Ok, I know ninjas are Japanese. And we’re always the bad guys in Chinese kung fu movies. But still… this Wine Ninja was excited to spy this Changyu Chinese wine on a covert reconnoissance mission of the Sainsbury’s wine isle. Chinese wine! What a gift! The Drunken Master’s nectar itself.
But enough with the martial arts stereotypes (I like kung fu, ok, what you gonna do?) — did this Noble Dragon have me breathing fire?
Up until this point, I’d never tasted Chinese wine (the last Chinese alcohol I’d had was a liqueur a friend brought back from Shanghai, which tasted of cow manure). And I deliberately didn’t read the label so that, like walking into a cinema knowing nothing about the film, I’d have no preconceptions.
First impression: it smelled like a hell’s angel’s jacket: black leather, tobacco smoke, an oily motorbike chain. In more wine-related parlance: it reminded me of cabernet sauvignon. I liked it! And on finally reading the label, I realised my estimation was (at least partially) correct. It’s made with Cabernet Gernischt (a relative of Carménère), and also contains Cab Sauv and Cab Franc.
Part of the reason I bought this wine was that I was fed up with generically oaky reds. I’ve had too much boring Rioja and Malbec recently that all tastes the same. Here, oak integration is good — it’s only been in oak for six months. And on the palate, as well as the usual dark fruit, a more unusual, woody flavour of… furniture polish.
Yep, I realise these aren’t the most appetising of descriptions, but I did enjoy this. Although it’s only 12% volume, it tastes full bodied and a whole bottle to yourself might be a bit much unless paired with the right food. The tannins are solid but not overpowering, and I’d advise fans of Bordeaux’s Cab Sauvignon blends (with whom this wine shares a heritage) to give it a try.
Apparently, Changyu is the oldest and the most famous winery in China, operating since 1892. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to try it. Look out for more undercover missions to exotic regions soon.
4 NINJA STARS
Changyu Noble Dragon Chinese Wine, 2013. 12% vol. £10.
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