Second wine of Domaine de Long Dai. In 2020, the Long Dai team imagined Hu Yue. Together with its elder brother, the second wine expresses the subtle elegance of its terroir. It reveals deep aromatics of black fruits and a spicy character that sets it apart. Its name is inspired by the strength of the tiger, China’s second most sacred animal (Hu), and the five sacred mountains of China (Yue), evocative of the amber beauty of the majestic hillside from which it is sourced, hidden among the vines. It is a harmonious blend of emblematic Bordeaux grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – and more southern grapes (Marselan and Syrah).
2020: Hu Yue reveals aromas of red fruit such as cherry and redcurrant, with spicy, liquoricey notes giving it a generous, powerful bouquet. After a fresh attack, the palate offers good roundness and length, underscored by fine-grained tannins and notes of sweet spices such as vanilla. On aeration, light roasted notes emerge, giving the wine a very well-balanced character.
2019: Hu Yue is defined by aromas of red fruits such as red currant and cherry, followed by spicy notes of licorice and white pepper revealing a complex and yet refined nose. The attack is fresh, with a balanced structure and an enveloping mouthfeel. The length, supported by silky tannins, is distinguished by light notes of cocoa, perfectly underlining the harmony of this wine.
WA 90: The 2020 Hu Yue has lifted, perfumed red and black fruit, showing cassis, bramble, black cherry, red and black plum as well as touch of blueberry (from the Marselan and Syrah elements) combining with herbaceous notes of green bell pepper and grass. There’s a hint of clove and toast (the wine saw only 10% new oak barriques, with the remainder being matured in stainless steel and old oak over some 12 months). On the palate, it is medium-bodied with ripe, fine-grained tannins, buoyant acidity and well-integrated 13.5% alcohol, with a core of moderately concentrated, attractive fruit showing some of the complexity of the blend, complemented by that touch of savory oak. With its moderate length, this is of the same quality as the 2019 Hu Yue but a very different expression in terms of vintage characteristics. Already approachable, the 2020 Hu Yue can be enjoyed now and will also improve in bottle somewhat over the next 2-3 years.
JS 92: The expressive and elegant nose is loaded with fruit. Crushed blueberries, strawberries, currants, sour cherries, fine spices and violets. Linear and really juicy and bright on the crunchy, medium-bodied palate with vibrant red and blue fruit and tight yet silky tannins. Pure and really drinkable and textured, even though it is not quite profound. Precise. 53% cabernet sauvignon, 21% cabernet franc, 12% marselan, 8% syrah and 6% merlot. Enjoy now.
WA 90: This is the second vintage release of Domaine de Long Dai’s second wine, Hu Yue. I first tasted the 2019 Hu Yue at its Beijing launch on June 20, 2021, and then again during Dragon Phoenix’s Fine Wine Forum in Shanghai (June 25, 2021), where the wine was discussed by Jean-Guillaume Prats (then DBR Lafite GM) with Charles Treutenaere (Long Dai GM). However, I wanted to review the wine outside of the distractions of events and did so in the relative quiet of Long Dai itself on visiting there again in July 2021. The 2019 Hu Yue is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Marselan, 15% Syrah and 11% Cabernet Franc and sports a deep ruby appearance. On the nose, 2019 Hu Yue is more immediately lifted than the 2018 vintage, with some perfumed, violet-scented blueberry, black cherry and damson fruit. There is only a hint of herbaceous character, even though Cabernet Sauvignon makes up the majority of the blend—flanked by the usually leafier Cabernet Franc—partly a reflection of the warmer 2019 vintage (certainly warmer and with more sunshine hours than 2017). So, it’s the Marselan and Syrah components that really drive the lifted, fruity character here, complemented by a hint of toasted oak—the wine saw only 10% new small-format French oak. There’s also some black cherry and cassis from the Cabernet-family parts of this blend. On the palate, the 2019 Hu Yue is medium-bodied but somewhat richer than the 2018, at least in terms of alcohol (it wears its 14.5% alcohol relatively well). The Cabernet influence really lies in the palate with the 2019’s notable acid drive and coating, fine-grained tannins. There is arguably greater finesse to the polish of the tannins in the 2019 compared with the 2018 Hu Yue, but does the 2018 show a bit more concentration? In quality terms, the two Hu Yue vintages released to date are close to each other but will need retasting over time. With its moderate length, the 2019 Hu Yue is another solid effort in the emergent story of Long Dai’s second wine. The wine is still aimed squarely at the estate’s visitors and wine club members (as it is not released for retail) while Pernod Ricard distributes the Grand Vin in China.
JS 93: Really racy and bright on the nose with plenty of strawberries, fine spices, olives and minerals. Linear but generously fruity on the center palate, with a fine wrap of powdery tannins. Sleek, bright and pretty refined. Very attractive and approachable. 57% cabernet sauvignon, 17% marselan, 15% syrah and 11% cabernet franc. Drink now, although will keep well for the next four to five years.