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2010 Moser Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Ningxia
Chinese commercial wine production began in 1892 when an overseas Chinese diplomat, Zhang Bishi, started his winery in Yantai. He imported half a million plants from the USA and appointed the Austrian consul, Freiherr von Babo, as his winemaker. Most of the plants failed to survive and history does not recount whether von Babo knew how to make wine, but nevertheless today the company is by far the biggest in the country, with a turnover of nearly US$800 million.
Château Changyu (or, to give it its full name, Changyu Pioneer Wine Company) is China’s oldest and largest wine producer, and among the top ten in the world in terms. The company has embarked on an extraordinary programme of building European-style châteaux, architecturally based on examples from Bordeaux and two of them are represented by BB&R; Ch. Changyu Moser in Ningxia (Yinchuan province), pictured below, and Ch. Changyu Golden Ice Wine Valley in Liaoning (home to their ambitious Golden Valley ice wine project, Huanlong province) and further afield in Beijing and Shandong, all with international partners.
Château Changyu Moser XV was developed in consultation with Lenz Moser (pictured right), of the famous Austrian wine family, who has spent several years working with Changyu before identifying Ningxia as his preferred location, which he compares to the Mendoza wine region in Argentina in terms of climate and soil, and having his château built!
The Ch. Changyu Moser XV (90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot) has never been offered in the UK before (a previous incarnation on this market was made without Lenz’s involvement and featured China’s oddity Cabernet Gernischt in the blend). This site is also the first with some certified organic production, from 2011.
Further afield, the extraordinarily remote region of Liaoning has very good conditions for ice wine and this huge estate is capable of producing 300,000 bottles per annum, using the Vidal variety. In Liaoning, three different grades are made, all on show here. The Gold Diamond label has some distribution in the restaurant market, but none have been previously available for the UK retail before BB&R imported it.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.
Ningxia is a remote Chinese wine region that begun to grow grapes in the early 2000s and is gaining reputation for its Bordeaux style blends.
China has enjoyed a wine-drinking boom in the first decade of the new millennium and since 2010s has grown as Bordeaux's largest export client. It is forecasted that China will overtake the United States to become the largest wine-consuming nation by the end of the 2020s.
Helan Mountains in Ningxia Hui autonomous region is the hotbed of new vineyard development. A number of giant Chinese wine companies including Changyu Wine Company and Dynasty Wine have already begun vineyard expansion in the western region of the province. Together they own 20,000 acres of land of vineyards (as of 2013).
Changyu has embarked on an extraordinary programme of building European-style châteaux, architecturally based on examples from Bordeaux; Ch. Changyu Moser in Ningxia (Yinchuan province), pictured below. The estate was developed in consultation with Lenz Moser, of the famous Austrian wine family, who has spent several years working with Changyu before identifying Ningxia as his preferred location, which he compares to the Mendoza wine region in Argentina in terms of climate and soil.
The region has also attracted international investment, Moet Hennessy’s first winery in China is planned for completion in June 2013 (Chandon Ningxia Winery), a 6,300 square meter complex, with cellars, fermentation facilities, and a visitor center. The winery will produce Sparkling wine with the method Champenoise from locally grown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc grapes.
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