Vincent Cheung was named the Asian Wine Personality of the Year 2014, during Vinexpo Asia Pacific 2014, held in Hong Kong in May 2014. Jeannie Cho Lee, MW co-presented the award, as a representative of the Institute of Masters of Wine. The award sponsor was trade publication, The Drinks Business. This is only the second time that this accolade has ever been presented. The winner of the inaugural award in 2012 was Judy Leissner, CEO of Grace Vineyards.
Asianpalate.com asked Cheung, a legal professional by day, what drives his passion for wine, and for his response to accolades he has achieved, among other questions.
AP – Asian Palate VC – Vincent Cheung
AP: What first enticed you to the world of wine?
VC: In 1961, when I was about 18, on my way to France from Hong Kong on a French cruise liner, I was given a taste of leftover bottles from the first class cellar. It changed my view on what wine could be.
AP: Why was Bordeaux, and why is it still, such a source of fascination for you?
VC: Gradually, after drinking some not-so-good wine, I realized that [for me] Bordeaux makes the best wine in the world. I first visited Bordeaux in the mid-1980s [to further my knowledge].
AP: What does it mean to you to have obtained the Maitre of the Commanderie de Bordeaux [an international association under the patronage of the Bordeaux-based Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux] in 1997?
VC: I was very honoured to be recognized.
AP: Please tell us your feelings about the accolades and awards you have also received since then.
VC: I never expected any awards or honours. I had a real passion to help promote Bordeaux wine in Asia; and after so many years, I realized that I may have achieved some success in getting Bordeaux wine recognized. I was also the Grand Maitre for Asia, for the Commanderie de Bordeaux and was awarded Commandeur de l’Ordre du Merite Agricole, in 2006.
AP: What are you top three wines from Bordeaux at the moment and why?
VC: I really cannot say. How can one say Mozart is better than Beethoven? It really depends on your mood at the time.
AP: Are there any newer producers in Bordeaux you can recommend?
VC: I can only say that Bordeaux winemakers have improved so much with their winemaking techniques that they really cannot make a bad wine in whatever vintage or condition they face. The have carefully studied their conditions, know their vineyards intimately and will always make the best wine in such conditions.
AP: After Bordeaux, which is your favourite wine region?
VC: Burgundy. They have made the best wine from Pinot Noir.
AP: Which are the regions to watch in quite new wine-producing areas, do you think?
VC: Many of the others regions have also improved their winemaking techniques but most of them adhere to the characteristics of their country.
AP: Do any members of your family share your passion for wine or is it a solitary activity?
VC: Yes, they all do – my wife and my two sons and two daughters.
AP: How do you see Hong Kong’s wine community right now and where do you see it heading?
VC: Hong Kong’s wine community is a very mature one, with new lovers of wine growing very rapidly – the young generation of wine lovers is a healthy one. I am also pleased to see many female wine lovers. Ladies generally have a fine palate.