English sparkling wine in China: Will Chapel Down fight its way in?

Murphy’s Law: Boxing before bubbly.

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By Jim Boyce

Perhaps not quite yet. But Chapel Down sparkling wine from Kent did make an appearance at the White Collar Boxing event held at the Renaissance Capital in Beijing on Saturday night. That event featured sixteen ‘white collar’ folks — an accountant, a bar owner, a magazine editor, and so on — putting on the gloves and finally going at it after three months of intensive training.

One fighter was Beijing wine guy Oliver Murphy and I arrived with Chapel Down Brut Vintage Reserve so that he had something from his homeland to sip after the bout. (That bout ultimately went the distance and, on points, to his opponent. I will note his opponent 1) was seven inches taller and 2) did not bathe for a week before the match. Admittedly, I cannot prove statement 2) but it seems the type of thing to throw off Murphy via his keen wine industry-honed sense of smell, one able to pick up a bumblebee or butterfly fart from 300 meters.)

I first tried Chapel Down wines at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair a few weeks ago, enjoyed the range on offer, and bought a bottle of the Brut Vintage Reserve and two of the Pinot Reserve 2006 at the bargain price of HKD150 each.

The wine we had last night is apparently made of Reichensteiner, Pinot Noir and Rivaner grapes. It had biscuit and ripe apple aromas, and a crisp body with citrus (lemon) and some green apple and nutty flavors. I would happily drink a bottle or two.

Others who tried it were surprised that English bubbly could be this tasty and I wonder if there is a market — if even a niche one — for this wine in Beijing, especially given the city’s increasing number of citizens who have visited, studied or worked in the UK and its large expatriate and embassy populations. If so, and a distributor is found, I know exactly the right Brit in Beijing to be the local brand ambassador…

Pairs well with ringside seats.

Chapel Down for the count.

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