Posted on January 6th, 2012
While most of the stories we read about wine in China centre around their thirst for Lafite, Mouton and other top-end Bordeaux, there is another side to Chinese wine. China is set to become (if it hasn’t already) the largest wine producing country in the world. While most of it will go to their growing middle class, we’ll undoubtedly start to see some of it move in this direction.
A couple of interesting things about it. The grape is Cabernet Gernischt, touted as an indigenous Chinese variety, but it’s thought to be a cross between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The varietal became extinct in Europe around 200 years ago. Its roots are Franco-Austrian, having been brought to China from Bordeaux by Austrian, Freiherr von Babo.
The place is Ningxia, China’s newest winegrowing region, located in Central Western China on the fringes of the Gobi desert, just south of Mongolia, watered from the Yellow River.
At an elevation of 1,100m (comparable to Mendoza in Argentina) the area is characterised by warm days and cool nights, perfect conditions for growing grapes.
What did it taste like? Actually, quite like a cross between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon! It has all the hallmarks of the elegance and structure of a Cabernet Sauvignon dominated left bank Bordeaux and the lovely green “fraîcheur” of a Loire Cabernet Franc. The tannins are fine, still tight, and there’s a little bit of spice behind the austere fruit.
Very impressed with it and if you can get your hands on it, a great way to toast Chinese New Year on Monday, 23rd January, The Year of the Dragon.
Gan bei! 干杯