By Jim Boyce
File this one under, “Missing the forest for the trees.” Or perhaps, “Missing the grapes for the leaves.” Who’d have thunk a country where most local vino makes two-buck chuck taste complex would harbor a high-profile wine region? Well, China has such a region literally on the map – this map. You’ll find it in the middle, nestled among the leaves, in that section labeled “Nava Valley.” Just look for the biggest bunch of grapes.
The map comes from the Web site of Chateau Junding, an operation near Penglai in Shandong province, that serves as both winery and resort. The winery is backed at least partly by COFCO (China National Cereals, Oil, and Foodstuffs Corporation), well-known for its Great Wall wine brand. According to the Web site, “Combining trade, industry, finance, information, service and scientific research, [COFCO] spans over various fields like agriculture, food industry, hotel and real estate…”
Does this sound like the kind of operation to quickly produce wines that cost more than USD100 per bottle, as one finds at Chateau Junding? As a matter of fact, yes. So, let me rephrase that question: Does this sound like the kind of operation to quickly produce wines worth more than USD100 per bottle? Well, that’s a trickier one, and I hope to soon try these wines and give you an answer.
By the way, a source tells me that the “Nava” designation comes from the historical town Nanwang.
A Magical Grape-Growing Shore“: A Penglai page that describes local wine initiatives with some unique language, i.e. “sea breezes moistened by the breast of the Pacific.”
Famous City of High-quality Grape and Wine: Another Penglai page, this one largely focused on grape-growing conditions in the area.
Wine Spectating: A that’s Shanghai article by Bob Wise, who visited Chateau Junding, among other wineries.
China Travels Enlighten Lawmaker: A news story about a California assemblyman’s visit to China, including “Nava Valley.”
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