Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, or LVMH, is the French multinational owner of an incredible repertoire of brands including Château d’Yquem, Château Cheval Blanc, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Ardbeg, Glenmorangie, Cloudy Bay, and of course Moët & Chandon and Hennessy. Ao Yun is their first wine brand enterprise in China, which puts it in one of the world’s most illustrious stables.
In 2013 China became the biggest market for red wine with consumption of over more than 1.8 billion bottles, making it a major global player in the world of wine. Ao Yun represents another step on that ladder with its first truly global luxury brand and as one newspaper has put it a chance to “drink Louis Vuitton!”
Decanter described this as “arguably most exciting magnum opus wine” of Jean-Guillaume Prat (former director at Château Cos d’Estournel and now president of LVMH’s estates and wine division). Decanter went on to say that: “a bright new start has just burst onto the fine wine firmament.”
Penfolds Grange redefined the perception of fine wine production in a specific territory. Ao Yun, LVMH’s inaugural Chinese release, may well be destined to emulate this for China.
Within the first couple of weeks of release, the market price of Ao Yun 2013 – the first vintage – rose by over 50%, displaying the market demand despite the fact that there were few scores or reviews from the critics. With only 24,000 bottles made and such high demand, this wine has already become highly collectable.
Although not the first Chinese wine, it is the first with such pedigree and one of the first to come from Yunnan rather than the traditional areas of Shandong or Ningxia. As Jancis Robinson, who compared the first vintage to Ribera del Duero, says: “many wines claim uniqueness; Ao Yun's claim is incontestable.” Its mountainous terroir is unlike any other in the world, providing an enormous diurnal temperature variation and a very long ripening period.
Ao Yun roughly translates as “sacred cloud” or “proud cloud” – a reference to the altitude – and is a blend of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a little Cabernet Franc. Grapes are sourced from tiny vineyards either side of the Mekong River in the foothills of the Himalayas, located in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area in Adong village, just on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, is a four and half hour drive from Shangri-La airport and the vineyards are at an altitude of around 2.5km above sea level.
LVMH found the location with some help from Australian oenologist Tony Jordan and according to Prats: “There are no mechanics at all because it’s so remote, so everything is done by hand.” The viticulturist Maxence Dulou gained experience at Cheval Blanc and farms the vineyards organically using yak. Vines were first planted in the area around the mid-1800s by Jesuit missionaries.
MARKET PRICE ?
2013 Ao Yun Ao Yun Shangri-La92.75
2013 Ao Yun Shangri-La92.75
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