By Jim Boyce
Shandong province winery Great River Hill — based in Laixi rather than the traditional wine powerhouse Yantai — plans to boost production this year. The winery bottles under the label Chateau Nine Peaks and is attracting attention for its fruity wines at affordable prices, with good performances in the annual Chinese wine contest held by La Revue du Vin de France, the 2012 Columbin Cup in Yantai, and in tastings I have organized, like this one.
Production for 2012 of Great River Hill’s three wines, a Chardonnay and entry-level and reserve Cabernet Sauvignons, will total 100,000 bottles, says owner Karl Hauptmann, which is up, if memory serves, from the 60,000 bottles of the first vintage in 2011. For 2013, Hauptmann says production will be about 200,000 bottles and will include two Chardonnays, two Cabernet Sauvignons and a small amount of Merlot. That would represent about a quarter of the vineyard’s eventual capacity, he says.
A third Cabernet Sauvignon — a “Chairman’s Reserve” — might also be added this year, said Hauptmann, as there are eight hectares of especially good grapes with “perfect ripeness”. He also wants to “make an experiment with super ripe Merlot.”
Great River Hill is set on — you can probably guess — a hill. Manager Maros Breda says the site provides good runoff: the area got over 500 millimeters in July! The operation also set up a nursery this year and uses rootstock from France after a lengthy process with Customs to get the material into China. Yanan Hao is technical director at Great River Hill. I’ll have more on this winery very soon.
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