5 Great Chinese Red Wines to Try
Red signifies good luck in China and is widely considered the colour of happiness. The auspicious regard for the colour along with the increased knowledge of its benefits has made red wine increasingly popular in the nation. In 2013 China became the world’s #1 consumer of Red Wine.
The ascent of red wine’s popularity in the Middle Kingdom can be traced back to a toast made by Li Peng in 1996. He was China’s premier when he made a famous toast during a banquet held by the PRC, praising the benefits of red wine. From that day forward, red wine continued its climb in popularity until it reached its current height of popularity.
But the Chinese are not content to sip exclusively on other nations’ reds. Today China is the world’s fifth largest producer of wine with the majority of wine produced being red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon is particularly popular.
China is turning heads in the international wine community, not only for the volume of red wine it consumes and produces but for creating quality wines. No wine lover’s trip to China would be complete without trying some of China’s finest crushed grapes. The list below includes five of China’s most dazzling reds, so you’ll know which glass to raise if you want to explore the best China has to offer.
1. Silver Heights: Emma’s Reserve 2011
Emma Gao is a truly outstanding winemaker. The now legendary story of how she founded the Silver Heights winery is well distilled by Jancis Robinson. In the words of wine legend Jancis Robinson, who has met outstanding winemakers from all over the world: “I honestly think that Emma Gao, despite the obvious paucity of financial backing, is the most naturally vivacious wine producer I have ever met.” She makes some great wine.
The wine is not cheap, retailing for about $200 per bottle. But if you are going to splurge, this is the wine to try. The wine is ninety percent Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance being carménère. It has deep red fruit and a smooth, silky mouthfeel. This special blend makes for a fantastic drinking experience.
Emma Gao is doing great things at Silver Heights and this is the best way to taste the results at the height of her creative powers.
2. Helan Qing Xue: Jia Bei Lan 2009
This red was produced in the Bordeaux style by blending Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carménère (referred to as Cabernet Gernischt in China). The wine was crowned the best Red Bordeaux Varietal during the 2011 Decanter World Wine Awards. This wine received global attention as the first Chinese wine to win an international award and the price tag of about $20 makes it an excellent place to start your exploration of Chinese reds. However, with only about 13,000 bottles produced, it may be hard to get your hands on a bottle, especially at the original market price.
3. Grace Vineyard: Deep Blue 2010
This blend is interesting because it receives the body and more broadly the structure from Cabernet Sauvignon (74%) and is softened by Merlot (21%) while adding 5% Cabernet France, giving the wine deeper complexity. The oak is there, but not overpowering. The wine also highlights dark fruit with balanced tannins. You can get your hands on a bottle for $40.
4. Changyu: Cabernet Sauvingon 2001
Changyu Pioneer Wine Company, started by Chang Bishi in 1892, is the first modern winery that produced European-style grape wines in China. The winery is a major part of the Chinese wine industry and is part of the big three wineries including Dynasty and Great Wall which together produce 60% of the wine in China. If you don’t have the time to visit a Changyu’s palatial winery in Shandong, you can still experience a glass.
This wine was selected mostly for the price; a good value at about $16 per bottle. In this earthy wine you can taste cinnamon, plum, tobacco, and dark fruits. You can smell and taste the oak which gives way to a slight, scotch-like medicinal flavour. It would pair well with a variety of strong cheeses along with many pork and beef dishes.
5. Kanaan Winery: Gutenland Cuvée 2013
The Gutenland Cuvée is a Bordeaux blend is an excellent example of the ability of this winery, referred to as “The Star of Ningxia,” to produce exceptional wines. The blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carménère displays palpable tannins with hints of ripe stone fruit. The wine is a steal for wines of its ilk at $25 per bottle.
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He has written for The Permaculture Research Institute and Uisio among other prominent outlets.
He is the author of Death: An Exploration (2016). For more visit his official website: www.lorenmayshark.com