ProWein Forum – Discover Chinese wine regions in detail – masterclass tasting notes

A masterclass entitled ” Discover Chinese wine regions in detail”, given by professor Li Demei — the leading wine consultant and educator from China — was held on the 19th March at ProWein Forum, Düsseldorf.

Nine wines were tasted, including sparkling, whites, reds and ice wine.

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1. Domaine Chandon, Me sparkling wine, NV

Chardonnay 70%, Pinot Noir 30%, 12.5% abv.,   Helan Moutain Eastern Slope, Ningxia

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LVMH Chandon’s China operation, creating sparkling wines using the classic “méthode traditionnelle” style found in the Champagne region. The bubbles are plentiful, tight and fine. Nose of melon, kumquat, honey, meadow flowers. Crunchy, bright and mouthwatering.

 

2. Chateau Junding, Junding Oriental White Wine 2017

Italian Riesling 100% ,13.0% abv.,  Penglai, Shandong

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A good example of Italian Riesling in China, which is the second largest white wine variety grown in China after Chardonnay. This wine has fresh bouquets of orange flowers, honeysuckle, peach stone, green apple.  Smooth and fresh on the palate. Easy drinking.

 

3. Tiansai Winery, Skyline of Gobi, Reserve Chrdonnay 2016

Chardonnay 100%, 13.0% abv., Yanqi, Xinjiang

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A winery near the Gobi Dessert at over 1,000 metres above sea level. This Chardonnay displays tropical fruit aromas thanks to the semi-arid climate — melon, pineapple, pomelo. Oak characters are present and well judged. The wine has good acidity, structured, with some nutty characters come through mid-palate. The mouthfeel is smooth and round.

 

4. Helan Qingxue Winery, Jia Bei Lan, Little Feet Pinot Noir 2015

Pinot Noir 100%, 13.5% abv. Helan Mountain Eastern Slope, Ningxia

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The 2009 vintage of Jia Bei Lan’s Bordeaux blend won the highest accolade at the Decanter World Wine Award, and marked a watershed moment for Chinese wines in the international arena. “Little Feet” is winemaker Zhang Jing’s dedication to her daughter, but also represents learning and experimentation in her winemaking philosophy. This wine is an elegant example of Pinot with super fine tannins, freshness of fruit, very long and lingering finish.

 

5. COFCO Great Wall,  Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon / Marselan blend, NV

Cabernet Sauvignon 60%, Marselan 40%, 13.9% abv., Penglai, Shandong

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Marselan gives this wine a bright purple colour, very attractive. The wine shows very ripe and generous dark berries. Super smooth and rounded with the weight of heavy silk. There is a subtle umami & savoury dimension at the end — a reminder of its coastal origin.

 

6. Amehyst Manor, Amethyard Classic Marselan 2015

Marselan 100%, 13.5% abv.,Huailai, Hebei

wine6The wine has a deep inky purple hue, typical of Marselan.  Generous dark berries veering towards jammy. Hints of tabacco smoke. Voluptuous and structured with fine tannins.

Marselan was created in 1961 in South of France, intended for the Languedoc region. It is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache., and is notable for its resistance to diseases. It was introduced to China in 2001, and now a popular variety in China and displaying great potential there.  Marselan’s planting area in China is only second to that of France.

 

7. Grace Vineyard, Tasya’s Reserve Aglianico 2015

Aglianico 100%, 14.5% abv., Taigu, Shanxi

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This region is noted fot its loess soil. This wine is the first 100% Aglianico varietal wine.

Aglianico is an ancient Italian variety. The famous Bordeaux onoelogist  Denis Dubourdieu believed that it is the oldest grape variety continuously used for winemaking.

This wine is bright and fruity with plenty of dark berries.  Lean, long and structured.

 

8. Shangri-La Ao Yun 2014

Cabernet Sauvignon 90%, Cabernet Franc 10%, 15.0% abv. Deqin, Yunnan

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This is undoubtedly LVMH’s most ambitious project that pushes the frontier of winemaking.  Ao Yun vineyards are made up of over 300 small land parcels, ranging from 2,200 metres to 2,600 metres above sea level around the foothills of the Meili snow mountain, near the Tibetan Plateau.  Around 120 families in the local farming community are involved in its production. Chief winemaker and estate manager Maxence Dulou and his family have moved to the local area to be fully immersed in the project and this enthralling land.

2014 was a slightly warmer year than 2013 in this region.  The alcohol level reached 15% in this wine, yet it is so light and elegant, the acidity is bright. It is so poised and balanced. The wine displays all the charms of ripe Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – intense nose of deep dark berries, scents of high mountain woodland, spices, tabacco, stony minerals… the wine just keeps on developing in the mouth and lingers.

LVMH even brought over specially made Ao Yun Riedel glass from Paris, to debut at this masterclass.

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According to their press release:

This glass was created by Maxence Dulou, Winemaker & Estate Manager of Ao Yun, met and CEO and owner Georg Riedel and his son Maximilian, President of Riedel. Together, they spent hours testing dozens of glasses, many of which were designed exclusively for Ao Yun. After hundreds of comparative tastings, they identified the optimal shape to reveal the multi-layered and complex aromas of Ao Yun’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend.

The sharp cut and narrow diameter of the edge of the Ao Yun glass allow for a more precise tasting experience and enhance the aromas on the nose and palate. According to Maxence Dulou, “Tasting Ao Yun in its bespoke glass highlights the balance of fruit and intensity, as well as the silky texture and rounded tannins of this wine.” The larger bowl of the glass was specifically designed to better oxygenate the wine. “Since Ao Yun is vinified at altitude with 25% less oxygen, it requires more contact with the air prior to tasting”.

 

9. Changyu Golden Valley Blue Diamond Ice Wine 2015

Vidal 100%, 11% abv., Huanren, Liaoning

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This decadent ice wine is packed with exotic fruit aromas — pineapple, passion fruit, mango, kumquat… great balance between sweetness and acidity. It is bright and zesty.  On the finish there is a lingering hint of Oolong tea.

 

Professor Li Demei also recommended my book, The Chinese Wine Renaissance, for a comprehensive introduction to the Chinese wine industry, culture and history.

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With professor Li Demei at the Prowein Forum masterclass

 

Read more about the Prowein 2019 Chinese delegation.

Here is my article and tasting note in Chinese (中文品鉴笔记) for the Prowein Forum China masterclass.

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