Meet Yves Sauboua, a French sommelier based in Hong Kong, who joins Decanter's new judging panel for the first Asia Wine Awards taking place in September.

Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I have lived in Hong Kong since 2006 and currently work for Baur au Lac Vins Asia (the Asian division of Baur au Lac Vins, Zurich, Switzerland). We have a consortium of 15 wineries which are located in Argentina, Chile, Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland and our immediate goal is to further develop the Asia Pacific market.

How did you first become interested in wine?
I suppose it has been my destiny. I grew up in the village of Margaux, France which is surrounded by the great vineyards! Therefore, it seemed natural that I chose to study at the Bordeaux Hotel & Catering Management School and specialised as a sommelier.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a sommelier?

I have learned that we can enjoy many wines from lesser-known appellations and regions which can give great pleasure at amazingly good value.

Is there a person or producer you particularly admire within the wine industry?
It is difficult to name only one particular person or producer because I admire many wineries and producers who have been working hard in their vineyards and giving us great wines, no matter the price.

Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
As we are in Hong Kong during a hot and humid summer, I mostly enjoy Champagne and white wine as well as red wine with moderate tannic structure like Sangiovese, Pinot Noir or Tempranillo.
At home right now I’m enjoying:
•   Dehours Champagne 2004 “Cote en Bosse” Mareuil le Port
•   Marchesi Alfieri Barbera d’Asti La Tota 2009
•   Palacios Remondo La Montesa 2008
•   Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur Blanc l’ Insolite 2010
•   Schloss GobelsbrugGruner Veltliner Tradition 2010

What are your favourite food and wine combinations?

I believe in food and wine pairing – it is extremely personal. I would recommend for my clients to always be open-minded and to pair a few different wines (white and red) with the same dish – it is a better way to explore!

I do have some great memories in my career such as:
•   Poularde de Bresse aux morilles (Fresh morels sauce) with Robert Ampeau Meursault 1er cru 1972 (at the Gavroche restaurant, London)
•   Potatoes and fresh black truffles tart with double magnum Petrus 1975 (at Les Saveurs restaurant, London)
•   White truffle ice cream with Dom Perignon 1959 (at Monte’s private club, London)

Who was your most memorable customer, and why?

Many of my customers have been generous in sharing their great wines. Particularly, one was extremely generous who was always passionate in discovering and trying great wines from all over the world, such as Penfolds Grange 1968,1971, Vega Sicilia 1953 or a Latour 1929 magnum, and shared them with my sommelier team.

Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
Yes, there is a great buzz in Hong Kong and most of my private customers have great wine knowledge. However, some improvements should be made in the hotel and restaurant industry.

Have you noticed any new trends emerging? What are customers asking for at the moment?

I haven’t noticed any new trends because we have always had access to such a large portfolio of great wines in Hong Kong during the last few years.

Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards?
I am looking forward to meeting some old friends, sharing some new information about our industry and of course, discovering some new wines! Hopefully, I will find that the overall selection is of a high quality.

Written by Decanter