Ao Yun raises the bar for Chinese wine

Chris Losh

Chris Losh

21 June 2016

Moët Hennessy has unveiled the latest addition to its fine wine portfolio – a Chinese red wine for £225 RRP a bottle.

Billed as China’s first fine wine, Ao Yun, which means ‘flying above the clouds’ comes from remote villages 2,500m up in the slopes of the Himalayas, near the border with Myanmar and India.

As well as battling with villagers who have no experience of managing top-end vineyards, the isolation of the vineyards has also had an effect on how the wine is made.

‘This really is basic winemaking,’ said Jean-Guillaume Prats, president and CEO of Moët Hennessy’s wine division. ‘If something breaks down and you need a new part for the winery it can take nine hours to get it there.’

It’s very different from Cos d’Estournel, where Prats spent 18 years in charge before joining Moët Hennessy.

The wine is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, but the big story is the unique growing environment rather than the varietal make-up.

The vineyards are at the same latitude as southern Morocco, but are 2,500m above sea level, meaning intense levels of UV exposure, big diurnal shifts in temperature and an extraordinarily long growing season. From flowering to harvest is 160 days, with picking taking place in November.

The result is a wine with intensity, aromatic lift and inherent freshness, but also far softer tannins and a more savoury core than Imbibe was expecting. Launched initially in export markets rather than in China, it will be a strong addition to the lists of top-end restaurants with a wealthy clientele.

‘It’s an extraordinary privilege to be able to look after this project,’ said Prats. ‘It really is a wine that has no comparison.’

Moët Hennessy UK, 020 7808 4400

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