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Monday 1 September 2014

Grace begins sparkling experiments

3rd June, 2014 by Rupert Millar

Grace Vineyard in Shanxi province is making its first experiments with sparkling wine although it has no plans to commercialise the results just yet.

GraceSpeaking at the first ever vertical of Grace’s “Chairman Reserve” at last week’s Vinexpo, CEO Judy Chan (pictured), said that only 3,000 bottles of “Angeline” (named after one of her daughters) had been made.

She explained that the decision to make the blanc de blancs sparkler had been reached after a suggestion from winemaker Ken Murchison that a block of Chardonnay “that never got ripe” would make a good base for a sparkling wine.

The wine, a 2009 vintage, has been made using methode traditionelle and is still on its lees at Grace’s cellar. As yet the winemaking team cannot decide whether it should be extra brut or given a small dosage.

“Half want it to be 0 grams and the other half want to add 6g,” Murchison laughed as he spoke to the drinks business.

He added that it was possible that they would experiment with different levels of dosage on the remaining bottles.

A sample of the wine was added to the vertical and drew wide praise from the attendees, including Robert Joseph who suggested that while extra brut was a crowd pleaser among sommeliers and the trade, “a small dosage” would make it more appealing to consumers.

Chan however, told db that she did not think it would be “commercially viable” at the moment as sparkling wine is not popular enough in China and the small volumes “aren’t enough to cover our costs if we try and sell in Hong Kong or Macau.”

Nonetheless, she said she was going to “see what happens in Shandong” and suggested that enlarging the sparkling production could happen if the market for it began to pick up.

One Response to “Grace begins sparkling experiments”

  1. George Potter says:

    The “commercial viability” depends on what the sale price per bottle would be. In Spain, very high quality Cavas and other sparkling wines sell for around $20.00 US, and the same brands sell outside – USA, UK and other countries for aound $35.00 to $40.00, depending on duties, etc. What the going prices are in China I do not know, but Mrs. Chan could take note of some of the prices for these wines, as well as Champagne, in order to establish her niche as the pioneer sparkling wine maker in the country. As for production, I know a winery here that bottled 350 Brut Nature Reserve of one recent vintage, so numbers are not necessarily that important. However, if production figures are primary, maybe she should look at Freixenet or Codorniu, or maybe J. Carcía Carrion.
    I am presently writing a book in English on Cava and other quality sparkling wines made in Spain. And although numbers here are important, so is quality.

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