WorldWine Blog

2012-01-14

Chinese stars

China is on everyone's lips. Not only as a saviour for all wine-exporting nations but also as a wine producer. Having noted the excellent results of Chinese wines in international competitions, in the recent past, we have asked one of the most renowned Chinese cellars to send us some samples. Our verdict, after the tasting: Yes and no!

But let's start from scratch. Grace Vineyards is a society founded in 1997 by one French and one Chinese partner - the father of the current director, Judy Leissner - which appeared in 2001 with its first wines on the market. The company harvests about 200 hectares of vineyard in the northern Chinese provinces of Shanxi, Ningxia und Shaanxi. Grace co-operates with about 600 grape growers of whom they do not only buy the grapes but whom they offer intensive training as well.

At present, Grace produces about 1.2 million bottles, with wines mainly vinified from red French varieties. Top wine is a classic Bordeaux blend (40 % Merlot) called Deep blue, of which the 2009 vintage left us with some mixed impressions: at the opening wax and fermentation flavours, which slowly turn into some finer, slightly peppery fruit and a hint of spicyness. With some aeration in the glass the bouquet becomes a bit more complex but the original aroma comes back as well. Medium structure on the palate, with some alcoholic sharpness, even if the wine has only 13 degrees. A solid wine without much elegance and finesse which might improve a bit with further bottle ageing - ***+.

A lot more exciting seemed the Chairman's Reserve (70 % Cabernet Sauvignon): intense red colour with slightly warm edges, in the nose at first balsamic and plummy notes, then some Christmas spices, on the palate a marked, vivid acidity, good aromatic depths, some lean but sharp tannins. The acidity and the tannins seem unconnected yet, but the wine might might gain further balance with bottle ageing - ****.

Both wines are certainly quite good, but they are not of the kind which should make lose sleep to French, Italian or even South African producers. Of course, you always have to consider that not only Grace Vineayards but the Chinese quality production as a whole are still very young. But: The groundwork has been layed and, as we all know, when the Chinese start an operation, they will sooner or later do the job properly.
Find more Grace Vineyards wines in our wine database (descriptions in German)

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