China not only drinks the finest red wines, it can now claim to produce them, too. He Lan Qing Xue‘s Jia Bei Lan Cabernet 2009 was named the best Red Bordeaux Varietal over £10 at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London. It beat out Bordeaux varietals from Argentina, Australia, the U.S. and Bordeaux itself to take the International Trophy.
The winning vintage, the first Chinese wine to win an international award of such distinction, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabinet Gernicht made in Ningxia, where the extremes of weather require the vines to be buried during the winter months as temperatures can fall to -25℃. The vineyard’s owner, Zhang Jing, and her consultant winemaker, Li Demei, produce only 20,000 bottles of the wine a year. It is available only in Ningxia and at one outlet in each of Beijing and Shanghai — for now.
The winning vintage will be a boost for Ningxia’s efforts to establish itself as China’s foremost winemaking region, 30 years after the first vines were planted there. The province now has 33,300 hectares of vineyards. In May, the international luxury group LVMH announced a joint venture for its Moët Hennessy division to produce sparkling wine in the remote north-western province, where Pernod Ricard already has a presence.
Update: Judges commended He Lan Qing Xue’s Jia Bei Lan for:
Big, quite leafy black fruit with exciting minty perfume. Medium-bodied, supple, graceful and ripe but not flashy – has some Bordelais restraint. Excellent length and four square tannins – could age for 5-6 years.
So now you know what you are missing.