2013 Ao-Yun, Shangri-La, China

2013 Ao-Yun, Shangri-La, China

Product: 20138107488
Prices start from £288.00 per bottle (75cl). Buying options
2013 Ao-Yun, Shangri-La, China

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A true first. The first ‘fine’ Chinese wine. In the glass this is inky purple, it just looks like a fine Cabernet. Aromas of perfectly ripe fresh blackcurrant and redcurrant leap from the glass with notes of five spice, a little blackcurrant leaf, fresh coffee and just a note of something more savoury beneath. On the palate this is super fine, it is cool, erudite and urbane. The finish is longer and finer than many a ‘traditional’ Claret I’ve tasted this year. This is outrageously easy and very enjoyable to drink – and drink now, although it can be cellared until 2020-2022.

Berry Bros. & Rudd

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Critics reviews

Jane Anson91/100
The first vintage of Ao Yun, now nine years old, showcasing melted tannins that cradle raspberry, red cherry and clove spices, with smoked tea and oyster shell on the finish. Overall long and drawn out with a finely balanced structure. The oak that was dominant in the early years when I tasted it in China is softer and more integrated, but there is a touch of dryness on the finish. The achievement here is immense, with winemaker Maxence Dulou successfully creating this from a location where everything had to be done by observation and trial-and-error, taking into account 500m of altitude variation between the four villages, and the hugely complex variations in exposure and terroir. Harvest September 20 (Xidang Village at 2,100m) through to November 11 (Adong Village, 2,600m). Aging took place in 40% new oak, 40% earth jar and 20% in stainless steel vats (all located in a temporary cellar).

Drink 2022 to 2033

Jane Anson, Inside Bordeaux (March 2022) Read more
James Suckling93/100
Aromas of blackberry, blueberry and olives. Hints of bark and mushroom. Currants. Full body, ultra-fine tannins and a beautiful finish. A lovely dark fruit undertone. Minerally and very fine. Made of cabernet sauvignon with a touch of cabernet franc. This is 28 hectares in total. The vines have 10 years. It’s all handmade. Beautiful structure and depth. This is a wine that really impresses with all the finesse and quality of tannins. Goes on for minutes. Better in 2020 but so fine now.
James Suckling - jamessucking.com - May 2016 Read more

About this WINE

Moet Hennessy Estates & Wines

Moet Hennessy Estates & Wines

Ao-Yun means “flying above the clouds” or “roaming above the clouds”, referring to the thick, wandering clouds over the north Yunnan, at the edge of the Himalayas in southern China where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam meet China. Owned, financed and run by Moët Hennessy (one of the world’s great fine wine companies), Ao-Yun is a project headed up by the inimitable Jean-Guillaume Prats, a name you may be familiar with for his work at Cos d’Estournel in Bordeaux.

The vines were planted in 2002, when the government incentivised local farmers to diversify their crops. LVMH came on board in 2013, selecting four vineyards (totalling 28 hectares), all of which sit at between 2,200 and 2,600 metres above sea-level, for their project. This extraordinary altitude results in fewer hours of sunshine a day, but a longer ripening period, with 160 days between flowering and harvest (versus 120 in Bordeaux). This leads to very fine, elegant, aromatically complex Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine itself is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, with the first vintage 2013. As Jasper Morris MW speculated upon tasting the first vintage in October 2015, it “shows amazing promise. It is recognisably Cabernet, while not resembling the wines of any other region, New World or Old.”

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China may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think about wine consumption or production but this is changing fast, along with so much else in China. Already the country has half a million hectares under vine (three times as much as Australia, for example) and sits sixth in the international league table of wine production. 

Unsurprisingly there is an enormous variety of climates and soils; most remarkable is the Xinjiang region, where vineyards are grown around the Turfan Depression, about 500 feet below sea level. Temperatures range from to -40C in winter to +50C in summer, with irrigation from underground deposits of melt water from the Tianshan mountains. But no classic grape varieties here. 

Shandong Province is the largest producing region, on approximately the same latitude as California, 300km south of Beijing.  Also notable is the startlingly remote Liaoning wine region, whose eastern border adjoins North Korea.  Here the progressive Changyu Wine Company, China’s largest wine producer, identified conditions highly suitable for the production of ice wine, and began planting 5,000 hectares in 2001.

China’s other wine producing regions, which include the alluring names of Ancient Yellow River Area and Helan Mountains, spread from the coast on the approximate European vineyard latitudes until they meet Xinjiang (above), towards the border with Mongolia, although there is also the Yunnan region, well to the south of the country, towards Burma.  Unsurprisingly this climate is warm and traditionally has been table grape territory but China’s growing thirst for red wines has encouraged wine production here as well.

The most important change to come will be the supplanting of the indigenous Long Yan (Dragon’s Eye) and Ju Feng Noir with classic grape varieties. External investors, and recently there have been several big players, have had to cope with the former until now, and were unable to produce much beyond simple fare. As and when Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and their friends get a real hold, quality will improve significantly.

Whilst it seems extraordinary to be writing some of these names in connection with wine, have no doubt that the Chinese interest in wine is growing and with that will come a much greater focus on its domestic production. China has the will and resource to become a very important player.

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Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

Cabernet 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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