Changyu Cabernet D’Est, Chinese Wine
At Fareham Wine Cellar, we have just taken our first delivery of a new Chinese wine. This is not our first Chinese wine however, we used to supply Dragon Seal, which was made by French company Pernod Ricard, back in the mid 1990s – I wonder what happened to that venture? Anyway back to Changyu wines.
The Changyu group is one of the oldest and most dynamic wine companies in China. The history of viticulture and wine production in China can be traced back to the Han Dynasty which was from 206BC to 220AD. Changyu can trace their history back to 1892 when cuttings from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace were planted, European winemakers were employed and China’s first “European” vineyard was created. Since then Changyu has managed to keep going, despite being taken over by the state at one point. In the 1990 they entered into a joint venture with French wine giant Castel. The focus has always been on producing European, and particularly French-style wines.
Changyu Cabernet D’Est is produced from 75 hectares of vines, that have been organic for three years. From the 2012 the wine should be able to be labelled as such. The vineyards are located in Ningxia, China‘s newest wine-growing area, in the Helan Mountain region, located in Central Western China on the fringes of the Gobi Desert and close to the Yellow River. This is quite an arid area but with good sunlight hours which allows the grapes to ripen fully. Situated at 1100m, the warm days are coupled with cool nights which means the resulting wine retains freshness.
Changyu Cabernet D’Est
Changyu Cabernet D’Est is made from the little-known Cabernet Gernischt grape variety, this is thought to be a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc although some think it is Cabernet Franc. This variety apparently became extinct in Europe some time ago. The grapes tend to be larger than Cabernet Sauvignon and produce a less tannic but spicier and fruity wine.
Tasting notes – the Changyu Cabernet D’Est has a god, clear, ruby red colour. On the nose there are red fruits, sweetish notes of blackcurrant and slightly grassy, herbaceous flavours. Pehaps a little bit green. The palate is soft and round with good tannins, more red fruit and a little hint of green pepper. It is medium to light-bodied and has good length. I have to agree with Jamie Goode’s notes below – the wine is very reminiscent of perhaps a Saumur Rouge of Chinon from the Loire.
“This is a varietal Cabernet Gernischt (a cross of Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon), from vineyards at 1100 m. Bright red in colour, it has a very Cabernet Franc like nose of leafy green berry fruits. The palate is fresh and slightly green with some cherry and berry fruit, as well as some grippy tannins. Supple and very Loire-like, with a hint of rusticity about it. 87/100″ Jamie Goode, www.wineanorak.com
Update 23/05/12 – Good article about the success of Chinese wines, including those from Ningxia, at the Decanter Wine Awards 2010
Update 09/07/12 – Changyu Pioneer Wine Co. plans to put Chinese wines on the map | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com – Changyu are planning on building a “wine city” which will cover 413 hectares!!
- Inside look: China’s Ningxia region joining OIV as observer (grapewallofchina.com)