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    Cathay Pacific
    Raising the bar: Cathay Pacific takes fine wines from China to the skies
    Discover gems from four leading Chinese wineries in First class and Business
    A glass of wine in front of an airplane window

    Travel is all about discovering new experiences that delight our senses. It’s akin to the feeling of tasting an exquisite wine: the aromas and flavours stimulate the nose and palate, and an elegant finish lingers as a conversation on the virtues of the drink breaks out among connoisseurs. 

    In recent years, perhaps no wine has generated as much excited discussion as those produced in China. And now, as part of our Discovery wine series, Cathay Pacific’s First class and Business passengers will be able to savour wines produced by four leading Chinese wineries on board our aircraft until 31 May. Since 2020, our Dining and Hospitality teams’ Discovery wine series has introduced premium wines curated under interesting themes, such as the “Women in Wine” series featuring labels by leading female winemakers.  

    “We meticulously curate these exceptional wine programmes to evoke the joy of discovery. Our goal is to introduce high-quality, exciting wines to surprise and delight our passengers,” says Vivian Lo, General Manager Customer Experience and Design at Cathay Pacific. 

    With the new “China Wines” series, Ronald Khoo, Cathay Pacific’s Wine, Spirits & Beverages Manager, hopes to show how much the Chinese winemaking industry has evolved in recent years. He says, “China now has the world’s third-largest vineyard area in the world, behind Spain and France. Major players like the LVMH group and DBR Lafite have invested in vineyards in regions like Yunnan and Shandong. It shows that the terroir quality here is good and that China can make high quality wines when equipped with expertise and technical know-how.” 

    Four vintage wines served on board

    For the inflight selection, three wines – one each from the Ningxia-based wineries Grace Vineyards, Silver Heights and Xige Estate – have been chosen for Business cabins, while the 2020 vintage of the DBR Lafite-backed Domaine de Long Dai is served in First class. These wines were selected by Master of Wine Debra Meiburg, Cathay wine consultant Roy Moorfield, and Khoo at one of their quarterly tasting sessions, during which they tried about 40 wines from various Chinese wineries.  

    “No matter the theme of the series, quality is always the priority,” says Khoo of the trio’s process of narrowing down their choices to the four vintages served on board. “All four wine labels chosen have that in common – they have a great, delicate quality.” 

    Being able to represent the unique qualities of China’s wine scene is also important. For instance, marselan, a lesser-known French grape variety that’s been dubbed China’s signature grape, is featured in two of the selections, including Domaine Long  Dai 2020.  Made with a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and marselan, Domaine Long Dai 2020 boasts a vibrant nose of spices, plum, cherry, currant and hints of graphite and fresh flowers. Its impressive structure and delicate tannins accentuate the roundness of the wine and leave a beautiful finish, making it a perfect pairing for hearty red meat dishes. 

    “Our First class wine menu features Grand Cru calibre wines like the Krug Vintage Champagne 2004, the Chateau Lynch-Bages 2008 and the Chateau Montrose 2006,” says Khoo. “We want to bring the very best to our customers, and Domaine de Long Dai’s precise approach to winemaking is very impressive, so it’s a natural choice for First class.” 

    Domaine de Long Dai building
    Domaine de Long Dai vineyards
    Domaine de Long Dai wines

    Since releasing its first vintage – the Long Dai 2017 – the winery based in Shandong’s Qiushan Valley has won ample praise from wine critics. Some even called its red wine a “game-raising” blend for China. 

    “Every appellation in the world is different, and we don’t try to copy other regions. Our aim at Long Dai is to let our wine fully express the terroir and to produce 100 per cent Qiushan Valley wine,” says Charles Treutenaere, Domaine de Long Dai’s Estate Director. “We’re delighted to have Cathay Pacific as the first airline in the world to serve our wine inflight.” 

    To ensure the wines are served to the standard expected by First class passengers, Khoo conducted a training session with a core group of cabin crew, guiding them through a tasting of the entire “China Wines” Discovery series. Talking points about the series were also disseminated to other cabin crew members before the start of the promotion. 

    “Our cabin crew already have basic wine knowledge from their training. We also run in-depth sessions periodically to enhance their understanding of wine, such as food pairing knowledge, how altitude affects wine, and the importance of serving wine at the correct temperature,” adds Khoo. “What’s more, our First class cabin is equipped with Riedel glassware, which is the perfect vessel to showcase the Long Dai 2020.”

    While the “China Wines” series concludes at the end of May, Khoo believes there’s room for a sequel if the feedback is positive. “China is such a huge country, and there are many great wine regions and wineries to explore,” he says. 

    If you’re flying First class or Business, be sure to look for these gems on the wine menu. You can learn more about them below. 

    A box of Domaine De Long Dai 2020 (Shandong)
    A glass of Domaine De Long Dai 2020 (Shandong)

    First class 

    Domaine De Long Dai 2020 (Shandong) 

    Developed by the DBR Lafite, Domaine de Long Dai began in 2009 when the group purchased land in Shandong province’s Qiushan Village and built the vineyard from scratch.  

    Made with cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and marselan, this medium- to full-bodied wine entices you with aromas of fine spices, plums, cherries, currants, minerals and freshly picked flowers. Its impressive structure and rounded tannins translate beautifully to a long finish. 

    Silver Heights Jiayuan Marselan 2021 (Ningxia)

    Business cabins 

    Silver Heights Jiayuan Marselan 2021 (Ningxia) 

    Founded by Emma Gao in 2007, Silver Heights Vineyard is a fully biodynamic vineyard which embraces natural techniques in farming.  

    This full-bodied red wine made from 100 per cent marselan reveals rich aromas of crushed violets, blueberries, vanilla and graphite, followed by a palate of fine tannins. 

    Grace Vineyard Tasya's Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018 (Ningxia)

    Grace Vineyard Tasya's Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018 (Ningxia) 

    This family-owned vineyard was founded in 1997. Under the leadership of Judy Chan, it recently secured a spot on the prestigious 2023 World’s Best Vineyards list. 

    Made from 100 per cent cabernet franc, this red wine features a woody, fruity nose and a palate that bursts with rich berries and ripe pepper, finished with smooth tannins and a beautiful length. 

    Xige Estate Jade Dove Single Vineyard Cabernet Gernischt 2019 (Ningxia)

    Xige Estate Jade Dove Single Vineyard Cabernet Gernischt 2019 (Ningxia) 

    Xige Estate was founded in 2017 by Zhang Yanzhi, a Bordeaux L'Ecole du Vin-trained winemaker.  

    Made from cabernet gernischt, this red wine offers spicy nuances of cinnamon, nutmeg and wood with red and dark fruit aromas, and is framed by delicate tannins and a fruity freshness on the finish. 

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