The Asian wineries making their mark on the industry

Wine production and consumption is now a global industry and Asian wineries are leading this charge. While the investment market is still dominated by the Old World wine makers in Burgundy and Bordeaux, there are increasing opportunities in some of the lesser known regions.

And for wine investors seeking value in a crowded market, the latter category offers a chance to get ahead.

Five Asian wineries to watch for fine wine investors

Asia is an enormous and incredibly diverse region. Climates vary from the harsh high-altitude conditions of the Himalayas to the more tropical climes of India. Yet this diversity of growing conditions means there are some interesting regional variations to investigate.

Asia has a lot to offer fine wine investors if you know where to look. Here are some of our favourites.

1. Chateau Sun God Great Wall, China

Most discussions of winemaking in Asia begin with China. Chinese wine production is booming, and interest is growing in the country’s leading wineries. Chateau Sun God on the spectacular Sanggan River is certainly one of them. Each year they produce a limited number of fine wines of the very highest quality.  

One to try:

Chateau Sun God Reserve Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005

A top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon from arguably the best winemakers in China.

2. Grace Vineyards, Japan

They’ve been making high quality wines at the Grace Vineyards site since 1923, and the current owners are the third generation of makers from the founding family. Over the years the winery has established an excellent reputation for creating high-quality wines. The 12-hectare site is in foothills of the Kayagatake mountain range and offers ideal growing conditions.

One to try:

Cuvée Misawa Rouge 2013

An excellent red with hints of cedar and liquorice..

3. Sula Vineyards, India

These vineyards close to Nashik in central India are located in a region that produces around 80 per cent of the country’s wine. The vineyard’s owners spent time honing their skills with the wine growers of California before starting the winery here. Today they’re producing some excellent vintages, with a focus on sustainability and community support.

One to try:

Sula Rasa

Our pick is a classic Shiraz, lovingly aged in oak barrels.

4. Château Mercian, Japan

It’s back to Japan for our next pick. The Château Mercian winery was one of the very first Japanese wine producers and was named Winery of the Year by the Asian Wine Review in 2019. It was well deserved – over the years they’ve used the cooler climate here to create some excellent reds as well as some crisp whites. A leading Asian winery with a long history and a promising future ahead.

One to try:

Iwade Koshu Kiiroka Cuvée Ueno

A typically citrus-packed white that shows off the skills of the team at Château Mercian.

5. Silver Heights, China

Silver Heights share the same latitude with wine making regions such as Napa, and Bordeaux. It’s in the perfect location to grow great wine grapes and they’ve produced some very high-quality wines that stand up well on the global market.

One to try:
Emma’s Reserve

Emma’s Reserve is a classy Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend that more than holds its own against a Bordeaux red.

Which lesser known wines are worth investing in?

Are lesser known wines worth exploring for investment purposes? We certainly think so. Classic wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy dominate the fine wine investment market, for good reason. These regions have a long and storied history of winemaking that investors trust.

But as investors buy up the best wines, they become rarer and prices rise. It means that it can be harder to find wine investments that offer good value.

One way to find value in this crowded fine wine market is by investing in a vintage from lesser known wine regions.

Which lesser known wines are worth investing in?

Winemaking is now a global phenomenon. Producers are springing up in plenty of new markets, particularly in Asia. But too often, investors overlook other traditional wine producing countries. Greece, Austria, Croatia and even Hungary are all well worth exploring for opportunities.

Here our guide to some of the best wines from these lesser known wine regions.

China – Ao Yun, 2013

In recent years China has fully embraced wine making. One of the most popular producers is Ao Yun. They produce their wines in the foothills of the Himalayas. Their wines use both local grapes as well wines based on as old classics like Cabernet Sauvignon. Our choice is the first vintage from Ao Yun, the 2013 red. The wine shows off its producer’s attention to detail, and it’s fine on the palate. A great advert for Chinese wines, and a maker worth watching for investors.

Greece – Douloufakis Dafnios, 2016

The wonderfully varied landscape of Greece is full of unique producers, but Eastern Mediterranean wines can be ignored by investors. And increasingly, many of them make high quality wines that are worth considering from an investment perspective. 

If you’re looking for an interesting white wine to invest in, consider one from Crete. Our pick is this white wine from the Douloufakis Winery, which has been making wines on the island since the 1930s. That expertise shines through in this mellow, citrusy white with a flavour hints of jasmine.

Austria – Johanneshof Reinisch Rotgipfler, 2016

Austria has a rich winemaking tradition and it is worth hunting down some of their more unusual grape varieties. For example, local winemakers harvest the rare Rotgipfler grape from a tiny area south of Vienna.

One of our favourite producers from this region is the excellent Johanneshof Reinisch winery south of Vienna. They produce a wonderful Rotgipfler, full of zesty freshness and a real depth. Our pick is their 2016 Satzing Rotgipfler, which is a high quality white wine and an excellent vintage that investors should look up.

Hungary – Tokaji Furmint, 2015

Tokaji is a Hungarian institution but is sometimes overlooked by fine wine investors. Producers make Tokaji from ‘botrytized’ grapes, which creates a sweet, intense white wine with a refreshing acidity.

Vines used to make Tokaji are prone to rot, which makes it harder to grow than other varieties. As a result, some Tokaji producers now use the grapes to make dry white wines. There are some interesting opportunities here for investors. Any wine from the Szepsy winery is worth investigating, and our pick is the earthy 2015 Tokaji Furmint.

Croatia – Miloš Stagnum, 2007

If you’re looking for a wine that will just get better and better with age, then look no further than Croatia’s plavac mali wines. This is the most famous red wine variety in the country, produced on the Dalmatian coast in ideal wine making conditions. Aged in barrels, the wines have a bold, fruity flavour profile. Our pick is the Miloš Stagnum 2007. It’s wonderfully well-balanced, with a rich, complex mix of fruit and figs.