On The Wine Trail - Andrew Caillard in China



North Yunnan, China.  Ao Yun means ‘Flying Above the Clouds’ and serves as both the perfect metaphor for China’s lofty ambitions in wine, as well as the location of its most heavenly fruit. Langton’s co-founder Andrew Caillard MW visited the vineyards and winery last month…


Up to 2600 metres above sea level at the foot of the Himalayas, above the Mekong river, past Tibetan temples and Buddhist prayer sites, sit terraced vineyards that were planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in 2002.


The spectacular location yields one of the world’s rarest wines - and China’s finest red.


One of the Ao Yun vineyards

Above: The Ao Yun Shuori vineyards at 2500 metres with the Mekong River below.


The high mountain peaks allow the vineyards in the valleys only five hours of sunlight a day, making for an extremely long growing season - often harvesting in late October/early November. Yet the altitude, pristine air and high UV levels result in the slow ripening of not only the fruit, but of the pips themselves. This prolonged struggle produces a wine which is relatively high in alcohol and fruit richness, but still perfumed, fine, elegant and graced with impeccable balance.


French missionaries first planted grapes in the region in the early 1900s - and what foresight.


Caillard considers it one of the most exciting viticultural projects ever undertaken as well as one of the most beautiful wine regions on earth. His recent visit only compounded his interest.


The praise he has bestowed on the inaugural vintage (2013) as well as the subsequent (yet to be released) vintages, 2014, 2015 and 2016, makes it clear that the sky’s the limit for Ao Yun.





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