Ningxia terroir: Shocking dinner with Winemaker Deng

The most shocking thing at a recent wine dinner with Deng Zhongxiang wasn’t that he consults for a whopping eight wineries in Ningxia.

Or that he ably captures the ‘terroir’ of each with grapes that range from Syrah and Viognier to Malbec and Vidal to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Or that he demonstrated this firsthand by presenting five Marselan wines from five wineries during the dinner at The Merchants in Beijing.

Nope. Most shocking is Deng said this was the first such dinner he had headlined! Especially given how good are these wines.

Deng trained in Burgundy, worked in Bordeaux and ranks among China’s best consultants following over a decade of exploring Ningxia’s terroir. And he delivered an all-star lineup of Marselan wines at The Merchants, including bottles from Charme, Mountain Wave, Lansai, Rong Yuan Mei and United Winery.

Guests got a crash course on Ningxia as each winery has its own blend of soil, climate, vineyard setup and wine-making goals. Charme, for example, has rocky vineyards near the Helan Mountain and an especially good reputation for Viognier, while Rongyuanmei, further away in Qingtongxia, is windier and sandier and has produced inky reds, including Malbec.

Anyway, I joined Deng two years ago for a late spring tour of four of these wineries and learned about these factors: still to windy, sandy to rocky, hot to cold, and everything in between. Not to mention the challenges of irrigation during the growing season and vine burial for the cold dry winters at each one.

We planned to showcase this at the Wine to Asia fair in June of 2021—a session called ‘One Man, One Mission: Explore Ningxia Terroir with Deng Zhongxiang‘—but COVID nixed those plans.

So, finally, on the official date of World Marselan Day, April 27, at a dinner organized by The Merchants, Deng gave a current draft of a story he is still writing. Here is a video of clips / photos from that dinner:

You can also find the original event info here in English and in Chinese. And a Q&8 with Deng here.

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