From the producer he once recommended to a wine-collecting rock star to an especially expressive amber wine, Ambrose Chiang picks his pours
Our By The Glass series sees sommeliers and wine experts share some vinous inspiration for your next pour.
After studying the fundamentals of wine, Ambrose Chiang put his knowledge to the test as the director of wine and beverage at Momofuku. Working at both Momofuku Seiōbo in Sydney and Momofuku Ko in New York City, it was the latter where his work met high acclaim as Momofuku Ko was honoured with the World’s Most Original Wine List award by The World of Fine Wine in 2018.
In 2019, Chiang moved to Hong Kong, where he went on to found Project Ambrose Consultancy. Here, creating beverage programmes and training staff in wine are just part of the services that his consultancy offers, though wine remains a personal passion and he works as both a private sommelier and hosts wine tastings and classes.
An early (in your career) wine that made you go ‘Wow! (I want to be a somm)’
Ulysse Collin 'Les Pierrieres' Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2008 made me want to understand more about the minds of Champagne growers, especially Olivier Collin. While Domaine Valette Pouilly-Fuissê Clos de Monsieur Noly 2001 turned the whole wine world upside down for me with its flavour complexity.
Most memorable pour
Weingut Keller ‘Absterde’ GG 2010. I was nerding up on this producer in wine school and always wanted to taste it (difficult due to its price range). One service at Momofuku Seiōbo, some cool and super nice guy from Canada wanted a wine that wasn’t from Burgundy but with a Burgundian mind that didn’t cost more than a premier cru. I recommended (hard!) Weingut Keller and the guy bought it. I was over the moon that I would get to have a small taste. Turns out that the guest was Geddy Lee, lead singer of legendary Canadian rock band Rush, who is a serious Burgundy collector. He loved the wine and has been a collector of Keller wines since. He also left a glass for me to taste that night.
Tipple for a Tuesday
A Ferrari—it’s equal parts Fernet Branca and Campari with orange peel.
Wine of the moment
JB. Becker Wallufer Walkenberg Riesling Auslese Trocken 2006—a dreamy, masterfully balanced wine. With some maturity to the bottle, the wine sings in between the fresh and preserved fruits and spices with a quiet backbone of acidity and minimal tannins.
What you love to recommend to guests
I love recommending wines that have personality, authenticity and are made by people that respect their land and do their best to express, through the hundreds of viticulture and vinification decisions, their own values as well as the terroir of the vineyards.
A special something
Terre A Mano 'Sassocarlo' 2013 / 2014. From the first DOCG in Italy Carmignano DOCG in Tuscany, the farm has nine hectares of vineyards surrounded by 60 hectares of olive and fruit trees, vegetation and wild bush. This is an amber wine made from trebbiano and a bit of malvasia, both spending their first four days of natural fermentation on the skins to add to the texture and colour of the finished wine. Normally picked around the middle of October, the colour of the grapes changes to orange/pink aiding in the beautiful hue of the finished wine; and this provides ample time for some of the grapes (about 20%) to become affected by botrytis, adding more depth and complexity to the juice. After the grapes are pressed off the skins, the fermenting must goes into old French Tonneau barrels for 12 months to complete fermentation, seeing regular battonage for the first month, and then once-a-week stirrings for the rest of the year. After an additional month in stainless steel, the wine is racked for the first time into bottle. No yeasts are added to the process, no sulfur is used, and the unfiltered wine is full of expressive character.
Bottle to bring to a dinner party
Rié et Hirofumi Shoji, Pedres Blanques from Collioure [in the south of France]. The only wine produced and sold by Rié and Hirofumi at the moment is made from their 30-50-year-old grenache vines planted over granite and schist soils between 250-300 metres above sea level.
What’s in your cellar?
Domaine Vincent Dancer Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières 2018. Vincent Dancer looks after 0.29 hectares of this well-known vineyard and his vines were mostly planted in 1963.
Any—or all!—of the wines mentioned above.
If not wine, then what?
Any fermented drinks made from fruit that show personality and terroir.