Ao Yun, the first Grand cru from the Himalayas has released its 2017 vintage on 22 March. Ao Yun was born from a dream that began in 2008 to create a unique, world class fine wine in China. It is the first wine of its kind and brings a new region – Yunnan to the world winemaking map.
The 2017 vintage boasts a concentrated yet fresh and velvety blend that symbolizes the wine that is made in a challenging climate. “Despite the challenging climate, the vintage is a reflection of the work we carry out in the vineyard and in our winemaking,” said Maxence Dulou. “We managed to harvest powerful but ripe grapes and transformed them into a concentrated but fresh and velvety wine.”
The winery said that this was the most challenging vintage since the first in 2013. It started with a dry and warm winter which was followed by a cool spring that delayed growth in the vines. The summer was cool and too wet but in autumn a crucial window opened with a month of higher than average temperatures. The unique climate permits the grapes to concentrate without oxidization of tannins and aroma, keeping the great Himalayan freshness and aging potential.
The four distinct villages of the upper Mekong Valley (Sinong, Xidang, Adong, Shuori) were harvested later than average breaking the record for the latest harvest day for a red wine in the Northern hemisphere. The last grape was picked in Adong on 22 November.
Due to the high altitute of 2,600 metres – among the highest in the world – at which Ao Yun’s cellar is found oxygen is 25% lower which impacts taste percception. For this reason, the tasting for deciding the final blend of Ao Yun 217 was done at sea level in Hong Kong for the second year.
Ao Yun leases 314 blocks totalling 28 hectares from 120 local families in 4 villages of the Upper Mekong Valley. There are different soil types and climates in each village due to different altitudes, sun exposure, wind exposure, landslide and river deposits. There are also variations within the same village, with 727 tiny sub-parcels identified. The Ao Yun team continually improve vineyard management by working on 2 axes: accurate terroir maps and customized processes for each of our 30 terroir types.
The final blend in terroirs: Adong 21%, Shuori 32%, Sinong 14% and Xidang 33%. The blend by grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon 72%, Cabernet Franc 19%, Syrah 4%, Petit Verdot 3% and Merlot 2%.