Mihalis Boutaris, of Greece’s Kir-Yianni Estates, has been busy in China. He’s currently working on two projects there, one of which has led to this wine. It’s a vineyard in Tianshui. [The other is a vineyard in the Gobi desert near Ningxia.] Tianshui has relatively low growing-season rain compared with other areas nearby, and Mihalis reckons it shows a lot of promise. This wine, XiGu, is a one-off from the 2016 vintage. 1200 bottles only were made, and all went to the Chinese market. Still, it was good to be able to try it, to get a feeling for what might be possible here. The wine was really good.
It was handmade, fairly naturally. The berries were hand destemmed and the grapes were then crushed by feet in traditional open-top 500-litre clay pots. The ferments were hand plunged daily, kept cool with the use of dry ice (max temperature was 26 C) and the free run was then aged in stainless steel. There was a brief treatment with premium oak chips.
A minor de-acidification was needed at juice stage, and after a delicate fining with egg white only, the wine was bottled without any filtration. The label is from an original drawing by Nikomachi Karakostanoglou called “Good-luck Cherry Blossom”. Total SO2 is 10 ppm, VA is 0.32 g/l, TA 6.2 g/l, pH 3.34.
“XiGu” Tianshui Pinot Noir 2016 China
Deep coloured. This is nicely textural with a lovely purity and freshness to the raspberry and black cherry fruit. It’s quite sleek and polished, but there’s some structure lurking under the fruit. Subtle hints of tar and cedar in the background, but the dominant theme is the lovely, balanced, fresh pure fruit. Finishes quite grippy with some more tar character. A very promising start. 91/100