Good Taste: Drink to Chinese New Year

By Rebecca Gibb

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Kairos Wild Barrique Ferment Pinot Gris 2009, $30. Photo / Supplied
Kairos Wild Barrique Ferment Pinot Gris 2009, $30. Photo / Supplied

Dust your bunny ears down, the Year of the Rabbit is upon us.

The Chinese celebrate New Year in style, putting most other festivities to shame.

China's booming economy has seen it emerge as an important wine market, and the world's wine producers are hoping the Year of the Rabbit, which is believed to bring prosperity and luck, will continue the boom.

In the past two years Hong Kong, the gateway to mainland China, has become the world's leading fine wine centre. Renowned auction houses have set up shop in Hong Kong since the abolition of its high wine taxes in 2008 and are reaping the rewards. Sotheby's reported Hong Kong sales grew from US$14.3 million ($18.6 million) in 2009 to $52 million last year. Soaring demand pushed prices through the roof: a 12-bottle case of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 2000 - to wine what Louis Vuitton is to handbags, - recently sold for a staggering £45,000 ($92,600).

However, a lot of Chinese don't earn enough to buy fine claret and it will be Chinese wine for nine out of 10 drinkers. China has its own wineries, including Dragon Seal and Great Wall, but having had the misfortune to drink the latter last week, I can assure you there's nothing great about it.

Most Chinese wine drinkers prefer red: it is believed to be a healthy beverage and the colour lucky. That's good news for red specialists and the likes of Chris Yorke, head of marketing for New Zealand Winegrowers. He believes China will soon become the No1 export market for our reds.

As it's the Year of the Rabbit, why not try this chicken-like meat with a glass of one of these.

Halo Pinot Noir 2009, Marlborough ($24.99, fine wine retailers)
Easy-going pinot with plenty of fresh plum and red cherry fruit backed up with a touch of cedary oak on the finish. A well-made drop.

Kairos Wild Barrique Ferment Pinot Gris 2009 ($30, Fine Wine Delivery Co)
This is as complex New Zealand pinot gris. Apple skin, pear and savoury flavours make a delicious melange. It's dry and finishes clean with no oiliness.

Domaine Guyon, Cuvee des Dames de Vergy 2005, Hautes Cotes de Nuits, Burgundy ($58, MacVine)
Delicate and deliciously smoky bacon-esque. It ain't cheap, but nor is it overpriced for a decent burgundy boasting a silky texture and fine-grained tannins.

- NZ Herald

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