July 2012

Ningxia Wine Challenge Panel: Mihalis Boutaris, Lilian Carter, Li Demei, Liz Thach and Mireia Torres

July 27, 2012 // 0 Comments

~ By Jim Boyce After the deadline for entering the Ningxia Wine Challenge — at 5 PM on July 27 — all of CVs and forms will be sent to a panel of wine experts who hail from five nations and have a link to China. The panelists will pick their top 15 candidates and those lists — and group email discussions where necessary — will determine which ten winemakers join the Ningxia Wine Challenge. Panelists will send their rankings to Ma Huiqin of China Agricultural University and Jim Boyce of Grape Wall in order for double verification of the […]

Ningxia Wine Challenge: Site hacked, contest goes on, details here

July 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

~ By Jim Boyce Recent visitors to the Ningxia Wine Challenge website might have noticed that the pacifying photo of grape vines has been replaced with a scary one of a masked man. That is because the site has been hacked. Hard to believe since we have only been posting there for two weeks. But nevertheless gutting. I wonder if this is how it feels when you open a bottle of ’61 Margaux and find it corked. Or watch hail fall on your vines a day before harvest. Well, perhaps not that bad. Anyway, if life gives you sour grapes, […]

Ningxia Wine Challenge: Details of applying

July 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce The region of Ningxia in northwest China will fund ten foreign winemakers to visit and practice their craft this fall as part of a two-year project. The winemakers will select grapes and make wine in the fall, then work remotely through assistants, with the option of up to three return visits. The wines will be judged in two stages, the white wines in September 2013 and the red wines in September 2014, with the best earning prizes that total rmb200,000 (USD31,000 / EUR26,000). Applicants must be able to travel to Ningxia on August 31 for orientation. The white […]

Ningxia Wine Challenge Q&A: Winemaker Emma Gao on lessons learned, grape sourcing and Cabernet Gernischt

July 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce Emma Gao is the winemaker at Silver Heights, a family-owned operation that she runs with her father and sister in Ningxia and that has gained a reputation for making some of China’s best wines since the first vintage in 2007. The Chinese edition of La Revue du Vin de France recently named Gao — who has a Diplôme National d’Oenologue from Bordeaux — the country’s winemaker of the year. Her flagship wines The Summit and Family Reserve are distributed by Torres China. ~ Which grape varieties do you use? How many bottles do you make a year? […]

Ningxia Wine Challenge Q&A: Professor Ma Huiqin on grapes, marketing and more

July 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce Professor Ma Huiqin of China Agricultural University is not only an expert on wine marketing and grape molecular biology, but also for more than a decade has taught a wine appreciation course at the school. Since finishing her postdoctoral studies at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, Ma has completed stints at the ESA Group in France and The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and has done academic collaboration with scholars on every continent. She is helping to organize a wine conference that starts in Ningxia in late August. ~ You are helping to organize the conference for the Helan […]

Ningxia Wine Challenge Q&A: Lilian Carter on working at Helan Mountain winery

July 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce To give some perspective to winemakers interested in applying for the Ningxia Wine Challenge, we are featuring some interviews with people involved in the Ningxia wine scene. First up is winemaker Lillian Carter, who worked from August 2008 to December 2009 as winemaker / winery manager for Pernod Ricard at Helan Mountain winery, a joint project in Ningxia. Carter is now with Oakridge Wines in the Yarra Valley and has also worked at Domaine Chandon, also in the Yarra Valley, and Orlando Wines in the Barossa Valley. ~ What were the biggest adjustments for you in working […]

China wine myths: Cheap labor, high taxes, export ambitions & more

July 24, 2012 // 0 Comments

(Posting this as a short break from helping with the Ningxia Wine Challenge. This region of China is paying for 10 foreign winemakers to visit this fall and make a red and a white wine. Details here. Deadline to apply is July 27.) ~ By Jim Boyce Occasionally during my days in China, I remove the magnum of Lafite ’82 from my lips — save the environment, don’t use glasses — and put fingers to keyboard for the trade magazine Wine Business International. Editor Felicity Carter then shapes the material into something that looks written by a mature adult rather […]

China Wine Challenge ‘trophy’ winners: Silver Heights, Grace Vineyard & 9 more

July 24, 2012 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce The results of the China Wine Challenge were announced in a ballroom ceremony last week in Shanghai although the country’s vino-guzzling masses are still waiting for them to be posted on the official bilingual website. Luckily, an acquaintance at the event — who basically said that if the wines had as long a finish as the speeches, it would have caused the 100-point scale to explode — informed me that: The trophy for best Chinese red wine went to Silver Heights Family Reserve 2010. The trophy for best Chinese white wine went to Grace Vineyard Tasya’s Reserve […]

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