Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chateau Bacchus – The Fairytale Wine Estate of Ningxia, China

Sunset at Chateau Bacchus
(Dec. 2013) - Chateau Bacchus was a great winery to visit in that everything about it was “over the top.”  It was extravagant, from the red carpet they rolled out to greet us, to the status of Bacchus standing proudly in the courtyard, and the fancy King Louis 16th décor dripping with chandeliers, gold leaf and rococo furnishings. 

Red Carpet Treatment at Chateau Bacchus
The winemaker gave us a tour of the winery with its marble floors, and showed us the new membrane filter machine.  Everything was state of the art and impressive.  Chateau Bacchus has 1700 mu of vineyards and produces around 60,000 bottles per year (5,000 cases).  They actually have a special type of wine club in which members pay 30,000 to 50,000 rmb ($5 – 8K) per year to have a small private wine closet in Chateau Bacchus’s cellar.  It is so popular, they have a waiting list for it.  They have another program where members can buy a barrel of wine for 100,000 rmb ($16,600)! 

Orchestra That Played for us at Bacchus
We were fortunate to have a lovely dinner here where we were joined by the owner, a beautiful Chinese woman.  During the meal we had a 2008 Chateau Bacchus Merlot which was big, meaty with a hint of dark chocolate on the finish and a very high alcohol level.  In addition we enjoyed a 2010 Chateau Bacchus Cabernet Sauvignon that was very ripe and concentrated, similar to a syrah.  We ended with an excellent Chateau Bacchus Vidal Blanc Late Harvest, which was exquisitely made with perfect balance and pure fruit flavors of dried apricot and honeysuckle. 

After dinner, we walked to their concert hall and were delighted to listen to a full orchestra and an opera singer.  Though the orchestra was a group of local amateurs, they were all very enthusiastic with their brass instruments, and the opera singer was excellent. 

A Positive Encounter With Chateau Lilan Wines 

We left the winery under a sky filled with stars in a bitter cold night, and headed back to the Kempenski where the five of us shared two bottles of Chateau Lilan wine.  I should mention that we actually didn’t know the name of the winery at first, because the labels were written in Chinese.  It was only later that we found out, when the sales manager contacted us on WeChat.  He said he is considering adding the English name of the winery to the labels. Yes! 

Chateau Lilan Cabernet Sauvignon
The two bottles of wine had been given to us earlier in the day as a gift from the chateau owner, another beautiful Chinese lady.  We opened the Chateau Lilan Cabernet Sauvignon first and thought we had walked into Australia – it was so ripe, fruity, concentrated berries, and plush tannins.  Yum!  The second bottle was a Chateau Lilan Pinot Noir.  It was a big chewy pinot with dark cherry, mushroom and higher alcohol, reminding me of a Santa Lucia Highlands pinot noir.  Yet both were from Ningxia, and both were delicious! 

1 comment:

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