The famous luxury group is embarking on a new adventure in China, more specifically near the legendary city of Shangri-La on the foothills of the Himalayas. Ao Yun, meaning "flying above the clouds", came into existence in 2013 and is produced from several vineyards located at altitudes ranging from 2,200 and 2,600 metres! Produced in very limited quantities, this is a rare wine which may become the spearhead for high-end Chinese wines.
Covering 28 hectares in total, the Ao Yun vineyard is divided into 314 units rented to 120 families in 4 villages in Upper Mekong. Due to the altitude, plot exposure and the great diversity of soil typology, each village offers asperities which contribute to the richness of this wine. In 2016, 900 sub-plots were identified and then grouped in around thirty distinct terroirs. With a constant preoccupation towards excellence during the development of this exceptional wine, a new map depicting all of the terroirs was produced in 2016 so as to best adapt winemaking methods to each of them.
While the beginning of the year was drier and cooler than average and spring was rainy, the seasons of summer and autumn, which mixed hot and dry weather with cool nights, encouraged optimal berry ripening and tannin development.
Although yields were lower following green harvests, which guaranteed optimal maturity and concentration, the 2016 Ao Yun seduces with its elegance, its beautiful freshness and its rare complexity.
Winemaking and ageing
Both in terms of its blend and in terms of its winemaking process, the 2016 Ao Yun marks a new beginning.
In 2016, the use of new oak was reduced in favour of barrels of one previous wine so as to develop greater finesse.
Malolactic fermentation was carried out for 3 months in barrels (32%) and in earthenware (68%) to compensate for the lack of oxygen associated with the altitude. Lasting for 14 months, ageing is carried out in new oak barrels (32% compared to 40% in 2015) and barrels of one previous wine (68%).
The 2016 Ao Yun marks a real renewal for this wine. Conscious of the impact of the altitude of the village of Adong on taste perception, the team, under the direction of Maxence Dulou, is refining a rigorous approach towards tasting and blending. Following new plantings and the development of new terroirs, tastings carried out in Hong Kong at sea level made it possible to determine the exact proportions of each of the terroirs in the final blend.
The 2016 Ao Yun distinguishes itself through the innovative use of 4% of Syrah and 2% of Petit Verdot, imparting complexity and elegance throughout the tasting.
With only 62% of the grqpes harvested meeting the quality standards, the 2016 Ao Yun is made form a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (74%), Cabernet Franc (20%), Syrah (4%) and Petit Verdot (2%). The 2016 Ao Yun was thus made from berries harvested from the villages of Adong (17%), Shuori (25%), Sinong (36%), Xidang (22%), which are located at the foot of the sacred mountain of Meili, in China’s Himalayan region.
The wine is a deep and dark colour.
The nose combines aromas of smoke and cedar wood with fruity notes (yellow, exotic and red fruits).
The very elegant palate unveils dense tannins with a rare softness. The persistent finish is marked by a characteristic Ao Yun saline minerality.