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COS Chronicle

Wine, a language rich in culture

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The level of refinement and the diversity of the culinary culture of Chengdu, a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, make it truly exceptional. To better understand this city and its singular blend of energy and quality of life, we spoke with Yingxia Hu, sommelier at Wine Universe by Little Somms.
After studying Chinese at the University of Chengdu, Yingxia Hu developed a passion for wine and went on to win the Best Sommelier in China Award in 2018, making her the ideal person to find commonalities between her city and the rest of the world and between Cos d’Estournel and Szechuan cuisine.

Yingxia Hu, how did you go from studying the Chinese language to working in wine?

It began as a passion, before I started to pursue a career in wine in early 2013. It has been eight years now, and it has been a story of passion and drive, but also of hard work. Determination and courage are very important if you want to advance; the former for keeping your passion alive, and the latter for remaining true to your personal preferences and convictions, without giving in to outside influence.

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What has been your experience in wine? How do you see your profession?

It began as a passion, before I started to pursue a career in wine in early 2013. It has been eight years now, and it has been a story of passion and drive, but also of hard work. Determination and courage are very important if you want to advance; the former for keeping your passion alive, and the latter for remaining true to your personal preferences and convictions, without giving in to outside influence.

What is your advice for aspiring sommeliers?

Perseverance! Remain true to your passion and go for it!

What does Cos d’Estournel evoke for you?

Cos d’Estournel perfectly matches my approach to wine: it is an estate whose wines are exceptionally qualitative and that stands out for its deep cultural heritage; this is something that resonates in the heart of every person who tastes it. In other words, Cos d’Estournel is a universal language!

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Which of the estate’s wines would you recommend to our readers?

For amateurs of rich, sophisticated wines, I would of course recommend Cos d’Estournel. It is an immensely complex wine with generous aromas. A young vintage such as the 2015 is delightful for its wonderful structure and strength, and in an older vintage, like the 1996, the aromas of leather, tobacco, and undergrowth are absolutely enchanting.
For those who are looking for a fresher, more supple style, I would suggest Goulée by Cos d’Estournel, in a young vintage that reveals all the freshness of the Merlot. A few weeks ago, I happened to open a Goulée by Cos d’Estournel 2014; it had wonderful notes of fresh black plum and blackcurrant and subtle aromas of violet and cedar, as well as elegant, delicate tannins that make it enjoyable without long aeration. It is remarkable and ready to be opened now.
We also have Pagodes de Cos 2012 on our wine list, and it is also perfect at this moment. All of your readers are welcome to come taste it at Wine Universe!

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« Cos d’Estournel is a universal language »

Tell us more about Wine Universe. Why is this place so special?

We have great ambitions. We are a team of sommeliers who have come together to make Wine Universe the most professional wine bar in southwestern China. We offer exceptional cellaring conditions, with a large glass wine cellar that stretches from floor to ceiling whose temperature and humidity levels are entirely under our control.
Our wine list at Wine Universe is both exigent and eclectic, with more than four hundred wines ranging from natural niche wines to those of the most well-known chateaux and estates. And all of our wines are available by the glass!
Our chef, Zhong Toto, has worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants, including Noma, whose cuisine brings together French and Asian influences. Wine and food pairings determine everything.
Finally, the ambience is very pleasant. The restaurant’s interior is quite spacious, with an open kitchen and bar, so that our clients may interact with the chef throughout their dining experience.

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You pursued your studies in Chengdu, and it is also where you work today. What are some of your favorite aspects of the city?

Chengdu is a wonderful city in which to live. It offers a quality of life that is recognized throughout China. What is surprising in Chengdu is the degree of tolerance and openness to the world. The city attracts an increasing number of young graduates and expatriates thanks to its strong economic development and rent that is more affordable than in Beijing or Shanghai. Its energetic, enthusiastic population, the art of living that it cultivates, and its long culinary tradition lend incredible vitality to its culinary scene.

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What is your favorite local dish, and which of the estate’s wines would you choose to enjoy with it?

My favorite local dish is a traditional one, the Mapo tofu. It is spicy and fragrant, with comforting flavors. With the Mapo tofu, I would recommend a Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2010, for the combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon create a lively, fresh acidity that is a perfect counterpart to the dish’s spiciness. The fullness of the wine will find wonderful balance against the texture of the tofu, and the complex aromas brought on by aging will echo the dish’s umami flavors.


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