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 is paving the way 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, China. 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, the berries of the 2017 vintage benefitted from greater exposure to the sun, as well as the implementation of higher canopies to allow the water to evaporate better.
The year 2017 opened with a dry and warm winter, followed by a cool spring which delayed the grapes’ ripening process. Fortunately, the beginning of autumn offered a window of higher-than-normal temperatures, allowing the grapes to reach full maturity. The harvests in the 4 villages were particularly late this year, up to 22 November, setting a new record for late harvests in the northern hemisphere. This vintage offered berries with a beautiful aromatic concentration, all while preserving their tannins and aromas. Thus, the 2017 Ao Yun is wonderfully imbued with the freshness of the Himalayas and offers an excellent ageing potential.
Winemaking and ageing
During the fermentation process, the tannins are extracted even more gently than usual due to the heterogeneity of the ripeness of the skin and the seeds of the tannins. This process is necessary as, otherwise, a negative impact on the texture of the wine would be felt. This year, only 57% of the year’s wines were selected so as to ensure the finest and most complex final blend. Furthermore, during malolactic fermentation and ageing in barrels, natural micro-oxygenation is increased compared to previous vintages to soften the typical powerful texture of Ao Yun wines. The wine then ages for 14 months in 36% new barrels and 64% older barrels.
The 2017 Ao Yun has a deep, dark colour.
The aromatic bouquet conveys the fresh character of black fruits and game, harmonised with smoky and earthy notes.
The 2017 Ao Yun is a concentrated and round wine with a silky texture. After decanting in a carafe, this cuvée reveals notes of fresh fruit mixed with ink and leather. The long, saline and mineral finish aptly conveys the signature style of Ao Yun.