Oct 04: After a successful Debut of Belt and Road Wine and Spirits Competition (BRWSC) at the new Fangshan (FunHill) wine District of Beijing in 2016, the second edition-also known as Asian Wine & Spirit Forum and Competition – The Silk Route, held in the wine producing region of Ningxia on September 14-16, 2018 had even more to offer besides the Silk Route Awards and a wine expo, open tastings and winery visits and a 2-day Forum (conference) of global interest, writes Subhash Arora who was invited to both the editions organised by VinoPres of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles fame
One of the most important aspects of the second edition of BRWSC 2018 (also known as the Asian Wine & Spirit Forum and Competition-the Silk Route) was that it was held in Yinchuan, the capital of the upcoming wine region of Ningxia in Northwest China, considered by many as the most exciting and dynamic region.
Two thousand years ago, it was on the Silk Route from China to Europe during flourishing trade but fell on poor times over centuries till in the 1990s when a Conference on viticulture concurred that the Terroir in the East Helan Mountains was perfect and the area ought to be developed to its potential. It was an amazing push by the government who has been pro- wine for decades to develop it at bullet speed and when in July 2016 Xi Jinping, the all- powerful General Secretary of the Republic of China visited the region and said this had the most potential to make wines of international quality the development picked up at super-fast speed with over a 100 wineries. The results were there to see at the BRWSC wine competition held on September 14.
About 700 wines and spirits had participated in 2016 with a total of 175 medals – including 10 Grand Prizes, 60 Gold Medals and 105 Silver Medals had been awarded. This time 800 wines from Asia participated but a total of 115 medals -18 Grand Gold, 60 Gold and 37 silver medals were awarded. China did register a large number of samples in the competition and won 108 medals- Ningxia was at the top of the list with 65 awards.
The other Chinese award-winning wine regions were Xinjiang, Hebei, Shandong, Gansu, Henan, Jilin, Liaoning, Neimengu, Tianjin, and Beijing. As anticipated, the most awarded Chinese wines were made from international varietals: Cabernet-Sauvignon (48 medals), Chardonnay (17 medals), Marselan (9 medals) and Merlot (7 medals). Notable winners were from Marselan grape which is a French variety-a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache and seems to have found good home in China because of climate.
Li Demei, Associated Professor of Food Science and Engineering College at the Beijing University of Agriculture and a winemaker says that the grape was first introduced in China only in 2001 and the first crop was in 2003 with the wineries pushing the plantation of this variety since only 2005. But the wines have been winning several medals in the international wine competitions and he believes this may become the signature grape of China because of its high productivity, flexibility to environment, complex and beautiful flavours, rich and concentrated palate, and its potential to be made into different styles.
It is also interesting to know that Helan Qing Xue Winery located at the foothill of East Helan Mountains brought the region to the notice of the world when its Jia Bei Lan Grand Reserve 2009 won the Trophy for the Best Red Bordeaux Blend in over £10 category in 2011at the Decanter Wine Awards. This was the first time a Chinese Winery won is distinction. The wine was made by Li Demei who has been the consultant winemaker for the winery since 2006. Several known wineries like Domaine Chandon, Pernod Ricard the world famous Grace Vineyard, Silver Highlands, The Great Wall and Zhangyu have a winery in Ningxia. It was a pleasure to visit the Qing Xue Winery during this visit and taste wines including the later version of Jia Bei Lan.
There were 10 groups of 50 judges from Asian countries and several international who taste regularly at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Arora was assigned the Chair for Panel No. 1, a rare honour. Interestingly his panel also had Victoria Burt MW, one of the youngest Masters of Wine from UK and Dr. Michael Apstein from the USA.
The event started with great pomp and show in the morning of 14th September, attended by several dignitaries many of them being senior political leaders and the top leaders of the wine industry. One such dignitary was Linhai Ho, President of the international Federation of Vine and Wine of Helan Mountain’s East Foothill. He is the only Chinese to have been awarded the ‘OIV Merit’ in 2016- the same recognition awarded earlier in 2013 to Subhash Arora who was the first Indian to be so awarded and continues to be the only one to enjoy that honour.
International Wine Expo
Earlier in the day, after the Opening Ceremony, an International Wine Expo was opened to the public. Over 200 exhibitors from various regions of China and 10 other countries including France, Italy, Spain and Australia had exhibited wines from their countries, mainly through their distributors. The Expo provided a great opportunity for visitors to taste not only wines from China but also some of their favourite regions- imagine tasting a Barolo from Einaudi in Dogliani in Piedmont in Italy!
There were 41 international judges including Arora, the lone judge from India and 9 Chinese judges to taste a total of 805 wines, 456 of which were from China alone. A majority of wines were red (557) and represented a total of 14 countries including India. The competition was managed by Vinopres Belgium with 25 years’ experience in wine, spirits and beer competitions including Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, Spirits Selection by CMB and Concours Mondial du Sauvignon.
For the Conferences, follow this page in future Articles. For earlier Articles, visit
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Stay tuned for Articles on the Conferences to be highlighted in the future issues of delWine.
Video on the Ending of Opening Ceremony at Ningxia
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