With Decanter's first Asia Wine Awards taking place in September, find out more about new judge Eddie McDougall, a winemaker and businessman working in Australia, Hong Kong, Macau and China.
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I was born in Hong Kong then raised and trained as a winemaker in Australia and Italy. My time now is mostly split between Australia, Hong Kong, Macau and China. I currently own and operate the following businesses:
- Eddie McDougall Fine Wines of Australia, Winemaker and Managing Director
– The Flying Winemaker, Founder and Director
– Edward James Wine Service, Founder and Director
How did you first become interested in wine?
At the age of 19 I graduated with a Bachelor of International Business and found myself completely directionless in my career path. I was working part-time as a bar manager and waiter for a very prestigious restaurant in Australia and it was at this restaurant that I experienced what I now call a ‘waiter’s worst nightmare’. Fortunately for me, the nightmare that claimed my happiness eventually turned 180 degrees and became a twist of faith, which exposed me to a glass of wine that changed my life. The glass of wine, offered to me by the restaurateur, was the remains of a customer’s bottle, and upon a slight sniff and sip I was compelled to learn how to make wine. This life inspiring experience prompted me to formally undertake university studies in winemaking and viticulture. What was in the glass? It was a Pinot Blanc made by an Alsace producer, Paul Blanck.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your job role?
To be honest I’m still learning it. However, knowledge and hands on experience is really important as no book will ever teach you the really juicy stuff. Even after 12 vintages of winemaking in various parts of the world, I still need to learn and more importantly make the mistakes – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
Is there a person or producer you particularly admire within the wine industry?
Vietti from Barolo, Italy. Luca Currado is a fantastic winemaker and mentor.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
A lot of funky South African wines and Chateau Ksara from the Bekka Valley in Lebanon.
What are your favourite food and wine combinations?
– Chianti Classico or Sangiovese with Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai Pork Dumplings) served with lots of vinegar and ginger strands.
– Dry Rosé with Char Sui (Honey Glazed Cantonese BBQ Pork). Make sure you eat the crunchy, burnt pieces too.
Who was your most memorable customer, and why?
What I should say is that every customer is just as memorable as each other, however if I had to choose one it would definitely be my 87-year-old grandmother. My grandmother from my Chinese side grew up never tasting a wine made from grapes. The first and only wine she has ever tasted was a 2008 Shiraz which I made. She gave it two thumbs up.
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
The wine scene in Hong Kong is huge! It’s still growing and literally shifting dynamics all the time.
Have you noticed any new trends emerging? What are customers asking for at the moment?
– Lower-alcohol Shiraz from Australia, very classy and modern in style – Mount Langhi Ghiran is an awesome example.
– Moscato is going to be massive for new wine drinkers – look out for this dark horse.
– South African produced Bordeaux blends – cheaper and tastier than you’ll ever believe.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards?
A great opportunity to be part of a team of judges who will shape the direction of the Asian wine industry.
Written by Decanter