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<<25th March 2021 – Hong Kong>> Ao Yun is the first Grand Cru of the Himalayas, born from a dream that began in 2008: to create a unique, world-class fine wine in China. Ao Yun is the first of its kind and brings a new region – Yunnan – to the world winemaking map.
This year, Ao Yun has released its latest vintage of 2017 on 22nd March, marking the first day of Spring. Ao Yun 2017 boasts a concentrated yet fresh and velvety blend that symbolizes the wine’s enhancement through a challenging climate.
“This vintage symbolizes the enhancement through a challenging climate compensated by great adaptation in the vineyard and in our winemaking. We managed to harvest powerful but ripe grapes and transformed them into a concentrated but fresh and velvety wine.”-Maxence Dulou, Estate & Technical Director, Ao Yun
2017: Most Challenging Climatic Conditions since the 1st vintage in 2013
Marked by challenges in climatic conditions, 2017 started with a dry and warm winter followed by a cool spring that delayed growth of the vines. The summer was cool and much too wet, and at the beginning of fall, a crucial window opened with one month of higher temperatures than average. The season’s climate and newly optimized ways of working in the vineyard resulted in a generous harvest with very powerful and beautifully mature grapes. The unique climate further permits the grapes to concentrate without oxidization of tannins and aroma, keeping the great Himalayan freshness and aging potential.
Under these conditions, the 4 distinct villages of the upper Mekong Valley (Sinong, Xidang, Adong and Shuori) were harvested later than average, breaking the record for the latest harvest day for a red wine in the Northern hemisphere, with the last grape picked in Adong on 22 November 2017.
Due to the high altitude of 2600m – among the highest in the world – at which Ao Yun’s Cellar is nestled, the oxygen is 25% lower, which impacts taste perception. For this reason, the tasting for deciding the final blend of Ao Yun 2017 was made at sea level in Hong Kong for the second year.
Refining the Terroir Map to Further Customize Ao Yun’s Viticulture
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.
Ao Yun 2017 – Concentrated but Fresh & Velvety: The Enhancement
This year, with careful consideration for the powerful maturation of the grape, the Ao Yun team had to execute a very precise job of refining the tannin extraction during the delicate winemaking process. During malolactic fermentation and breeding, the team increased the levels of natural micro-oxygenation to soften these powerful textures. For the very first time, the Ao Yun team added 2% of the Merlot grape variety, increasing roundness of the final blend. A more refined selection process was adopted for picking out the finest wine batches to be part of Ao Yun, before being aged for 14 months in 38% new oak and 62% older barrels.
Ao Yun 2017 exudes a deep, dark colour, and aromas on the nose consist of fresh black fruit such as blackcurrant, game, autumn forest floor, a cold fireplace, and earth. On the palate, it is more concentrated, rounder than previous vintages also thanks to the Merlot and an added velvety touch, followed by Ao Yun’s signature long and salty mineral finish.
– The final blend in terroirs: Adong 21%, Shuori 32%, Sinong 14% and Xidang 33%.
– By grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon 72%, Cabernet Franc 19%, Syrah 4%, Petit Verdot 3% and Merlot 2%.
Ao Yun 2017 in Hong Kong
Ao Yun 2017 is now released in limited quantities on 22nd March 2021, the first day of spring. It is available at selected retailers such as Watson’s Wine Cellar, Burgundy etc, The Fine Wine Experience, Avize, Wine Vault and Rare & Fine Wines.
About AO YUN
Ao Yun is the first Grand Cru of the Himalayas, born from a dream that began in 2008. It exists today thanks the determination, dedication and faith of visionaries, the hard work and passion of its young Chinese winemaking team, as well as the peaceful connection with nature of 120 local Tibetan farming families. Ao Yun is the first of its kind and brings a new region – Yunnan – to the world winemaking map.
In early 2008, Estates & Wines, the Moët Hennessy Wine Division, asked Australian winemaker and scientist, Dr. Tony Jordan to survey the land in China to see whether there existed a terroir with the potential for making fine and unique red wine and – if he found such a land – to establish a new Estate there. The perseverant Dr. Jordan embarked on this journey into the unknown and faced many obstacles. After 4 years, despite the odds, he finally made it to North Yunnan, where he observed an ideal micro-climate in the village of Adong.
In 2012, enthralled by the wonder of what could be hidden within this remote part of the world, Maxence Dulou, a winemaker from Bordeaux, fulfilled his dream of discovering a new terroir and joined the Ao Yun adventure. Then, the team started the business from scratch, understanding more about these unique terroirs and adapting to them a little bit more each season. Each resulting vintage is getting closer to our aim of expressing our unique terroirs trough finesse complexity and long aging potential.
The thick wandering clouds, characteristic of the area, are an echo of Ao Yun’s name, which translates to roaming above the clouds.