Grape coverage: Seven Chinese wines tasted with Channel News Asia

Chandon Kanaan Grace Silver Heights Helan Qing Xue DFC TV tasting.jpg

Every once in a while, I organize a Chinese wine tasting for journalists, like this one with BBC and one to soon air on CCTV. I did another last month with a crew filming for Channel News Asia out of Singapore.

It is increasingly hard to choose lineups for these tastings. Whereas pickings were once slim for local wines, we now have a nice number of worthy candidates.

We had space for a half-dozen wines. As I wanted a good balance of reds and whites, of price points, and of wineries, our limited space meant omitting wines with merit, such as Hansen Cabernet Gernischt (Inner Mongolia), Tiansai Cabernet Franc (Xinjiang), Helan Mountain Special Reserve Chardonnay (Ningxia) and Great River Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (Shandong), to name a few.

Here are the wines tasted at La Cava with host Jody Ness:

Chandon Sparkling Brut (Ningxia): The first commercial release from Moet Chandon’s local winery. This isn’t just a symbolic project but one that produced a quite tasty bubbly, especially for a first try.

Kanaan Riesling 2013 (Ningxia): This wine sold out first during the recent Kanaan sale at La Cava. In a market ruled by reds, especially by Cabernet, this represents a worthy white wine alternative, and one that has received good feedback both from consumers during my tastings.

Grace ‘Tasya’s Reserve’ Chardonnay 2011 (Shanxi): Our second white came from veteran operation Grace. It has a pleasant buttery element and Ness gave it a thumbs up. (From Torres China)

Silver Heights ‘Family Reserve’ 2012 (Ningxia): I’ve been a fan of Silver Heights since its first vintage in 2007 but unfortunately we got an off bottle this time.

Helan Qing Xue ‘Jia Bei Lan’ Reserve 2013 (Ningxia): This wine is young and fresh and shows the progression at HQX toward more fruit and less oak. Ness said it needed more time in the bottle and wanted to return to it in a year or two. (From The Wine Republic)

Domaine Franco-Chinois Petit Manseng 2011 (Hebei): Delicious. Apricot and honey aromas, with a sweet but not viscous body, it should be on the market later this year. Ness said it would fare well against international competition. (After we finished filming, and everyone tried the wines, this tended to be a favorite with the crew.)

We also tried a bottle of Grace Chinese New Year Red Blend 2014 (Shanxi-Ningxia), which I had picked up 30 minutes before the tasting. This one is rare in using screw caps but that closure is part of the appeal: it is a fruity and easy-to-drink wine that is easy to open. Perfect for New Year festivities. It was also the best of the handful of Chinese New Year wines made by Grace thus far.

Thanks to MHD, Kanaan, Torres, Grace Vineyard, Helan Qing Xue and Domaine Franco-Chinois.

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