Wine Tour | Chinese brands Grace, Canaan & DFC head to Sweden

Three of China’s best wine producers will get some northern (European) exposure thanks to Sweden-based Ludvig Saaf of Lu Spirits, who already has a strong reputation as a baijiu importer in his Scandinavian nation.

Saaf is moving into Chinese beer, including brands Master Gao from Nanjing and Shangri-la from Yunnan, and grape wine, including Grace Vineyard from Shanxi / Ningxia and the twin projects Canaan and Domaine Franco-Chinois just outside Beijing in Hebei province.

Saaf says he is importing trial batches of 22 Chinese wines to test market sentiment.

“I’ll gather a bunch of industry people, including sommeliers, to evaluate the wines and help decide which ones fit the Swedish market best,” says Saaf.

Grace Vineyard options range from flagship wine / Bordeaux-style blend Chairman’s Reserve to a trio of bubblies that feature Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc respectively to several wines in the Tasya’s Reserve range.

The Hebei wines include everything from Riesling and Pinot Noir to Merlot and Tempranillo from Canaan, plus select Domaine Franco-Chinois (DFC) offerings such as late-harvest Petit Manseng, a wine that showed an enticing jasmine tea aroma in my tastings.

The lineup also includes Marselan wines from both Grace Vineyard and DFC. Marselan is a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache that has inspired delicious wines across China. (I launched World Marselan Day in 2018 to help promote it.) These wineries are deemed to have some of China’s best Marselans, with DFC the first to plant the grape here, some 20 years ago.

I know Saaf from World Baijiu Day, where he is one of the biggest supporters. He has done everything from a series of baijiu-based gelatos aka baijiu-latos to baijiu cocktails to dinners featuring Chinese food paired with baijiu. He handles a range of baijiu brands, including Red Star, Luzhou Laojiao and Shui Jing Fang.

Note: I introduced Saaf to the three wineries but have no financial involvement.

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