Bubbly Beijing: The New Chinese Sparkling Wine You Need to Try

During the past few years, Chinese wine has gone from pariah to pet in the eyes of many trade people. Some who used to turn up their collective nose at anything made in this country now line up to recommend what they deem best.

That’s not to say anyone believes all or even most of the wine made in China passes the taste test. Only that it is possible to make good wine here and that a small but growing number of operations are doing so.

Easily finding such wines and at a fair price are other matters, but one new option fits both bills: Domaine Chandon (Ningxia) Brut. This is the first commercially available sparkling wine by Chandon in Ningxia, the offspring of parent Moet & Chandon in France and sibling of bubbly projects in the United States, Brazil, Australia and India.

This wine is notable for two reasons. One, it tastes far better than many people expected, and thus bodes well for bubbly in China. Two, in a market where Chinese wines are often wildly over-priced, this one carries a reasonable tag.

Get it delivered via the Temple Restaurant Beijing online shop at rmb128 per bottle, about the best price you will find. (At this price, I’m surprised I haven’t seen this anywhere by the glass in Beijing.)

You can also pick up both the brut and brut rosé at Mali Wine Cellar, one of the better shops in this city and especially nicely positioned for those in the Guomao / Huomao areas — see this post for more.

I’ve tried this bubbly at the winery and at Mali Wine Cellar, and especially liked tasting it against sparkling wines from France and South Africa at the latter. Our group agreed the brut outperformed the brut rosé and is cheaper to boot. In any case, this is all a good sign for China, where sparkling wine sales — particularly for Prosecco and Cava — are growing, and we will hopefully see more bubbly operations pop up. The enthusiasm I have for this Chandon project is the exact opposite of what I feel for the role of its parent company and other Champagne houses in this case.

Finally, here is a collage of photos from a visit to Chandon operation in Ningxia last fall.

chandon ningxia.jpg

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