CHINESE WINE WINS BIG
This should settle any doubt that China is a growing powerhouse in the wine industry. For the first time in the history of the Decanter World Wine Awards a Chinese wine has won at the highest level. Winery He Lan Qing Xue’s Jia Bei Lan 2OO9 Cabernet blend has won the Red Bordeaux Varietal Over £1O (US$15.5O) International Trophy. Judges said the wine was “supple, graceful and ripe but not flashy” and praised its “excellent length and four-square tannins.” Only 25 International trophies are awarded, chosen out of more than 12,OOO wines entered. In the final judging category, He Lan Qing Xue was tasted against Regional trophy winners including St Emilion Grand Cru Château Boutisse and Catena Zapata’s Appellation Cabernet Franc, and wines from Australia, South Africa, California, and other premium regions specializing in Bordeaux blends. Jia Bei Lan is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Gernicht – which is believed to be related to Cabernet Franc or Carmenere – is sold only in China at present, retailing for around £13 (US$2O). It is produced in Northern China, in quantities of about 2O,OOO bottles. In common with other wine-producing regions of China the climate is extreme, with very hot dry summers and bitterly cold winters, the temperature sometimes falling to -25C, meaning the vines have to be buried in order to keep them alive. Winemaker Li Demei, who has consulted at the winery since 2OO6, trained in Bordeaux and did an internship at Château Palmer. He Lan Qing Xue also won a Silver for its 2OO8 Cabernet Sauvignon, while another Chinese winery, Domaine Helan Mountain in Xinjiang Uygur, won Silver for its Classic Chardonnay 2OO8 and Bronze for its Premium Collection Riesling. Not only did China pick up medals but Japan, India and Thailand won Silvers and Golds.