M is for Marselan #WinePW

Wine Pairing Weekend Plays with “M” Wines
Our monthly Wine Pairing Weekend blogging group takes on just about any challenge. This month, our host Lori from Dracaena Wines is hosting and we are joining her in her monthly “Winephabet” posts. So, we’ll all pick a wine that begins with the letter “M” and explore the wine with a food pairing of our choice. Should be fun! Do you have a favorite “M” wine? Take a look further down in this post to see if one of our bloggers highlighted your favorite.

Marselan wine from Amethyard winery in China

M is for Marselan. Never heard of it? Not surprising. Read on!

M is for Marselan
If the Marselan grape is new to you, don’t be surprised. It’s new to me, too. I have a project in my “real job” that takes me to China on a regular basis, and I’ve been trying to explore Chinese wines a bit. I recently found out that the Marselan grape is grown at a number of the many wineries springing up in various parts of China. So much so that it is being talked about as the possible signature grape of Chinese wine.

Can you see the Great Wall from Amethyst Manor winery? Maybe!

Marselan is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache and it is a young variety, only being created in 1961. Paul Truel was a researcher at the National Agricultural Research Institute Vineyard at Vassal, near Montpelier in the south of France. Paul’s goal with this particular cross was to retain the intriguing aroma and structure of Cabernet Sauvignon while adding the heat resistance and vigor of the Grenache variety.

While Marselan is not well known, it is grown in 20+ countries and starting this year, even has a “wine day” in World Marselan Day. I found out about Marselan and World Marselan Day on my last trip to Shanghai, and I was able to bring home what I thought was a nice bottle from Pudao Wines.

The back label of a Chinese wine bottle from Amethyard Vineyard

Google Translate comes to the rescue when it comes to reading the back of the Chinese wine bottle!

The Amethyst Manor Wines Back Label Surprise
Initially I smiled, thinking the back label of the bottle wouldn’t be of much use. I don’t read Chinese and I was headed back to the US, so my Chinese work colleagues wouldn’t be able to help. I decided to try Google translate. I have found Google translate to always be entertaining, and sometimes even useful. Imagine my surprise when this came up:

“Huailai Amethyst Estate is located in Huailai City, Hebei Province, China’s high-quality wine producing region. The location of the production area is unique. The north can overlook Guanting Reservoir and the south can overlook Yanshan North Great Wall of Ming Dynasty. The estate integrates grape cultivation, wine production, filling, grape culture propagation and wine cellar possession service. It depends on the unique natural conditions and climate of the excellent soil in the Huailai production area – the overlapping layers of the Jiayi Lake. Amethyst Estate Wine with distinctive personality. This wine uses 50% of American barrels, 50% of Hungarian barrels, and is stored in 14 barrels. The body is dark purple, full of mature berries such as cherry plums and oak barrels. Aromas of vanilla, chocolate, etc. The entrance is sweet and charming, full bodied and full of tannins, with a pleasant and long-lasting aroma. It is not only suitable for family drinks but also for social business occasions, with a net level of 14% vol.”

Amethyst Manor Amethyard Marselan 2014 (469 RMB, about $76)
Eye: Clear, deeply colored ruby with a purple edge. Deeply stains the glass on swirling, no gas or sediment
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Fresh, ripe blueberries & blackberries. Herbal edge of rosemary, and a touch of green pepper, but very well controlled. Cooking spices, fresh cedar shavings.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity flavors, medium acidity, medium+ tannins. Medium+ body, medium+ alcohol. Dark fruit flavors with nicely rounded texture. Fruit forward, but not overly extracted or overly oaky. Medium+ finish lingers nicely. This is an excellent quality wine with good balance, length, rich intensity and interesting complexity. Drinking nicely now, could definitely benefit from more aging, 5-10 years.

Amethyard Marselan Chinese wine paired with steak and spaghetti squash

When faced with a totally unknown red wine, I default to simple grilled red meat as a pairing. How about you?

“M” Wines from my Wine Pairing Weekend Buddies
Join us Saturday May 12 at 10am CDT for our twitter chat about the wine that starts with the letter “M”! Look for us at #WinePW on Twitter. Take a look below to see if one of our group picked your favorite “M” wine:

Amethyard Marselan red wine paired with grilled steak and spaghetti squash

Our Chinese Marselan paired beautifully with simple grilled meat with squash, also prepared on the grill

Pairing Dinner with Chinese Marselan
I had little idea of what to expect from a Chinese Marselan. I understood the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, but would the winery take an old world or new world approach? The Hebei province is pretty far north, the winters can be cold, but how about the summers? How about the viticulture techniques?

The more modest Chinese wines I’ve tried to date often impressed me as somehow “odd”. As if they were trying, but somehow missed something fundamental in the formula.  I needn’t have worried! When the wine is a bit of a mystery, I go with a nice simple meal featuring grilled red meat. Today I grilled our favorite tenderloin steaks from our friends at Sunshine Harvest Farm. Alongside the steak, I cooked spaghetti squash, leeks, and wilted some kale. I mixed the veggies with a bit of simple olive oil & vinegar dressing and dinner was served. The Marselan was delicious with our meal. While it was fruit forward, it was not overly extracted and the oak was subtle. A big, structured red wine was indeed a great choice with our steak, and the grilled flavors in the veggies paired nicely as well. A winner all around.

Explore Chinese Marselan wine at www.foodwineclick.com


14 Responses to “M is for Marselan #WinePW”
  1. Lynn says:

    That’s one almost perfect translation! A nice find this wine (and World Marselan Day). I’ll bet the meat was superb with it, but what about that side veggie? Spaghetti squash?!?

  2. wendyklik says:

    Wow…good job Google and thanks Jeff for sharing this wine that I, otherwise, would have never heard of or known about.

  3. Fascinating. I hope some day to try Marselan.

  4. So I guess that make Marselan a grandchild of Cabernet Franc! Now I really have to find one! I did look around a little when you were posting about the holiday, to no luck.. but it is now on my radar!

  5. Amber says:

    That wine sounds delightful. Lol about Google Translate! I absolutely adore the gorgeous label on the bottle. So beautiful.

  6. Lisa Denning says:

    It’s always fun to discover a new grape variety! Thanks for sharing. I’ll be keeping an eye out for a Marselan.

  7. Cooking Chat says:

    Interesting to learn about Marselan, now I need to try some! Looks like a good pairing, too.

  8. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    I’m really intrigued by both Marselan and by Chinese Wines. I haven’t yet had a chance to try many Chinese wines and my understanding is that they’re very much a work in progress. Cool to hear about this one, as it sounds really in balance. My first chance to try a quantity of Mareselan was actually on the same trip to Israel I mentioned in my post this month. They make quite a bit of it too.
    I had some really nice versions and interested to try more!

  9. Jill Barth says:

    Very cool Jeff! I’d love to try a bottle and will check around. This this bottle at a standard price point? Curious about the added cost of importing from China.

  10. Thank you so much for turning us on to Marselan Day. It forced me to scavenge the shops in NYC to find a bottle, and I’m so glad I did. It was delicious! Speaking of delicious, your pairing looks perfect – I’d like to eat those vegetables right now.

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