Chateau Changyu Moser: New plans for the new year

In celebration of Chinese New Year on 1 February, we’re finding out more about the growth and innovation happening at Chateau Changyu Moser XV in Ningxia, China. We spoke to Lenz Moser about his future plans for the winery.

Which improvements are you looking to make in the next few years, whether in your wines or at the winery itself?

Well, the good news is that when you’ve only started six years ago, I know what is to come, and what is still in the barrels for the vintages of 2020 and 2021. We are going to improve the quality of the wines, and we are working on the style of the wines. The quality is a given, and once a year you have the opportunity to improve upon it. But what we are working on, is to create a style of wine that is unmistakably Ningxia. If you smell a glass of Bordeaux, you know it’s a Bordeaux. And we are working on something similar for Ningxia, so in 10 years’ time, when people open a bottle – not just from the Chateau, but also from the other wineries – people should know that this distinctive wine is from Ningxia.

There’s no more trying to copy anyone. For example, we are the only people in the world doing a white Cabernet in stainless steel – it’s unique, and people like it. And pretty soon we’re going biodynamic! This has been on the cards for more than two years, and it’s a bit difficult to do it without me being there. But also, regarding our carbon neutral operations, I am in contact with the CEO weekly, and we have to take our responsibility seriously. I’ll do my part by traveling less, and I’m trying to cut my traveling by 50%. My personal carbon footprint in the past has been a disaster, so this is definitely something I have to improve on!

I read that you are now in your second five-year phase with Changyu Moser. What does that entail, and how is it coming along?

Well, we had a little setback over the last two years or so, because I couldn’t travel to China, and there’s only so much you can do on Zoom or WeChat. So, I want to change the game there, but it’s on hold for a while. The big initiative for this five-year plan is the biodynamic aspect, becoming more eco-friendly in the vineyard, in the winery, and in shipping, and becoming carbon neutral. Our most important goal will be to improve the quality of the wines, and we’re discussing planting more grape varieties as well, because it’s very unique to run a 250ha estate with only Cabernet. So I’d like to have the opportunity to play and blend a little bit, because Cabernet is best when it is blended. We don’t need much, but we need a little bit! 

What is your ideal food and wine pairing with your favourite wine?

The good thing is, I don’t have a favourite wine! I pick wine depending on the mood I want to be in, not the mood I am in. So for example, for a family dinner, I don’t want to wind down with a big red. It will put me to sleep! I want to have some fun, so I will choose a white wine – either the Changyu Moser XV White Cabernet, or my New Chapter wine from Austria. I don’t do the conventional food and wine pairing, but I rather pick my wine, and ask the chef to bring me something that goes with it – I don’t care what! Or, if I’m going to an old favourite in Austria where I’ve been going for 40 years, I get my wiener schnitzel automatically. I never order anything else, and then I’ll have a nice Gruner with it.

And what’s next? Any new projects in the pipeline?

Within Changyu Moser, we have something very exciting coming up, which was inspired by Robert Mathias from Bibendum. About a year ago he said to me, “What about a more modern, targeted wine range for the younger consumer – not just for the UK, but also for the rest of the world?” So we are listening to our partners, and we feel there is a gap between the wines for the younger market. So we want to come up with a funny label or something, still very good stuff, under the £15 barrier in the UK. So we are hoping to launch this in 2022, as part of celebrating 130 years of Changyu – the oldest winery in China! We’re using it as an opportunity to be more innovative.

Adriana grew up in the winelands of Robertson and studied at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Here she was inspired to complete two courses with Cape Wine Academy, while completing an MA degree. Having realised that wine is much more fun than Political Science, she moved into marketing in the wine industry, and has never looked back!