I went to a weird wine tasting a few days ago. The event was called “Around the World in 80 Sips,” so presumably they were going for an international theme, but the wines represented were mostly from well–known, higher–end Oregon and California labels, plus a handful of local biodynamic / organic / sustainable wines. The international side of things seemed to show up in a few Australian wines, until I found a booth offering Chinese and Lebanese wines.
The Lebanese wines, from a winery called Château Musar, were made with some unique grapes, but were ultimately so severely tannic and sharp that I knew they’d likely never soften up. One I tried was from 1999, and if it still tastes like it was just drawn from the barrel after 10 years, I’d say it’s time to give up on it.
More interesting were the Chinese wines, which were absolutely vile. I tried two samples from the winery, Dragon’s Hollow, which claims to be one of the first wineries in China producing a “high quality grape wine.” I know that it takes times for new countries to enter the wine game and learn about how best to grow wine in a new region via trial-and-error, but it’s still a mistake to release your wines if they’re clearly not up to snuff. A 2006 Chardonnay tasted sour, vinegar-y, and had a slightly moldy scent. I could have mistaken it for $4 Central Valley jug wine, except it was possibly worse. The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was bitter and tasted like peppercorns and red bell peppers had been mashed up and left in a vat to ferment.
China, take your time. Stick to low-priced, poor-quality consumer goods until you’ve got this wine business figured out, alright?