Battle of the Giants: blind tasting of the world’s greatest wine brands

How would Changyu’s Noble Dragon stack up against some of the world’s most popular mass wine brands? Patrick Schmitt MW and a team of experts put it to the test at a recent blind tasting event in London.

The blind tasting of the world’s top wine brands took place at Asia House in London on October 14

Measuring success in the wine world is generally done in two ways: by looking at the level of acclaim of criticism, or by the scale of demand. And while both are valid ways of doing things, one approach is about collection status, the other is about the amounts of wine consumed.

In a series of tastings at Asia House in London last month, we looked at wines that had reached the pinnacle in each measure of success. The first concerned the question of critical acclaim, focusing on a collection of wines so sought after that they were chosen when the heads of state came. The second tasting, the subject of this report, focused on wine brands so great that they are distributed all over the world and consumed by the millions.

These names will all be known to you, from Antinori to Jacob’s Creek, from Gallo to Mouton Cadet, but one of them, as big as those leviathans of the wine trade, comes from China. The question we wanted to answer was whether this large-scale label was as good as its competitors in other parts of the world, or even better. And if so, he would surely have just as much the right to be on the shelves of major brands around the world?

To test its quality and style, we have organized a special tasting for professionals: a blind sampling of the world’s biggest wine brands in high volume. The idea was to see if the style and quality of Chinese wine – Noble Dragon from Changyu – were similar to long-respected global names.

After testing it with some of the world’s most admired palaces, it turned out yes it does. Indeed, for many, it was in the top three of the best global brands, beating a string of labels of respected brands (see box of results opposite), and arriving in first place with Jacob’s Creek and Antinori.

It was important for two reasons. It has shown that Chinese Changyu can produce wine in attractive style at an affordable price, and it has also shown that he can do something good quality on a large scale.

But there was something else that was particularly important in this result. For many people in China, their first taste of wine will be Noble Dragon. This means that this unique label has an extremely important role to play: it recruits new drinkers in the wine category.

If the wine is not sweet, ripe, appealing, and refreshing, it could fail in this endeavor. Fortunately, it was all of those things. And, with that in mind, its quality is key to China’s rapid emergence as a wine market – a development that everyone in the wine world should benefit from, including the brands that it enhanced during our tasting. blindly.

Results with scores on a 100 point scale

Changyu Noble Dragon Reserve – 90
Jacob’s Creek Cabernet Sauvignon – 90
Villa Antinori Rosso – 90
Mouton Cadet by Mouton Rothschild – 89
Casillero de Diablo de Concha y Toro – 89
Torres Sangre de Toro – 89
Trivento Malbec – 89
JP Chenet Merlot – 89
Rawson’s Retreat Private Tour by
Penfolds – 88
Canti Vino Rosso – 88
Woodbridge by Mondavi – 87
Tour Black Smooth Red – 86
Merlot from the Gallo family vineyards – 86

Judges’ comments on Noble Dragon Reserve

Eric Zwiebel MS
“It’s a good wine, well made, fruity, with a bit of structure, and it was one of my two best wines.”
Beverley Blanning MW
“It has a very attractive raspberry nose, and it’s easy to drink, smooth, forward – a decent wine.”
David Rond MW
“I really liked the wine 1 [Changyu Noble Dragon Reserve]; it was open, with ripe and expressive fruit on the nose, and
it was quite smooth and fleshy on the palate, with a little smoothness there, a good intensity; he was very
accessible, without edges. It was one of the strongest wines.

About Noble Dragon

Noble Dragon is China’s largest wine brand and originated from producer Changyu in Shandong. It was launched in 1931 and sells for over 30 million
bottles around the world every year.
It was the first Chinese wine to be stocked by UK supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and it is sold in 30 countries. The Changyu Noble Dragon Reserve Dry Red from this tasting included 80% Cabernet Gernischt, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2018 vintage. Cabernet Gernischt is independently grown in Changyu, China. The grapes come from the Yantai wine region in Shandong, and the chief winemaker is Dr. Li Jiming. It spends over six months in fine-grained oak barrels with medium heating.

The tasters

Patrick Schmitt MW
David Rond MW
Simon Field MW
Patricia Stefanowicz MW
Beverley Blanning MW
Isa Bal MS
Eric Zwiebel MS
Svetoslav Manolev MS


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Jean H. Vannatta