Marselan Again?

Welcome to EDITION 744 of GRAPEVINE

Today is the final day of judging for the eighth annual Decanter Asia Wine Awards.

Six of us vice-chairs (one had to leave last night for Italy) will taste the Gold Medals harvested over three days of judging from 3, 4, 5 September.

Judging flights of Chinese wine including red Bordeaux blends dominated by cabernet sauvignon and marselan on Tuesday, it was quite obvious which of the two types of wine has the advantage over the other.

I say this not as a one-off but having tasted Chinese wine for more than 30 years.

And have been – for Decanter World Wine Awards in London – Regional Chair of wines from China, India & Japan since that competition started in 2004. The fact I have also been covering those three countries for Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine Book allows me many opportunities to learn about their wines.

Cabernet sauvignon struggles to ripen phenonically in China. It does so better in Ningxia but that is still a struggle. The grapes may achieve alcohol ripeness of up to 15% but it is difficult to achieve a peacock spread of phenolic, fulsome, varietal expression.

Marselan – a crossing between cabernet sauvignon and grenache developed in 1961 by late French agronomist Paul Truel – has no such problem.

The grapes are fully ripened and have a whole palette of fruity hues, including violets, blueberries, cassis, cherries …

In many cases, less oak and lower extractions would produce even more tingling wines. But that’s just misguided winemaking. Good plant material is already there in the first place.

In the last two consecutive years, the highest scoring Chinese wines at Decanter Asia Wine Awards have been marselan.


Gold & Platinum Medals in Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2018

Chateau Zhongfei Caring Nature Barrel Aged Marselan 2016

Gold & Platinum Medals in Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2017

Tasya’s Reserve Marselan 2015


Let’s see what today will bring.

Wishing you A Very Good Weekend.

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