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Chandon reports success with ‘China-adapted’ sparkling wine

The fine-tuned sparkling wine Chandon China, Moet Hennessy’s sparkling wine operation in Ningxia, has created just for the Chinese market has proven a success and claims to be the “first sparkling wine that can be enjoyed at room temperature,” according to the brand’s estate manager.

Su Long, estate manager at Chandon China, in Ningxia

Su Long, estate manager of the Domaine Chandon in Helan Mountain East in northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, revealed that the sparkling wine range the winery has engineered for Chinese wine drinkers contained a much higher dosage, and claims to be the “first sparkling wine that can be enjoyed at room temperature.”

Named ‘Chandon Me’, the wine range was launched in 2017 and plays on the phonetic sound of ‘Me’, which sounds similar to the Chinese character 蜜 meaning sweetness.

Compared with the winery’s regular brut range with a dosage of 11g/l, Chandon Me’s dosage stands at 45g/l, and it has been, according to Su, performing much better than the brut range, in the knowledge that Chinese drinkers in general prefer a higher level of sweetness.

“Chinese drinkers, whether they are drinking baijiu (a grain-based liquor), beer or wine, pay more attention to mouthfeel rather than aromas. They smell it, take a sip, and whether they want to swallow it or spit it out, that’s the most important thing.

“This is also why we developed this wine. For Chinese drinkers, once they take a sip, naturally they start to drink it. But if it’s brut, it’s too acidic and its first impression is harder for them to accept,” Su explained.

The wine now accounts for 30% of Domaine’s Chandon’s annual wine sales (400,000 bottles), which are sold only domestically, the estate manager revealed, adding that its growth has been impressive.

“Before 2017 we only had brut, then we started some innovations and will launch more products that are adapted for the Chinese tastes,” he said when interviewed at the winery in Ningxia.

Chandon Me, the sparkling wine that Chandon China devised just for the Chinese market, comes with 45 grams of sugar per litre

Additionally, the wine can also be served at room temperature without ice buckets, a key feature of the bubbles the winery devised given the lack of adequate glassware and ice buckets in most local Chinese restaurants.

“Sometimes when you go for wines in Chinese restaurants, there aren’t adequate wine accessories such as glassware or ice buckets, and you have to adapt to these conditions,” Su commented, explaining on a key motive behind the innovation, which primarily targets on-trade sales.

The fine-tuning, however, according to Su, is normal as a way of innovation and adaptation, listing examples with Chandon Australia and Chandon California.

Opened in 2013, Chandon China is among the first foreign-funded wineries taking roots into Ningxia, a burgeoning wine region at the time, which in a way promoted the local government to invest and grow its wine industry.

Planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, the winery currently has over 1,000 mu (67 ha) of vineyards.

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