China, we know, is full of surprises, so why should anyone cock a brow when they learn that one of the grandest and most opulent Bordeaux-inspired winery constructions in the entire country shares its name with a 15th-generation Austrian maker of grüner veltliner?
Welcome to Château Changyu-Moser XV, a stunning €70 million construction located in the now-sprawling region of Ningxia. It’s the proud, ambitious project of China’s oldest and largest wine producer.
Its consultant winemaker is the energetic and engaging Lenz Moser, who for the past five years has been responsible for making Changyu’s wines and taking them to the world.
Even before their partnership, Moser had a relationship with Changyu’s winemaking team. Changyu was fighting the odds to sell Moser’s Austrian white wines in China while Moser was trying to distribute their wines in Europe.
Then, in Moser’s words, Changyu’s chairman expressed frustration that the company hadn’t achieved a breakthrough in Europe, and both agreed that quality was the issue. The chairman asked why couldn’t Moser make a wine from Changyu’s finest fruit to take to the world? The ambition was thus forged and the agreement was made.
The first Changyu-Moser XV Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 2015 from 2013 vintage. Since he stepped into the lead role, Moser has refined the wine – the 2016 vintage that I tasted married plushness and polish with genuine elegance and shape. Its backbone is fine and supple, and with the small berries at his disposal, he expects to build more structure in the future.
“Ningxia is extremely dry and I’m working with the smallest cabernet fruit I have ever worked with,” says Moser. “We get great skin-to-juice ratio, and the thick skins have an abundance of flavour, colour and tannins. We’re at 1,100 metres altitude and only get 150 millimetres of rain annually, so it’s all irrigated.
“The one and only challenge is that we need to bury the vines over winter, burying in November to around 30 to 40 centimetres of soil and unburying in March. We grow the canes at about 45 degrees to the vertical so at least we don’t have to bend them over 100%, which would increase the chances of them snapping. Given all that, since about 2009, I’ve been convinced this might be the hotspot of winemaking in China.”
The upside to burying is that you control the timing of budburst through the unburying process. The estate has around 60 hectares of cabernet sauvignon and access to another 200 hectares of nearby vineyards planted to cabernet sauvignon, merlot and shiraz among others.
The soils are around 60 to 70 centimetres of sandy loam and Moser is dead keen to “exploit their terroir and possibilities to the max”. With only around 10 to 20 days of what you can really call autumn, Ningxia presents unique challenges, typically related to achieving full late season ripening and true phenolic ripeness.
Moser, however, reckons his fruit gets the same hang time or longer than that in Bordeaux, saying his biggest challenge was to get the vineyard workers to harvest after the Moon Festival holidays in early October.
In March last year, Moser travelled the world to launch the 2016 Purple Air Comes From The East Cabernet Sauvignon. At the time of writing, I was yet to taste this wine, which was limited to just 6,300 bottles, so I couldn’t say if it’s on the same plane as the Shangri-la, LVMH’s Ao Yun, or Helan Qingxue’s Baby Feet cabernet-based wines – the finest I have seen from China to date. But I’m thinking I’m in for a pleasant surprise.
And Lenz Moser’s other piece of hot news? He’s now planting grüner veltliner.
This coming week’s launch of a new €150 red wine from China’s Château Change Moser XV shows just how far the Chinese wine industry has come, notwithstanding the direct and indirect impact of the coronavirus. Although the release of Purple Air Comes From the East has had to be scaled back in size it is still a significant moment in the history of Chinese wine, an industry that has been growing at a fantastic pace and improving in quality year-on-year. Mike Turner talks to Lenz Moser about his joint venture winery, about managing the tannins of the region, and coping with some of the quirks that inevitably come with making wine in such a distinctive and individual country.
‘Behind the Label’ – 2018 Chateau Changyu Moser XV, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blanc de Noir, Helan Mountain Range, China.
"Although this wine is labelled as a Blanc de Noir, or white wine made from red grapes, it is actually rosé coloured and this hint suggests that the flavour and palate are fuller flavoured than expected. This is my favourite Chinese rosé and it a rich, main course style with a gorgeous red rose nose and plummy palate and it would work wonders with the Fish curry recipe."
The full, luscious ice wine Changyu Golden Icewine Valley Liaoning 2017 (93 points) from the far north of China added diversity to our list, with immense concentration, tons of pure dried fruit and mouthwatering acidity.
"Deep Gold hue. luscious dried pineapple, honeyed apricys mangoes and honeysuckie. Huge concentration of pure, dried fruit. Mouthwatering acidity balances the waxy texture and sweetness and seduces you into drinking more. Delicious! Drink or hold."
I attended the Chateau Changyu Moser XV Master Class at the Shangri La Hotel in Toronto February 20 2020. Organized by Von Terra, the Master Class was hosted by Austrian winemaker and proprietor Lenz Mozer. We tasted four wines he produces in Chateau Changyu Moser XV in Ningxia, China's best wine growing region. Chateau Changyu Moser XV is the only winery in China to make a red, white and rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lenz is a great storyteller, telling us about the history of the Chateau and the history of wine making in China while we tasted his delicious wines. Although there are no local varietals, there is a lot of red wine produced and consumed in China but “nobody wants to do winery management in China,” he said.
I truly enjoyed Lenz’ philosophy of “minimal manipulation of grapes” – in other words, let the grapes unfold and give the type of wine it’s supposed to give. I also loved Lenz’ attitude of “wine is to have fun”. I especially adored his answer to someone who asked “What do you pair the Blanc de Noir with?” and he responded “You pair it with everything!” – and that’s how it should be: no snobbism with wine – just have fun with it!
We got to try the wines with great appetizers from the Shangri La Hotel such as tuna nigiri and beef sliders. Thank you for the great event Von Terra!
The four wines we tasted are available at the LCBO:
“'Persistence is everything in our trade. Never be afraid to keep repeating the same message, because it can sometimes be decades before you reach the final consumer'”
Lenz Moser is both a wine maker and a marketing man. While many wine makers fly around the world tasting their wares. Not many have had formal training in marketing and such a long glittering career in the trade. We talk to Lens about his golden rules for marketing wine. We also touch on his family inventions and carrier wine.
Lenz Moser talks to us about Chateau Changyu Moser XV, one of the top wineries from Ningxia and one of China's new rapidly growing regions.
Chateau Changyu Moser XV is a partnership between Changyu, one of China's big producers, and Lenz Moser and Austrian winemaker. With a huge investment in the winery and impressive Chateau building, Chateau Changyu Moser XV is striving to become a top tier wine from China.
Chris Scott talks to Lenz Moser about how the project began and and about Ningxia (ning-sha) which Lenz calls the Napa of China.
‘An ok wine is not good enough. When you make wine from a new appellation like China, especially Ningxia, you have to 'wow', you have to enthuse people. That's why Chateau Changyu-Moser XV has been out on the map in 40 countries including China. We have the surprise element and we are also living up to the expectation that Ningxia makes 8/10 of the best wines in China.’
Leading Ningxia winery Château Changyu-Moser XV has released what it claims is the world’s first white Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French barriques.
The unusual wine, which spends a year in French oak, was made at Changyu’s estate in northwest China from the free-run juice of small, thick-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested from 12-year-old vines.
The barrel-aged white follows on from Changyu’s successful unoaked white Cabernet, which launched in 2017 to satisfy a growing thirst for Chinese whites.
“White Cabernet is something we did out of necessity. At the chateau I had 250 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon, but I had to have a white wine, so I got creative,” said chief winemaker Lenz Moser.
“We loved the unoaked, stainless steel version so much that we started experimenting by ageing the wine in barriques. After repeatedly tasting the barrels we grew increasingly confident that this would be something spectacular, and it is.
“All the credentials of our unoaked white Cabernet have been refined with subtle wood treatment for 12 months. This gives it the harmony and complexity expected of a world-class white wine,” Moser added.
With an RRP of £35, the rare white is aimed at independent specialists and the high-end on-trade. Just 1,000 bottles were created from the debut 2017 vintage, but production was ramped up in 2018, when 18,000 bottles were made.
Château Changyu-Moser XV is in the process of converting to biodynamic viticulture and aims to be certified by 2022.
Chinese wine has long been touted as one to watch, but the industry has been so cloaked in mystery it’s never been quite clear what to expect. An LCBO release of four wines from Chateau Changyu Moser XV, a boutique winery operating in the foothills of the Helan Mountain in Ningxia in northern China, is one of the first real glimpses of that county’s fine wine boom.
From Ningxia geology to the new regional brand 'Ningxia Hong', here's the latest report on China's up-and-coming fine wine region in the wild northwest.
Chateau Changyu Moser XV, backed by China’s oldest and biggest wine producing company Changyu, is another estate built with tourism in its mind.
Chateau Changyu Moser XV, Ningxia
With a total investment of 600m CNY (65m GBP), Chateau Changyu Moser XV opened to the public in 2013, one year earlier than Yuanshi. The estate’s central piece is a ‘Byzantine-style’ chateau (see above).
The chateau, which can be mistaken for one in Bordeaux, is also a popular movie set, we were told, and I do remember from two years ago seeing a hospital-like set and a couple of rusted cages on our way to the cellar.
‘We receive 50,000 – 80,000 visitors each year,’ said Fan Xi, chief engineer (winemaker) and deputy general manager of the estate, ‘70% of them are consumers who do not work in wine.’
Different from Yuangshi, visitors only purchase 1% of the estate’s astonishing 1500 tonnes of annual production, most of which is pumped into the Changyu group’s wide-spread distribution channels around China and abroad, said the winemaker.
Each visitor, however, pays 80 CNY (8.7 GBP) per ticket for a tour in the massive built-in wine museum, where they get to see every element of winemaking, experience wine aromas, and learn about the century-long history of Changyu, which also coincides the winemaking heritage of China. They can even make their own labelled wines at an extra cost.
‘For us wine tours are more important for branding and nurturing potential customers; sales come second,’ said Fan. ‘At the end of the tour, we want our visitors to feel that they have gained some knowledge about wine.’
‘There’s a huge potential in education here,’ said British wine critic Robert Joseph, who is also at our press tour, ‘every year thousands of consumers are exposed to wine via these visits. It’s likely some of them will become regular wine drinkers in the future.’
In den Startlöchern scharrt der Österreicher (Kremstal) Laurenz Maria Moser, besser bekannt als Lenz Moser V., seit Jahren als Winemaker in China tätig: Im März kommt sein ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon aus China auf den Markt. Dort betreibt Moser das Château Changyu–Moser XV gemeinsam mit dem chinesischen Weinriesen Changyu. Der Wein mit dem markanten chinesischen Etikett und englischem Untertitel nennt sich „Purple Air Comes From The East“, ist Jahrgang 2016 und ein reinsortiger Cabernet Sauvignon. Die Trauben stammen von Château-eigenen Lagen in der chinesischen Provinz Ningxa, dem Weinbauzentrum Chinas. Nur 6300 Flaschen wurden von dem Premierenwein gefüllt. Der Preis steht noch nicht fest.
Im März startet die weltweite Präsentation des Premiumlabels, in London gab es bereits einen Vorgeschmack. Auf Augenhöhe sieht Moser seinen neuen Wein mit den Flaggschiffen chinesischer Winzerkunst, etwa Lafites „Long Dai“ oder dem „Ao Yun“ aus dem Weinbereich des Luxusgüterkonzern LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), beide aus Frankreich und in China mit eigenen Weingütern engagiert.
Moser arbeitet seit 2005 mit und für die Changyu Winery, der größten ihrer Art in China. Er ist dort Konsulent und „winemaking advisor“. Château Changyu–Moser XV wurde als Marke 2015 gegründet und verbindet einerseits Changyu und andererseits Mosers Wurzeln (XV): Er ist Fünfter der Winzerdynastie Lenz Moser und 15. in der direkten Linie der Winzerfamilie Moser. Sein Großvater entwickelte die Hochkultur in den Weingärten, die nach wie vor weltweit als Standard im Weinbau gilt.
Nach seiner Geschäftsführertätigkeit für die Weinkellerei Lenz Moser, die 1986 an eine Investorengruppe verkauft worden war, baute Laurenz V. ab 1997 für den amerikanischen Weinbaupionier Robert Mondavi dessen Niederlassung in Europa auf. Nach dem Verkauf von Robert Mondavi Europe an die Constellation Group wandte sich Lenz Moser wieder dem Weinbau in Österreich zu und etablierte im Jahr 2005 das Projekt „Laurenz V.“ Unter dieser Marke werden Weine nach seinen Vorstellungen von Abfüllern hergestellt und vor allem in den USA und Asien vertrieben.
In der Kooperation mit Changyu findet Moser alles vor, was er sich wünscht. Modernste Anlagen, weitläufige Anbauflächen, passende Teams – und viel Kapital. Das ermutigt zu Innovationen. Etwa dem weltweit ersten weißgepressten Cabernet, den Changyu–Moser 2017 auf den Markt brachte. Oder auch für den Grünen Veltliner, der Stammsorte seiner Familie, mit dem er derzeit wieder Großes vorhat. In China sieht der Österreicher gewaltiges Potenzial, vor allem auch im noch schwach entwickelten Inlandsmarkt.
Chinese wine is the future says Lenz Moser, as he reveals the release of a new top end Cabernet Sauvignon to rival Chinese offerings from Château Lafite and LVMH.
Chief winemaker Lenz Moser from China’s Chateau Changyu–Moser XV will embark on a global tour in March to launch the winery’s new ultra-premium Cabernet Sauvignon.
The 2016 wine – called Purple Air Comes From The East – is a 100% estate-grown Cabernet from the Chateau’s Ningxia Provence vineyards and is limited to just 6,300 bottles.
Moser hopes it will rival similarly premium offerings from China. ‘I need to rub shoulders with the likes of Long Dai from Lafite and Ao Yun LVMH and I couldn’t resist making an icon wine,’ said Moser during a dinner in London to showcase Changyu–Moser XV’s wines.
‘It has a very Chinese-looking label and it is going to raise the bar again for the Chateau,’ he added.
Moser has been working with China’s Changyu winery since 2005 as a consultant and winemaking adviser and launched the Chateau Changyu–Moser XV label in 2015 in partnership with them.
‘Our vision is very simple we want to revive China’s quality game and make sure our wine is not just among the very best of China, but also belonging in the company of the world’s finest,’ he said.
Moser believes that China is the future for global wine consumption and production. In the future he predicts that 70% of the market for Chinese wine will be domestic. ‘China will be our biggest market by far, it will follow the USA model where only 15% of wine is exported,’ he said.
In the mountainous desert highlands of Ningxia, fifth generation wine maker Lenz Moser has teamed up with China's oldest and largest winery to make world class Cabernet Sauvignon. He spoke with vintages about the projects.
Der Österreichische Önologe Laureny Maria Moser leitet in China das nach ihm benannte Weingut Chateau Changyu Moswe XV. Das Zeil: Spitzenwiene für den Weltmarket. Im Stilteil auf Seite 56. Begleitet vom üblichen sonntäglichen Weintipp zu den reyepten von Volker Hobl.
Sean Moncrieff’s programme on Newstalk, Ireland’s National talk radio station, has a cult following. Sean’s programme takes an irreverent look at life but is topical and can be serious about current affairs. The Movies & Booze slot started shortly after Sean started working with Newstalk in 2006 and is, to date, the longest standing regular feature. The premise is simple, review two films and two wines in a 60 minute slot, while engaging with the audience via FB, twitter, email and text.
Newstalk is the only radio station in Ireland to commit to a regular wine slot, which is part educational, part irreverent, but mostly fun. It is promotion through education thought in a light-hearted way. There are three wine slots every month and one slot featuring craft beer, presented by Dean McGuinness who is an importer of specialist beers. The wine presenters of Movies & Booze are Jean Smullen, Mick O’Connell MW and Tomas Clancy who alternate each month, presenting once or twice a month as the schedule requires.
The audience for Moncrieff is predominantly AB1 males (25-50+) with a daily national audience of 96,000 , it outperforms the Irish Times with who have a daily readership of c 68,000 for the same audience.
The 2016 IWA Report shows that in the 45-54 age bracket 21% of Men and 19% of Women now drink wine, and in the 55-64 age bracket 17% Male and 16% Females drink wine. Contrast that with the drop in wine consumption by Millenials from 25% in 2011 to 16% in 2016. Source: IWA Aug 2017