Wine from China

 Grace Vineyard, Shanxi Province, China

Grace Vineyard was established by a wealthy Hong Kong businessman, a Mr CK Chan, in 1997.  The basic premise would seem to be that it is a French vineyard, with French vines and a French winery, with French winemaking skills making French wines, albeit in China.  And if you have enough money to throw at the project, then you can pull it off. 

This is probably helped by the location of the 68 hectare vineyards – apparently broadly on the same latitude as Bordeaux – on the Taigu plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in the Shanxi Province in north China.  The vineyards lie at around 870-950 metres above sea level on deep sandy loam soils.  The climate, though, is more continental than Bordeaux with a summer diurnal temperature range of around 20ºC.  Grapes currently grown are Cabernet Franc (24%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (38%), Chardonnay (8%) and small amounts of both Chenin Blanc and Riesling.  Harvest begins in August and lasts until mid October.  The grapes are handpicked and after pressing, fermented in separate tanks according to location and grade.

Currently nine wines are produced, three in each of three quality levels : Flower Series (Rosé, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon); Bronze Series (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Winemakers Selection [a Bordeaux blend]); Gold Series (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot).

The wines I tasted were bottled under the Tasya label, as there already being several Grace Vineyards around the world, in England, Oregon and, of course, Henschke's Hill of Grace Vineyard in Australia.

Scores are out of 10.

2003 Tasya Flower Series Chardonnay, 12%
After a light-pressing, the grapes were cold macerated for four hours, then underwent low-temperature fermentation in stainless steel tanks.  The wine was then aged in stainless steel for five months before bottling.
A fairly standard Chardonnay nose: fresh buttery with some citrus fruits.  A fresh, round and fruity young vine chardonnay.  Very Good.                                                                           6+

2002 Tasya Bronze Series Pinot Noir, 12.5%
The grapes were selected and de-stemmed, then crushed before cold maceration, followed by alcoholic fermentation, cooling and malolactic fermentation.  The wine spent 20 months in stainless steel before bottling.
A very pale colour, almost like a very deep rosé.  Full, fresh, fruity pinot noir nose.  Good fruit on the palate, very soft and silky with a nice structure.  Quite a pure fruit.  A simple, fresh pinot noir.  Very Good.    7(-)

2002 Tasya Gold Series Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5%
After fermentation, 50% of the wine was aged in new oak barrels and 50% in one year old barrels, both for twelve months.
Quite a light nose.  Light, clean flavours on the palate.  Not especially cabernetty.  Good.           5

2001 Tasya Bronze Series Winemaker's Selection, 12.5%
A blend of 50% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon and 30% cabernet franc aged in oak for six months.
A simple rounded nose – nice and attractive.  Round and clean in the mouth.  Softish tannins.  Light for a Bordeaux blend, but very approachable.  Very Good.                                      6+

2002 Tasya Gold Series Merlot, 12.5%
After de-stemming, cold maceration and fermentation, half of the wine was aged in new oak and half in one year old oak, both for twelve months.
A rather curious nose for a merlot: very much dominated by cedar notes, but also very chocolatey.  Fairly soft and round.  Not a bad wine, but a bit of an atypical merlot.  Good.           4+

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Last updated: 15 December 2005