Let me point out that, no, Lee Poo Yee is not from an obscure estate hidden away in the picturesque hills of some exotic province in China. It does come instead, from the familiar Loire Valley of France. This is a regional blend identified in the industry as a “negociant wine”.
Though the term might suggest it, “negociants” are not scheming wine salesman out to hustle a buck. In fact, quite the contrary. The term “know the shipper” has long been a key watch word in the European wine trade; many shippers wines are often found to be extremely interesting from both the palate and the pocket book. When done properly, such wines (frequently marketed under a brand name ie. Lee Poo Yee) provide the consumer with a consistency of quality unattainable by individual estates. A highly regarded negociant firm, Maison Armand Roux is a reputable company dating back to 1842. Armand Roux, the man, traveled extensively to Belgium and Holland where he developed quite a clientele of well-heeled wine lovers each of whom he would visit once a year and do two very simple transactions. One, he would take and order for the current years wines and two, he pick up a check for previous years delivery!
The marketing story of Lee Poo Yee is obviously the Chinese dinner trade. Identifying a void in the restaurant market, Armand Roux set out to produce a wine that would compliment Chinese food but be versatile at the same time (unlike the current options such as rice wine). Thus, Lee Poo Yee.
Chenin Blanc grapes contribute 70% to this wine; the remaining 30% is Sauvignon Blanc. Both of these grapes are predominate in the Loire Valley wine region. The former gives the wine accessibility and fruitiness while the letter contributes structure and crispness. Each adds its own share of aromatic nuances, so blended to complement the complex flavors of oriental dishes.
Lee Poo Yee has a very pale green/gold color with a subtle bouquet reminiscent of green plums, melons and lychee nuts. This is remarkable mellow in the mouth, lemony, yet not tart; very well balanced. It leaves the palate clean and ready for the main entree.
Serve well-chilled with nearly any dish, but it will have its brightest moments next to Asian appetizers and seafood entrees.
Cellaring Notes: Not for ageing… at its best now to one year.
Reviewed by Larry Tepper