Yang Shen is a key player in the Moët Hennessy Estates & Wines Division from luxury group LVMH. After other successful tenures leading some of the brand’s celebrated vineyards around the world, he is currently the Estate Director at Cloudy Bay in Marlborough, New Zealand.
Cloudy Bay is a household name for iconic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc; its second pillar is its Pinot Noir - from Marlborough itself and from celebrated Central Otago; and now, you are working towards producing the best sparkling wines outside of Champagne. Considering that UK bubbles have been making a name for themselves in the wine industry for the past few years, what makes Pelorus a contender in this sparkling revolution?
Y.S.: We have been making Pelorus for 20 years now, with our first vintage in 1987, so it’s actually always been part of the Cloudy Bay portfolio. We grow the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit with the same attention to detail as we use for all our wines, and make the wine using strict methode champenoise techniques – including the use of reserve wines and extended ageing on lees. With our climate, our grapes, and our experience, we certainly believe that Pelorus is one of the best sparkling wines outside Champagne – but we also believe that it sits quite comfortably alongside many Champagne as well!
Central Otago vineyards, New Zealand
Cloudy Bay is located in a natural luxurious environment and thanks to its unique terroir, it produces the ultimate expression of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, known the world over. In addition to tailor-made tastings, the winery also offers exclusive activities. How would you describe the “Cloudy Bay Experience” to travelers planning to visit Cloudy Bay wine estate?
Y.S.: We believe that the best way to understand our wines is to come to our place, meet our people and be in touch with our environment. There is no easier way to learn about Sauvignon Blanc than by spending time on a yacht in the Marlborough Sounds, surrounded by the beautiful New Zealand native forests, tasting the wine with one of our team, while enjoying fresh scallops and mussels. We want our visitors to leave us, having enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing, luxurious and unique experience, but also having learned about and connected with our wines and our people.
You have lived in many countries and traveled around the wine world in the past two decades. Can you share your two favorite/best memories of wine & travel with Wine Paths?
I have greatly enjoyed visiting Central Otago in New Zealand, learning more about this interesting and intriguing wine region – remote, but still accessible. It’s such a wild and beautiful place, with the grapes growing on quite extreme slopes and with a lot of variation in style in a relatively small area. We have our own vineyard there in Northburn and we will soon be opening a Cellar Door there too, and are looking forward to developing wine experiences that are unique to Cloudy Bay in Central Otago too!
Actually, Central Otago reminds me of travelling to Ao Yun for the first time. Ao Yun (also owned by LVMH) is a very remote winery in the foothills of the Himalayas, near the legendary city of Shangri-La. It took a long time to get there, but it was certainly worth the journey to visit the vineyards, where they grow exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in vineyards located more than 2,200 metres above sea-level – no wonder “Ao Yun” translates as “flying above the clouds”.
Ao Yun winery, Himalayas