September 2011

China winery visit: Six photos from Helan Qing Xue in Ningxia

September 30, 2011 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce I accompanied Li Demei and Ch’ng Poh Tiong this week on a winery tour of Xinjiang and Ningxia, which included stops at Tuoling Winery close to Turpan in the former region and at Helan Qing Xue, Xi Xia King and Helan Mountain  not far from the capital, Yinchuan, in the latter region. Some people might have heard of Helan Qing Xue as one of its wines, Jia Bei Lan Cabernet 2009, recently won an “international trophy” at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, a first for a Chinese wine, though it has received good responses here in […]

Finding Jiabeilan: Award-winning Chinese wine yet to sign with distributor

September 22, 2011 // 0 Comments

Ever since English magazine Decanter validated* Chinese wine Jiabeilan by giving it an “international trophy“– the first for a wine from this country — at its World Wine Awards, I have received a steady stream of text messages, emails and phone calls not only about where to buy a bottle but also about how to get distribution rights. So I called Li Demei, who is chief wine consultant at Helan Qing Xue, which makes this wine, and a contributor to this blog. He said the Ningxia provincial restaurant in Beijing normally has Jiabeilan, though it does not currently have the 2009 vintage that won […]

Wine-wine situation in Beijing: Torres and Tri-Nations tasting on Saturday

September 21, 2011 // 0 Comments

There will be plenty of popping and pouring on Saturday afternoon as two major wine tastings are on the schedule. Torres China will hold its fifth annual Taste of the Nations from 2 PM to 5 PM at Xu Xian Restaurant on Workers Stadium grounds. Tickets are rmb228 and include  free flow of 150 wines from a dozen countries, including two of the best brands in China — Grace Vineyard from Shanxi Province and Silver Heights from the Ningxia Autonomous Region. This ranks among my favorite annual events both because Torres cracks open some of its better stuff (I tend toward the Australian […]

China Wine Press: Jancis Robinson vs bankers, Aces Winery, more Lafite

September 19, 2011 // 0 Comments

All the wine world’s a stage and China keeps getting bigger roles. China Wine Press looks at media coverage of that drama, with each item preceded by an inane comment from me, just to keep things real. By J. Boyce – (I bet those investment bankers know how to multiply by ten.) China’s size makes generalizations about the “Chinese wine lover” impossible, states English wine writer Jancis Robinson in The Financial Times, and then provides one courtesy of a Chinese man who, like about one in every 50 million consumers in this country*, buys first-growth by the barrel. Better (worse?), […]

Grace’s new twist on wine: Is China at its screw cap moment?

September 17, 2011 // 0 Comments

– By Jim Boyce There is a good chance Grace Vineyard will use screw caps for part of its upcoming vintage. This strikes me as significant given the stature of Grace, widely considered the success story of the millennium when it comes to quality wine in China, and the dominance of cork and plastic closures in this country. Before fans of Amorim, Nomacorc and other closure makers go “yes, but…”, I freely admit there can be problems with screw caps, from the technicalities of getting them on just right to issues of wine reduction. Admitted. Freely. But after more than […]

Go west (far west): Cider maker wanted in China

September 15, 2011 // 0 Comments

– Someone from our sister city to the south (Shanghai) contacted me here in the north (Beijing) to see if I know of anyone who has experience making cider and would be interested in working on a small project in the west (the “far” west, he says). In terms of directions, that only leaves out the east, say Shandong, which has tons of good apples and should make more cider and less wine. Anyway, interested parties should contact Jon at jonathantomlin (at) for more details. (Cross-posted on Beijing Boyce)

Wine Australia: Key staff leave for Treasury, Torres China

September 13, 2011 // 0 Comments

Tough semester for the China branch of Wine Australia and its A+ program as two key staff members — Summer Yan, involved since the start, and Reno Liu — have left. Willa Yang, in Shanghai, remains as head of the China office, while Lucy Anderson continues to direct Asia operations from Hong Kong. Liu will move to Treasury Wine Estates, which includes a vast portfolio, to be a brand manager. He has also previously worked at Grace Vineyard in Shanxi. Yan, whose CV includes a stint with AusTrade, will move to Torres China as manager of Australian and New Zealand […]

Va-va-vroom! China wine imports this year: France continues to race ahead

September 12, 2011 // 0 Comments

France continues to kick the competition around in China as it not only has remained far in the lead as a source of imported bottled wine but also has increased its market share this year, according to China Customs for January through June.* The statistics show 60 percent growth, year on year, with France outperforming that figure, up 71.2%, and representing nearly half of market volume at 48.1%. Australia continued its volume decline, with only 21.8% growth, but remained the second biggest source of imported bottled wine, though Spain (up 88.5%), Italy (up 78.8%) and Chile (up 62.7%) all beat the […]