Monday, October 31, 2011

In Search of Undiscovered Wine

In the course of my wondering life, travel has changed. During my first trip to Africa, there was not even satellite phone coverage over the remote areas I visited. For 5 weeks my wife had no idea of my whereabouts or even if I was still alive. But for me, it was the Columbus-like thrill of discovery.

Today much of the world is connected and known. Just Google it. Now I regularly email the chief of the Bediks, a tiny cliff-top Senegalese tribe virtually unknown when I first visited.

So where's the thrill, the adventure of travel today? And for me, where's the excitement of stumbling upon an undiscovered wine, a wine that even Google can't find?

I found it in China.

During September and October I explored all of China's major wine growing regions, (I'm told I'm one of the few if not only Westerner to do so). It was a Columbus-like trip of discovery about terroir, people, culture and myself. It was a travel adventure.
The photo of Beng (Bu) village with it's vineyards hints at the terroir in Yunnan Province near the Tibetan border. At 2000 to 3000 meters (6000-9000 feet), the vineyards in this area are probably the highest in the world. The growing season is Continental-like sunny (3000-3500 heat units); the well-drained soil is gravel, sand, loam and little clay (the whole area was once a lake bottom); and virtually no rain during growing time. Days are warm, nights sweater cool. And the only winery to use all the fruit is Shangrila.

Please note that the lines scribbled across the landscape are both one-car-width gravel roads and human trails.

Wait till I tell you about the wine.

1 comment:

Gerry Ellis said...

Very cool Janis - great to know you are still out there boldly going where few wines or wine hunters have gone before! Cheers Ger