 的要求是她要為聽眾 演繹 好這首作品。
    但這當然是很主觀的看法。我正在寫一系列關於 Chianti 的網誌,而 Chianti 正是最「混亂」的產區。我希望很具體地提出我的演繹方法,屆時希望您不吝指正。

  14. 心兄你好, 自己十分喜歡細讀你的文章, 看罷實在獲益不少! 看完那MW 的文章, 難怪心兄會不高興. 只見一個should be highly respectable的 MW 係度講"你阿媽係女人" 一類話的確不禁為之氣結, 不過亦不過顯出這MW 的水平去到那裡. 看罷她的文章我不禁一笑置之. 要understand wine 不外乎 people , terrior and climate. 似乎她對wine 的understanding 還停留在一般的consumer level (like me) 去講說話.  自己從來不是Italian wine fans (多買German white, old Bordeaux, 最近先買得多), 但有幸飲過幾次Giacosa 同 Soldera, 完全明白心兄為何會對兩位大師會死心蹋地去愛. 自試過Soldera 94 riserva 後, 那一刻的感動至今仍然難忘,也開始去不停搜羅Soldera 的酒. 之後再試 的 00 riserva 都依舊醉人.  對於意大利酒的comment 我的Burgundy lover 朋友一語中的. 佢聽到我飲Giacosa  Barbaresco Asili 99 要uncork 3日支酒先開到,便說 :"支酒要我serve 佢serve 得咁辛苦 , 一的都唔enjoy, 我飲酒係要支酒就我,唔係要我開幾日, 仲要唔知開唔開到而去就支酒,  飲Burgundy 便多數冇呢個問題." 可惜的是意大利的top wine maker 正正是這一類的artist, 一般人沒有耐性的就只會誤解意大利酒的beauty. 我試過同朋支建議支Giacosa  Barbaresco Santo Stefano riserva 98 要uncork 一星期, 朋友以為我玩佢:" 開咁耐支酒仲唔死?" 唉! 
    [版主回覆02/21/2011 09:42:00]Now you see me, now you don't : 喝酒的樂趣全在此矣。謝謝您的分享。

  15. 心無罣礙
    a MW should be more than a wine critic. HE/ she, as rightly put hereunder by T Wark. should be of something much bolder and much more considerate of the times and
    places and people that the drink has lubricated."
    From Tom Wark, California
    wine blogger:
    criticism can be both reporting and conjuring. It's not just opinion. It's not
    just an answer to the question of what a wine tasted like and who made it. It
    can also address what wine might mean with its sensual textures, complex (or
    not so complex) aromas and sources and its historic pedigree, what shape it
    takes in your memory and understanding, and in some way, what the wine is for.
    complexities, styles, movements, history, controversies and personalities that
    make the world of wine convince me that a superbly sympathetic and
    knowledgeable wine critic could easily use the metaphor of an anthology to
    explore current trends in wine. Beyond that, a wine critic concerned with both
    reporting and conjuring might go beyond waiting for the new releases to arrive
    and set out to explore subjects like cycles, rhythms and seasons and their
    effect upon us personally through the prism of wines young and old.
    has always served to inspire more than just attention to the details of aroma
    and flavor in drinkers. Wine does lubricate the mind. I think too, that in the
    hands of a knowledgeable, experienced and thoughtful critic, wine criticism
    could be something much bolder and much more considerate of the times and
    places and people that the drink has lubricated."
    [版主回覆03/24/2011 09:42:00]Well said, my friend.   
    Hugh Johnson also made an excellent and somewhat humorous point that I quoted in an earlier blog:
    Fine wines detach themselves from the rest not by their pretensions but by their conversation — the conversation, that is, that they provoke and stimulate, even, I sometimes think, by joining in themselves.


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