Year of the Noble Dragon begins

Bibendum has added two Chinese wines to its portfolio.

Noble Dragon Shandong White and Shandong Red are tri-varietal but based on Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon respectively. Both wines have been created in partnership with Austrian winemaker Lenz Moser and the Changyu Wine Company in Shandong Province. Changyu has been making wine since 1892 and claims to be the oldest winery in China.

After their initial on-trade launch, the wines will be rolled out to the off-trade in autumn with a retail price of £6.99.

Bibendum's buying manager, Iain Muggoch, said: "With Beijing 2008 fast approaching there's a thirst for innovation. We're not trying to replicate other styles of wine - they're unique. Moser initially looked at the project for the German market, but we felt the bright but robust reds and aromatic whites were excellently suited to the UK ."

Muggoch will be looking at sourcing more wines from China when he visits in July. "With a big array of indigenous varietals

there's a massive potential to extend the range," he said.

The Noble Dragon wines were unveiled at Bibendum's annual tasting on Jan 24. The event had a road trip theme and featured 140 producers from around the world.