Is China’s new luxury wine worth $250 a bottle?
The makers of a new red blend from China are aiming to lure luxury wine connoisseurs from such established regions as Napa and Bordeaux, betting they’ll spend $250 a bottle on something novel and adventurous
I got a sneak preview of the first vintage of the wine at a dinner last week in Manhattan, where I was the first U.S. journalist to taste it. The Chinese red, which is backed by luxury powerhouse LVMH, is evocatively labeled Ao Yun, which means “roaming above the clouds.” It’s a reference to the craggy, remote aeries in which the grapes are grown in the Tibetan foothills.
With the hefty price tag, only 24,000 bottles in existence, and a romantic “epic journey” story, this red blend seems squarely aimed at thrill-seeking collectors anxious to try the latest. Is it worth it? If you measure value by the effort and money it took to make the wine, the answer is ‘yes’.
As for the flavor, the quality is definitely there—if not quite commensurate with the price point. Deep-colored, luscious 2013 Ao Yun is certainly the best red from China I’ve yet sampled. The blend of 90 percent cabernet sauvignon and 10 percent cabernet franc is ripely fruity, dark, and powerful, with a spicy tang, a hint of licorice, and a silky smooth texture. It’s nearly 15 percent alcohol and tastes unique, something like a combo of a Spanish Ribera del Duero and a Napa cult cab. There’s tons of tannin, so it should age for a long, long time. It was a pretty good accompaniment to braised short ribs, too.
But let me back up. Before dinner, as we sipped another LVMH wine (a 2006 Dom Perignon), the president of Moet Hennessy’s Estates and Wines division Jean-Guillaume Prats, filled me in on its complicated story.
The venture began in 2009, when Christophe Navarre, chief executive officer of Moët Hennessy, indulged a long-held dream to find a spot in China that would be perfect for making red wine. He tapped Australian enologist Tony Jordan (who had established Chandon in Australia and managed the company’s other wine estates there) to undertake a several-year-long search throughout China for the best terroir.
Read more at Is China’s new luxury wine worth $250 a bottle?