Olé! Ningxia’s newest thing is a wine bar… in Mexico City

The Ningxia region is sponsoring a permanent pavilion in a Mexico City wine bar opened by Belgium-based contest organizer Concours Mondial. Yes, i just typed that and I’m not drunk. It’s absolutely true–at least that’what this press release from Concours Mondial states.

The move will likely surprise many. Mainly because Ningxia is in China and has home advantage in a market at which most of the wine world has drooled the past decade. And because its wine is relatively unknown and prohibitively expensive in the global market, although I must admit I am not familiar with the buying habits of Mexican wine consumers.

Anyway, this Mexico City bar is the first by Concours Mondial, measures 650 square meters, will devote about half of its list to Mexican wines, and sounds pretty fancy,

From that press release: “High tables, comfortable European-style benches, Amorim cork walls, specially ordered from Portugal, and a display of over 1,500 Bohemian Royal Crystal glasses…” Cutting-edge technology will keep glass washing coronavirus-free. (I’m not kidding.)

As for the Ningxia part: “the Wine Bar by CMB houses the first permanent Ningxia wine pavilion in Mexico and Latin America. The wine cellar is decorated in pure Chinese style, where metallic ceramics and marble are fused with clay amphoras.”

Given foreigners often seem far more interested than Chinese consumers in local wines here, maybe it makes some sense to look abroad for sales. But I also wonder about the return on such projects: will they sell enough wine or generate enough interest to make the investment worthwhile — will we see Ningxia wine-thirsty throngs in the streets of Mexico City in a year or two? And, more selfishly, how about getting more Ningxia wines in bars here in Beijing and elsewhere in China?

This is just one of many investments by the region, including in government buildings, infrastructure, conferences, OIV fees, trade fairs, official trips and so on, that underpin the Ningxia project. There’s a lot of ambition and cash involved, and it will be intriguing to see the Ningxia story further develops.

It’s also intriguing how involved Vinopres, the communications group that includes Concours Mondial under its events umbrella, has become in China.

A quick survey shows major events held here these past five years include Concours Mondial in 2018, Spirits Selection in 2015 and 2019, and the Asian Wine & Spirits ‘Silk Road’ events in 2016, 2018 and 2019, which includes the 2019 Belt & Road Wine and Spirit Competition.

A Marselan competition was slated for this year with Beijing International Wine & Spirit Exchange, the usual partner for Vinopres, but has so far been delayed by the virus crisis. Regardless, that’s a lot of activity in five years! Olé and jia you!

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