In 2010, China dominated the headlines in most popular wine publications. The rise of the Chinese wine consumer has caused the top Bordeaux chateaus to increase in price more than gold or crude oil. Two of the top chateaus have paid homage to the new role of the Chinese consumer on their labels. Château Lafite Rothschild decided to emboss the Chinese symbol for "8" (八) on bottles of their 2008 vintage that are exported to China. The number eight is very auspicious in China; which is why the Beijing Olympics opened on 08/08/08. Shortly after the Lafite decision, Château Mouton Rothschild announced that Chinese artist Xu Lei would would design the 2008 label. In both cases, these simple announcements caused the prices to jump overnight.
With the newfound interest in expensive imported wine, some unscrupulous Chinese have taken advantage of the boom by counterfeiting wine. Reuters reported that Chinese officials have cracked down on those that produce counterfeit wines. So far, 30 wineries have been closed for producing counterfeit products. Expect to keep seeing China in the wine headlines.
One thing that is not mentioned about China is the real wines that it produces. China even has two pages of its own in The World Atlas of Wine, but hardly a word about what the vineyards produce exists in the popular wine publications or wine blogs. Chinese wine is hard to come buy in the U.S., so when I saw a bottle of Dragon's Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay sitting on the shelf of a local wine shop, I didn't hesitate to take it home. If China is going to become a real part of the wine industry, it is going to have become a producer in addition to a consumer.
2005 Dragon's Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay, Eastern Foot of the He Lan Mountain Appellation, China
When I decided to make a Chinese stir fry (or something resembling that), I figured that there could be no better pairing than an actual Chinese wine. I popped the cork, poured a small glass to make sure that the wine wasn't bad and then added a splash to the veggies in the wok. This slightly aged unoaked Chardonnay is a clear golden-yellow. The aroma is reminiscent of something between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Vouvray. Lemons, apples, and flowers are noticeable on the nose. Granny Smith apples, melon and a touch of lemon zest fill out the taste profile from first sip to the last glass three hours later. Not bad but not great; it works but I don't see myself buying another. China has the foundation, but still a long way to go to meet the quality of what is in demand. 12.5% abv Purchased $11. Average(tasted 1/6/11)