Vive le value: Some French wine picks in Beijing

By Jim Boyce

My truest test of which wines are “good value” to me is whether or not I buy them or recommend them to friends and readers. I have done so many times with wines such as Grace Vineyard Chardonnay (RMB60/Torres) and Heartland Shiraz (RMB150 / Palette) – I find the first good for those who want to try a Chinese wine and the second good for those in need of a bottle to take to a friend’s house. I also recommend many other wines to friends and readers, from the Gruner Veltliner at Cafe Europa to some of the offerings at this year’s Palette and GELIPU-Winelink portfolio tastings.

I am updating that list to include the French wines selected by Alain Leroux (a contributor to this blog) and available at the Guanghua Road and Sanlitun North branches of Sequoia Café.

I doubt you will find better-value French wine in Beijing than the five-entry level bottles – Vale Viognier 2006, Vale Merlot 2006, Vale Syrah 2006, Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and Louxor Chardonnay 2006. All of them hail from Languedoc Roussilon and cost a paltry RMB65 per bottle. Numerous people, including two wine distributors, told me the Viognier offers especially good value.

I also like the slightly more expensive Domaine Des Oliviers Cotes Du Rhone 2006 at RMB100 and the Chateau Ayraud Corbieres 2004 at RMB134 (60 percent Grenache, 40 percent Syrah).

Leroux worked with winemaker Jean Berteau, based in France, to pick about two dozens wines to bring to China, and these have been categorized into “full-bodied whites”, “smooth reds”, “big reds” and so on at Sequoia Cafe to make things easier for the consumer.

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