I find myself again in the lobby of the Regent Singapore, itching for a good drink. But instead of climbing the stairs up to Manhattan – which is officially Asia’s Top Bar for the second year running – I head towards the hotel’s Tea Lounge. It’s been several weeks since the colonial-style space was repurposed: idyllic tea room by day, and now, an intimate wine bar by night.
Some will find the name, Park90, familiar. It’s after all an allusion to the Robert Parker Wine Advocate brand, arguably the world’s most influential authority in wine since 1978. According to the guide, any bottle marked RP90 points and above is “an outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character.” And here, that accounts for some 80% of their 1000-strong collection.
If you’re the kind to be annoyed by young people in elevated positions, get over yourself. The head sommelier at Park90, Mason Ng, is just 23, but you’d hardly believe it. Mason is no stranger to the industry, having cut his teeth at the iconic Les Amis group for nearly three years, where he emerged as Asia’s youngest Certified Sommelier at the time. Later, he moved to ATLAS to head the wine programme and curate its extensive Champagne collection.
Here, he guides guests through beautiful bottles from Domaine Dujac starting from $154 per bottle, rare reds by legendary Domaine Armand Rousseau, as well as glasses of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – an estate whose wines are often valued at five-digit prices. But it’s not all that intimidating; a glass of house wine here is guaranteed to be miles ahead of anything you see in a regular restaurant.
Mason brings out an affordable Champagne Marguet Shaman 13 Grand Cru ($20 per glass, $69 per bottle) from a fifth-generation biodynamic wine producer. It’s super zesty, pure, and goes great with food from the hotel’s restaurants, including a signature Deep-Fried Frog Legs with Chinese Five Spice ($30) from one Michelin-Star Summer Palace.
This is a bar that proves good wine doesn’t have to break the bank. Another organically-grown wine, 2014 Maison Jean Fournier Marsannay Rouge Les Longeroies ($69 per bottle), is rated RP91. The very approachable and fruity red burgundy is splendid with Basilico’s Oven-baked Focaccia with Norcia’s Black Truffle ($24) or a good cheese board.
If wine is one of your few splurges in life, consider Park90’s annual member programme. A ‘Premier’ membership costs $5000, while really serious oenophiles can fork out $10,000 for a ‘Grand’ membership – restricted to just a few spots each year. But that money doesn’t simply go into the drain, or rather, spittoon. The full membership value can be redeemed on wines at the bar, as well as future Park90 outlets around the world. Mason tell us that another two locations are expected to open in Singapore by the end of 2019.
What’s more, being a member means access to exclusive wines (think 2015 Coche-Dury Bourgogne Chardonnay Blanc, $199), 10% off your food bill, and both complimentary parking, and preferential room rates at the hotel. The icing on top? Immediate enrolment for an annual personal membership at RobertParker.com, where you’ll have access to more than 300,000 professional tasting notes, restaurant reviews, Matter of Taste events, among others.
In short, Park90 looks set to change the game of wine in Singapore. And if that means more restaurants and bars quickly wake up to the fact that cheaper wines don’t have to be absolutely terrible, all the better.
Park90 is located at 1 Cuscaden Rd, Regent Singapore, Singapore 249715, p. +65 6725 3246. Open daily 6pm – 12am.