China has always had three basic problems with trying to vitalize its wine industry and appeal to an international audience. First, Chinese wine has traditionally been very sweet, too sweet for most Western palates. Second, Chinese wine producers seem to be more eager to produce and sell wine, than to be patient and careful in winemaking techniques to produce excellent wine. Third, wine has not traditionally been very popular with Chinese consumers: they tend to prefer beer, or their own baijiu (liquor distilled from sorghum).
That being said, China is changing in so many ways, and while this change must happen slowly in a country of 1.5 billion people, it is indeed happening in the political sphere, the social sphere, and many others. One great sign for China is the growing middle-class: Chinese professionals who are able to enjoy discretionary income. And as this middle-class becomes more and more wealthy, they are looking not only to their Chinese roots, but also abroad to expand their interests, pleasure, and worldviews. This means that millions of Chinese consumers want to learn about Western wine (primarily, wine from France, Spain, Italy, and California). And that interest in pushing Chinese wine producers to make wine that is more fitting to international tastes.
The big three of Chinese wine are Great Wall, Chang Yu, and Dynasty. There are many others, of course, but these three companies strive to produce high-quality, European-style wine. Great Wall, for example, hired French winemakers to teach them how to make wine. Before tonight, I had tried (and reviewed) Great Wall and Chang Yu, finding them to be mediocre, but not terrible. Tonight I decided to buy a bottle of Dynasty.
Dynasty Fine Wine Group Limited describes their company (on their website) as follows:
Dynasty is a leading premier winemaker with a dominant presence in the PRC wine market. Our brand name, “Dynasty”, was recognised as a well-known trademark by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of the PRC. For thirteen of the fifteen years between 1997 and 2011, Dynasty was granted “The Certificate of Best Selling Grape Wines” in the PRC by the China Industry and Enterprise Information Centre.
Dynasty has inherited the fine traditions and state-of-the-art expertise in winemaking from Remy Cointreau, one of the world’s leading wine and spirits operators and our second largest shareholder ever since Dynasty’s inception. From grape growing, harvesting, to every single step of winemaking, Dynasty believes in quality. The entire production process is under stringent quality control to ensure the highest standards of our products. In recognition of our high standards, we were accredited with certificates of ISO 9002 in 1996, ISO 14001 in 2000, ISO 9001: 2000 in 2002 and HACCP Certificate in 2006.
Dynasty has a diversified product portfolio, catering to various price segments and consumer tastes and preferences. We now make and sell over 100 types of wine products in five main categories, namely red wines, white wines, sparkling wines, icewine and brandy.
Over the years, Dynasty has sustained a strong financial performance and generated excellent returns for its shareholders. On 26 January 2005, Dynasty was successfully listed on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited with the stock code 828. Having strong support from our major shareholders – Tianjin Development Holdings Ltd. (882) and Remy Cointreau, Dynasty keeps on providing all consumer strata high quality and “excellent value for money” wines. With enhanced facilities and continual marketing efforts, Dynasty is well positioned to capture the robust growth potential of the Chinese wine market. We will build a stronger Dynasty for the future of all our stakeholders.
First, allow me to describe the label. Underneath a sketch of vineyards (presumably those of Dynasty), reads the line, in English, “This wine is made from red grape varieties.” That does not give much information, as the wine is obviously red and made from grapes. Underneath that is the description, in Chinese (translated into English by me), “Dynasty Company Dry Red Wine.” Finally underneath is the phrase, “Produce of China” in English. There is no vintage on the label. The wine contains 11.5% ABV. I paid 43RMB for this wine, which translates to about 7USD. The following are my tasting notes.
The wine is ruby garnet in color, with no hint of amber. It is a very dark purple, which seems to be the case with many Chinese red wines. The bouquet is soft, with subtle hints of raspberries, and a main scent of purple grapes. There is a hint of sweetness in the bouquet, which at first concerned me. However, this sweetness is only in the bouquet: the flavor itself is acceptably dry.
The mouthfeel is light and free of tannins for the most part. The flavor is clearly that of dark purple grapes, raspberry, and dark fruit. But what I found so refreshing and pleasant, is that it lacked any of the sulfite and sour flavor that I have experienced in other Chinese wines. In fact, the flavor was pleasantly pure and soft. While I personally prefer a very strong-flavored wine (my favorite wine is Torgiano of Italy), I must admit that the lack of the usually-unpleasant characteristics of Chinese wine more than made up for the light, pure flavor. In fact, it was delightful.
I would feel comfortable serving this wine to Western guests who are educated about wine. I would pair it with a mild Swiss cheese, or with roasted chicken. The wine’s mild yet pleasing flavor would go well with any light, pleasant fare. To me, Dynasty red wine represents all that is hopeful about Chinese wine. It is forward-looking, in that it appeals to an international palate. It is reasonably priced, and a decent value. And if you look at their website, it seems clear that the company is interested in producing high-quality wines.