OCTOBER 24 2012.

Our Wandering Palate Shanghai Correspondent and All-Australian, Michael Knuppel, is in the ‘Ruck’ with some of Australia’s finest at Shanghai’s hottest wine spot, the M1NT. Goal!

Four big players came to Shanghai Wednesday night to flex their muscles at M1NT, the burgeoning wine, food and entertainment complex in the heart of Waitan, The Bund.

If they were Australian Rules footballers, they would be your gun on baller, powerhouse center half forward, centurion goal kicker, and the general in defense. If you are not familiar with this sporting allusion, don’t worry. Take it from me these are some of Australia’s most important wine labels. I took along a client who is as enthusiastic about learning about Australian wines as I am in showing him the quality of some of our best vineyards and wine makers.

M1NT is a spectacular venue for these themed events. The previous fortnight saw Spain the hero of the Shanghai wine scene. Replete with tapas to accompany Albarino and Rioja, the event attracted an eclectic crowd that again demonstrates that rock hard core of passionate wine lovers who are thriving on the explosion of wine events in this city. We are truly spoilt for choice and quality in this great city, and now is as good a time as any to visit.

The four labels are all well known, especially to those with an understanding of Australian wine regions and styles. ASC Wines bring these labels into China, and their experienced and delightful staff were on hand to pour and discuss these wines.

Australian Front Forwards

Peter Lehmann wines have an incredible history, his story of establishing his winery almost overnight and providing quality growers with long term contracts to ensure their livelihood in a time when old vines were being pulled throughout the Barossa is folklore in the Australian wine industry.  On pour was The Futures 2009 shiraz, and 2006 The Mentor, pure Barossan cabernet in a traditional mold.  The Futures is a fresh, juicy, spicy shiraz of medium weight, pleasingly not over extracted, jammy or over ripe. Parker might not rate it, which is exactly the aim here. It is generous, with sweet plummy, floral fruit, and a great example of a more refined shiraz coming out of Barossa. The Mentor has some age, and is well balanced with tobacco, cedar, some earthy pine notes and a deep layer of chocolate, pipe and mocha.

Move away from the Barossa to the Adelaide Hills and we have Petaluma. Again, this is not going to be a history lesson, but the story of Petaluma is equally as infamous and important to the wine story of modern Australia, and to the flourishing quality and ongoing future of the Adelaide Hills as a region for pure, rich, fine wines.

Petaluma’s Hanlon Hill is always one of Australia’s great Rieslings, different to Grosset and Mt Horrocks and Leasingham who all hail from Clare, but no less important. The 2011 was another in a long line of very good vintages for this grape in the Hills. It has a lovely brace of floral acidity and already some toasty, lime and petrol notes, and will enter in a year or two that dip in vibrancy before it evolves into a rich, long cellared white wine.  It cries out for prawns.

The Adelaide Hills chardonnay is all about ginger, spice, lanolin and melon flavours on the nose and palate. It is long and fine, a lovely wine for a wide range of food. The Coonawarra, a blend of cabernet, merlot, petit verdot and sometimes shiraz, is an icon in the Australian wine scene and a must in any serious wine cellar. It has gorgeous blackcurrant, brambly fruit, with finely judged tannins that will ensure this will evolve into a classic. I recently took a 2001 Coonawarra to a wine club dinner, tasted blind. It was rich, complex, superbly balanced with echoes of Bordeaux-like complexity. It was peaking, but these wines love a cellar.

I took my companion on a bit of a chardonnay odyssey. M1NT allowed me to line up Petaluma next to Stonier’s 2011 chardonnay from the gorgeous Mornington Peninsula in Victoria,  and Leeuwin Estate’s Margaret River 2010 Prelude.  The Stonier’s was brimming with grapefruit, melon, some sherbet-like flavours and stone fruit. It is a world away from the old oaked monsters and is refined, almost delicate and soft.

The Leeuwin is a different beast, and as a little brother to the Leeuwin Art Series Chardonnay, arguably Australia’s top three Chardonnays in any vintage, it over delivers with rich, nutty and citrus notes on the nose, followed by a lemony, melon, toasty palate that lingers long; a wonderful, great value chardonnay from the home of some of Margaret River’s premier vineyards.

ASC also had the Leeuwin Art Series Shiraz. Now, I reckon this is slightly under rated. Perhaps it’s my palate, but I am a huge admirer of the pepper, tight sweet berry fruit and lick of vanilla you get in the spicy, round shiraz. Again, this over delivers when you consider it is a third the price of the Art Series chardonnay.

Earlier this year I flew to Australia to bottle my own Pinot from Mornington Peninsula.  Less than 2 kilometres from where I source my fruit is Stoniers, in Merricks. To try Stonier’s current Pinots, the 2011 and the 2009 Reserve was a treat. The 2011 is gorgeous, ripe with brambly forest floor fruit, strawberry and cherry, sweet, spicy, and perfectly balanced. This is a terrific example of great MP Pinot from a tricky year, but those who picked at the right time and avoided the threat of powdery and downy mildew ended up with deep, ripe, aromatic fruit. The 2009 Reserve is as you’d expect; bigger texture but very refined and balanced, with less obvious oak and morello cherry, spice and plum on the palate.

M1NT has carved out an important niche slice of the wine market here. When you combine their excellent online wine service shipping wines direct to customers efficiently, and usually on the same day as you order, add their ridiculously well priced package selections smartly put together by the experienced, and super knowledgeable Head Sommelier Alex Cumming, and learn that their retail arm has recently opened as well, they are must destination for anyone in China who values great world wine from experienced professionals.

ASC Wines have a rich portfolio, and staff who know their product very well. They can be contacted on (86-21) 6056 1999 Fax: (86-21) 6445 3202

17F, BM International Business Centre, No 100 Yutong Road, Shanghai, China – Contact Cherry Hu 138 1806 733

M1NT hosts Wine evenings every fortnight on their roof top terrace which affords spectacular views across the Bund. Their restaurant is humming with superbly designed, cooked and presented meals, and their wine list is incredibly diverse and well priced. What you get here is the excellent knowledge as well, often absent from staff charged with suggesting wine choices.  M1NT can be contacted on

M1NT • 24 Floor 318 Fuzhou Lu • Shanghai • China • 200001

Email Reservations: Call + 86 21 6391 2811

DI Vine entertainment coordinate wine related events, and based on this tasting, are experienced, knowledgeable and deliver a smart well – judged event.

Contact Roxanna at Divine on +86 186 2184 9336

Suite 1219, 12th Floor Su He Yi Hao, 638 Hengfeng Road Shanghai


By Michael Knuppel | Buying Wine | Related to: , , , , |

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