This was not only the first time Robinson visited Ningxia but also the first time Ningxia hosted such a high-profile critic. As well as tasting 39 wines for the Ningxia Wine Awards, Robinson spent a day touring vineyards and wineries, from those with more than a decade in the business to those with facilitiesunder construction and yet-to-be-planted fields, part of a plan to increase coverage by ~60,000 hectares.
I helped to organize the tasting and then tagged along on the tour with Robinson, Li Demei, who is a wine consultant and a lecturer at Beijing Agricultural University, and Huang Shan, who is owner of wine bar Pinot in Beijing. While I tried to be unobtrusive, I did take a few notes and snap some pics. Here, in chronological order, are a dozen of those photos…
Changyu, Cabernet Gernischt Blend 2011 Ningxia
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We’re seeing some interest in Chinese wines from abroad although it is still early days. Most often, people want to get the “top brands”, such as Grace Vineyard, Silver Heights or Helan Qing Xue, and those are produced in fairly small amounts. Waitrose in London recently introduced a Chinese wine for under 10 pounds and Dragon’s Hollow, a wine made with Ningxia grapes, is available in the US, with the entry below USD10 I believe.
It is interesting to see how China, which has long driven the auction market for fine European wines, is now more fully embracing winemaking at home. Of course, one always suspected that great wines could and do come from mainland China, there is as yet very little to no western availability. That’s what is so great about Robinson’s trip: perhaps this will spark some demand from western consumers for Chinese wine. It will also be great to learn about “Chinese style” – will Chinese wines reflect more of the Old or New World, or will they be something totally unique? I will follow this with great interest…