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China: Get Thee To A Winery, Part II

Posted in China Business

A couple weeks ago, we did a post on Chinese burgeoning wine industries, entitled, "China: Get Thee To A Winery."   Since then, the Dallas Morning News did its own story, entitled, "Wine From China?  Why Not?" (h/t to the On The Wine Trail in Italy Blog (who told me about the Dallas Morning News article in a comment to our first post and to Wine Sediments Blog which did a post on the story), detailing a China-United States joint venture winery called the China Silk Winery, led by Jennifer Hong, formerly of leading U.S. wine producer, Kendall-Jackson.  The China Silk Winery is succeeding at producing quality wines in Xinjiang:

Two of the five wines, China Silk Marco Polo White and China Silk Marco Polo Red, have already won bronze medals in this year’s San Francisco International Wine Competition. Not bad for $7 bottles of wine.

The unoaked white is primarily chardonnay with a bit of Riesling added. "I tried to give it more floral, more fruit in the nose," Ms. Hong says. "It’s a very easy-drinking wine." It shows light citrus and tropical notes, with a hint of grapefruit.

Similarly unoaked, the red blends cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. It starts with soft, dark berries, adding toasted red pepper and silky tannins in the mouth. "It goes with everything," Ms. Hong says. "It’s more European in style, more restrained."

And yes, the grapes are grown in China, in the foothills of the Tian Shan mountain range in Urumqi, Xinjiang. Ms. Hong shuttles between there and her home in San Francisco.

China Silk wines are available now (though not widely) in the United States for around $7. 

The Bordeaux Undiscovered Blog ("Offering you the wines the French would prefer to keep") in a post entitled, "Ice Wine," talks about how China is going to be the next big thing in ice wines:

The Far East is so keen on Ice Wine that China’s biggest wine producer Changyu has set up an alliance with Canadian Ice Wine maker Aolos to build what is expected to be the largest Ice Wine estate in the world. http://www.ap-foodtechnology.com/dtechnology.com/ has commented that China is one of few wine markets that are still expanding, with double-digit growth each year. Changyu, based in Yantai, Shandong Province, dominates the country’s wine market with a 21 per cent share and annual capacity of 80,000 tons!

According to Wilf’s Wine Press Blog, in a post entitled, "Who’s on First," claims are even being made that China was the first country to produce wine.

  • http://acevola.blogspot.com/ Alfonso

    neat!
    you guys are fast!
    cheers,
    AC

  • http://china.notspecial.org Michael

    I missed your first article on Chinese wine but thankfully managed to catch this one. Wine is certainly becoming a big business out here in Xinjiang. In response to your entry, I’ve posted a few photos from the Champs D’or winery north of Korla over at “The Opposite End of China”: http://china.notspecial.org/archives/2006/10/chinese_wine.html

  • http://china.notspecial.org/archives/2006/10/chinese_wine.html The Opposite End of China || Xinjiang & Northwest China Blog (?????? || ?? & ??????)

    Chinese Wine

    I missed the China Law Blog’s first post about Chinese wine two weeks ago, but the follow-up post today caught my eye. That’s mainly because it contains the word Xinjiang……

  • http://papertigertail.blogspot.com Other Lisa

    I went looking for Chinese wines my last trip – got two bottles of Changyu at the Beijing airport. The more expensive (and older) of the two was…weird. Like it had been aged in sandlewood. I kid not.
    The second tasted remarkably like red wine – my wine expert friend put it in the style of a Rhone. Not bad.
    I’ll have to look for the China Silk. There’s no reason with the variety of terroir that China can’t produce decent wine.

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    Alfonso –
    Thanks for checking in. What is that they say about news …

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    Michael –
    Thanks for checking in. Great post you did. I had no idea there was so much wine production on the opposite end of China. I always think of Shandong.

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    Other Lisa –
    Welcome back. Maybe the older bottle had gone bad? I’ve never had the China Silk, but it seems to me if there is to be a market for Chinese wines over here, they will need to cost at least 20% less than comparable wines, at least until they develop a reputation.

  • http://papertigertail.blogspot.com Other Lisa

    CLB, I’ve had plenty of corked/otherwise bad wines – I think the older Changyu was just…an idea gone wrong.
    The newer one, on the other hand, was definitely on the right track.
    I’m sure you’ve read about the Bordeaux conference that was held in Shanghai earlier this year. Apparently they hold it in France and then every other year in another country. In spite of the relatively small percentage of Chinese who drink Western-style wine, the sheer numbers are still so large that the French are really looking at China as one of their biggest (if not the biggest) export markets (forgive my vagueness here…I’m paraphrasing from my wine-impaired memory).
    I’m going to look for that China Silk, and have my San Franciso-based sister check on her end. We’ll report back!

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    Other Lisa –
    If you get that Silk Road out of SF, you should drive down here (you are in Bellingham, right?) to drink it?

  • http://papertigertail.blogspot.com Other Lisa

    CLB, actually I am in Los Angeles – let me know if you get down this way. I’ll save a bottle (assuming I find it) for you!

  • Beijing Boyce

    I write a newsletter about drinking in Beijing and I’m always getting emails from foreigners who want to try some Chinese wines. I’ve asked some of the wine experts in town and I’ve done (plenty of) my own research. Here are the ones that I like, all of which are $6-7 per bottle:
    Grace Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
    Grace Chardonnay 2004
    Catai Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
    These are all made with grapes from China. If you’re in the Beijing area, there’s a small winery called Taillan that uses local grapes, although the product isn’t quite as good as Catai and Grace. If you’re in Shanghai, drop into Senses, which offers a good selection of Chinese wine, including the Xinjiang ice wines.
    Cheers, Beijing Boyce / http://www.beijingboyce.com

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    Other Lisa –
    You are too kind. Bellingham/Los Angeles. Same thing, right? I think the only thing they have in common, unfortunately, is the Hillside Strangler.

  • http://www.chinalawblog.com China Law Blog

    Beijing Boyce –
    Thanks for checking in and thanks for the wine tips. $6-$7 certainly sounds reasonable. I will definitely search these out next time I am in China.

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