If Chinese wines are not yet on your radar, they need to be.
According to Wikipedia, wine has an ancient history in China. These days, long overshadowed by huangjiu ("yellow wine") and the much stronger distilled spirit baijiu, wine consumption has grown dramatically since the economic reforms of the 1980s. Ties with French producers are especially strong and Ningxia wines have received international recognition.
Ningxia's Jade Vineyard is located amongst the eastern foothills of Helan Mountain beside Yinchuan city. At an altitude of 1,180 meters established on a wide spread of virgin land, 15 hectares from an initial 22 hectares were selected to be cultivated as premium vineyards.
These promising fields are vital to the winery's vision of producing top quality wines. Using international standards and the highest environmental requirements, Jade Vineyards' dream is to express the vibrant characteristics of the Chinese countryside, crafting premium Jade Vineyard Chinese wines with international flair.
As one of the rising fine wine regions in China, Ningxia is attracting ever more domestic and international investors and winemakers.
Jade Vineyard, which recently completed its brand-new chateau, is one of the bold new challengers. The estate produces 70,000 to 80,000 bottles of wine each year which have been enthusiastically received by international critics.
The IWSC gave the 2017 Hyacinth Cabernet Sauvignon 95 points and praised its harmony and “excellent winemaking”; at the IWSC 2020
Jade was awarded the “Wine Discovery 2019” Trophy.
Jade Vineyard’s owner is Emma Ding and her winemaker is Shuzhen Zhou.
The wines for this tasting were all international varieties in an international style; like a classic rock tribute act, these wines all clearly showed their influences.
Anyone expecting some "Chinese character" (whatever that may be) in the wines would be been disappointed, but only momentarily as all the wines were well-made from good fruit and technically impressive.
Consistency was high and if there was a family resemblance, it was all about the elegance and harmoniousness. For me the stand-out wines were the first (and only) white, an excellent Burgundy lookalike and the final red, a complex and intense oaked Merlot in the style of a top Right Bank Bordeaux.
Aria White 2019
Classy Burgundian Chardonnay
100% Chardonnay, 13.9%, 8 months in French barrels
white flowers, honeysuckle, vanilla and sweet spices, custard and pastries, citrus; orchard fruits, melon and tropical citrus, creamy oatmeal, delicately toasted oak, brazil nut, spiciness and saline minerality; harmonious, complex, elegant and long.
Still very youthful.
Baked, aged Bordeaux blend
70% CS, 30% M, 14.6%; 10 months in SS with oak treatment
bramble fruits, coffee grounds, tomato leaf, old leather and earthiness, aged savoury complexity and oaky spice; harmonious, supple and and savoury with baked plums, soy, cocoa, coffee grounds, oaky spices and minerality; very fine and well-integrated tannins.
In good form, if showing its age.
Fresh, Loire-esque red
14.2%, 10 months in SS with oak treatment
fresh black cherries and blackberries, raspberry leaf, minty sage and spices; fresh, ripe dark berry fruits, toasty-oaky spices and very fine, well-integrated tannins with saline minerality; supple and inky very good underpinnings.
Still fresh and youthful.
Mature and Bordeaux-esque
100% CS, 14.2%, 15 months in French oak barrels
baked bramble fruits, cocoa and coffee grounds, oaky spice and earthy mushrooms; sweet, ripe baked bramble fruits, minty eucalyptus, fresh with very fine, harmonious and rounded tannins; savoury with good underpinnings and saline minerality.
At a peak.
Aria Reserve 2015
100% CS, 14.2%, 80% aged in new French barrels for 14 months
primary blackcurrants, black cherries and black olives with grilled notes, toasty spices and dried green herbs; fresh bramble fruits, savoury-leesy earthy mushrooms and old leather; inky, custardy texture, adept and harmonious with fine, rounded tannins and good underpinnings.
Ready for drinking but not yet at a peak.
Jiangshan Single Merlot 2019
100% Merlot, 18 months aging in French barrels
complex and savoury with oaky spice, raspberries, blackberries and black cherries, woodsy undergrowth and sous bois; plush, inky, dense, concentrated and fresh with dark cherry fruit, cool mint and a custardy texture; very fine, harmonious tannins.
Still primary and youthful.
By Adam Lechmere for Club Oenologique: Life Lessons with Emma Ding of Jade Vineyard - Club Oenologique