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Quentin Chong: winemaker
'On this journey called life, you never stop learning,' says Quentin 'Dragon' Chong
I love watching Dragon Power fight nights at the Grand West Arena. The Wai Kru (a dance to demonstrate respect to teachers), the fighter's fluidity of movement and each crushing knockout is beautiful. Wine is similar. Only once you get a taste for it do you appreciate the complexities of its form. Not just content with becoming a Muay Thai world champion as well as owning one of the most advanced fighting centres in the world, Quentin Chong has added producing a Bordeaux-style blend called; Life is a Journey, to his achievements.
We had a double-take when we discovered your latest venture. How have you gone from Muay Thai to winemaking?
I've always been interested in wine. I’ve drank great quality wines with my friends. When Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir Estate was one of the contestants on my show, Way of the Warrior, I showed him how to master the art of Muay Thai and, in return, he offered to show me the art of winemaking.
How much are you involved in the actual making of the wine?
Under Rob's guidance, I tasted a number of cultivars in order to compose the final blend. I also enjoyed choosing elements like the layout of the product labelling. Interestingly, Rob is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative and is careful that farming practices don't harm the environment.
What have you learnt from developing this wine?
Besides getting drunk? I'm joking, of course. I learnt about all the different textures and tastes that make up a glass of wine.
Where did the title 'Life is a Journey,' come from and what does it mean to you personally?
The name of the wine captures my own journey. Life is a journey and you never stop learning from people. Throughout my life, I have always appreciated, believed and trusted in myself. I never take anything for granted.
Have you drawn any comparisons between wine and Muay Thai?
Wine and Muay Thai can both be considered art. One person might taste blueberries in their glass, while another might taste chocolate. It’s the same with Muay Thai — people react in different ways. Everyone is different. Art is open to interpretation.
How would you describe the wine?
The wine has a complex nose that entices further exploration. It's bold and spicy, yet smooth, easy drinking and balanced.
What food should it accompany?
I would have to say my dad's chicken and vegetable stir fry. It pairs well with Cape Cuisine as it stands up to spice and heat, but it doesn't overpower subtle flavours in the food.
What cultivars did you choose and why?
Elegant syrah (35%) is the backbone of the wine and lends strong spice and white pepper notes to the blend, merlot (22%) has elements of dark chocolate and blueberries, cabernet franc (20%) adds black pepper and cayenne pepper spice, petit verdot (16%) adds an aromatic perfume and cabernet sauvignon (7%) gives it structure.
Who is the wine aimed at?
The beauty of the wine is that it isn't tied to one specific drinker or lifestyle. It can be enjoyed by anyone who likes a good glass of red wine and it can be enjoyed anywhere. I'm looking forward to spectators drinking it at our Dragon Power underground fight nights.
Where will it be sold and on what scale?
The domestic and local markets, but future plans include exportation to the East.
What does the future hold for this venture?
Anything is possible!
Dragon Power Wine is sold at Haut Espoir Wine Estate, for collection or delivery, and is priced at R89 per bottle.
By Lisa Nevitt
8 Stirling Street | Corner of De Villiers Street | Zonnebloem | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 465 9888
Read our interview with Dragon Power fighter Guy Lazarus and our interview with Dragon Power nutritionist Neil Woodberg.
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