Chinese Wine Taste Off

One of the few benefits of traveling nearly every week are the international trips to places that provide opportunities for new learning (and tasting) experiences.  This trip – to Hong Kong – included trying wine made in China for the first time.   

The Taste-Off

The Taste-Off

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this initial tasting as I received conflicting information – several internet articles praised the quality of the wine currently being made in China while several local wine store employees didn’t speak so highly of their local wines.

Well… no matter what, I was intent on trying Chinese wine during this trip.  I did begin to have second thoughts on sampling the indigenous wines when there were no Chinese made wines at the first two shops I visited (Watson’s at the IFC and Vinoteca HK on Connaught).  Finally, I stumbled on Wine’s World – a small, quaint shop tucked away in a corner of Western Market.  (More about this shop and my ruminations on China and the wine industry there in future post).  Thankfully, Steven Than, the Director of Wine’s World was able to find one bottle of Chinese wine for me to purchase (not a positive sign – an entire wine shop with only one bottle of it’s homeland wine).  He paused before handing me the bottle which should have been a warning what was in store.

Thankfully the Marriott I was staying at did carry one wine from their home country so I could have a taste-off.  Instead of buying the entire bottle of the Dynasty 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, I opted for just one glass.

 Grace Vineyards 2001 Premium Cabernet Merlot

Grace Vineyards was founded in 1997, and their first release was the 2001 vintage (NOT to be confused with Grace Family Vineyards, makers of the high-end California Cabernets).  I bought this bottle at Wine’s World for $145 HK (~ $19 US).  12.5% alcohol.  Real cork closure, made from grapes from the Shanxi area.  Thin brick color with a vegetal nose initially.  After airing out for an hour, I came back to it to find that same vegetal component along with aromas of green pepper and tomato with slight hints of some type of red fruit and tire rubber.  My eyes watered when I tasted this one – in the mouth there were tastes of green pepper and some tire rubber on the finish.  From tasting this first vintage, I can reasonably conclude that the vintages only get better from here because this one was on the low end of the bad scale.  This wine was made in consultation with French winemaker M. Gerard Colin.   Hmmm.

dynastyDynasty 2004 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

The Dynasty Winery is located in the Tianjin area. 12.5% alcohol.  The price by the bottle is slightly higher than the Grace Cab Merlot.  Dark brick red in color along with slight hints of plum and a weird cough syrup aroma.  Thin.  Light tannins with tastes of cough syrup – maybe like a grape Nyquil if there were such a thing.  (Note – the Dynasty website seems to only work sporadically)

I’m not sure what else to say about these two ‘wines’ other than I have added them to my list of wines not to try again.  I’m going to call this taste off a draw. 



Plenty of Dynasty 2004 Cab to go around in the hotel restaurant.

Plenty of Dynasty 2004 Cab to go around in the hotel restaurant.

As a consolation I did get this smart, reusable wine bag.

As a consolation I did get this smart, reusable wine bag.