Translated to “roaming above the clouds,” Ao Yun is set to take on the world of wine.
The label has impressed wine enthusiasts and reviewers who had a chance to taste it early this year.
Food and Wine Editor Ray Isle, wrote “the 2013 Ao Yun red tastes pretty damn impressive.”
That seems like high praise and it should, because the bottle is currently priced at $300.
Roaming above the clouds
Ao Yun is produced at Moët-Hennessy’s winery in the Yunnan region of China, a series of remote and craggy aeries where the grapes are grown.
It’s an impressive looking mountain terroir, with steeply terraced vineyards that reach as high up as 2,600m. That’s probably why it’s called Ao Yun.
At 2,600m above sea level, the terroir enjoys extraordinary temperature variations and an intense concentration of sunlight. These are perfect conditions for growing grapes with thick skins and lots of anthocyanin. It can produce well-balanced reds that aren’t too rich for the palate.
It’s also important to note that the flowering time for the harvest there is around 160 – 170 days. It’s usually only 100-110 days in other parts of the world and Bordeaux’s is about 110.
The red journey
Getting to Yunnan is as much of a journey as the production of the wine.
From Shangri-La city in the Yunnan province, it will take about four hours on rough roads to get to the Adong vineyards, high up in the upper Mehkong River Valley.
Once you get there, the challenge only gets tougher. Electricity at the winery goes out often. This made it difficult to use electronic equipment that make the winemaking process smoother and easier. According to Decanter, the winemakers ended up doing the destemming by hand. The wines were placed in used amphorae, because the fermentation vats didn’t arrive in time for the vintage.
Considering the many challenges on producing Ao Yun, it really does sound like it was quite an adventure to make. It’s a good selling point for the label that has the potential to attract wine enthusiasts, especially the adventurous ones who are seeking exciting new tastes.
The expensive taste
The Ao Yun blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% percent Cabernet Franc. It’s an elegant red with a silky smooth texture, ripe fruity and spicy flavours, along with a hint of licorice. It has a lot of tannins so it can age for a long time and it’s perfect to pair with a braised rib centered dinner.
This new label officially makes its way to retailers in September and with only 24,000 bottles in existence, the $300 price tag could go up pretty soon. Many believe it will finally put China on the world wine map, alongside America and Australia, as premier regions that grow wine outside of France.