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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
7 Mar 2016

During my recent stay in China (see Australasia here we come) I saw very strong signs of the diversification of the Chinese wine market. In fact I hardly saw a bottle of red bordeaux. 

While there I hosted a couple of wine tastings designed to showcase some of the best New World wines currently available in China to local wine enthusiasts (most of them young and many of them female). It was the idea of my Chinese associate and Master of Wine candidate Young Shi, organiser of the China Wine Summit via tastespirit.com to try to counter a prejudice she felt is common among Chinese wine lovers, the feeling that New World wines are inherently inferior to European ones. It is certainly true that basic Chilean wine dominates wine lists there currently, no doubt helped by the  favourable trade agreement negotiated between the Chileans and Chinese. (Her original idea had been to show organic and biodynamic wines but she couldn't find enough that were available from Chinese importers.) 

The first tasting was in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province (famous for peppercorns and pandas). The wines were served very efficiently by an army of young sommeliers seen here behind the scenes at the St Regis hotel. The second tasting took place in the Kempinski hotel in the bustling coastal city of Shanghai, where the pace of new building seems not to be as frenetic as it has been on my previous visits. In the old days the skyline above the Bund, as seen here from the hotel, would have been bristling with cranes.

Shanghai_across_the_river-5.jpg

The wines shown were determined by those currently imported into China and the two tastings were very slightly different, as you can see from the two ordered tasting lists below.

CHENGDU

  1. Pewsey Vale, The Contours Riesling, Eden Valley, Australia 2009
  2. Mullineux, White Blend, Swartland, South Africa 2013
  3. Kumeu River, Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay, Kumeu, New Zealand 2013
  4. Yeringberg Marsanne Roussanne, Yarra Valley, Australia 2011
  5. Stefano Lubiana Estate Pinot Noir, Derwent Valley, Tasmania, Australia 2009 
  6. Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, New Zealand 2013
  7. Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Homage Syrah, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand 2013 
  8. Mullineux Syrah, Swartland, South Africa 2012 
  9. Penfolds, St Henri Shiraz, South Australia 2012 
  10. Craggy Range, Sophia Gimblett Gravels Merlot, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand 2013
  11. Viña Quebrada de Macul, Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile 2010 
  12. Concha y Toro, Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile 2010 
  13. Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA 2012 
  14. Robert Mondavi, Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA 2011 
  15. Inniskillin, Oak Aged Vidal Icewine, Niagara Peninsula VQA, Canada 2013

SHANGHAI

  1. Pewsey Vale, The Contours Riesling, Eden Valley, Australia 2009 
  2. Mullineux, White Blend, Swartland, South Africa 2013 
  3. Yeringberg Marsanne Roussanne, Yarra Valley, Australia 2011 
  4. Kumeu River, Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Kumeu, New Zealand 2013
  5. Giaconda Estate Chardonnay 2011 Beechworth 
  6. Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, New Zealand 2013 
  7. Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand 2012 
  8. Stefano Lubiana Estate Pinot Noir, Derwent Valley, Tasmania, Australia 2009
  9. Santa Rita, Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile 2011
  10. Vina Quebrada de Macul, Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile 2010 
  11. Concha y Toro, Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile 2010
  12. Robert Mondavi, Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA 2011
  13. Mullineux Syrah, Swartland, South Africa 2012
  14. Penfolds, St Henri Shiraz, South Australia 2012

At the end of each tasting I asked the tasters – far more numerous in Shanghai than in Chengdu – to vote on their favourite white and their favourite red, and I thought you might be interested in what showed well. Here are the remarkably similar results, a win for New Zealand, or at least for Kumeu River – although Giaconda, shown only in Shanghai, was a very close second among the whites. The Craggy Sophia 2013 (a  wine of the week here) did very well, but was shown only in Chengdu. Of the three Chilean Cabernets, Don Melchor definitively triumphed, while the Mondavi Oakville Cabernet did remarkably well considering the trials and tribulations of the 2011 vintage – a fitting result in the half-century year of the winery.

It looks as though many of the Shanghai tasters did not vote whereas severeal of the Chengdu ones voted more than once.

CHENGDU

Votes Wine

WHITES
20 Kumeu River, Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay, Kumeu, New Zealand 2013
13 Inniskillin, Oak Aged Vidal Icewine, Niagara Peninsula VQA, Canada 2013
13 Pewsey Vale, The Contours Riesling, Eden Valley, Australia 2009
11 Mullineux, White Blend, Swartland, South Africa 2013
3 Yeringberg Marsanne Roussanne, Yarra Valley, Australia 2011

REDS
11 Craggy Range, Sophia, Gimblett Gravels Merlot, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand 2013
8 Trinity Hill, Gimblett Gravels Homage Syrah, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand 2013
8 Penfolds, St Henri Shiraz, South Australia 2012
8 Concha y Toro, Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile 2010
5 Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, New Zealand 2013
4 Mullineux Syrah, Swartland, South Africa 2012
3 Robert Mondavi, Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA 2011
2 Vina Quebrada de Macul, Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile 2010
2 Stefano Lubiana Estate Pinot Noir, Derwent Valley, Tasmania, Australia 2009
1 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA 2012


SHANGHAI

Votes Wine

WHITES
29 Kumeu River, Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay, Kumeu, New Zealand 2013
26 Giaconda Estate Chardonnay 2011 Beechworth
13 Pewsey Vale, The Contours Riesling, Eden Valley, Australia 2009
11 Mullineux, White Blend, Swartland, South Africa 2013
8 Yeringberg Marsanne/Roussanne, Yarra Valley, Australia 2011

REDS
16* Concha y Toro, Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Chile 2010
16 Robert Mondavi, Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA 2011
12 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand 2012
10 Penfolds, St Henri Shiraz, South Australia 2012
8 Mullineux Syrah, Swartland, South Africa 2012
5 Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, New Zealand 2013
5 Stefano Lubiana Estate Pinot Noir, Derwent Valley, Tasmania, Australia 2009
2 Santa Rita, Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile 2011
2 Vina Quebrada de Macul, Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Chile 2010

*Since two reds ended up with the same number of votes we took a final vote to see which of the two was preferred overall and the Don Melchor won.