Sunday, October 21, 2012

LeDomduVin: "Le Magasin" de Stanley (Hong Kong)

Le Magasin de Stanley (Hong Kong)

Le Magasin de Stanley is a cute little French Epicerie Fine store that transports you back to France as soon as you pass the door.

Traditional and regional hand-made French recipes in glass jars and tin cans (like Cassoulet a la graisse d'oie, Petit Sale aux Lentilles, Blanquette de Veau, and Langue de Boeuf, just to name a few) mingle with all sorts of Charcuterie delights (saucisse seche, saucisson, pate, terrine, etc.) as well as a small but very interesting and well-priced selection of organic and biodynamic wines, that includes white, red, bubbly and even sweet wines.

Amateurs and connoisseurs of carefully crafted wines (like me) will be quite enthusiastic to recognize such labels as: 

Clos Puy Arnaud crafting Merlot and Cabernet Franc-based reds from vineyards planted atop a hill in the Cotes de Castillon, orchestrated by Thierry Valette, a talented winemaker by passion and musician for pleasure, who has the utmost respect for organic and biodynamic methods and apply them with extreme conviction on his lands. From the tower above his house, he has a unique view of the whole appellation where he contemplates Mother Nature doing what she does best. Although I was selling them for years when I was in New York, the wines of Thierry are somewhat sentimental to me as they were the ones I bought at the estate for my wedding (that occurred in the Citadelle de Blaye).    

Les Trois Petiotes, a small winery recently established in the Cotes de Bourg, in the village of  Tauriac, by Valerie & Denis Godelu, producing wines from 3 small "parcelles" (vineyard lots): 1 hectare of Merlot, 1 hectare of Cabernet and 1 hectare of Malbec, which partly inspired the name "Les Trois Petiotes" ("the 3 small ones"). They also have 3 daughters, the last one being born the same year as the winery in 2008, which explains the other part of this inspired name. Valerie and Denis are dedicated to their family life, daughters, and wine adventure. These "Neo-vignerons," as they categorize themselves, are doing wonders in that small appellation dear to my heart, which has proudly remained outside of the new Cotes de Bordeaux appellation and enjoyed a deserved renaissance since the last 8-10 years, especially with newcomers like the Godelu family to reboot and rejuvenate the appellation. This winery is also quite sentimental to me as I grew up in my grandfather's vineyards, only a few kilometers away in the village of Comps (the locals will know). 

Domaine des Homs,  last Saturday, "Le Magasin" opened a bottle of 2011 Viognier, which was really good: floral, bright, zesty, balanced, refreshing, and fleshy without being heavy. I loved it. We also had the Red from this little winery located in the Minervois, a reputed appellation of the western Languedoc. This domain of 20 hectares has belonged to the De Crozals family for the past 3 generations. Today, Jean-Marc and his wife, both graduates from the Université Internationale du Vin de Suze-la-Rousse, craft their wines with passion and conviction. They are all produced under strict organic methods certified by ECOCERT. Their goal is to produce wines of terroir. Complex wines with mineral structure, good balance between richness and freshness, power and elegance. Terroir wines reflect the nutritive elements of the soil, grape variety, climate, and the character and "savoir-faire" of the people crafting them. 

Jour de Fete, produced by Vincent et Marie Tricot located in Orcet, was also opened last Saturday: nice, gentle, easy to drink, with refined bubbles and a touch of residual sugar that add a light sweetness to this excellent example of a sparkling wine made with Gamay from a lesser-known region situated south of the Loire, in the heart of France: Auvergne. They possess about 5 hectares of vineyards, vinified under the Organic method, certified AB (Agriculture Biologique), and planted with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gamay. No website, but you can always read more about them on the excellent and informative website (or blog?) of, or if you prefer to read in French, go to Vignerons d'Orcet.
This is a small glimpse of their wine selection. More labels await you at the back of the store where the wine cellar is.

Le Magasin is definitely the place to check out if you are tired of browsing the uninspiring shelves of your local supermarket.

Nestled in the heart of Stanley market, this discreet and slightly hard-to-find hole-in-the-wall store also encompasses some hand-crafted kitchen and table useful tools like artisanal table knives (from one of the "Coutellerie(s)" of Thiers), as well as hand-made colorful pottery dipper dishes and plates (among other things) from Provence, that make excellent gift ideas.

To find it, take Stanley's new main street as if you were going to the market, then turn left at the Haagen-Dazs sign in the little street with the stairs, climb them, and go straight. Le Magasin will appear on your left-hand side shortly after, but look carefully as it is not obvious to see the first time.

Open for the past few weeks, it has been run by a dynamic and friendly team: Jean-Charles, the owner, and his friend Michael, the store manager, who will welcome you with open arms and smiles. And the wine tasting on week-end starting at 5pm suddenly makes this store even more sympathetic.

Along with more established French pioneer Hong Kong stores like "Monsieur Chatte" or even "Chez Patrick", "Le Magasin" is a nice addition to the Hong Kong French market scene and one more reason to go to Stanley. Their website is still under construction, as they just opened, but it should be available soon. 

The opening of such a store once again firmly establishes and confirms (for both locals and expats) the growing interest in French culinary culture and tradition as one of the best and most appreciated in Hong Kong (and the rest of the world, if I may say, but this is my French side speaking).


LeDom du Vin

PS:  If you live in Hong Kong or just happen to pass by for a visit and wonder where to go to eat some French food or retrieve some French atmosphere, you can always try Monsieur Chatte (Traditional) and Chez Patrick (more contemporary) try the following places:

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