Most people think of Australia, South African, or US when asked about new world wines. These wines are very well known, & have their own unique flavours from the different climates that they are grown in. South African wines, for example, often have their own unique character that makes it distinctive. It has a woodiness and carries a beautiful smoky, sultry, herbaceous character, enveloping the drinker with flavours of dark fruit and cherries.
But there are some other interesting regions out there, such as that of China (say whatttt!). The still young average age of the vines in the region promote more ‘fruit forward’ and ‘food friendly’ wines, but that does not mean there is a lack of quality.
Award Winning Chinese Wines
China in recent years have produced a growing number of award winning wines. They’ve matured from producing ‘technical’ wines that emulate a ‘classic Bordeaux’. Today, Chinese winemakers aim to produce prestigious local varieties, such as a ‘Riesling of Shandong’ and ‘Cabernet of Ningxia’. They even have a local grape variety, the Longyan! Some of these award winnings were widely considered an upset. Many questioned if Chinese wines were in fact re-bottled wines from other regions.
To disprove the doubters, a competition called “Bordeaux against Ningxia” was created. Experts from China and France blind-tasted five wines from each region. Interestingly, four out of five of the top wines were from Ningxia, rivalling the Judgement of Paris
The winemakers have also begun exploring some promising hybrid blends, such as some intriguing crossbreeds such as Beichun (Muscat Hamburg x Amurensis). These blends can be easily paired and enjoy as almost any other wines. Take for example a Xinjiang Cabernet blend with a steak, or a Ningxia Riesling with a Thai curry.
Popularity of Chinese Wines
The reason why Chinese wines are not better known globally is due to the lack of mass consumption domestically. Wines without high local demand will find it difficult to develop a reputation that opens it up to international export.
This is partly due to the struggle of pairing wine with local food. With Chinese cuisine, dishes are often served together rather than course by course. The mix of food tastes makes pairing challenging. However, the growing demand for wine is now swaying some top Chinese restaurants to design their menus with wine pairing in mind.
Popular Winemakers in China
If you are interested in trying some Chinese wines, the Ningxia, Shandong and Xinjiang provinces are the most prominent wine regions in China. The unique terroirs verging the Gobi desert and foothills of once impassable mountain ranges make for some of the best conditions to produces high quality wines. For example, the Shanxi Grace Vineyard, Tasya’s Reserve Marselan won the Decanter Platinum Best in Show at the 2017 Decanter Asia Wine Awards. It carries notes of ripe black and blue fruits, clove and forest floor on the nose. It is full-bodied with a chocolate texture and impressive grippy tannins.
So give some Chinese wines a try, and if you’re interested, write to us if you’re interested to find out more!