Mark Anthony Brands Portfolio Tasting


Henry Yuen

As far as I’m concerned, wine merchants do play an important role in advancing the level of wine appreciation among wine consumers in British Columbia. If profit is the sole objective of wine merchants, then consumers in B.C. would not have had the chance to experience fine wines from different parts of the world due to existing hurdles in bringing these wines into the Province, thanks to wine merchants, they’re doing all the works for us!  Wine merchants also play an indirect role in educating the public about wines by hosting various portfolio tasting events cater to trade personnel. By allowing restaurateurs, sommeliers and other folks in the industry to taste their wines, the wine merchants are in fact indirectly dictating what kind of wines are available for the consumers to be had, it is naturally their job to introduce and educate the business partners who promote and sell their wines to the public.

Do merchants/ importers take the easy route to source wines from common sources or do they go the extra mile to import wines from around the world that are good and reasonably priced? From my observations and discussions with the merchants, importers, distributors, even sommeliers,  I can guarantee you lots of expertise, time and effort, travelling and research are induced, before the bottle of wine you end up picking shows up on the shelves of the wine store.

A recent Mark Anthony Brands portfolio tasting confirmed the effort and commitment of this wine distributor to introduce quality wines to the market. With more than 35 years of experience in the industry, they understand the trends and market preferences.  Even though most consumers do not refer to the wine merchant when they buy and sip good wines, the wine merchant’s efforts and contributions have already been capitalized.

It’s difficult to list all the wines in Mark Anthony’s portfolio; I have selected the followings that are definitely worth mentioning, based on price, quality and my personal preferences:

1/ For below $20.00, Mission Hill Five Vineyards Cabernet Merlot 2009 is a quality wine. A nice balance between local  Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, full dark berries and jam flavours with a tease of cocoa and oak on the finish.

2/ Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from Sonoma County is well crafted. Lightly oaked and loads of berries with a hint of chocolate, it is also flirtingly minty on the palate.

3/ Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico DOCG 2008 is consistently good year after year. With 90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and Syrah, this is a well-balanced classic Chianti with very satisfying aroma and flavour. Enjoy young with or without food, this is one lovely wine that will not disappoint.

4/ Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Haynes Barn Merlot Cabernet 2008 is another local product that exhibits a good nose of cocoa and mint. There is a bit of wild berry sweetness on the entry, perfectly balanced with enough intensity and a lengthy finish. Well done for the price.

Ergo, next time when we encounter a good bottle of wine, besides giving kudos to the winemaker, small token of appreciation should also be given to the wine merchant for his/her behind the scene good work in making this happen.


Bravo to BC Hospitality Foundation

Henry Yuen

As in most retail industry, workers in the food service industry tend to be more transient than other occupations.  Significant numbers of part-timers holding more than one job are often students looking for few hours of work as a mean of earning extra income.  Consequently, the workforce is not as close knit compared with other industries where employees are more permanent and steady. As a result, looking after workers’ general interest and welfare becomes a challenge.

This, however, changed in 2006, when a group of hospitality leaders got together to form the B.C. Hospitality Foundation. Having been in the industry for a long time, they understand the industry comprises of more than servers and cooks at restaurants but all other related industrial occupations such as hotel staffs, food suppliers, wine agents, marketers, tourism staff, cooking schools and personnel whose work nature directly and indirectly ties in with the food industry.  To have such a broad view upon the hospitality industry proved to be the foremost element which led them to their overall goal.

They might not be asking for too much, but to create an encompassing and strong community where they can look out for each other took more than time and effort, but strong passion and the will to help, smart planning and lots of noises and supports. BC Hospitality Foundation searches for and gathers the resources to empower them the means to look after their own members when they are in need of various kinds of medical and health related assistance. The Foundation’s objective is to organize a vibrant association where members can build up a strong sense of community and benefit from it at vulnerable times.

Who are the members? Anyone in the hospitality industry or related fields including food and wine writers who promotes and supports the industries with different tools! The most encouraging act of BC Hospitality Foundation is the fact that no membership application form needs to be filled and submitted.  As long as you are working, or have been working and contributing to BC’s hospitality industry, you are automatically a member!

It’s a known reality that without BC Hospitality Foundation’s initiative, it is a challenge   for most workers to acquire the need and support needed, when most of the time; they do not even know where to seek assistance. It is a relief for many to know where to turn to when help seems scarce, and is heart warming that there is a group of volunteers who understand the importance of forming a strong community within the hospitality industry so it is not fragmented or fragile in times of crisis.         

Besides financial assistances to medical needs, the Foundation also award bursaries and scholarships to students enrolled in various hospitality programmes. It’s a lofty goal worthy of support by anybody not necessarily related to the industry. The Foundation raises funds through donations, third party functions and events such as annual golf tournament, Dish N’dazzle and Tip to Help Out.

Currently, the Tip Out to Help Out program is in full swing where restaurant staffs and owners are encouraged to donate a portion of their tips or revenue to the cause. Since these are all volunteering activities, all hospitality related businesses are urged to organize their own arrangement to help out this meaningful campaign.

Do check out and see what and how they are doing, may be you are inspired to get involved and willing to lend a helping hand.