Monday, February 02, 2009

1998 Great Wall Dragon’s Eye

Max and I came back from Beijing with various souvenirs for friends and family. For our friend and wine expert, Bob Nichols, we brought back a bottle of 1998 Great Wall Dragon’s Eye. As my confidence level in Chinese wine was pretty low, the intent was for it to be mainly a souvenir but Bob is brave and not only opened it but did so at a wine tasting last week. Here's what he had to say:

On Thursday evening, I served the wine you gave me. It was one among a set of mystery reds. I told the group there was one in the set that would probably be the only time in our lives that we would have one like it. Needless to say, no one in the group guessed what it was.

I placed the wine in a tough crowd of other wines. The other two were in the book 1001 Wines You Must Taste before You Die, and those wines were very good indeed. Nevertheless, the 1998 Great Wall Dragon’s Eye showed well, and, as I had hoped, it fit with the style of the other wines. The wine had a nice, rich, open nose that because of some pleasant vegetative character was reminiscent of a good Cabernet Sauvignon from Monterey, California. It was fruity, rich, had a full mouth-feel, was well balanced, fairly well knit, and almost silky in texture, had good character, also reminiscent of Monterey, and had a medium to long aftertaste. The tannins were light, soft, and partly integrated. Because we had no prior experience with the grape, the fruit flavors were somewhat unusual, somewhat like eating a tangerine when all prior experience was with oranges.

The wine was sufficiently mature to show how it was developing, but it would have lasted several years more, if I had waited to open it. It might even have gotten better with time, but since I had only one bottle, I didn’t want it to take the chance that it would go bad if I waited a few years.

All in all, just as I had hoped, the wine made for an interesting, tasty, educational experience for all of us in the group. I was glad to be able to share it with them.

Updated to add: Wine was decanted two hours before tasting.
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