London on-trade going wild for White CabernetBy Lucy Shaw
We’ve had White Zinfandel and now White Cabernet is poised for its moment in the sun as hip London restaurants like Sexy Fish and Brasserie of Light get behind the wine.
Championing the innovative new wine style is Lenz Moser, chief winemaker of Château Changyu Moser XV in China’s Ningxia province in the northwest of the country.
Moser makes a White Cabernet from grapes grown at the 250-hectare estate, which marries the fruitiness of a Cabernet with the freshness of a white wine. According to Moser, who first made White Cabernet in his homeland of Austria, the quirky wine is going down a storm at some of London’s trendiest restaurants.
“I’ve been blown away by the success of our White Cabernet. I think people like it because it’s something different that no other producer is doing at the moment. We made 120,000 bottles in our first year and have never looked back. We’ve made a name for ourselves for our pursuit of innovation and pushing new things.
“The London on-trade has really embraced the wine, which is on sale by the glass at places like Sexy Fish and Brasserie of Light at Selfridges.
“We market it in China as the red wine lover’s white wine. White wines are being increasingly embraced in China. The interest in Champagne is on the rise as the Chinese like the chic lifestyle associations attached with it,” Moser told db.
Hoping to capitalise on the success of his White Cabernet, Moser is soon to launch a barrel aged White Cabernet that spends a year in new French oak.
“For the first run we’ve made 1,500 bottles as a teaser, but plan on making 24,000 bottles next year. The wine tastes more like white Burgundy than a white Bordeaux.
“We need to keep innovating and surprising people – the Chinese market has been encouragingly open to innovation,” Moser said.
Also in the pipeline at Château Changyu Moser XV us an icon wine that aims to take on the best in China, which hasn’t been named yet.
“The icon wine will debut with the 2016 vintage and we’re planning on holding the launch at La Mamounia hotel in Morocco this October. It’s an estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon from Ningxia that spends two years in new French oak.
“It will be priced in the UK at around £150 a bottle and £300 on restaurant wine lists – our main target for the wine is high-end restaurants and hotels around the world, along with luxury retailers like Harrods and Hedonism in London.
“I wanted to make 8,888 bottles of the wine as eight is a lucky number in China, but there wasn’t enough after the barrel selection, so we’ve made 6,666 bottles instead,” Moser said.
“The wine has an Old World profile and is relatively shy – it’s not a blockbuster red on steroids. It’s elegant and fruit forward with hints of chocolate.
“Chinese wine is all about peppery spicy aromas. Our berries are very small, so the wines are concentrated, but not over-extracted as I’m keen to preserve the freshness that comes from 1,1100m altitude,” he added.
Changyu’s top export markets are the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and Finland. Moser has just launched the brand in Australia and will bring it to Canada later this year.
Due to the ongoing trade war between the US and China, Moser has yet to be able to sell his wines in America, but is hopeful the dispute will soon be resolved.
“With Trump having imposed 25% punitive tariffs on Chinese wine imports into the US, it makes it almost impossible to compete. But I’m optimistic that the dispute will be resolved soon, and we’re ready to go into the US when it is.
“We’ve just launched the Changyu Moser range in China, having debuted in the brand in the UK three years ago. We always planned to launch in Europe first as having the European seal of approval in China is really important,” Moser said.