Saturday, December 8, 2012


Good friend Mike gave us a bottle of Chinese wine recently. It was Xian King Youhuan Manor White Wine. I can't read Chinese so the back label apart from the name and the alcohol by volume is a mystery. 

The wine was in a small and tall blue bottle (blue glass not usually associated with wine or foodstuffs as historically the colour was reserved for containers of poison!)

The Company name seems to be Xian King and the label says the wine is Youhuan Manor white.

I tried to find some information on the web about Xian King Wine Company or Youhuan Manor but to no avail. While China has probably the largest internet usage in the world Google and other Western search engines don't rate like their own Weibu and others.

Wikipedia told me something about King Xie:

King Xuan of Zhou (Chinese周宣王pinyinZhōu Xuān Wáng) was the eleventh king of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. Estimated dates of his reign are 827-782 BC or 827/25-782 BC.[1] He worked to restore royal authority after the Gong He interregnum. He fought the 'Western Barbarians' (probably Xianyun) and another group on the Huai River to the southeast. In his ninth year he called a meeting of all the lords. Later he intervened militarily is succession struggles in the states of LuWey and QiSima Qian says "from this time on, the many lords mostly rebelled against royal commands."[citation needed] He is said[by whom?] to have killed an innocent man called Dubo and was himself killed by an arrow fired by Dubo's ghost.[citation needed] His son, King You of Zhou was the last king of the Western Zhou.

Sounds to me like a dodgy historical connection to link a wine company to. Mind you, any modern Chinese wine company rightly should be fighting the 'Western Barbarians' but should be careful of killing the innocents which obviously and rightly include the consumers.

So what was the wine like?

Well, it was a taste surprise.

The wine was sweet and viscous beyond what the alc/vol suggested.
Normally sweet wines, unless fortified, are lower in alcohol because the sugars haven't all been converted to alcohol in the winemaking process. This wine was a full 13% so I assumed that it would be medium to medium dry at the sweetest.


It had a sweetness and viscosity of a 'sticky' wine (above Auslesen and nearer to Beerenauslesen). 

The flavour was obtuse in that grape variety was indeterminable. Not the classic varietals that make up sweet wines like Semillon, Riesling, Chenin Blanc etc. It had more of a foxy/funky character like a hybrid varietal produces.

It wasn't unpleasant but a warning bell sounded in my memory.

Years ago I bought a Trockenbeerenauslen wine from (an importer/distributor/retailer) in NZ.
The wine name I have forgotten. It was in a 500ml format (unusual). It was cheap for a 'Trocken' (I should have been warned but the retailer had it in a yearly wine sale). On tasting the wine it tasted sweet as expected but unusually viscous for a wine that should be low in alcohol.
We both had a glass. We both developed massive headaches fairly rapidly.
My conclusion: diethylene-glycol (anti-freeze) had been added to boost must weight in a poor year. This has been done from time to time with German and Italian wines and nearly ruined the Austrian wine industry in 1985 (see here).

It can render the consumer blind, with brain damage and in extreme cases can kill.

The Chinese wine  had a taste that reminded me of this.

I only drank half a glass.

I have put the rest of the bottle in the freezer and will try from time to time to evaluate but not in large doses. 

I don't want Dubo's ghost firing an arrow through my eye.

King Harald should have stuck to the Chardonnay



Second Fiddle said...

"Good friend Mike"

I'd treat him as you do do with so called friends in facebook and click X.

Richard (of RBB) said...

Gosh, being a wine guy is a dangerous job!