In Hong Kong, Lunar New Year is an opportunity for gift-giving, and the traditional gift used to be a bottle of cognac; for cognac houses, this was peak season. Those days have passed and consumers are instead now reaching for a bottle of wine, with red Bordeaux being among the most popular.
With a few exceptions (Château Mouton Rothschild comes to mind), wine labels from Bordeaux usually depict an image of the chateau they are named after. One with an Asian connection is Château Cos d'Estournel, in St-Estephe, the cellars of which are topped by majestic pagodas, erected by founder Louis Gaspard d'Estournel beginning in 1811. He was known as the Maharajah of St-Estephe and presented his bottles as having been "returned from India" to show how far and wide his wines had travelled.
Another Bordeaux that is hugely popular in Hong Kong is by Château Lynch-Bages, a fifth-growth from Pauillac. The estate is owned today by Jean-Michel Cazes, who, having tirelessly promoted his wines, has made Lynch-Bages one of the most recognisable Bordeaux in Asia. A visit to the vineyard's vat room - built in 1850, it works on gravity - shows how innovative the production process is. During the harvest, grapes are emptied into a wooden tank that sits on a wheeled track; the grapes are crushed under their own weight and the juice flows out through slots into a fermentation vat. A rope and pulley bucket system, which requires the strength of six people, removes the leftover grape pulp from the vat.
Lastly, a Bordeaux that is a good way to show how much you love someone (especially on Valentine's Day) - Château Calon-Ségur, a third-growth from St-Estephe, which has a heart wrapped around its name on the label. The vineyard was named after Nicolas-Alexandre, Marquis de Ségur (1697-1755), whose family also owned chateaux Latour, Lafite and Mouton in the 18th century. Of all these esteemed estates, his favourite was Calon, of which he said, "I make wine at Lafite and Latour, but my heart is at Calon."
READ MORE: How a Hong Kong tycoon took over a 300-year-old vineyard in France and made it a tourist draw
The ultimate gift for someone with deep pockets: a treasure box from L'Imperatrice that has been lovingly amassed by a private collector in Paris over many years and comes housed in a bespoke wine cabinet. It contains a vertical of Mouton-Rothschild from 1945 to 2011 in single bottles, magnums and jeroboams. To view the box, visit imperatrice.cn/en click on collections and then select "The Most Valuable Collection of Chateau Mouton Rothschild".
Nellie Ming Lee is a food stylist and part-time sommelier studying with the Court of Master Sommeliers.