2020 Ao-Yun, Shangri-La, China

2020 Ao-Yun, Shangri-La, China

Product: 20208107488
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Prices start from £690.00 per case Buying options
2020 Ao-Yun, Shangri-La, China

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Available by the case In Bond. Pricing excludes duty and VAT, which must be paid separately before delivery. Storage charges apply.
Case format
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Price per case
3 x 75cl bottle
Berry Bros. & Rudd BB&R 20 cases £690.00
En Primeur Limited availability
En Primeur Limited availability
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Description

Smells wild and strong on the nose, some elements of blackcurrants, damsons and plums, but darkly cool not overly ripe. The meaty, wild Syrah elements come through (even at just 6% of the blend) with a touch of florality from the Cabernet Franc (19%).

Really vivid bright purple in the glass too, almost fuschia pink on the rim. Thick and unctuous, this has weight and body with a fleshy, plump texture, almost chewy but bouncy too so you get strength and clear structure but with lift and brightness from the pure fruit and high acidity. I love the styling, feels controlled and purposeful. Suave but still muscular, confident. It's a big wine with plenty to say. Very long and keeps the intensity all the way through. I like the cool mint eucalyptus note on the finish reminding you it's full of Cabernet. I'd still struggle to say where it's from but it's very good.

Drink 2025 - 2039

Georgina Hindle, Decanter.com (February 2024)

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Critics reviews

Wine Advocate96/100

The 2020 Ao Yun is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 6% Syrah and 6% Petit Verdot, with the fruit being sourced from Ao Yun’s four villages in order of rising altitude and percentage terms as follows: 10% from Xidang, 18% from Sinong, 38% from Shuori and 34% from Adong.

The wine has a very deep purple appearance and sports a beautifully complex nose of lifted, perfumed dark fruit—cassis, bramble, black cherry, black plum, blueberry, mulberry—with herbaceous notes of mint, green bell pepper and sage, these primary elements marrying beautifully with some subtle, new oak notes of clove, toast, smoke and vanilla. Like the Village Cru red wines, this was matured for 12 months in 30% new, small-format French oak with 30% in older wood and the remainder in Yunnanese stoneware jars.

On the palate, this is very full-bodied with super-ripe coating and fine-grained tannins with vibrant acidity—this comes naturally at 3.35 pH—and well-integrated 13.5% alcohol, providing the platform for the concentrated dark fruit and sweet and savory pyrazine and new oak notes. While this wine does not have the immediate "generosity" or sumptuousness of the 2019 vintage, it is undeniably elegant, polished and powerful in its own vintage expression.

With its very long length, the 2020 Ao Yun has a complex, layered finish that is abundantly youthful. While it is approachable now, it will show better going forward and will comfortably age for at least 15 years.

Drink 2024 - 2039

Edward Ragg, Wine Advocate (January 2024)

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Decanter96/100

Smells wild and strong on the nose, some elements of blackcurrants, damsons and plums, but darkly cool not overly ripe. The meaty, wild Syrah elements come through (even at just 6% of the blend) with a touch of florality from the Cabernet Franc (19%).

Really vivid bright purple in the glass too, almost fuschia pink on the rim. Thick and unctuous, this has weight and body with a fleshy, plump texture, almost chewy but bouncy too so you get strength and clear structure but with lift and brightness from the pure fruit and high acidity. I love the styling, feels controlled and purposeful. Suave but still muscular, confident. It's a big wine with plenty to say. Very long and keeps the intensity all the way through. I like the cool mint eucalyptus note on the finish reminding you it's full of Cabernet. I'd still struggle to say where it's from but it's very good.

Drink 2025 - 2039

Georgina Hindle, Decanter.com (February 2024)

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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

China

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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