跟陆江逛香港Vinexpo2018(上)

图文:陆江 | 葡萄酒在线

 

全球最具影响力的葡萄酒与烈酒展之一,Vinexpo 2018在香港正式开幕,我作为北京的葡萄酒媒体,自然不会错过这一盛会。毕竟北京到香港机票便宜,提前两个月订酒店也是价格不贵的。

 

不过惯例开展第一天上午是开幕式,各类官员,会展和业界高层的一些致辞和开幕节目,对我来说有些无聊,所以我睡懒觉,吃中饭,磨蹭到下午2点才去湾仔的香港会展中心,也就是酒展的举办地。

 

交通很方便,地铁湾仔站,有标注会展中心的出口(A4),沿着空中长廊,随着挂着参展商或参观卡的人流,一直往前走10多分钟就到了,实在搞不清楚就问一下路人。

Vinexpo今年的入口布景有点简朴。不过图案设计倒是结合了本地元素还是耐看。

 

拿着在官网上申请的入场二维码,排队扫码,速度还可以,可能因为是下午,非高峰时间。我直接去媒体中心换了媒体卡,开始看看环境,各类陈设装置,还有功能区。

当然不会错过展会期间的各类大师班和研讨会的讯息,除已提前预约过的几场外,还可以选择感兴趣的不需要预约的场次去充充电。

对了,这次酒展有些关键数据:

▷ 30个参展国家

▷ 1465家参展商

▷ 17200名专业参观者

▷ 50场大师班和品鉴会

▷ 34%来自法国,66%来自世界各地

▷ 305家全新参展商

▷ 11个国家的62家参展商参与“WOW!”有机葡萄酒专区

 

场馆一楼,几个熟悉的产区,西班牙、新西兰、意大利,尤其澳大利亚,今年是主宾国,加之澳洲酒在中国大陆市场的卓越表现(进口酒金额数量,稳定几年排第二,仅次于法国),人气很旺。

碰巧还遇到了几年前走访过的墨尔本附近雅拉谷的名庄Helen & Joey Estate,在过去几年的市场探索和不断调整下,酒庄发展渐入轨道,品质和声誉都在澳大利亚维州雅拉谷占据不错的位置。现在因为酒庄得天独厚的条件,葡萄酒旅游也开展有声有色,有朋友去墨尔本的话,值得去走走。

还记录了一些,场馆里葡萄酒从业者们的专注,当然……葡萄酒行业还是有不少既专业,又有高颜值的同行们。

 

Coravin的Yvonne同学,一直约着,叫我去她们展台看看。Coravin在无损取酒方面的确强大,操作方便,惰性气体在取酒后的保护作用,还是蛮有效。Coravin 创始人Greg Lambrecht一看就是信心满满,让我盲品了几款酒。是用Coravin取出部分酒后,继续保存4年后的酒样,Coravin的作用还是比较理想的。现在主要是酒商和餐厅酒吧用的多,他们想要继续推进个人用户市场,据介绍京东已有出售。对了,Coravin还有醒酒小套件,对比使用效果后,能感觉到对封闭酒的香气改善比较明显。

酒展现场精品酒商来了不少,大中华市场,消费力还是相当厉害。

 

法国产区也来了不少,罗纳Rhone,法南,波尔多等,包括勃艮第。

勃艮第最强钉子户Domane Taupenot Merme,也来参展,水准不错,尤其Charmes Chambertin 和Mazoyeres Chambertin影响深刻。

 

中国酒业的代表之一,中粮长城葡萄酒也参展,我去试了他们现在主推的五大单品,平心而论,相对5款品质而言,价格的制定还是比较靠谱的。怀来的琼瑶浆晚收甜酒,出品不错。

 

法国AXA集团旗下酒庄,Disznoko Tokaji,Quinta do Noval 也有参展,可惜没来得及去试试酒。

 

 

WOW! 有机和生物动力葡萄酒专区,去年2017年,Vinexpo波尔多酒展上第一次亮相。本届酒展来了50家来自世界各地的酒庄生产商,还看到曾走访过的熟悉的意大利生物动力名庄Avignonesi。

 

傍晚,法国罗纳河谷还在Grand Hyatt举办VIP鸡尾酒会,来了不少罗纳河谷生产商,还有大中华区的不少葡萄酒讲师、媒体和行业KOL。

第二天继续。。。。。

 

陆江香格里拉葡萄酒产区行

图文:陆江 | 葡萄酒在线

 

香格里拉葡萄酒产区,几年前曾试过一些当地出的小产区葡萄酒,有一两款水准可以是在中国最高品质的葡萄酒之列。 再加上我跟踪好些年的,国际奢侈品巨鳄LVMH在香格里拉投的酒庄项目,其出产的敖云也成为最具国际化的中国葡萄酒第一贵酒。

我对香格里拉产区有着极大的好奇,甚至觉得神秘,可一直无缘走访。 香格里拉产区在我心里有很多符号,高海拔,茶马古道,入云的雪山,藏区,美丽的卓玛,很长的生长季,传说中的圣地,莫名的酒庄,世界最高海拔之一的葡萄园,网上图片里美得令人窒息的景色,条件艰苦……除了最后一条,其它都让我神往。

终于……惊喜降临,我和另外几位熟识的媒体好友,应邀去走访这个传说中的产区,特别感谢香格里拉酒庄。正值5月春末夏初,气候适宜的季节。

从北京过去,根据酒庄、葡萄园和机场分布位置,优化的葡萄酒旅游路线是,从北京直飞丽江,在当地逛一下古镇,驱车一路往北,到位于香格里拉开发区的酒庄,然后参观在不同村落小产区的葡萄园,葡萄园分布较广,所以中间会在德钦停留,然后最终到达香格里拉。最后从香格里拉搭飞机从昆明转机回京。行程共三晚。

因为有了诱惑,我也不太艰难地接受了早起,于是顺利搭上8点起飞的航班,11点30降落丽江。

 

束河古镇

从丽江机场到束河古镇不到一小时,在农家乐畅快地吃了一顿,初尝了琵琶肉等地方特色菜肴。

还有两小时逛逛束河古镇,虽然商业化也无可避免地在此蔓延,餐厅酒吧店铺已是偏多,不过幸好现在还不是旅游最旺季,游人倒是不多,春夏带来满眼的繁花绿叶,穿插着小桥流水,还有应季的粉嫩樱桃(奇怪,这樱桃入口真的很柔嫩),一切还是感觉美好。

然后神奇的老天出场表演,于是20多分钟内体会了东边日出西边雨,冰雹,急雨,阴天,多云更替。就近避雨,在一家土特产店里,还看到本地食材腊排骨的原貌。

 

小镇里溜达,时不时还有就业机会。

最后小困小累之际,阅人间无数的翔大师,通过女店主的眼神和肢体语言,很快判断出一家靠谱茶铺,我们在这家有自家茶园的茶铺,品茗闲聊,居然还尝到到两款水准不错的红茶和生普。不过遗憾的是,女老板提到要结业关店,一是要照顾孩子,二是隔壁开了家重庆火锅,她怕茶味被染麻辣味道。

 

束河古镇还真蛮适合那些喜欢红尘人气,又怀揣情怀的饮食男女。

雨又起,该去香格里拉酒庄品酒。

 

香格里拉酒庄

直奔位于香格里拉开发区的香格里拉酒庄。作为国内酒水巨头金东集团(前华泽集团)旗下的精品酒酒庄,香格里拉酒庄正蓄势待发。

他们和国际奢侈品第一巨头LVMH(路易威登母公司)合资的酒庄,发布的敖云葡萄酒,现在已是国际市场上中国精品葡萄酒的代表之一,也是具有国际声誉的中国葡萄酒的第一高价酒(300美金左右一瓶)。

敖云的葡萄园就是从香格里拉酒庄的葡萄园中精选出的一小部分。

在酒庄我们学习了香格里拉酒庄所在产区的概况介绍,更细节地了解到这个产区的风土特质:低纬度高海拔(海拔范围两三千米),处于“三江并流”的核心地带,金沙江、澜沧江和怒江在不同岁月带来不同的沉积质,形成极为复杂的地物地貌土壤构成,丰富不同的小气候,极长生长季(180-200天),较少病虫害,全年日照达2500小时以上,降雨量200-600毫米(主要在转色期前),不用埋土……。所有特质,造就了世界上独一无二的极富多样性的难得产区。

 

现在我才真正理解精品葡萄酒超级巨头LVMH,为什么会扎根于此,那么艰苦的又极富潜力的神奇产区。

在酒庄还见到了专职负责葡萄园管理的团队和酿造团队,没想到技术人员们都是已经安心在这个艰苦产区积累了数年到十多年。难能可贵!

从与团队的交流和酒庄介绍,我们了解到,香格里拉酒庄从2000年建立,至今已探索积累了不少,在各个村庄产区里小地块的风土资料,以及尝试摸索了不少葡萄品种在当地小地块的表现特点……还有建立了酵母选用,叶幕管理,病虫害的生态防止等一整套管理体系。

媒体团和部分酒庄工作人员

我深深地感到,假以时日,香格里拉酒庄的出品会在国际精品葡萄酒领域可以搞出大事。

当然最终还是要看酒庄作品的实力,我们品鉴了基础款和实验款,有霞多丽干白,梅洛,赤霞珠。还有西拉干红,要特别提一下这西拉,是典型冷气候西拉,黑胡椒黑色水果为主的气息,单宁成熟细致,酚类和糖分双成熟,不错的集中度和清新感,西拉在此应该很有潜力,可以成为特色风土出品之一。 最后两款是威代尔品种的贵腐甜白酒,蛮干净的;晚收霞多丽,香气猛一闻有百香果等主导气息,很像长相思,有趣。

入夜就近入住酒店,晚餐试到不少当地美食,尤其喜欢当地特色包浆豆腐。

 

正值香格里拉酒庄,即将要进入基酒调配阶段。酒庄来自于澳洲雅拉谷的顾问Marc,带我们去酒窖做桶边品鉴,因为橡木桶里的酒,就是会用来调配的基酒。

我们尝试了东水村斜坡高处F地块的赤霞珠2016,中重酒体,单宁成熟中强,细腻雅致风格。东水村平坦地块的赤霞珠2016,果味和黑巧克力气息充沛,单宁强,重酒体,中段稍空。

还有斯农村的碎石地块2016年份赤霞珠和砾石土壤地块2016年份赤霞珠,明显砾石地块的单宁更为厚实。

斯农村碎石地块2017年份赤霞珠和砾石地块的2017年份赤霞珠,感受2017有比2016更结实成熟的单宁,砾石地块赤霞珠结构庞大完整,能感受到有强大的陈年潜力。

酒庄这几款不同村出产培养出来的基酒,各自反应当地的风土,完全可以调配出很高水准的葡萄酒,整体实力超过我的预期。

从酒庄出来,去宾馆,路遇哈巴雪山观景台。不过机缘未至,不得见。

 

四个单一葡萄园

令人期待的产区走访开始了,因为香格里拉酒庄“圣域”葡萄酒来自四个单一葡萄园,分别位于东水村、斯农村、西当村和阿东村这四个村落,垂直分布于高山河谷之中,立体气候差异显著。所以根据时间,我们会去走访其中部分村落葡萄园。

 

东水村葡萄园

我们首先特意走访了路途险峻,极为独特的东水村葡萄园,听同行的郭校长提起,我们运气不错,去年不少路段都是土路,今年明显水泥路段要多了不少。一路行车,能看到山体频繁滑坡和落石,是这边盘山道路的常态。

山路崎岖,车道旁又是深渊,我被吓得紧抓翔大师的胳膊,也顾不得男男授受不亲了。

 

东水村位于金沙江沿岸,三面环山,属于干热河谷气候,海拔2350米。此葡萄园面积最小,占地4公顷,以砾石土壤为主,主要种植赤霞珠及少量西拉。为了保证葡萄优良品质,亩产均控制在300到400公斤。

东水村葡萄园从制高点俯看,像世外桃源般的谷地。雪山融雪顺着水道滋养着这片葡萄园。

 

东水村葡萄园管理员培布是位藏族帅小伙,淳朴热情专业,七年来扎根于此,指导乡亲们种植,日复一日地观察记录着葡萄长势变化。

我(陆江)和培布(右一)

我们还去培布住的藏民家里参观,喝了房东煮的地道酥油茶,还有家常茶点。哦,对了,这边藏区也盛产核桃,很多核桃老树,很粗壮,我一个人环抱都围不住。

核桃老树

 

德钦的高原反应

入住德钦,让我人生有了第一次高原反应的体会,在我们的宾馆,我测了海拔,3363米,一晚上的头痛欲裂,一早无力起床,有点作呕。连预想的极为难得的日照金山盛景,都没法去窗台拍。仅用手机在窗帘夹缝里捏了一张。据说有很多游客在当地耗了很久,来了好几次都没有看到日照金山的壮观。我倒是运气有了,可没想到高反会那么强烈。

想想作为世界上最高海拔的葡萄酒产区之一,酒庄当地工作人员真是大不易。

 

圣地梅里雪山的最高峰卡瓦格博峰

虽然德钦的高原反应让我萎靡,不过见到世界最美雪山梅里雪山的最高峰卡瓦格博峰(尚未被人类登顶,海拔6740米,也是藏传佛教的朝觐之地),还是让我振奋一下,下意识又吸了两口氧气。观景台有位大叔等了一周才遇到神山露脸,我们又是人品爆发。

西当村葡萄园

位于澜沧江沿岸的西当村,也属冷凉河谷气候,海拔2200米,葡萄园占地6.7公顷,以沙质土和砾质褐土为主,主要种植赤霞珠品种。葡萄园的管理员李达,对这片葡萄园非常熟悉,每个地块的气候特点都了如指掌。

到达西当村,负责香格里拉酒庄种植的王总陪同我们,为我们介绍每片目力所及的葡萄园种植管理,以及和当地藏区果农们的沟通协调安排工作的概况。 据说后者一直是敖云酒庄那边外方管理人员最棘手的难点。

 

王总在这产区已经深耕十多年,在他脑子里每个地块的风土特点,葡萄品种特质如数家珍。还有厉害的是,在葡萄园管理中各个村的藏民果农的技术培训和工作安排,都被他兼顾多方要求和利益,灵活安排得相得益彰,一路上无论当地村官和地里果农,都很尊敬他。我蛮佩服像王总这样情商和智商双高的大才。

王总(左)和我(陆江)

 

在西当村也“顺便”看了看中国第一国际化贵酒敖云的部分葡萄园,正好在施药防治病害,葡萄园景观很美,当然也了解了一些他们面临的问题和挑战。不过不惜成本做好酒的理念还是其它酒庄没法效仿的。

敖云的葡萄园之一

 

斯农村葡萄园

下一站就是我挺感兴趣的斯农村,斯农村位于澜沧江沿岸,属于冷凉河谷气候,海拔2300米,葡萄园占地27.7公顷,是最大的单一园。葡萄园以褐土为主,土质疏松,通透性好,葡萄品种以赤霞珠为主,亩产同样控制在300到400公斤。管理员是陈建华。

斯农村村委会

 

 

斯农村,是我个人在品鉴后觉得,具有出顶尖水准葡萄酒的葡萄园。现场看到葡萄园里不同小地块的多样风土,务实的架型管理等,潜力值得期待。

王总在指导藏民乡亲如何剪枝

 

就近我们还去了茶马古道的旧址,澜沧江上古道的铁索桥还依旧可用,我走得战战兢兢,也算感受了一下古道行走的不易。

 

最后一个单一葡萄园是阿东村,位于澜沧江沿岸,两面靠山,海拔高达2600米,在四个村落中属最高。葡萄园面积20公顷,以褐土、黏土为主,主要种植红葡萄赤霞珠,同时也种植白葡萄品种霞多丽,亩产量控制在500到600公斤。

可惜时间问题,我们就没去走访。

综合这三个走访过的单一葡萄园村落,以及这几天接触到的香格里拉酒庄,踏实做事、已有颇多积淀的员工们,我可以说香格里拉酒庄已经具备出产国际高水准葡萄酒的实力。虽然最终出品还有很多影响因素,不过我还是挺期待的。

 

返程

是夜,入住香格里拉,因为也是海拔3000多米,高原反应依旧,我抱了两个氧气管才熬过一晚。一早直奔香格里拉机场。苦捱到登机,一直到昆明转机,我简直有大病初愈的感觉。

特别夸一下昆明机场的美食,种类多,价格合理,一顿午餐,我满血复活了。

到京,行程的美好,继续回味中。下次再有机会去高过3000米海拔的城市过夜,绝不能高估自己的高反耐受力,买药还是必须的。

陆江(Maxime LU)

– 曾为Decanter亚洲葡萄酒大赛(Decanter Asia Wine Awards),意大利南部葡萄酒大赛(Puglia)、葡萄牙葡萄酒挑战大赛-Wines of Portugal Challenge(Lisboa)等国际国内葡萄酒大赛专家评委;美食美酒旅游类撰稿人,《葡萄酒在线》专栏撰稿人、《Decanter中文版-醇鉴中国》撰稿人,葡萄酒行业咨询顾问,万欧兰葡萄酒教育首席讲师,资深葡萄酒收藏顾问和买手。

南澳葡萄酒之旅(上)-阿德莱德和库纳瓦拉

 

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图文:陆江(Maxime LU)

随着越来越多产区国的葡萄酒走进中国市场,消费者们开始逐渐将目光不仅仅盯在以法国葡萄酒为首的老牌旧世界葡萄酒阵营,越来越多的国人开始寻找葡萄酒世界的新大陆。美国、澳大利亚、智利等新世界葡萄酒国家逐渐被人们接受,而澳大利亚,无论从葡萄酒产量、品质、多样性,还是性价比等角度来看,都是世界葡萄酒版图举足轻重的产区国之一。

到去年2016年9月,澳大利亚葡萄酒在中国市场上,是第二大进口葡萄酒来源国,仅次于法国,同时中国市场也首次成为澳大利亚最大的葡萄酒海外市场。

两个月前(2016年11月),正值澳洲的春末夏初,也是葡萄开花时节,我应邀走访了澳大利亚葡萄酒产区:南澳大利亚州,简称“南澳”。

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从北京出发经过11个半小时飞行我到达了墨尔本,中国二代护照可以电子自助出关,方便快捷。然后转机飞一个多小时,就到达南澳首府阿德莱德,比较搞怪的是阿德莱德和墨尔本有半小时时差。

时值初夏,阿德莱德气温20多度,白天最高能到30度左右,接机大叔说12月底或是1月,有时会到40多度,甚至持续一两周。不管如何,我(陆江)从雾霾降雪的北京穿着羽绒服,到了夏日T恤,反差得很愉快。

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入住阿德莱德市中心的希尔顿酒店,旁边有我很喜欢的南半球最大的农贸市场之一的中央市场Central Market,可惜已经打烊,第二天又是周日休市,“完美”错过。不过建议来阿德莱德的爱吃喝的朋友,最好能抽时间逛逛,上次我收获不少。酒店边上还有唐人街,众多中餐馆子,满眼看去感觉比三里屯华人还多。

 

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提到华人,有着不少国内葡萄酒专业学子留学阿德莱德大学,它虽在南澳,却是澳洲葡萄酒产业的重要发动机和人才基地之一,我在阿德莱德认识的朋友中就有不少阿德莱德大学的校友。这次带我吃当地粤式早茶的大雯子就是在阿大上学,还在美国纳帕、澳洲名庄工作过,现在常住阿德莱德。

马上开始要走访酒庄,首先简单普及一下:南澳是澳大利亚最重要的葡萄酒产区,整体基本属于凉爽至温暖的地中海型气候,适合出产高质量的葡萄,另外由于受海洋气候、海拔、以及劳富提山脉(Mount Lofty)等地物地貌因素影响,造就了南澳各子产区的复杂不同的风土条件,也造就了当地葡萄酒的风格多样性。这次我们会走访部分子产区:库纳瓦拉(Coonawarra),克莱尔谷(Clare Valley),巴洛萨谷Barossa Valley,伊顿谷(Eden Valley),阿德莱德山区(Adelaide hills)和麦克拉伦谷(McLaren Vale)。

 

奔富(Penfolds)

第一站在中国大陆市场澳洲葡萄酒绝对第一品牌的Penfolds,中文常被称为“奔富”。在阿德莱德附近的刚修建完的Penfolds的Magill酒庄接待中心,这里也是当年Penfolds医生开始种植葡萄的起源之地。特别提一下,Magill酒庄的西拉子,我试过几回,名副其实的高水准西拉子。

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听了Penfolds的历史和企业介绍,感受了强大的财力和实力。品鉴必不可少,试了一款有明显陈年发展气息的酒,湿枯树叶,红果味,香料,皮革,入口有不错的集中度,有力的单宁,比较细致,整体平衡,还有不弱的陈年实力和深度,当时估计是Penfolds的高端品葛兰许(Grange),至少20年以上,不过看到酒标有点惊讶,酒是对的,可年份居然是1984,对比在国内试到的那些明显要老态多的80年代的葛兰许(Grange),当时就很感慨,买老酒还是在酒庄买比较靠谱。

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晚宴除了Penfolds的人员外,还有当地酒类协会、酒类相关领域的学者和南澳推介机构的职员,我用不那么流畅的英语,回答了不少关于中国葡萄酒市场的问题。席间还第一次试到Penfolds旗下用相对冷门的Tempranilo品种酿的Cellar Reserve Tempranilo 2014干红:黑色水果,香料,很厚实有力的单宁,饱满,余味长。微醺散席。

 

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库纳瓦拉(Coonawarra)

 

一早我和同伴们就到阿德莱德的商务飞机小机场,一小时就到达南澳的著名葡萄酒产区库纳瓦拉(Coonawarra),著名的红土之地,也是南澳最具盛名的赤霞珠品种产区。

Tips:为了提高时间利用率,南澳当地推广机构特别订了商务小飞机,基本四百公里内的子产区都在一小时航程内。我特意询问租用价格,10来座的商务小飞机,租用一天约五六千澳币,对行程紧的团队很合适。

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下了飞机,直奔当地标杆酒庄之一的Katnook,酒庄很早以前就在酒庄里专门掘出一小块地,切出土层剖面,加了围栏和图示,方便访客学习了解。庄主带我们在现场讲课,实地讲解当地典型的土壤结构。参观了Katnook的葡萄园,正好开花时节,预计明年三月采收。酒庄压榨机,酿酒师说,占地少,用力柔和,可以小批量操作。应该还有个原因价格相对气囊压榨机便宜。品鉴了长相思,雷司令,西拉,赤霞珠,酒庄旗舰酒Odyssey赤霞珠,细致有力,Classic风格,完整结构,实力不弱。Prodigy西拉,饱满强劲,厚实有力的单宁。

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到了Coonawarra,有个最著名的地标,就是当地已废弃的火车站,说是火车站,说实话猛一看还以为是个厕所,仅能为数人挡风遮雨,不过后面大片葡萄园,还有延伸远方的铁轨,蛮适合来张文艺范儿的到此一游照。我也未能免俗,不过照得很不文艺。

 

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第二家也是当地标杆酒庄之一的Wynns酒庄,进中国市场比较早。 当地在Wynns酒庄安排了餐酒搭配的家常午餐,有Coonawarra的数家酒庄的酒,其中有在国内见过的Hollick等。说老实话,我还挺喜欢这样的家常简餐,适口,又能感受本地居民的日常吃食。

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文字未完待续: 南澳葡萄酒之旅(中)- 克莱尔谷(Clare Valley)、巴洛萨谷Barossa Valley和伊顿谷(Eden Valley)

 

Interview on Winemaker of Aoyun, the most expensive Chinese Wine

Jiang LU (Maxime LU)

 

Speaking of the most expensive and most international wine now made in China, the first on the list should be Aoyun wine (AOYUN) produced in Yunnan Shangri-La by the world’s top luxury group LVMH. Many other domestic wines claimed to be the same,but we know they are just good at amusing themselves and access to only some special channels, even much more expensive than AOYUN.  While AOYUN is different,it has been tested by the consumers from London to New York fine wine market,approved by many international wine experts and specialists,accepted by the strongest wine merchants including BBR and Live-ex,and finally entered into Chinese market. Nonetheless,we have to admit its price is high(more than 2000RMB,300 euros around),that’s why it arouse so much controversy in domestic and international wine market.`

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I have been following LVMH Aoyun winery since 2014. LVMH Group has always been a fine wine industry giant, owning such as Chateau Cheval Blanc、Chateau d’Yquem 、Domaine des Lambrays、Krug and many other super top wine brands. This time LVMH also plans to create a luxury boutique wine,which actually could benifit all Chinese wines by enhancing their international reputations。

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Simple background information about Aoyun
It took LVMH four years to find a perfect vineyard. Finally they chose the site in Shangri-La, near Meili Snow Mountain (6800 meters above sea level), and beside the Mekong River.
The daylight hours in the mountains is only 8-9,less than that is in Bordeaux。It results in a long growing season, giving enough time for phenols,acids and sugars to ripe. The flowering period in Bordeaux is generally 100-120 days, while in Aoyun vineyard it could be up to 140-160 days.

The pruning and managing work is all done by hand。Traffic is a disaster。The vineyard,with a total area of around 28 hectares,2200-2600m above sea levels,is distributed in four villages and divided into 320 little plots(one plot covers an area of 1.3 acres on average)。Every hector requires about 3500 hours of manpower to manage。People who work in the field are mainly local Tibetans who have their own cultures and habits。It’s very difficult to communicate with them。

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As mentioned earlier, at present the way Aoyun priced its products remains controversial. I wouldn’t judge it, but leave it to the consumers. What I will do is to share with you my experience of a serious Aoyun tasting. Besides, it’s so lucky for me to get a chance to interview Maxence Dulou, the chief winemaker of the winery.

Chief winemaker Maxence Dulou,live in Yunnan and work with the team since 2012,now is in charge of all the viticultural and winemaking work.

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What do you think of other wine regions in China?

I’ve been to Shandong, and Ningxia twice in the past two years, where I had many quality red wines and do feel its big improvement. Nonetheless each of them has their own problems. In Shandong, there is too much rain, the weather is so wet that the grapes cannot achieve desired maturity, but with some green flavor. It would be difficult to develop organic there. While Ningxia is always sunny, the grapes are able to accumulate enough sugar in the harvest season,but lack acidity,and their tannins cannot ripe enough. It is very cold in the winter, so grapes need to be buried to keep warm. But overall it seems fairly comforting.

 

In your opinion,what technologies can be used to make up for the inadequacy caused by the weather?

It is the same to all the regions that if there is a real dizaster, the winemaker could do nothing but learn to be strong. The weather varies considerably from June to August in Yunnan。But when it comes to the harvest season, generally from mid-September to the end of October, everyday is sunny and dry, and the grapes can achieve satisfying maturity.

This kind of cliamte is suitable for the implementation of organic management, so that’s what we do there: use Bordeaux mixture and yak manure only in the vineyard; try to minimize human intervention as possible as we can so that the grapes can gradually adapt themselves to the environment and be able to cope up with all the harsh weathers.

Currently we have only three years cultivation experience and four years operation experience there. We need much more time to master all the micro-climate changes discipline in the production area.

 

Your vineyard is 2000m high above sea level, thus sunlight would be very strong in the summer. Do you have any special vineyard management techniques (framing, pruning, etc.)?

We use VSP model, which keeps the leaves all through the growing season and cuts some in the veraison period. The leaves facing southwest will always be kept to protect grapes from strong sunlight. The climate varies every year, so pruning work must be done depending on conditions. For example, this June is cloudy, which means we don’t need to cut too much. Unlike France, thick clouds will weaken the sunlight but will not block it,nor have any impact on the growth of the grapes. It is because we are in such a high altitude. The clouds are sometimes only 100 meters above our heads(and sometimes even below us). Sunlight can always find a way to penetrate the clouds into the vineyard to ripen the grapes.

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What are the plans for the future development of the winery?
We’ll make new technical attempts such as cultivate more grape varieties, improve the pruning and grass planting work, use Chinese pottery in the fermentation and so on.

 

It is said the Chinese pottery you just mentioned have been used in making 2013 vintage of Aoyun Wine. Does it work well?

We had 40 days maceration(including fermentation), and then moved into second fermentation ( malo-lactic fermentation). 40% new french oak is used at this stage. The rest used old barrels as we normally do. But it is impossible for us to bring in barrels from France due to the inconvenient transportation. Nor could we purchase any old ones from nearby production areas, as different yeast may carry bad bacteria and cause contamination. Thus we chose to use a nuetral container, which could not add any floavor to the wine but will not add any bad effect either. The pottery was by far a satisfying choice. They are brand new,and use to hold local spirits.

 

Does Auyun use manual irrigation?

In California and Australia,the grape roots are bout 50cm long, people use drip irrigation, which means, you give grapes the exact amount what it needs. But drip irrigation will make the surface soil too hard. While in Ao Yun, the grape roots are up to 3 meters, so they can absorb more water from soil and need no irrigation. Natural rainfall is enough for them. In dry winter, we do small range of flood irrigation from time to time. In this way, we can both offer waters to the vine and avoid soil hardening.

 

3 meters’ roots? I thought Ao yun had only young vines? How do you control the quality of the grapes? (By Lu Jiang)

We call five or six years old vines young vines. But vines used to make this bottle are already 15 years old. There are many local farmers who planted grapes in this area far before we purchase the estate. At the first two years, we did a lot of research and finally planted some grapes in the last year (2015). These baby vines need time to produce qualified grapes for wine. However, the wine in front of us is made by grapes from 15 years old vine with 3 meters’ roots. 15 years old vine took half of the area of our current vineyard.

In the past, farmers sell grapes to the winery by weight. So you can imagine, the only thing they care about is yields. After we came, we tell the villagers how to work through an interpreter, stay in complete control of quality and rationalize ourselves. We did a lot work here, for example we introduced rootstock grafting. Fisrt, this can improve grape quality. Second, it can prevent Phylloxera——no signs of it now, but once it occurs,it would be a disaster. We analyze the composition and structure of the soil and chose the most suitable rootstock. If the rootstocks do improve the quality, we’ll replant all the old vines.

 

So actually you have studied the vineyards since long ago?
Yes,we started to plant grapes in 2015,but begun to communicate with local government since 2012,and have been studying the field since 2008,8 years ago.

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Currently how many varieties are planted in the vineyards?
Mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot,Petit Verdot and some tested verities. Besides that, we planned to try Shira and Malbec, but stays undecided.

Does Domaine Chandon Ningxia purchase from COFCO Corporation Grape Seedling Base too?( By Lu Jiang)

yes!

 

How do you determine the time for Aoyun to come into the market officailly?
Its quality has been repeatedly confirmed that it can meet our strict requirements. Its performance is always stable. It is widely praised by all the international heavyweights in wine industry whom we sent the wine to. They all recognize it as a unique and great Cab, and the best wine in China. At this point, we thought we are ready to bring it to the market.

 

Could you describe Aoyun from your point of view?

It’s the new interpretation of Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep color, with both fresh fruit and ripe fruit characteristics. Freshness and lively acidity is from the unique terroir. Many people would think of Pauillac the first time they smell it,with similar aroma like cigar, tabacco and cedar. While someone find it more like California wines, very fruity, delicious, full-bodied. For me it’s somewhere in between. The tannin is as elegant and structured as I expected. In a word, we don’t want to cater to a growing demand fo strong wines, but a sophisticated and graceful wine, the wine that can represent the sacred mountain and its terroir.

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AOYUN 2013  Tasting note (By Maxime LU)

Intense with ripe black fruit flavors, violets and western spices, revealing a trace of smoke and dark chocolate. Full-bodied and crisp, fruity-forward, with strong and converged tannins and delicate texture. Balanced, in the last part you can feel it slight alcoholic. Tobacco and spices can be found in the long finish, Alc.=15%, Ph=3.55

You can still tell that it’s from new world, but indeed elegant. I must say it’s good. As for the price, you can listen to either LVMH ( because of the high cost, more than Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau D’yquem) or some critics(almost as expensive as Chateau Cheval Blanc and Opus one, so unreasonable), or just keep quiet, wait and see how it will behave in the market.

Maxime LU