(May 2017) Recently I was asked to teach a Master class in Shanghai, China entitled “Top Wines of America.” It was scheduled from 7 to 9pm at the Hyatt Regency, and all 34 seats in the class were filled with young Chinese wine professionals. Most were working in the industry as wine retailers, marketers, or educators. There were also a few importers and winemakers in the class.
The hosts of the Wine100 Competition organized the master class and arranged for the wines to be available for the event. They requested that I select 8 highly rated wine brands that were available in the Chinese market, and that could represent the major wine-producing states of California, Washington, Oregon and New York.
My translator was Melody, who had graduated from the WSET Diploma program, so she knew wine quite well. We began with a 30-minute overview of the history and statistics of American wine, and then spent some time describing the climate and soil of the four major wine regions we would be tasting (See Powerpoint below, which includes Chinese translation).
Line-Up of Top 8 American Wines
We tasted through the following eight wines, and then I asked everyone to vote by a show of hand for their two favorites. Following are the results:
- Forge Dry Riesling 2015 New York Finger Lakes = 3
- Kistler Vine Hill Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Russian River = 11
- Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 = 13
- Kosta Browne Pinot Noir 2014 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Vineyard = 11
- Turley Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 = 6
- Opus One 2012 = 10
- Harlan The Maiden 2000 = 8
- Cayuse Syrah 2010, Cailloux Vineyard = 6
The Winning Wine from Oregon
So Domaine Serene Pinot Noir from Oregon ended up edging out the others by a couple of points. Though this wasn’t a scientific poll in anyway, and cannot be generalized, it was interesting to see the results. They reflect an observation that was shared with me before arriving in China: that younger Chinese are beginning to show a penchant for pinot noir, over the more tannic cabernet blends that their parents usually drink. So perhaps we are starting to see a shift in palate preferences….