2008 Ch. Changyu Moser XV, Ningxia

2008 Ch. Changyu Moser XV, Ningxia

Product: 20081363362
2008 Ch. Changyu Moser XV, Ningxia

Description

One’s first impulse to judge this wine simply for its novelty value, but that is to do it a disservice. Empirically, in the context of Chinese red wines, it is outstanding, but how does it stack up internationally? Priced in line with, for example, a relatively serious red Bordeaux, there is plenty of Cabernet character, pure fruit, no earthiness, well-integrated oak and, most importantly ripe tannins and a rewarding concentration. In a blind tasting of its Bordeaux peers, it would not be embarrassed, but neither would it be the best. It may be at the top end of its price bracket, but it’s in a field of one at the moment, and gives a fascinating glimpse of a possible future.

This is a partnership between the giant Changyu wine company and Lenz Moser, 15th generation (XV) of a 1,000 year old wine heritage. Lenz first went to China in 2005 to find a distributor for his Laurenz V Grüner Veltliner and ended up with not just an importer for his Austrian wine, but also an export arrangement for Changyu’s Chinese wines. He identified the Ningxia region in central, northern China, as his preferred site to produce his own red wine, with a climate he compares to Mendoza in Argentina.

The optimistic official Chinese line is that, statistically, this region is better than Bordeaux in temperature, humidity, water and heat coefficient but over 3,000 hours of sunlight and sitting 1,100 meters above sea level, there are good grounds for optimism. This provided good reason for Lenz to encourage Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for his premium blend, especially in preference to the widely available Chinese variation of Cabernet Gernischt.

The first vintage is 2008, 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, with 12 months in French oak. Yields are low, the fruit is site selected, there a sorting table (the first in China), classic Bordelais treatment.
Mark Pardoe, BBR Wine Director
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About this WINE

Changyu Pioneer Wine Company

Changyu Pioneer Wine Company

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 Berry Bros. & Rudd; Ch. Changyu Moser in Ningxia (Yinchuan province), 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.

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Ningxia

Ningxia

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.

Ch.

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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Cab.Sauvignon Blend

Cab.Sauvignon Blend

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.

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