One criticism about better local wines — and we are thankfully at the point where many people realize China can produce good stuff — is that the collective bottle is heavily tilted toward Cabernet. It is something critics such as Jancis Robinson regularly note.
Good news, then, that we see a rising number of intriguing non-Cabernet options, including several from Grace Vineyard, arguably the country’s success story of the past decade. Those include Marselan, which–who knows–might one day become “China’s grape”!
I talked to CEO Judy Chan about the new offerings.
People say Chinese producers focus too much on Cabernet. Marselan seems like a huge swing the other way. How did this wine come about?
We always wanted to figure out where to plant and what to plant in China to figure out what is a truly Chinese-style wine. Of course, it’s not going to happen within the next five to ten years, but somebody had to start somewhere and that’s why we started planting not only Marselan but also other varietals.
This year we are launching Marselan and Aglianico, as well as Syrah, so three new varietals other than Cabernet Sauvignon.
For people who have tried your other reds, including Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cebernet Sauvignon, what difference can they expect with the Marselan?
This wine, in comparison to our other wines, is spicier, bigger and more concentrated. It’s actually quite high in alcohol. so it’s pretty different from what we usually offer.
I think our other wines are lighter and fruitier but I guess you can try it and tell as well.
I know Grace also has some sparkling wine in the pipeline. What’s happening with those?
We are launching the sparkling wine in August. There will be two. One is our entry level called called Angie and the other is our reserve called Angelina.
Both are blanc des blancs. With the reserve, we tried to have more focus on the minerality, the acidity, and less about the nutty taste. Our entry level Angie is more approachable.
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