Holiday cheer! Palette offers 100 wines for 100 kuai

– By Jim Boyce

Good holiday fun last weekend in Beijing as Palette Vino organized a five-hour tasting of more than 100 of its wines… for a mere RMB100 (USD13). Add last month’s Taste of the Nations with 150 wines from Torres China (RMB188 / USD25) and the recent Hilton Food & Wine Experience with over 1,000 wines (RMB230 / USD31), and it’s fair to say the wine scene is especially consumer friendly of late. I’d call these events early Christmas gifts from Santa but there’s no way even a dozen red-nosed reindeer could find us in this city’s mucky pollution.

I managed to catch the last two hours of the Palette tasting and got through about 25 red and dessert wines. A few of my favorites:

  • Australia: West Cape Howe Bookends Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (RMB219) – lots of blackcurrant on this one. I like most of Palette’s Australian wines, including the Dalwhinnie Shiraz 2003 (RMB506) and Cabernet Sauvignon (RMB466) and the Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2005 (RMB390). The Heartland Shiraz 2005 (RMB157) ranks among the better values in Beijing this year. 
  • Spain: Palacio Quemado PQ Syrah 2005 (RMB169), which received a thumb up from fellow taster Badr B, and Palacio Quemado Reserva 2000 (RMB168) for its fragrant nose.
  • Dessert wines: Peter Schandl Beerenauslese 2002 (RMB208), a lovely wine with apple, honey and apricot. Oliver S, whose friend makes this wine, says, “it’s extreme sweet with extreme sour, perfectly balanced.” I liked the fizzy Castello del Poggio Moscato d’Asti 2006 (RMB142).

The event drew a light turnout partly due to people being on holidays and partly due to Palette starting promotion FIVE DAYS BEFORE THE EVENT. Seriously, Palette has one of the best portfolios in Beijing but they need to do something on the marketing side.

By the way, we also sampled some Gouda cheese made in Shanxi province by Yellow Valley Farmhouse. Palette’s John Gai says the cheese is available at both his Shunyi and Central Park outlets, with prices starting at RMB80.

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