Competition – P M Chan Hall-Jones

P M Chan Hall-Jones writes, ‘I grew up on a small, hot tropical island and now live on another sub-tropical island, Hong Kong. I love wine and not just wine from grapes but also sake. I am trying to learn more about the latter, and it’s quite different from wine. The pairing of wine (and sake) fascinates me and I am always looking for new and diverse combinations. 

‘I suppose I am one of a fewer number of wine consumers who made the (possibly foolhardy) jump to being a producer as well, when my husband David and I established Domaine Thomson Wines in Central Otago, New Zealand in 2000. It has been an interesting and exciting time in the vineyard, just as it has been a very interesting time to be a consumer with the wide range of choices we have...’ This is her (unedited) entry in our seminal wine competition.

When I saw the news about the wine competition, it started me thinking, which wine tipped me into the world of wine? It was a difficult question because I had my first taste of wine when I was six. Now you will wonder, what irresponsible parents could have done this? The truth was that I had been coughing for a while, I had been taken to the doctors, I had been given all the usual gamut of cough medicines. Nothing worked.

So one evening in desperation, my mother gave me a little sip of wine from her glass. Not just any wine, but something golden, unctuous, rich, apricots and honey, that rolled around the tongue. A Sauternes. It worked. I stopped coughing.

My parents loved food and wine – the wine bit was unusual in Singapore of the 1970s. Since I was little, they had given me bits of things to taste. A freshly shucked briny oyster. Abalone, stewed in soy sauce. Things full of flavor for a young palate. The Sauternes was however, considered as “cough medicine”. So I stalked the special occasion family dinners when wine was served. Whenever the small bottle with golden liquid appeared, I woke up and asked for a taste. I remember my aunt saying once to my father: “Your daughter likes that wine more than me.”

As I became a teenager, more opportunities to taste appeared, my parents had decided that it was better to teach us how to drink wine in small quantities at home. I remember Riesling, rosés, Beaujolais, Chateauneuf du Pape. My tastes changed and I began to understand how something other than a sweet, honeyed Sauternes could also be interesting…..

It was Christmas and I was fifteen, my mother was in the midst of preparing the roast beef on Christmas Eve. My father poured a red wine into a glass and handed it to me. The wine was a medium red, not too dark. Soft velvety tannins, red cherries, raspberries and plums, ending in violets and roses. The flavor was multi-layered and complex, changing with each mouthful. I wish I remembered the domaine and the climat, but all I remember of this magical wine, is that it was a Nuits-Saint-Georges. I didn’t know this at the time, but it sparked my fascination with pinot noir, which has continued over the years….

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