China wine deals | Kerry Wines, Helan Qingxue team up

Distributor Kerry Wines and Ningxia winery Helan Qingxue have inked a deal for continental China for sales to on-trade clients like restaurants and hotels. Helan Qingxue burst onto the scene in 2011 when it won an “International trophy” at Decanter’s World Wine Awards for its 2009 red blend, a victory that caused some controversy.

The Kerry deal covers white, rose and red wines from Helan Qingxue, said to have an annual capacity of 60,000 bottles. The announcement listed Helan Qingxue’s 2015 Chardonnay, 2015 red blend, 2014 reserve red blend and a non-vintage rose. And the “Little Feet” Pinot Noir 2015 that has received good reviews although the quantity is tiny. (I like the Marselan, too.)

Helan Qingxue teamed with distributor The Wine Republic soon after the 2011 win. Winemaker Zhang Jing did working visits with several Wine Republic partners in Australia and New Zealand; Michael Fragos of Chapel Hill made a return visit for harvest at Helan Qingxue.

That deal petered out after about five years, with Helan Qingxue later spotted on the Vinehoo website and at former Pudao Wines in Beijing, among other places, although it had been seeking a new partner with national reach.

In the meantime, other Ningxia wineries gained prominence. Legacy Peak signed with East Meets West and Kanaan with Summergate, while wineries like Pernod Richard’s Helan Mountain and LVMH‘s Domaine Chandon had distribution via their parent companies. Silver Heights, which broke through with its 2007 vintage, continues to cooperate with Torres China.

Kerry also represents brands like Chile’s Lapostolle, France’s Vincent Girardin, South Africa’s Ken Forrester and Spain’s Aster. Helan Qingxue wines will also retail via sites like Taobao and Xiao Pi as well as directly at the winery, which is a short drive from the Ningxia capital of Yinchuan.

Bottles at a winery tour in 2018.

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