By Jim Boyce
While the (Moet) Chandon sparkling wine project in the Ningxia region is getting plenty of media attention, China veteran Grace Vineyard in nearby Shanxi province might sneak up and steal the bubbly show.
I recently attended the Beijing launch of Grace’s new wine Sonata — a Cabernet-Merlot-Marsellan blend to be sold almost solely online — and left intrigued by the work-in-progress sparkling wine served before dinner.
The wine is made solely with Chardonnay — Grace’s Lee Yean Yean says the winery has no Pinot Noir (yet) — using the traditional method and will be aged for three years on lees.
The one we had was only aged one year so far and had a lovely bready-nutty (walnut skins?) aroma and a flavor and acidity that has me anticipating the final product. It comes from the 2011 vintage. Lee says the sparkling wine from the 2009 vintage should be on the market next spring, although quantities will be quite limited.
I’ve had other sparkling wines in China, most notably from Chateau SunGod in Hebei province, but this is the most interesting I’ve tasted to date.