AS a coterie of Hong Kong's most elite restaurateurs tour food sources around South Australia, brand new Barossa Valley designer wines are being released in Asia. It is an international trade marriage made over the dining table.
These synchronous events reflect the vitality of the new food economy and the alacrity with which South Australia has leapt to the emergent needs of the Asian market.
A rising thirst for good wine in Asia, with Japan becoming the 15th largest wine consumer in the world, has prompted Asian chefs to come to the Barossa to cook for the winemakers. The winemakers have responded with culture-specific wine blends.
For Japan, with its subtleties of sushi, yakitori and Wagyu, Jacob's Creek red and white wines called WAH have been created and launched onto the market. They are named is in honour of Wagyu.
For Thailand's bright and fierce array of food flavors, Jacob's Creek winemakers have crafted LAMOON.
Meanwhile, South Australia's first international Premium Food and Wine Ambassador, distinguished chef Wong Wing Chee, is out and about showing a group of 24 top restaurant directors and managers the range of outstanding ingredients that can be sourced in South Australia. They're touring and tasting in the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay, with a special eye on seafood.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and also Tourism, Leon Bignell, has been enthusing about the potential of such culinary connections.
"Building our State's brand as a producer of sustainably clean, green, premium food and wine is key to developing our export markets," he said.
"Chef Wong is also was keen to explore the potential to link tourism with seafood production through the development of restaurant interests in South Australia as well as investment potential in seafood."
Like Chef Wong, the visitors are linked to Hong Kong's Dragon King Restaurant Group that, with eight restaurants and more to come, is renown as the epitome of high-end cuisine.
Its policy is to select "luxurious rare and high quality ingredients" and create health and wellness as well as the best of Chinese cuisine for an upmarket clientele.
Dragon King's managing director, Janet Wan added that its signature was "fine dining of Australian foods" and she reported that many members of Chef Wong's group had said already expressed interest in return visits.
Minister Bignell describes trade tourists such as these as "key to the future of our agriculture and food processing sectors' international success."
Jacob's Creek's Chief Winemaker, Bernard Hickin, expresses similar sentiments with the success of the new "cuisine wines".
The WAH white, for instance, followed the visit of Mamoru Sugiyama, Japanese sushi chef and owner of the Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Ginza Sushi Kou in Tokyo. Then, a series of intensive foodie sessions with masterchef Toru Hashimoto was followed by the red, which relates well not only to the flavor of soy sauce but also to the oily richness of tuna and salmon.
LAMOON's ingredients are a closely-guarded secret but visiting Thai chef Ian Kittichai said its subtle spice notes and silky tannins reflected its name's meaning which is "soft, balanced and in harmony".
“Here in Australia we are incredibly fortunate to share a close relationship with our neighbours in Asia – whose influence can be seen in the burgeoning Asian food scene in many of our cities," said Mr Hickin.
“Our range of Jacob’s Creek cuisine wines really champions the bond between the two regions, and highlights the harmony that can exist between Australian wine and Asian food – enhancing both elements and taking each of them to a new level of gastronomic enjoyment."