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Changyu branches out into the UK

2013-05-28 14:40 China Daily     Web Editor: qindexing comment
Founded by Zhang Bishi in 1892, Changyu has grown to be one of China's best known wine producers. Provided to China Daily

Founded by Zhang Bishi in 1892, Changyu has grown to be one of China's best known wine producers. Provided to China Daily

Chinese milestone wine comes in red, gold, black and blue to the British market

Britain's oldest wine merchant has announced that it will permanently stock four wines produced by a Chinese winemaker, a milestone for the winemaker's emergence onto the world stage.

Berry Bros, founded in 1948 and a supplier to the royal family, is the first big British retailer to stock Chinese wines permanently, following Le Groupe Castel of France and Delhaize of Belgium in recent years.

The four Changyu Pioneer Wine Co wines on offer are Chateau Changyu Moser XV at 39 pounds ($59) and three ice wines, the Gold, Blue and Black Label, at 19 pounds, 35 pounds and 65 pounds, respectively.

Mark Pardoe, Berry Bros' wine-buying director, expects the Changyu wines to attract the curiosity of Britain's wine lovers, who have historically been interested in wines from new regions.

"The UK wine market is one of the most diverse in the world because the UK does not have a big wine producing industry," Pardoe said.

"So when a new wine-producing region starts to appear, people are always very interested."

Chateau Changyu Moser XV is produced from European grape varieties of cabernet sauvignon and merlot with European quality control methods, he said.

"Different from most other wines produced in China, Chateau Changyu Moser XV is developed for the export market," Pardoe said. "We've made sure it suits the European palate."

Chateau Changyu Moser XV is developed in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region jointly between Changyu and the Austrian winemaker Lenz Moser, whose family has run wineries for 15 generations.

Moser, who founded the wine brand development agency TxB Fine Wines, originally ventured to China in 2005 with a view to exporting European wines to China. Instead, he realized the potential of Chinese wines.

His company has since worked extensively with the Changyu team to develop wines suitable for the European standard, of which Chateau Changyu Moser XV is one.

Pardoe said the grape varieties of cabernet sauvignon and merlot are originally from Bordeaux.

They were planted by Changyu when it was founded in the 1890s, but initially the crops did not grow very well.

When Moser went to Changyu, he identified the best pockets of the grapes out of what was available, and helped grow them the Bordeaux way, Pardoe said.

This new method of pruning the crops reduced the number of grapes produced to just a quarter of the previous quantity, to ensure the harvested grapes are more "concentrated and flavorsome".

"When the vines are dormant in the winter, you cut them to give you the number of branches you'd like to grow each year. But later on, if the branches grow very fast because of weather conditions, you have to cut them more."

After the grapes are harvested, Moser's team ages them for 12 months in oak barrels of 225 liters each, to produce a robust and full-bodied wine. These barrels are produced in France and imported by Changyu.

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