Nov 26, 2018 | Ralph Sands
It was an exciting week in Asia for the wine of Toymaker from Napa Valley, and the Toymaker team. Five fine wine dinners in five nights; three in Shanghai and two in Hong Kong kept us all very busy but were the perfect places to showcase the passion and talent behind this wonderful wine with great food.
The passion for the wine starts with Dr. Shirlin Wong who I met over 3o years ago and this passion is the glue that binds us together today. Even way back then, as we both explored and tasted the great of the wines of the world, you could see the sparkle in Dr. Wong eyes.
Toymaker is a powerful expression of Dr. Wong’s passion and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at its absolute finest. This small garden vineyard is closely watched year round by one of California greatest winemakers, Martha McClellan. Martha, along with project manager Debra Eagle’s intense pursuit for greatness clearly shows in the Toymaker wine.
The debut of 2014 Toymaker is only the third vintage released and the production will always be very small, hovering around 200 cases. The 2014 vintage in California was cooler than 2013 and 2012 and produced a wine with “a bit” more elegance and freshness; but make no mistake, the Toymaker wines are very intense Cabernets that shine even brighter when complimented with the right foods.
This week was all about the dynamic duo of Toymaker and the fine food of “Star Chef Charmaine Cheung”, as she opens up her first restaurant in Shanghai. Charmaine was indeed “on her game” all week and we were lucky to have the Chinese delicacies of Uni (Sea Urchin) and Hairy Crab in season. Of course these, Otoro Tuna and Alaska King Crab legs do not pair with Cabernet Sauvignon; we were ready with the fine white wines of Kelleher Sauvignon Blanc, Grgich Estate Fume Blanc and Chardonnay along with Kokomo Chardonnay and Rose, all were perfect with those courses and provided the bridge to main courses.
Over the course of the week the Toymaker Cabernets were perfectly paired with Charcoal Grilled Iberico Pork Knuckle, Smoked Angus Ribeye, Roasted French Pigeon and Thick Cut Prime Rib, all cooked to perfection.
It was an impressive start for two stars with long carriers ahead of them. I’m sure this is just the first of the many fine restaurants Chef Charmaine will be a star in. The wine of Toymaker is literally in its infancy and as with all successful wines, it takes time to find their place and popularity in the marketplace and when they do, everyone tries to rush back and buy the first few vintages.
I look forward to 2022 when we will have 10 vintages of Toymaker to taste and reflect on in one of “Star Chef Charmaine’s” new restaurants.
I hope you and your families enjoy a wonderful holiday season with lots of love and Toymaker!
Cheers! Ralph Sands