They’re making world-class wine in China — at $320 a bottle
The bottle: Ao Yun Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, $320
The back story: Ah, the world’s great wine-making regions: Napa Valley, Bordeaux and…China? As strange as that may sound, that’s the premise behind Ao Yun, a new label from global wine and booze giant Moët Hennessy.
Certainly, wine consumption is growing in China — to the point that it’s now the world’s largest market for red wine, though obviously the sheer size of the population plays a role. But until recently, few serious wine-makers have been successful at trying their hand at production in the country.
Moët Hennessy began looking at China almost a decade ago and found some abandoned vines at the foothills of the Himalayas that it thought proved promising. (The company has no idea who originally planted them.) From there, it set out to produce a limited-edition (2,000 cases) Cabernet Sauvignon with the name Ao Yun, which translates as “above the clouds” — even at the foothills, the location is fairly high up at 7,000-plus feet.
And indeed, the location is key — at that spot, the vines get limited sun, which results in a long maturation time for the grapes and, in turn, a certain complexity to the wine, says Moët Hennessy spokeswoman Korinne Munson. “It’s Bordeaux-like,” she says of the resulting product.
What we think of it: We admit we were skeptical at first: $300-plus for a wine from a place that has no real wine-making credibility? But this is a lovely bottle — silken in its structure, with a taste of dark red fruit and just a hint of olives and green pepper (there’s some Cabernet Franc in the blend, which certainly helps provide extra flavor notes). In all, it’s more than just a conversation piece. It’s a great wine.
How to enjoy it: This should be sipped at cellar temperatures and enjoyed with roast meat or any typical Cabernet pairings. Munson says she’s planning on soon having a bottle over a meal of Peking duck for a true Chinese feast.