New Emissary

Greece-China Vines

A Greek winery and Chinese company form a new venture that might raise eyebrows.

Australia has made no secret of its increasing interest in the burgeoning Chinese wine market and has been actively ‘campaigning’ for its wine there, as I mentioned here last month.

And indeed, with China’s quickly expanding middle class and its developing taste for imported wine, it seems all major international wine makers ought to strike while the iron is hot and establish a presence in the country.

Still, I was surprised to come across news that now a Greek winery has joined forces with a Chinese winemaker to grow grapes in the northwest Chinese province of Gansu. Decanter magazine earlier this month reported that Greece's Kir-Yianni, a nearly four-decade-old family-run winery in Northwestern Greece, and China's Mogao wineries have joined forces to plant the first Xinomavro vines in China.

It seems that Gansu has an alpine desert climate similar to that of northern Greece, and it’s forecasted therefore that ‘its combination of conditions could produce above-average to phenomenal wines.’

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Xinomavro, or Xynomavro, is according to one of the two most highly regarded of the cultivated Greek red varietals, and has been said to most resemble Pinot Noir. calls it the ‘great red grape of Greece,’ and claims that it can be found nearly everywhere in the country, where it’s ‘known for producing a wide variety of wines that range from big and tannic reds to pleasant rosés and sometimes even as the base for sparkling wines (blanc de noirs).’

This is the first time China will grow a Greek varietal on its soil, and is also the first time that Xinomavro will be cultivated for commercial use anywhere in the world outside of its native Greece. Seems pretty exciting.

However, there was one thing I noticed about Mogao, the Chinese winemaker in this venture. The company is actually a government-owned corporation that also produces malt, pharmaceuticals, animal feed and medicinal opium. I’m not so sure this would sit well with your average wine purist…