Yantai, Shandong, China, ¥75, synthetic cork
Day two of teaching and it's definitely time for a bottle of wine. Red wine from China no less; terrible retro packing, embossed bottle and stupid synthetic cork, but for me the most worrying thing is the vintage - 1998; surely a ¥75 wine isn't made to cellar for 11 years? The Yantai Weilong Grape Wine Co who makes this have a surprisingly good English website, though maybe they've changed their range as there was nothing to be found about this wine. My friend who helped me translate the label claims that it's apparently made from the 'snap dragon grape'?!?
Grand Dragon 1998 is light red in colour just fading to orange. Initially this just smells of typical over aged Chinese red wine - tar, burnt toffee and rubber, but underneath the stink there's a sniff of fruit or perhaps a sniff of hope. There're hints of red berries, vanilla, strawberry and cream; it actually smells a bit like the strawberry-cream flavoured Chupa Chup. Yes it does taste a lot like burnt treacle and tar, but there are still some good red fruit flavours beneath it. There's cherry, strawberry and raspberry, but most remarkable an obviously creamy texture. Medium bodied, it certainly should have been drunk years ago, yet the burnt acid flavours are balanced by memories of fresh fruit and the remarkably creaminess. A strange bottle of wine; obviously past its best, yet in a sadistic way it was almost enjoyable. I'm not recommending this to anyone, but I'd be curious to try a newer vintage and to be fair we did finish the bottle.
Visit winery website.