- China is the sixth largest wine producer in the world. China makes more wine than Chile, Portugal or South Africa. The majority of China's wine grapes are grown north of Beijing and more importantly north of an imaginary frost line; above the line, Vitis vinifera grapes must be buried underground during the winter or the frost will kill them.
- One solution would be to grow frost-resistant hybrids. China has developed a couple of hybrids specifically for its climate, Bei Hong and Bei Mei. The wines tend to be slightly sweet but have done well with tasters.
- One grape that seems surprisingly well-suited is Marselan, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache created in France in 1961. Marselan may have found a home in China the way Malbec did in Argentina.
The origin of Marselan
- Marselan was created by artificially crossing two well-known varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. It is an important achievement in the modern efforts to breed quality wine grapes, featuring desirable characters including big fruit bunch, small berries and good resistance to diseases.
- Marselan ripens comparatively late, with good resistance to powdery mildew, mites, grey rot and coulure. From its big fruit bunches and small berries, winemakers can extract aromatic, deep-coloured wines with soft tannins and good age ability. Merlot is sometimes used in the blend.
- Recommended by French experts, Marselan was first introduced to Chinese vineyards in 2001. As the chief winemaker of Domaine Franco Chinois, I was fortunate to initiate the introduction of the variety and made the first Marselan wine in China.
- The first patch of Marselan planting was merely 2.75ha. The dry and hot 2003 was the first vintage. The wine immediately attracted wide interest from trade, as well as many newly established wineries in China.
''At the end of the day, you really can’t make a wrong choice.
As long as you pay attention to what it is that you don’t like about a wine
each bottle will get you closer to what you do like.
Take it one glass at a time!''