More than 1,000 fine wine lovers in China had the chance to meet their favourite winemakers and taste over 600 wines at the fourth Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter.
The sold-out tasting was held on 18 November at The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong.
This year, Decanter partnered with the California Wine Institute for the first time to showcase the best of what the Golden State has to offer. Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel were chosen as the main grape varieties to be featured.
A selection of highly rated iconic wines from the region have also been selected to present to visitors with only a limited of 20 pours available each. Guests had to register their interest for the chance to win a ticket to taste one of the icon wines, which included:
· Screaming Eagle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2014
· Harlan Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2012
· Louis Martini Lot 1, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2003 & 2013
· Heitz Cellar, Martha’s Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 1997
· Scarecrow, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2013
· Opus One, Napa Valley 2013
The day started with a masterclass of Château Margaux, with Thibault Pontallier, global ambassador and Philippe Bascaules, general manager.
Attendees enjoyed a vertical of six vintages of the Bordeaux First Growth’s grand vin plus Pavillon Blanc and Pavillon Rouge. Tickets for this masterclass were sold out within a week after tickets went on sale.
Pontallier told Decanter, ‘The level of engagement in the room was incredible. You can tell from the questions that people ask. We see in China that people really know and appreciate what they are drinking. I think Margaux suits the palate here. And it is wonderful to see the excitement and enthusiasm.’
Bascaules added, ‘It is always a great pleasure to share these great wines with such an engaged and enthusiastic Decanter audience in Shanghai. The event was incredibly well organised. We were delighted to be invited and involved in this amazing Shanghai Encounter.’
In a separate masterclass, Bodegas Muga shared wines spanning across four decades, including its Gran Reserva 1976. Other wines tasted include Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1991, 2001, 2004 and 2010, and Muga Reserva Selección Especial 2005 and 2009.
Eduardo Muga, co-owner and third generation family member, said, ‘It is the perfect place not only to showcase our wines, but also to taste. There is a great selection of wines from around the world.’
Decanter’s North America correspondent, William Kelley, presented classic Cabernet Sauvignon from five of California’s top wine producers, and explored two vintages separated by a decade or more. Attendees tasted wines from Silver Oak, Ridge, Diamond Creek Vineyards, Heitz Cellar, and Vérite.
François Perrin, owner of Château de Beaucastel and joint-Decanter Man of the Year 2014, hosted the next masterclass in the afternoon and presented a vertical of excellent vintages, including 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015 vintages of Château de Beaucastel and Hommage à Jacques Perrin.
Perrin said, ‘We were very proud to present our Hommage à Jacques Perrin vertical, and here I met many [Chinese] consumers who are interested in our wines and winemaking. It’s so different than 10 years ago – the questions we received during the masterclass have been very sophisticated.’
At the same time, Andrew Caillard MW, Langton’s curator, guided attendees with some of the best wines from Australia’s top producers, including Penfolds, Henschke, Clonakilla, Wynns, Cullen, Moss Wood, Clarendon Hills, Chris Ringland, Jim Barry, and the 1880 vintage of Seppeltsfield Para. All eight wines are rated as Exceptional in the Langton’s Classification.
Caillard said, ‘This was my first time at the Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter and I was thrilled to be part of it. What I particularly loved about it was the enthusiasm and passion of the people who attended.’
On top of the five masterclasses, in the grand tasting, attendees could taste 600 fine wines from over 100 producers, from a variety of countries and wine regions, including France, Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Chile and Argentina. There was also the opportunity to taste medal winning wines from this year’s Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA).
Nicolas Heath from Taylor’s Port, noted that ‘many visitors return year and year. Some had already tasted some of our wines and they have returned to taste others to make more discoveries.’
Hans Astrom, managing director and partner of Klein Constantia, referred to the Encounter as ‘a busy event with very high-calibre participants’ and that the Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2013 has been the most popular at the show as it was served for the Chinese president during his visit to the UK.
Nicolas Glumineau, CEO and chief winemaker of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, said, ‘The level of wine knowledge is unique in Shanghai – but this is only the first step, and other cities will follow. Before Shanghai, there was only Hong Kong.’
There was significant social media interaction on the day, as guests shared highlights and engaged with the event’s official WeChat and Weibo account. Live streaming videos shared on DecanterChina.com’s Weibo account from the Grand Tasting and masterclasses received high praise with thousands views on the day.
‘It is a unique event to see the real people who love wine in China’, said Gianluca Bisol from Bisol.
In the California room, Christopher Beros, Asia director of the California Wine Institute, said, ‘California scored a big success at the Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter. The interest and energy in the California room was palpable with consumers and the trade flowing in to try over 85 different wines representing most AVA’s in California and many of the most popular varietals.
‘Over 500 guests visited the California room, and a few lucky ones were able to taste six very iconic wines that were there to be tried throughout the day.
‘Wine lovers should be inspired, thrilled and delighted by the wines they can taste and the producers they can meet,’ said Decanter general manager Lindsay Greatbatch. ‘We hope they will hold fond memories of this magical day.’
The next Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter will be on 17 November 2018.
Thank you to Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino mineral water for keeping guests hydrated on the day, to Riedel for supplying the glassware and to all Ritz-Carlton staff.
Interview credits to John Stimpfig, Sylvia Wu, and Emily Xu.