By Jim Boyce
“[Fill in the blank] is the Bordeaux of China.”
I have heard such statements — based on the fact certain parts of China are at or near the same latitude as Bordeaux — about a billion times. It happened most recently in Xinjiang but I have heard it in Hebei, Shandong and Ningxia. I have also heard it here in Beijing in regard to the vineyards within city limits. (Given this, maybe I can fill my tub with soil, plant some vines and create a Chinese alternative to Chateau Lafite.)
But it looks like the exclusivity of Bordeaux is being challenged when it comes to the promising wine region of Ningxia. According to a press release from Newswire Today (my highlights):
In the first-ever U.S. tasting, three esteemed bottlings of Chinese varietal wines received resounding approval from wine masters in Las Vegas. The wines are all produced in the Helan Shan Mountain Appellation in Ningxia, China. Known as the Napa Valley of China, Ningxia is fast becoming an internationally recognized source of fine grape-based wines.
Ningxia as the “Napa Valley of China”? That’s news to me. And probably to Ningxia, too. Just last year, the region commissioned an elaborate wine promotion video centered on an “ancient” tale about a God that drops two grapes from the heavens. One grape lands in Ningxia. Can you guess where the other lands? Hint: It ain’t Napa Valley.
Also, a Google search for “Napa Valley of China” turns up less than ten results. Two refer to Ningxia, though they link to the Newswire Today article. Others refer to the Huailai area just north of Beijing (“considered the ‘Bordeaux or Napa Valley of China”), to the Yanqing District in Beijing (“renowned oenologist and wine master Denis Dubourdieu… saw Royal Seal as having all tools and resources necessary to succeed and make Yanqing District the future ‘Napa Valley of China’) and, uh, Hangzhou (“we bused several hours to Hangzhou, dubbed the Napa Valley of China”).
Sorry Ningxia, it looks like Beijing is winning the “Napa Valley of China” sweepstakes. Though Shandong has complete control over Nava Valley.
As for the Las Vegas tasting, it featured wines from Dragon’s Hollow, Helan Qing Xue and Silver Heights. You can read more about it here.