Andy provides a brief update of two weeks in Asia.
Misha and I recently returned from a two week tour of some of our South-East Asian markets. It is so encouraging to see increasing interest in wine in the emerging markets and the how well established the wine culture has become in the more developed markets such as Singapore. We began the trip in Kuala Lumpur where our distributor, Finlux, has been busy bringing quality wines to many of the fine dining restaurants and hotels in Malaysia. One of the highlights during our brief Malaysian visit was our special Misha’s Vineyard Wine Dinner at the stunning Atmosphere 360, which is a revolving restaurant 282 meters above ground level on top of the KL Tower. The food was an enticing selection of Western and Asian influenced dishes with the vista providing amazing views across the city. Our guests included the New Zealand High Commissioner HE Mr David Pine, President of the Malaysian Sommeliers Association Roderick Wong and many of the wine industry sommeliers, writers and educators of Malaysia.
Finlux owner CK Chew had a full schedule of trade meetings planned for us during our visit including The Westin Hotel with its many bars, restaurants and premier guest lounge, Frangipani Restaurant, Le Midi, some outlets of the Gastrodome group and several other fantastic restaurants. KL is fast becoming a fine dining capital in South East Asia! We were also delighted to be invited to the residence of the New Zealand High Commissioner HE Mr David Pine, where we met members of the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce. The High Commission and NZTE teams in the region do a very good job of promoting New Zealand product. We always meet with Fiona Acheson (NZTE Malaysia) and Ziena Jalil (NZTE Singapore) when in the region and get a wealth of information from them on the market and activities.
A few days after we left KL our distributor sponsored the South-East Asia Best Sommelier Competition where both new and experienced sommeliers showed their expertise in wine knowledge and presenting wines. At that event, Misha’s Vineyard “The High Note” Pinot Noir was served as well as our full range of wines being available for tasting during the Wine Festival held on the last day. These activities have certainly given us some great exposure to F&B industry in KL!
Next stop on the tour was Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam is still quite new to wine but with new bars and restaurants opening throughout the major cities there is an incredible thirst for wine knowledge. Our distributor in Vietnam, Finewines, has a great team. We started the visit with a training session for staff at their new office in District 1, then visited the new Finewines wine shop – an impressive shop with some stunning wines from all over the world. One of our highlights was a visit to a new bar and restaurant complex high up on HCMC’s tallest building – the Bitexco Financial Tower. The CEO of the three-floor complex is New Zealander Tony Shadwell. His amicable style and passion for food and wine is sure to make the towers’ bars and restaurants a huge success in this city of 7.5 million people. You can arrive at the restaurant in the conventional way, by elevator, or if you like the thrill of heights, there is a landing pad jutting out from the 50th floor which would make the arrival by helicopter something of a unique, if not exhilarating, experience. And later this month, Riedel Glassware, Austria’s fine wine glass producer, is presenting a comparative wine glass tasting hosted by Mr Georg Riedel himself. Over 100 sommeliers will be attending the event which has Misha’s Vineyard “The High Note” Pinot Noir as one of only three wines being used for demonstrating the fine Riedel glassware.
Singapore has long been our biggest market in Asia. The city-state has been developing a strong wine culture for more than 20 years and the number of wine bars, restaurants and hotels continues to grow at a hectic pace. Our distributor, Crystal Wines, has been looking after the fine wine needs of this market for longer than almost any other distributor and knows the market intimately. We again delivered our update training to the Crystal sales team and then started our three-day trade visit program. Our Singapore activities included a Misha’s Vineyard Wine Dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel – one of the finest and most respected 5 star hotels in Singapore. Over 40 people joined us in the Chinese Jiang-nan Chun restaurant to pair our range of wines with a variety of Chinese dishes. It was great to see some of our Singapore friends at the dinner and to meet new friends. Some highlights of our trade days in Singapore included lunch at Pollen – the amazing restaurant at the $2b “Gardens on the Bay” development, a wine club tasting at The Tanglin Club, tasting with Rafael at the newly renovated Pan Pacific Hotel, lunch and some staff training at The Boathouse. We also met Patrick and the team at Palm Beach Seafood restaurant and visiting Lucha Loco – the new Mexican themed bar/restaurant at Duxton Hill. It was a busy schedule, but as you can imagine with this list – one that we truly enjoyed.
Although we have only been back for a week, we are already planning our next trip to these amazing countries in May next year!