Mooncakes and the Chinese Language of Wine

Last month I was travelling in Asia with a group of winemakers participating in the International Wine Challenge Asian Trade Tastings, and everywhere talk was of the upcoming Mooncake or Mid-Autumn Festival. This is a popular Chinese lunar harvest festival, held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, (this year falling on Sep. 12th in our calendar) and close to the autumnal equinox.

For the Mooncake Festival, everyone gives and eats Mooncakes, a sweet pastry made from lotus seed paste. As can be expected during the wine tastings, the topic often turned to ‘which wine to pair with Mooncakes?’ Our suggestion, as can be seen below, falls on Chaminé and Cortes de Cima.

Wine and Mooncakes pairing

For a Chinese wine drinker, using Western terms like ‘blackcurrant’ may be meaningless. In the language of wine, both tasting notes and food pairing ideas need to be linked to Asia’s owns flavors and cuisine. “The extraordinary wide array of flavors to be found in Asian cuisine provides a rich local vocabulary to describe wine’s range of flavors and textures.”  - Jeannie Cho Lee MW.

We asked a HongKong based wine educator the Independent Wine Centre to elaborate CHINESE TASTING NOTES and CHINESE FOOD MATCHING suggestions based on some of our wines. Here they are!-

Chaminé Tinto

CHINESE TASTING NOTES : Intense fragrance of dried prunes and preserved plums.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Mongolian barbecue, Cantonese style roast meat. Mooncake.

Chaminé Branco

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: This wine is more fragrant than Chinese pear. It is fresh and lively.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Steamed fresh seafood, Salt and pepper stir fried dish in Southern China

Cortes de Cima

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: Its long aftertaste is reminiscent of roast sesame and the bitter sweetness of ginseng.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH:Braised good quality abalone, Braised sea cucumber with shrimp roe. Mooncake

Syrah

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: Westerners will describe the aroma as mineral but in the food culture of Chinese, this 2007 Syrah reminds us of one of our beloved food – dried seafood, especially dried scallops.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Peking duck, river fish cooked in Northern China style

Touriga Nacional

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: It is not easy to describe this wine in a few words but it reminds us of the rich and colourful smells of a Shanghai candy store.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Stew beef brisket in clay pot, Preserved meat with rice, Fried glutinous rice

Incógnito

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: The fruit aroma is intense, with a strong fried pancake flavour, and a hint of sweet lotus taste.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Cantonese style clay pot dishes, cheese platter shared with a few friends.

Wine paired with Chili Crab in Hong Kong

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Chaminé Branco

Vintage
2013
Type
White wine
AVIN
AVIN9011343222630
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Antão Vaz, Viogner, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc

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Herbaceous crispness with a final burst of acidity.
A blend of local and international varieties from our cool Alentejan Atlantic coastal vineyards.

Cortes de Cima Branco

Vintage
2012
Type
White wine
AVIN
AVIN1253068718588
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Alvarinho, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc

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A barrel aged blend of local and international varieties grown on our cool Atlantic coastal vineyards and in the warmer Alentejan interior.

Sauvignon Blanc

Vintage
2013
Type
White wine
AVIN
AVIN0747209937538
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Sauvignon Blanc

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A 100% Sauvignon Blanc produced exclusively from grapes grown at our new coastal vineyards near Vila Nova de Milfontes on the Alentejan coast, 3 km from the Atlantic Ocean.

Courela

Vintage
2012
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN6659422379078
Country
Portugal
Region
Vinho
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Aragonez, Syrah, Touriga Nacional

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Fresh, light bodied and easy drinking. With intense ruby colours and attractive ripe berry character. A fresh and young wine that is ready for immediate drinking.

The name Courela originates from one of our vineyard plots – Courela dos Pageis, and translates as ‘a strip of cultivated land’.

Chaminé

Vintage
2012
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN8238219200443
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Aragonez, Syrah, Touriga Nacional

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This is our most popular wine, boasting a consistent track record. A juicy, ripe, easy drinking wine, bottled early, usually within 6 months of harvest time and without any oak ageing. Best drunk young, but will improve with short term cellaring. Mainly Aragonez (Tempranillo) and Syrah, blended with other Portuguese varieties.

The name Chaminé (pronounced: sha-min-E; translation: chimney) originates from one of our vineyard plots – Chaminé de Gião

Cortes de Cima

Vintage
2011
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN5337188430035
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Syrah, Aragonez, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot

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Our flagship wine. Full bodied blend with ripe, silky tannins.

Syrah

Vintage
2012
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN1561325374720
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Syrah

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Ripe rich fruit with some earth and spice.
In 1991, we were the first ones to plant Syrah in the Alentejo, choosing rootstock from southern Rhone clones. Today, our range consists of 3 different 100% Syrah varietals.

Aragonez

Vintage
2011
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN8333534934179
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Aragonez

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OUT OF STOCK!

 

Outstanding tannins with aromas of red berry fruits.

Known as Tempranillo in Spain, and Tinta Roriz in the north of Portugal. Always an elegant wine, it has richness with structure and outstanding tannins, which impart a good ageing ability.


Trincadeira

Vintage
2012
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN7243266122878
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Trincadeira

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One of the more common indigenous varieties in Southern Portugal, characterized by fruit, and low tannins.


Petit Verdot

Vintage
2010
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN4185313604506
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Petit Verdot

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Intense concentration, strong tannins, aromatic complexity with a refreshing natural acidity.

One of the ‘noble’ Bordeaux varieties. A late ripener, it is better suited for warmer climates, like Alentejo, where it can reach a good maturity, resulting in wines of intense concentration and color, strong tannins and aromatic complexity, while maintaining it’s freshness, thanks to it’ s ability to maintain it’s natural acidity.


Homenagem a Hans Christian Andersen

Homenagem a Hans Christian Andersen

Vintage
2010
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN5643201457638
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Syrah

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A special commemorative 100% Syrah launched for the bicentennial of the Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. Elegant with a soft, long finish.

In 1991, we were the first ones to plant Syrah in the Alentejo, choosing rootstock from southern Rhone clones. Today, our range consists of 3 different 100% Syrah varietals. Starting with the entry level is our popular ‘Cortes de Cima Syrah’, which is bottled every vintage. Next, we move up a notch both in concentration and quality, to the mid-level range – ‘Homenagem a Hans Christian Andersen’, bottled in most vintages. We culminate at the top, with our reserve quality labeling, the iconic ‘Incógnito’, only bottled in exceptional years.


Touriga Nacional

Vintage
2008
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN1005369110994
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Touriga Nacional

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OUT OF STOCK!

 

Lifted violet and dark berry fruit aromatics, elegant intense and long palate.

Best known as one of the 5 main varieties used for Port wine, further south here in the Alentejo it’s fruit develops a highly floral and aromatic character. It is a low producer, with both small bunches and berries.

Previous vintages have won numerous gold medals and trophies, including IWC Best Portuguese Red Trophy (2005), IWC Touriga Trophy (2003), and the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wine List (2002).


Incógnito

Vintage
2009
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN0599463793654
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Syrah

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OUT OF STOCK!

 

Bold, superb balance and sumptuous finish. The mystery name refers to a time when Syrah was not permitted in Alentejo.


Reserva

Vintage
2009
Type
Red wine
AVIN
AVIN6427214909051
Country
Portugal
Region
Alentejo
Producer
Cortes de Cima
Varietals
Aragonez, Syrah

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OUT OF STOCK!

 

The top of the range, made only in exceptional years. Complex layers of fruit, long on the palate with solid tannins.

This is the star of our range, only produced in limited quantities and in exceptional years. A full bodied blend of Aragonez, Syrah and other Portuguese varieties, barrel aged for 12 months in new oak barrels. The wine is finely structured, with a feeling of restrained power.

Previous vintages have always scored +90 Parker Points.


Olive Oil

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Our Olive Oil is produced from our own olive trees, which are from the Portuguese variety, Cobrançosa, planted shortly after our arrival to Cortes de Cima in 1988. As with our vineyards, our olivegroves are accredited under a sustainable program called ‘Integrated Protection’, which limits and regulates the use of chemicals.


Vinegar

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Created from pure red wine from the Portuguese Touriga Nacional variety. Aged for 5 years in American oak barrels.


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