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2018 AO YUN - THE FIRST CHINESE GRAND CRU

Close up of Ao Yun bottle label

Register your interest for an allocation of this highly anticipated release of this top-rated Chinese wine.

We are extremely honoured to have an allocation of the 2018 vintage to offer, and invite clients to register their interest for the release below.

Described by James Suckling as an “incredible wine” and the “greatest offering to come out of the country”, scoring the vintage 98 points, this is a fantastic opportunity to add a case of this prestigious and historic cuvee to your collection.

The vineyard is the thrilling product of a four-year search by Tony Jordan for Moët & Hennessy to discover the best terroir in mainland China for the creation of a world class cru. The perfect site was found in the north of the Yunnan province, not far from the historic city of Shangri-La, part of the UNESCO protected area below the 6,800-metre summit of the sacred mountain of Meili. Translating to ‘flying above the clouds’, Ao Yun is a nod to the clouds that cap the highest mountain range of the Himalaya’s that surround the vineyard.

Making a blend of classic Bordeaux varieties, the vineyards are spread across the four villages of Xidang, Shouri, Sinong and Adong. All lending a unique element, each parcel varies in soil types, altitude range from 2,200-2,600 metres, sun and wind exposure, landslide and river deposits, affording the Cabernet Sauvignon grape to express the full refinement of the land and beam a direct reflection of these distinctive terroirs. To respect the time-honoured farming tradition in the area, the grape harvest and winemaking is done entirely by hand by some 100 local families.

The partial shade offered by the mountains is also crucial. The reduction in sun exposure and protection from the monsoon rains extends the ripening period whilst helping to ensure that the pip tannins achieve full ripeness without excessive potential alcohol levels, with the cool climate ensuring that freshness sits at the heart of its structure. Around half of the current 27 hectares under vine were planted on un-grafted rootstock in 2000. These older vines are exclusively Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, with Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah added by the team in 2013.

Fruit quality and selection is extremely important to the winemaking team. Only 50% of the grapes harvested in 2018 have been used in the final blend, made up of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, 7% Syrah, 4% Petit Verdot.

Recalling her first visit to the vineyard, Jane Anson, scoring 95 points, describes the “most thrilling, dizzying feeling of being in undiscovered territory, and witnessing the birth of something extraordinary… a wine that has truly put quality Chinese winemaking on the map.” She notes that whilst visiting wineries in China she’s found “nothing quite like this.”

98/100 Points – James Suckling
“I love the depth and complexity of the nose, which brings you down deeply into the wine, showing blackberry, ink, tar, earth, incense, cloves, and black licorice. Thyme, too. The purity of the fruit, including cassis, is the real thing. This is full-bodied, but remains so fresh and vertical on the palate. The tannins are so fine and integrated, producing a millefeuille-like layering of tannin and cool, blue fruit. Incredible wine. The greatest wine made in China so far. 60% cabernet sauvignon, 19% cabernet franc, 10% merlot, 7% syrah and 4% petit verdot. 26,000 bottles made. Drinkable now, but will be so much better in four or five years.”

95/100 Points – Jane Anson
“Polished, smooth and ripe tannins that have plenty of movement in them. Ao Yun has been a wine with confidence and personality since its first vintage of 2013, and here balances concentrated damson and black cherry fruits with fragrant black tea, mandarin peel and sage together with earthier smoked cumin and saffron spice. 2018 was a late harvest through to November 15 (beginning September 7) and ripening under cooler, dry skies in November has translated into drawn out sculpted flavours that reflect the mountain site, and low yields of 21hl/h. Initial ageing took place in 50% Chinese earthenware jars and 50% oak barrels for five months, then a further 10 months in 30% new oak barrels. The team introduced village crus in this year also, drawing them from the four villages where the vines are located, and keeping 54% of overall production for Ao Yun itself – just another clue to the ambitions at this brilliant estate.”

95/100 Points – The Wine Advocate (Edward Ragg)
“The 2018 Ao Yun maintains its very deep purple appearance. On the nose, albeit youthful, there is already open and abundant super-ripe cassis, black cherry, mulberry, blueberry and black plum fruit with less pyrazine observable in this bottle (although this becomes more overt on the palate). That core of fruit is complemented by subtle new oak notes of clove, toast and smoke. On the palate, the 2018 Ao Yun has abundant, fine-grained and coating tannins with some lively acidity and well-integrated 14.5% alcohol, these structural elements being well-knitted together with the vibrant core of fruit, touch of herbaceous character (sage, mint) and subtle new oak notes. With its long length and marked concentration, although youthful, the 2018, tasted closer to sea level, has the kind of approachability similar to some Napa Cabernet blends. But it is unquestionably super youthful and is taking on entirely its own identity as the very best blend of these four remarkable village vineyard sites (each at different altitudes). The 2018 is just nudging ahead of the 2017 and 2015 in terms of quality. It will be fascinating to see its evolution in bottle.”

Cru Wine Ltd.

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