Who is Eddie McDougall? If you have that question in your head, I am certain you are not alone. I was equally clueless when I first heard the name, but very soon he will be appearing on one of my favourite television channels, TLC. A new 13-episode series, titled The Flying Winemaker, hosted by Eddie will début on September 15. But really, who is he and why should we watch him on television?
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Australia, the charismatic boyish-looking Eddie has already spent seven years making wine across France, Italy, Portugal and Australia. Like many great wine personalities I have met, Eddie wasn’t raise in a wine making family. There will be, as always, some magical moments when one get attached to wine. For him, it was a whiff of the aroma from a leftover bottle of Alsatian Pinot blanc that he chanced upon while working in the hospitality industry.
That moment drove him straight into wine school as he enrolled into the University of Melbourne’s Wine Technology and Viticulture course after completing his first degree in International Business. Then in 2009, after two years spent creating his first label, Eddie went back to Hong Kong and filled the post of Master Winemaker at The 8th Estate Winery, Hong Kong’s first urban winery producing wines with grapes sourced from world-renowned regions. In the years that followed, The 8th Estate Winery clinched several titles from the Shanghai International Wine Challenge. A testament to Eddie’s expertise in the field.
His passion also brought him to Italy and today he is also making wines with one of the most respectable names in Barolo, Vietti. Knowing how traditional Italians are in general, it is an impressive feat to convince Luca to give him a role in the winery. Eddie’s involvement in the winery would certainly be helpful to market the wines into the oriental market.
Despite his notable experience, ironically, Eddie has an “anything goes” attitude towards wines. Ask him to drink wines out of plastic cups and he will gladly oblige. For him, wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed, in a form appropriate for the setting, and without pretence.
Although his English doesn’t sound like a Chinese, his occasional use of Cantonese words quickly drew us back to his semi Hong Kong identity. In fact, if there is anything that will make me follow the show, it is this fusion of parental heritage, technical expertise and down-to-earth attitude that he embodies.
Finally I can get to watch a wine show hosted by an Asian host on television.
According to TLC, the show will take audiences from Eddie’s headquarters in Hong Kong to Vietnam, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Australia, Taiwan and China. Other than Australia, the rest are places that many would never consider capable of growing grapes for wine making. Will they yield phenomenal wines or simple quaff? I will let Eddie tell us.