With Decanter's first Asia Wine Awards taking place in September, find out more about new judge Paulo Pong, founder of importer Altaya Wines and co-owner of the Press Room Group of restaurants in Hong Kong.
Tell us a little about yourself – Where are you based and where do you work?
I’m based in HK, which is where I’m from and our clients are all over Asia but the majority are in HK, Macau and China.
How did you first become interested in wine?
I was given sips of wine by my father at a very young age, 6 or 7, and names like Margaux and Chambertin were embedded in my mind for years before I selected and bought my first bottle in 1994. I then went to work the harvest as a picker at Petrus and as a ‘stage’ at Cheval Blanc after I graduated from university.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt as a wine importer/retailer?
To have a strong cash flow, well-managed inventory and good staff.
Is there a person/producer you particularly admire within the wine industry?
Christian Moueix and Pierre Lurton since they gave me the opportunity to learn about wine behind the scenes.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
It’s the summer months so I always have bottles of chilled champagne ready to be served. Preferably these are from top producers like Pol Roger or a grower like Larmandier Bernier.
What are your favourite food and wine combinations?
This will have to be Cantonese style barbecue pork and roast goose with red Bordeaux or Burgundy.
Who was your most memorable customer, and why?
Probably the group of customers who started to support us 11 years ago and still buy from us today!
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
Absolutely, otherwise the Decanter Asia Wine Awards wouldn’t be hosted here.
Have you noticed any new trends emerging? What are customers asking for at the moment?
More people are inquiring about Burgundy (both white and red) than ever which is perfect for us since we are opening ‘burgundy etc’ later this year.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards?
Sometimes we get overly exclusive with wines we bring in and miss chances to taste new wines. I’m certainly looking forward to widening my perspective since more regions and countries are making better wines.
Written by Decanter