By Jim Boyce
I tried about 40 samples at last night’s Carrefour wine fair, which – given the freebies and discounts – saw both shoppers and shopping carts fully loaded. (Note: See bring your own glass for suggestions on how to make this event better.)
Making a strong showing: brands that feature animals on their labels or the words “ridge“, “crossing“, “leap“, and “jump” in their names. It is only a matter of time before some marketing pioneer takes things up a notch or two and creates “Ridge’s Crossing”, “Crossing’s Ridge”, or even “Ridge-Crossing’s Leap-Jump” with a label that stars the cuter contents of Noah’s Ark.
Anyway, I drink about one bottle per month at home, and have about 100 in stock, so I limited my purchases to three bottles:
1. Chamarre Jurancon 2003 (French Wine Paradox, RMB143 after discount)
My first thought about this sweet wine from the south of France: tropical funk-fest. Some aficionados seemed annoyed by its strong color, which might be deemed “urine sample yellow” “golden apple juice”. The nose is big: tropical fruit (including pineapples), flowers, honey, and, as noted by fellow taster NC, gingerbread and orange blossoms. The mouth is, too: pronounced lychee, and tropical fruits, honey, and more. It’s the only wine in Beijing I know made with Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng grapes.
2. Paul Mas Nicole Vineyard Syrah-Viognier 2007 (French Wine Paradox, RMB132 after discount)
Also hailing from the South of France, this wine has concentrated black fruits as well as violets, spices, and a hint of earthiness. It is round and rich, with ample blackcurrant, a kind of milkiness (I guess “soft” or “velvet” is a more common description), and some black pepper at the finish. I tried it three times, which is usually a good sign.
3. Another bottle of the Paul Mas
A few wines in the value category: The South African Nederburg sparkling had peach and toast smells, and a body I found a bit fizzy at first and sour in the end, but nevertheless acceptable given a price of (I think) RMB85 (ASC Fine Wines). This seemed to be a like it or loathe it wine, so if you are looking for budget bubbles, I suggest giving it a try. You might end up in the former category.
I also found the Chamarre Chardonnay Sauvignon 2005 intriguing, with aromas of grass (the kind you mow) and apple up front and hints of honey, nectar, and white flowers. It had refreshing fruitiness and minerality, even if it was a little light. Anyway, this is one I will try again, give it rings in at RMB85.
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