Jancis Reserve! Chilean Brand in China Carries Same Name as UK Wine Critic

Somewhere between the Sichuan bullfrog in chili oil and a fiery chorizo burger, my eye caught a wine label at The Beijinger Hot & Spicy Festival last weekend.

Mostly because the wine brand’s name, Jancis, is the same as one of the world’s top critics, London-based Jancis Robinson. It seems to be the same translation– 杰西斯–as used by Robinson, too.

Posters for the brand include a logo for COFCO, the state-owned company best-known for producing GreatWall wine but that also has other projects like Ningxia’s Yunmo and Hebei’s Chateau SunGod , which does nice bubbly.

One poster features no fewer than 11 Jancis wines, including a Sauvignon Blanc, Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, all hailing from Chile. That poster also includes well-known Chilean labels like Almavira and Don Melchor.

(Note: The woman at the wine stand was very professional, selling plenty of packages that allowed buyers to try five wines. It amazes me that more wine distributors don’t participate in events like this, where thousands of consumers show up ready to spend and try new products.)

Anyway, this isn’t the first time I’ve spotted Jancis this month. I also saw one wine at national liquor chain 1919, a Jancis “Condor Valley” retailing for rmb89, with an option for a second bottle at half-price. According to the back label — also with the COFCO logo — the wine was produced and bottled by Bodegas Y Vinedos de Aguirre in Santiago, Chile.

And I also spotted Jancis online at jd.com, where some wines were more expensive. For example, Jancis Reserve Malbec 2018 is RMB2094 for a six-pack — just over USD50 per bottle. Or RMB698, about 100 bucks, for one bottle. Some of these posters use the acronym MW — Robinson was the first MW, or Master of Wine, from outside the trade. And there is a label called Koyle, which also mentions Jancis, at a whopping RMB1500 / USD200 per bottle.

That price turned out to be fairly low. Just before I posted, I found another FAR more expensive bottle on the WeChat account for these wines. That one is priced RMB6,988 or about USD1000 per bottle. That’s what Chilean Syrah from an 80-year-old vineyard costs these days, I guess.

Looking at that account, it seems this brand has been around quite a long time, even years. I have some kind of vague memory of a Jancis wine being out there–frankly, so many labels go through my timeline, it’s difficult to keep track — but seeing it three times in two weeks definitely snapped it to consciousness.

Anyway, I sent Robinson a quick note to see about into her involvement with this brand. She says there isn’t any. I’m guessing Jancis won’t be scoring Jancis wines.

I’ll update as I find out more about the brand. Perhaps a future label will take things up a notch with a photo. After all, Robert Parker got one.

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