Ningxia Wine Awards: Helan Qing Xue, Xi Xia King take top honors

By Jim Boyce

Ten judges spent last Friday morning sniffing, sipping, spitting and scoring more than three dozen wines from Ningxia during a tasting in that region’s capital city of Yinchuan. Called the Ningxia Wine Awards, the event aimed to gauge the quality of local wines by having a combination of judges from China and overseas blind taste them.

Cao Kailong, director of the Bureau of Grape and Floriculture Industries initiated the project and stated that only wines made in Ningxia from grapes grown in Ningxia were to be entered in the contest. The judges tasted 39 wines in flights of  7 to 8 wines, with 30 minutes per flight, and scored them on a 20-point scale. I have listed the top three red and white wines below.

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Red Wines

GOLD MEDAL

Helan Qing Xue ‘Jia Bei Lan Baby Feet’ Grand Reserve 2009

Helan Qing Xue took top spot for the “small feet” or “baby feet” version of its Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet blend. The wine comes from a barrel that bears the footprints of winemaker Zhang Jing’s infant daughter and has had more aging than Jia Bei Lan proper.

SILVER MEDALS

Ningxia Hong Cabernet Gernischt 2010

Chateau Saint Louis Ding Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

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White Wines

GOLD MEDAL

Xi Xia King ‘1950’ Chardonnay

Xi Xia King did very well in the white wine section, a notable accomplishment for winemaker Yu Hui Ming, who has worked at the company for several decades. Note: ‘1950’ refers not to the vintage but to the year a state farm for wine was established.

SILVER MEDALS

Imperial Horse Chardonnay

Xi Xia King ‘Noble Incense’ Dry White Wine

Note: I plan two longer posts to 1) fully explain how the wines were gathered, arranged, poured and scored, and 2) to list ten lessons learned from the event, via comments from the judges and some insights from “behind the scenes”.

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