To the Botmobile! | Check out Ningxia’s roving wine-bottling unit

By Jim Boyce | While certain superheroes have a Batmobile, the forces for boosting wine quality in Ningxia possess their own impressive vehicle, what we might call a Botmobile. Made in Italy, and occasionally seen prowling China’s countryside, this wine-bottling truck is on the move this week for the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge.

The NWC features 48 winemakers from 18 nations who visited Ningxia in the fall of 2015 to partner with local wineries and each make a wine. Those candidates have made return visits over the past 18 months to check their wines, which will be judged later this year, and are now starting to bottle. The Botmobile is available for wineries that lack their own equipment.

U.S. winemaker Brian Cheeseborough, partnered with winery Yutian, bottled his wine today. He said the winter cold, with temperatures at 11 degrees Celsius, meant filling the bottles a little less than usual to account for the expansion once that liquid warms. The mobile unit can fill about 20 bottles, said Cheeseborough, who is generally satisfied with his wine.

“I harvested on October 8 [0f 2015], which gave me just over 15 months in barrels,” he said. “We used a mix of new and older ‘seasoned’ barrels from previous vintages. About a third of the volume was aged in large 500-liter puncheons. I think it will be showing pretty good by September.”

As part of NWC rules, each winemaker will get 2,000 bottles of the wine he or she makes. The wines will also be part of a tasting contest with over USD100,000 in cash prizes. This is the second such competition organized by Ningxia: the first ran from 2012 to 2014 and featured seven candidates.

Here are some photos of today’s bottling, courtesy of Cheeseborough. You can also check out this interview with him.

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