With the first new moon of the year coming up, Lunar New Year plans are going to be in full swing. To celebrate the Year of the Dragon, we invite you to discover the allure of several special wines and spirits. This selection includes an exquisite Icewine that’s perfect for gifting and red wines, a delightful homage to the traditional Lunar New Year colour palette. Additionally, we’ve compiled a list of drinking etiquettes to enhance your understanding of this auspicious celebration. —Noa Nichol
PENFOLDS BIN 389
Give an auspicious gift with Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz: three symbolizes new beginnings, eight symbolizes prosperity and nine symbolizes longevity, perfectly encapsulating a sentiment of luck and longevity. First made in 1960 by the legendary Max Schubert, this was the wine that helped forge Penfolds‘ reputation with red-wine drinkers by combining the structure of cabernet sauvignon with the richness of shiraz. Exemplifying the judicious balance of fruit and oak, Bin 389, presenting a “lucky” darkened deep-red colour, highlights the generous mid-palate Penfolds is known for. On the nose, find ample self-standing fruits already beginning to yield to other vinous intents: cola, grated chocolate and cappuccino dust, which bind with juniper, sage and rosemary spices. On the palate, Bin 389 is instantly fresh and fleshy: liquorice, stewed plum and blackcurrant fruits with dark chocolate and mocha lurking in the background. Says Penfolds’ chief winemaker Peter Gago, “Bin 389, a perennial overachiever in any vintage … indeed, a very good follow on to the 2018 Bin 389; only the vintage numerics and fruit sourcing setting them apart.” Polished and refined it’s a perfect wine for your Lunar New Year dinner.
MISSION HILL LEGACY COLLECTION: PERPETUA & OCULUS
From its Legacy Collection, Okanagan winemaker Mission Hill offers “double happiness” when it comes to Lunar New Year libations. First up, its 2020 Perpetua, meaning long-lasting and continuous, representative of generations. Historic French Burgundian Dijon clones were used for this Chardonnay, lending a unique flavour and an aromatic profile. Bright fruit and incredibly fresh acidity highlight the 2020 vintage. Notes of stone fruit, citrus and flint are highlighted by a fine lemon acidity and seductive textures. Second, 2019 Oculus; an oculus refers to a window in a dome or wall to the outside. At Mission Hill, the oculus provides the only natural light into an underground barrel cellar blasted out of volcanic rock. This complex Bordeaux-style wine is the result of grapes that have been specifically nurtured for this rare vintage. With Merlot driving red and blue fruit flavours, the Cabernet Franc enriches the flavour with herbaceous undertones and the Cabernet Sauvignon supports the length on the palate.
CHECKMATE BLACK ROOK MERLOT & LITTLE PAWN CHARDONNAY
From yet another award-winning British Columbia winemaker, the low-vigour sandy soils of the Black Sage Bench provide intense fruit and aniseed flavours from sites tucked into the foothills of the Okanagan Highland. Find expressive aromas of violet, aniseed, blueberry and dark chocolate in Checkmate’s 2020 Black Rook Merlot; the palate is lively yet opulent with sweet ripe cherry, blackberry, roasted coffee, sweet spice and structured tannins coating the mouth. Another fine selection from Checkmate, 2020 Little Pawn Chardonnay, with grapes, too, from the low-vigour soils of Black Sage Bench, produce a wine of profound balance and layered complexity.
Drinking Etiquette for Lunar New Year
- To show respect and gratitude when making a toast, hold the glass with your right hand and support it with your left.
- As a sign of respect, when clinking glasses with someone of higher rank or age, ensure your glass is positioned lower.
- If distance separates you during a toast, elevate your glass and gently tap it against the side of the table. This is a sign of politeness and respect to the host of the party.