WineHandpicked by IWSC

Wine writer Marie Cheong-Thong selects 8 top Chinese and Japanese wines

Wine and sake writer, expert and educator Marie Cheong-Thong shares the wines from China and Japan that she rated most highly at the IWSC 2021

Words by Vahan Agulian & IWSC Judges

marie cheong-thong on vineyard backdrop
Handpicked by IWSC

With 15 years of experience in writing about wine and sake – and with a particular focus on drinks produced in Asian countries – it’s interesting to hear Marie Cheong-Thong’s thoughts on the current trajectory of wines from China and Japan. ‘Asian wines have, over the years, improved tremendously. I am so impressed with the quality and variety that producers are coming up with. The innovation and styles are just phenomenal,’ she says.

The board director for the British Sake Association and member of the Circle of Wine Writers was called upon for judging at the IWSC 2021, tasting her way through wines made in a range of regions across the two countries. ‘Both China and Japan are experimenting and creating some delicious wines, and their producers are proud and confident enough to put them into competitions,’ Cheong-Thong said.

marie cheong-thong holding chinese wine at iwsc judging 2021
Takahata Winery's Arkadia Select Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2017 was Marie Cheong-Thong's top Japanese wine from judging

‘Both reds and whites were of very good quality,’ said Cheong-Thong. Although, her top eight from judging were all red wines – highlighting the dominance for black grapes in Japanese and Chinese winemaking.

Takahata Winery’s Arkadia Select Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2017 took the highest honour in the judging, awarded a gold medal for its refreshing notes of ripe sweet plums, morello cherries and spice, finishing with a fresh peppercorn and mint finish.

Cheong-Thong gave special mention to Junding’s Dongfang from Shandong province, a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend highlighting the success of these styles of wine currently being made in Chinese and Japanese wine regions. It displayed a smoked-hay and brewed-tea nose, delightfully entwined with ripe blackcurrant, zesty apples and hints of soaked raisin.

Read on to see Marie Cheong-Thong’s top Chinese and Japanese wines from the IWSC 2021.