Chinese New Year begins on 23rd January this year and 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. According to Chinese astrology, the associated colour for water is black, so 2012 is the Year of the Black Water Dragon.
In Chinese mythology dragons hatch from eggs and ascend to the heavens in the form of water spouts (tornado or twisters over water). The dragon is highly respected as a symbol of power, strength, and good luck. Many Chinese people often use the term “Descendants of the Dragon” as a sign of ethnic identity.
The Year of the Black Water Dragon (the last one having been in 1952) represents good negotiations. Water calms the Dragon’s fire and the Black Water Dragon is far more perceptive of others’ needs, and is more likely to be progressive and diplomatic. This Dragon will act wisely and intelligently, making smart decisions – as long as they have been well researched.
The Chinese New Year is a marketing opportunity for gifts and last year – the Year of the Rabbit – saw several wines produced with rabbit motifs on the label. This year there are few “dragon” wines that suit the bill.
Australia seems to have cottoned on to the potential of the Chinese New Year with Year of the Dragon Golden Harvest Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Penley Dragon Shiraz.
Of course China already has a great candidate – Dragon Seal from the Hebei Province of Beijing. Dragon Seal wine can trace its roots back to 1910 when a French friar converted the Heishanhu Church’s graveyard into a wine cave. He hired a French oenologist to produce both red and white wines for the mass and daily drinking. In 1946, the Church officially registered the winery, named it “La Shangyi Cave de Pékin” and began to sell its products in the domestic market. Over the years the winery was acquired by the state and the first bottle of Dragon Seal was launched in 1988, the Year of the Dragon.
In China Chateau Calon Segur has become quite popular as it’s name sounds like “flying dragon”. The word for dragon in Chinese is “long” and Tianlong is the “Heavenly or Celestial Dragon” (“tian” literally means “heaven or sky”) who pulls the divine chariots, guards the mansions of the gods and protects the heavens.
Oddly enough Calon Segur is not only one of the oldest properties in the Medoc but it is possibly one of the lowest in altitude – at some points the vines grow barely 2 metres above sea level. It’s thought that the name Calon comes from the Gallo-Roman name of Calones for the town of Saint Estèphe. Calones were the little river boats that were used to transport timber from one bank to another of the Gironde. I think that’s rather fitting for a wine that could have potential in the Black Water Dragon Year, don’t you?
Another wine from Bordeaux that could prove to be a popular Chinese New Year gift is Chateau Beychevelle as the label depicts a ship that resembles a Dragon Boat.
I have also spotted a Domaine du Dragon that produces wines under the AOC Cotes de Provence, a Grand Dragon Cabernet Sauvignon from Shandong in China, Berberana Red Dragon Tempranillo and Happy Dragon Pinotage/Shiraz from Cloof Wine Estates in South Africa.