Best of 2016: Liwen Hao

Is it boring to start by saying time flies? But it’s exactly true. 2016 is just about to close and it's time to review, or simply reminisce about the interesting and significant things that happened this year—with or without wines.

In 2016, I delivered two reports for The Wine Advocate—China: Wines from the Silk Road and Japan: Sake - The Drop of Poetry. Below, I've detailed my top three most outstanding new/current release wines and sakes of the year, from China and Japan respectively, as well as the top three value wines from China.
Vineyards in China.

Best Wines from China

  1. 2014 Silver Heights Family Reserve Chardonnay
  2. 2014 Skyline of Gobi Reserve Chardonnay
  3. 2014 Chateau Lion Merlot

Best Value Wines from China

  1. 2013 Zhongxing Guoan Niya Berry Select Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. 2014 Chateau Zhong Fei Marselan
  3. 2014 The Wens Cabernet Gernischet
Japanese sake.

Best New/Current Release Sakes from Japan

  1. Kusumi Shuzo Kame-No-O Sannen Jukusei Junmai Daiginjo
  2. Iwase Shuzo Iwanoi Yamahai Junmai Daiginjo
  3. Katsuyama Shuzo Katsuyama Akatsuki Junmai Daiginjo

Best Wine Drinking Experiences from Around the World
Surprisingly, the weaker vintages impressed me the most in 2016. It seems that you just have to open the right bottle at the right time.

  1. 2007 Chateau Latour
  2. 2007 Domaine Gros Frere et Soeur Clos de Vougeot de Musigni Grand Cru
  3. 2004 Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanee

Best Dinner of the Year
My best dinner of the year is awarded to L’ATELIER de Joel Robuchon in Shanghai. Great wine, food, restaurant ambiance and most importantly, friends, are the critical elements for a great dinner.

Best Vertical/Retrospective Tasting of the Year
The most impressive vertical tasting this year was of Chambertin-Clos de Beze with friends in Shanghai. It was an unforgettable night and I even felt spoiled. We tasted some beautifully aged wines, such as…

Best 'Get-a-Life Outside of Wine' Things of the Year
In 2016, I traveled less often than previous years, but I have many great memories from several trips this year. Two lodges in New Zealand impressed me a lot: Wharekauhau Lodge and Bay of Many Coves Resort and Spa. The night I spent at the latter still feels like a dream in my memory. The third one is the Japanese boutique hotel Tsukihitei in Kasugayama Mountain, where I am now writing this article, wishing everyone a good start to 2017.

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