china daily wine column #37

Sales of imported wines in China have been prolific in the past year. As Chinese people become more affluent and living standards rise, consumers tend to buy more wine because of the perception that imbibing wine is a sign of sophistication.

Total wine consumption in 2010 rose 61 per cent compared with 2009. France was the big winner with a 67 per cent increase in 2010 against the previous year, matched by a significant rise in total volume.

Spain, Germany and Italy were also major winners, with increases respectively of 105 per cent, 93 per cent and 78 per cent compared with 2009, though their total volumes were lower than for France.

New Zealand did not feature in the table of countries making major sales, but this small country continues to offer value for money.

The 2009 East Cape pinot noir is an example. It is black cherry in colour and the berry flavours continue as a theme through the palate.

This wine is from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, in the north east of the south island. It is the country’s most prolific region, supplying 62 per cent of all the wine grown there. The other nine regions produce only about a third per cent of New Zealand’s wine.

Sauvignon blanc is the most common wine in Marlborough, followed by chardonnay and pinot noir. Regular readers will know I dislike unripe sauvignon blanc, but I especially like New Zealand pinot noir.

With the East Cape pinot, soft tannins caress the mouth at first taste with hints of raspberry and truffle and mushroom. The wine is “hot” because of the high level of alcohol, the result of picking very ripe grapes. The alcohol is almost 15 per cent, putting this pinot almost in the range of sherry or port, so you have been warned of its potency.

The flavours are pleasant and welcoming. A small problem with this wine is the “dumb” sensation that follows. This pinot simply dies on the palate after being swallowed. It does not follow through in terms of after taste. It is like kissing a person who does not respond.

The 2009 East Cape pinot noir sells for 140 RMB in outlets like Marks  & Spencer. Matched with suitable food such as pork dumplings or duck, it will begin to show more character. It’s a bargain price for such a good wine.

We move from New Zealand to Chile for the other wine reviewed this week. The 2009 Espiritu cabernet sauvignon is black cherry in colour like the East Cape pinot and is also high in alcohol, at 13.5 per cent. It offers aromas of blackcurrant and cassis and a range of berry flavours.

But again the taste falls short. Flavours linger briefly in the mouth but then disappear, like a lover fleeing the bedroom soon after an encounter. Gentle and soft aromas of spice and perfume linger in the glass, like the smell that a lover’s perfume leaves behind in the bedroom.

* “New Zealand pinot noir too much like a flat kiss” in China Daily, 7 May 2011, page 12. Find a link here.

Categories: Not home, wine

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