I have been on a major wine kick over the last 2 months and it's helped that in Beijing, we can get at least 2 or 3 extremely good wine tasting per month (usually free
As far as Chinese wines go, there are a couple of quality products out there for a decent price point but competition is fierce. The Better local wines are from:
- Grace Vineyards: entry level at 60 RMB for cab-sauv, merlot and chard. their grand reserve retails for 250+ RMB and is good but nowhere near 250 RMB good. Their wines are fairly "new world" but that's normal considering their winemaker is from australia
- Xi XIA: decent cab retailing for 45RMB. Full bodied and quite enjoyable. The price point here is competitive.
- Chateau Bolongbao: Organic wines made for export by the French. Tasty but extremely pricy at 300+ per bottle.
- Catai: Like Grace, these guys make a mean red and it's quite full bodied. The winemaker is sicilian and he knows what he's doing. It's one of the best values on the Beijing market at 45 RMB per bottle.
- Dragon Seal: compares favorably with the californian wines and they have a whole range of prices/products. Their mid-range at 70RMB is strong but not competitive.
I can't keep track of Great Wall anymore. There are 14 different vineyards all using a variation of that name in English with decent stuff and crappy stuff... goota try them individually.
In Beijing, we are a bit spoiled in wines so I don't drink Chinese brands as much as i used to. For easy drinking, I would go for:
Signos Shiraz (argentina): 50RMB at most retail outlets... just entered the market this year and it's pretty darn solid. Needs 1/2 hour at least to breathe properly.
Waltzing Wine (OZ): around 48RMB for different types. Cab/Merlot blend, Shiraz, Cab, Chard. Really good value if you can find it. The store next to my office sells out on a regular basis.
Louis Edward Philipe (chili): about 48 RMB right now... amazing deal, especially for their carmenere. beats the hell out of any other wine at the same price point. One of the few new world wines I've had with distinct old world characteristics.
So, that's for the brands. In terms of grapes, I must say I'm enjoying rediscovering new ones right now. Granache from spain is amazing (Sangre de Toro at 90+ RMB), I'll take that over a Rioja any day.
Also, Carmenere is going up my list. It's a really old and noble grape that was almost extinct but it's making a comeback thanks to Chili. 300 or 400 years ago, Carmenere is where it was at.. it was DA BOMB.. but too difficult to deal with in European climate. It thrived in south America where initially, people confused it with Merlot.
If you're in Beijing and like wine, give me a buzz, i'll hook u up. Over the next weeks, I will be doing a videoblog with exclusively Chinese reds between the 20 - 100 RMB price range. It'd be good to have a few persons giving an opinion.