China Daily wine column #9
Sunday August 15th 2010, 12:32 pm
Filed under: wine
Urbanization has created a vast group of Chinese people interested in wine.
About 200 million Chinese consider wine part of their lifestyle, and their palates are becoming more sophisticated. Australian winemakers are keen to break the French stranglehold on what is potentially a huge market.
Late last month, almost 600 Chinese staff members from the giant beverage company Pernod Ricard went to South Australia’s Barossa Valley for wine appreciation courses.
They were introduced to a range of wines made for the Chinese palate. Bernard Hickin, chief winemaker at Orlando Wines in the Barossa Valley, crafted the China-specific range, called the Jacob’s Creek Winemaker’s Selection.
“We created an aroma and flavor profile that we think suit Chinese food,” he says in a phone interview.
Hickin focused on enhancing the flavors from the grape varieties for all of the seven wines – two whites and five reds. He described them as, “fresh (and) not too alcoholic, with soft tannins”. The soft tannins came about through allowing the fruit to ripen longer on the vines and avoiding too long of contact with the skins.
“I wanted a natural flavor profile,” Hickin says.
The wines are designed to be consumed with food. “And given the popularity of red wine in China, you will be able to eat seafood with the reds,” he says.
Hickin became chief winemaker with Orlando Wines in February 2006, assuming ultimate responsibility for the portfolio of the company’s wine brands and products. Jacob’s Creek is the biggest selling wine in Australia and the company’s main brand. It is the fifth best-selling wine in the United Kingdom, the world’s biggest wine market.
Horace Ngai is deputy managing director for Pernod Ricard China, which owns the Jacob’s Creek vineyard. Ngai says the art of wine appreciation is gaining popularity in the country. Consumers are looking for quality and substance, and moving away from simply buying brand names.
The Jacob’s Creek wines will be available next month. About 85 percent of wine and spirits consumed in China is enjoyed with a meal, so most of the new range will be available through restaurants in major cities.
* “Wines designed for sipping with Chinese nibbles” in China Daily 14 August 2010, page12
China Daily wine column #8
Monday August 09th 2010, 2:27 pm
Filed under: wine
Box Stallion is one of the prettiest and most unusual vineyards on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula region. It has probably the widest range of wine varieties in the region, and all of the wines suit Chinese food.
Indeed, Box Stallion has been selling wines into China since 2005 and the company has a Chinese-language web site (http://boxstallion.com).
Box Stallion focuses on a range of grape varieties beyond those typically produced on the Mornington Peninsula. Half of the grapes grown on the peninsula are pinot noir. Chardonnay represents another quarter.
The company grows a range of French, Italian and Spanish varieties to produce an international, forgive the pun, stable of wines.
Box Stallion received five stars, the highest rating, in this year’s edition of James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion. That book is the best-known reference for Australian wine.
Halliday awarded 94 points to both the 2008 sauvignon blanc ($18) and the 2006 tempranillo ($36). Another four wines, the 2004 and 2005 chardonnays, the 2008 gewurztraminer and the 2006 dolcetto all received the equivalent of a gold medal.
Earlier this month Box Stallion picked up five awards at this year’s International Wine Challenge in London. It is the world’s largest wine competition with entries from every wine region in the world.
Box Stallion’s 2008 shiraz won a silver medal, the 2008 pinot noir and the 2007 tempranillo received bronze medals, and the 2008 gewurztraminer and the 2008 chardonnay were highly recommended.
Owner Garry Zerbe said he established vineyards on two distinct locations in the region to get different micro-climates. These add complexity to the flavours of his wines. “We believe our fruit-driven styles will appeal to Chinese palates. We are educating our clients about our wines.”
This year is winemaker Alex White’s 38th vintage. White is one of Australia’s most highly regarded winemakers.
He said his aim was to make the most interesting wine possible. “Where necessary we vary the wine-making procedures to achieve complexity and flavour balance with the emphasis on the consumer’s expectations for varietal and regional character,” White said.
The vineyard’s name comes from the fact it used to be a horse stud, and the stallions’ barn now serves as the vineyard’s headquarters. A restaurant, the Red Barn, attracts visitors from around the world. The restaurant is open for lunch and tasting every day of the week, and the menu is affordable for most families.
A brochure in Chinese about the Mornington Peninsula can be downloaded from http://www.emmp.net.au/
* “Complex flavors from award-winning stable” in China Daily 7 August 2010, page 12.