During a recent Sainsbury visit, I noticed a bottle of Chinese wine on the shelf. I’ve never drunk Chinese wine despite that country now being eighth in the world wine producing table. There is a huge interest in wines in China, both for drinking and investment, and I am conscious of my lack knowledge of this market. So, here goes.
The wine is made by the Changyu Winery, a pioneer and the dominant producer, based on the eastern Shandong peninsula in Yantai. This is their Noble Dragon offering, the label claiming to be Riesling. No particular vintage is mentioned. The ABV is 12%, and it costs £9.
The colour was a pale grey, rather than green, yellow which suggested a lack of youth and acidity. It had some viscosity. The nose was dumb, slightly chalky and reminiscent of stone fruits rather than the typical acidity and aromatic notes of Riesling. It was not particularly attractive. As regards flavour, it had some richness but was quite hard, short and had some heat which suggested high alcohol (at 12%!) or lack of balance. There was no particular grape character but rather a blend of flavours that were rather anonymous. It reminded me of a cheap white wine made in a hot climate for local consumption with not too demanding food.
Full marks to Sainsbury’s for trying this wine but it’ll have to improve if it is going to compete at that price point. Interestingly, it is imported by a Spanish company Marques del Atrio, a winemaker founded in 1899. The Changyu company bought a 75% stake in 2015 as “part of a strategic decision”. Let’s hope quality improves as part of that “strategic decision”.
[Richard: this wasn’t tasted blind which is perhaps a little unfair but I don’t think we’d have been more positive if we hadn’t known the source. No real Riesling characteristics, just a rather anonymous white wine taste. Not very interesting and you can do much better for £9. But…the Japanese make very good whiskey so who knows?]