Grace (again): Face, FT, and feedback on five wines

I spotted yet another place selling Grace wines in Beijing – upscale Face has the entry-level Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon for 220 per bottle (about four times retail) and the Tasya’s Reserve (I think it was the Cabernet Sauvignon) for 350 kuai. Face also has Catai Chardonnay at 220 per bottle.

Praise from England as the most recent Financial Times column by Jancis Robinson lists Grace under “Fine wines from unexpected sources”:

Grace, Chairman’s Reserve Merlot/Cabernet 2004.

The finest wine so far made in the country that is already the world’s sixth most important grower of grapevines even though eastern China tends to be a bit too damp and western China a bit too cold for viticulture. This one comes from the middle, south of Beijing.

Finally, a while back Sequoia Café held a tasting of five Grace wines. Here are some comments from 25 fellow imbibers, who range from those in the wine industry to those who enjoy wine as a hobby. I’ve included my own takes.

Chardonnay Premier 2003: “A good basic white with a little bit of fruit”; “I like it, it’s nice”; “That’s a decent Chardonnay”; “It’s got a bit of tartness”; “Tart and short”; “Too old – when it’s too old, you begin to feel too much oak”; “It’s drinkable”; “It’s like a cheap Californian wine, a bit fruity and light, and I like that.” My take: I heard the second bottle was better, but found this one too tart and prefer the entry-level Chardonnay from 2005 and 2006.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2005: “Rename it an exit [rather than an entry-level] wine. I found it a bit insipid”; “It’s a lot better than what else you can get from China for 60 kuai”; “This is the best one tonight.” My take: With some cherry on the nose, this is a light-bodied drinkable wine that offers good value for the price – one of my two favorites on the night.

Cabernet Merlot (I didn’t catch the year; I’ll post it later): “An interesting one – the Cabernet was there but I couldn’t find any Merlot”; “The fragrance is okay, the nose fuller than the Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s a little bitter in the mouth”. My take: The nose was fruitier than the Cabernet Sauvignon, though the body had less fruit than I expected. This one grew on me and I’ll be giving it another try.

Merlot: (again, I will post the year soon): “Some crispness, but they could’ve done more to get the acid down”; “this one is bad”; “no”. My take: The body was rough and unstructured, making it the least pleasant wine of the night.

Deep Blue: “A bit heftier and bigger [than the others] but it seemed pretty young”; “[A shrug of the shoulders]”; “This one is interesting, there’s a lot going on there”. My take: A fruit-driven nose and body that seems like ilike it needs a few years to mature, it’s bigger on the nose than in the mouth. At RMB 288, it’s not cheap.

I’m a fan of Grace, but I think this tasting would have been better with a more recent Chardonnay and by replacing the Merlot with the Cabernet Franc, one of the winery’s better products.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Boyce,

    I know you are very into local China wine. Last night i tried a bottle of Dragob Seal Hualai Reserve Syrah Cab Sauv 2003. This was bought as a gift to me by a friend at S’pore airport. I find this wine really not bad. However i am not sure about the price because my friend reluctant to disclose. Here is the tasting note:-

    Dragon Seal Hualai Heritage Syrah Cabernet sauvignon 2003
    27 Oct 07 7.30 at Tasty with IS Ooi’s and Chong’s family
    Bought from S’pore airport, this wine in a nice gift box is specically made for Camus(Cognac giant) duty free shop.
    Enjoyable though bit simple. This french style mild manner red has very impressive bright and shinny cherries color with capsicum and berries aromas.
    Dry and medium to light body, although not much complexity, but balance and refreshing on the mouth with acceptable finishing. Food friendly.
    This is the best wine to have for dinner after a long day work.

    Hope you would include it in your next tasting event and let me hear your comment.

    Cheers,
    Vic

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