Recreating a classic French wine bar in Hong Kong isn’t an easy task as it involves more than just a splash of classic Parisian decoration and some suitable wines. A French wine bar is about the ambience, the relaxed vibe and, yes, plenty of good vintages on the menu. It’s not impossible to recreate this atmosphere in our city – but a balance must be struck between attracting good foot traffic and preventing the place from getting too rowdy. Especially when the bar’s namesake is a lush green plot in the famous Puligny-Montrachet area of Burgundy.
Les Pucelles, a relatively small space that’s just opened in Tai Hang, looks the part. A dark red wooden facade, rows of empty wine bottles and surprisingly comfortable chairs adorn the venue. So that’s a big tick on ambience. When we arrive, there are a few customers chatting quietly and sharing bottles of rouge while an authentically French barman greets us and offers us a table. Second tick for the vibe. But what about the tipples? The wine list is a full page and includes bottles from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Languedoc and Savoie, as well as also covering Italian, American and New Zealand offerings, with prices starting at $380 a bottle. It’s available by the glass too, with five choices chalked up on the blackboard on our visit, which change on a weekly basis. We start with a glass of the Château La Grave D’Arzac, 2009 ($100). It’s dry and crisp with notes of melon, sweetgrass and sandalwood. And this only whets our palate for our next selection, the Domaine Vincent Girardin Burgundy, 2001 ($115), a medium-bodied red that allows cherry and raspberry flavours to dance on the palate before its short finish – perfect for a late-night sip.
For an authentic wine bar experience, it seems Les Pucelles has all the bases covered – the right ambience, the right vibe and a comprehensive wine list that sports some solid offerings. We would come back and try the next chalkboard offerings or go for a whole bottle. Nothing short of moving it to the greenery of the countryside could improve on its authenticity. But, in Hong Kong, that would mean killing the vibe, so maybe Les Pucelles is parfait. Just the way it is. Mat Gallagher
Les Pucelles 26 School St, Tai Hang, 2346 9855; keyakihk.com/les-pucelles.
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