Cabernet Ger-what? Waitrose in London stocks Chinese wine from Changyu

UK supermarket chain Waitrose has added its first Chinese wine, a Cabernet Gernischt from Changyu, one of the China’s top three producers in terms of volume. The wine is made in Ningxia and will retail for ~10 pounds or ~rmb100. From Harpers Wine and Spirits Trade Review:

Wine buyer Katie Mollet, who buys the Chinese wine, said: “We’re hoping to bring in a new era of lesser known wines being sold in the UK as the interest in China, and more specifically the Chinese wine industry, continues to grow.

“We scoured the world to find exciting new wines and were particularly impressed by the Cabernet Gernischt 2011 from Changyu. Waitrose is proud to be leading the way for Chinese and Brazilian wine to grow in popularity in Great Britain.”

While Chinese wine is new to British supermarkets, the wine producer behind the Changyu Cabernet Gernischt is the oldest and biggest in the country. Winemaker Lenz Moser is a consultant winemaker for this blend.

Both wines will be on offer as part of the Waitrose World of Wine showcase from August 28.

See full story here.

In April, I attended a blind tasting of more than 100 Chinese wines in Beijing. We had some good ones, but many were quite bad, and the worst tended to be the most expensive, including several bottles said to retail at over rmb1000.

One wine that stood out was simple, tasty and, once the prices were revealed, good value at rmb80. It was a Cabernet Gernischt and, if I remember correctly, made by Changyu in partnership with another winery in Ningxia. Anyway, if this same wine is the one at Waitrose, it is worth a try. Then again, maybe it is this Changyu Cabernet Gernischt, which Fareham Wine Cellar in the UK stocked earlier in the year.

I’m guessing many people perusing the shelves at Waitrose will wonder what is “Cabernet Gernischt”. And I’ve heard people here suggest it might do for China what Malbec did for Argentina, Pinotage for South Africa and Zinfandel for California. More on this soon.

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  1. I’ve just tried the Waitrose Cabernet Gernischt. It is, in truth, perfectly drinkable although I was glad it was on special offer at £7.99 rather than £9.99. It reminded me firstly of a lot of the German reds from modest grape varieties (yes, they’re not common but I go to Germany and search them out) and then of South African reds, though less dense and pinotage-like. I’m not a pinotage fan.

    I’ve been to Shanghai and drunk cornershop red and white and enjoyed its strangeness, and been to posh French-run restaurants in Shanghai and Ningbo and been remarkably impressed by Chinese-grown white. I don’t know enough about the local grapes to be able to distinguish between characteristics intrinsic to the grapes and those introduced by the winemaking. I’m London based. I hope some time soon that there will be an extensive Chinese tasting for non-trade customers.

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