Oct 01: Belt & Road Wine and Spirits Competition (BRWSC) organised by Vinopres of Belgium, known for organising world’s top competitions like Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, was held for the 3rd year in a row at the Yinchuan International Exhibition Center in Yinchuan Ningxia where 915 wines participated with 60 judges from 24 countries, writes Subhash Arora who has been invited for all the 3 editions and feels that if the objective was to showcase Ningxia as the premier wine region of China, it was a very successful event
A total of 915 samples that included 457 samples from China represented 8.3% growth over last year when the competition was held at the same venue, though this time the 60 judges stayed at the nearby Wanda Realm Hotel at a walking distance from the venue where the tasting was held along with Master Classes, Open Tasting and the International Wine Expo. But before the competition was held in the afternoon, there was an impressive Opening Ceremony which had a lot of pomp and show but somehow appeared to be a shade less opulent than the previous occasions.
The competition started at 1:30 pm on September 25 in an area segregated within the Exhibition Center and tastefully organised. 12 groups of 5 jurors each from 24 countries were formed. Interestingly, together with India (3) Chinese judges (17) formed a third of the judging squad. I was fortunate to have as our panel president, Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW.
We were fortunate to get all Chinese wines and that too from the three most popular grapes- Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Gernischt (considered to be ancestor of Cabernet Franc but genetically found to be like Carmenere) and Marselan (being projected as the signature grape of China in the very near future)- a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache and born in Marseillan in France in 1961. The wines certainly had an improved quality over the last year’s tastings at the same venue.
For the statistically inclined, there were 17 countries that participated with maximum samples (457) from China followed by 42 from Moldova and 31 from Greece. As might be expected, 599 samples were red, 251 were white- this seems to be a higher ratio than the white wines consumed in China. 65 of the 915 samples were Rose, again a seemingly higher percentage than actually drunk-perhaps there is a new trend. They were vying for the Gold Prize (95+), Grand Prize and Silver Prize.
The competition was in continuation of China’s Belt & Road Initiative under which the Asia Silk Route Forum and Tasting was founded in 2016 in Fangshan (FunHill) wine District of Beijing. After the successful competition in 2018, it returned for the 3rd time this year on September 25-28 in Yinchuan (Ningxia) as the region is the largest concentrated production area of wine grapes in China and shows a great production potential . More importantly it has been marketed well by the local government authorities with the financial support of the Central Government. The Theme chosen for the current event was Identity, Dialogue and Integration.
There were a few Masterclasses held again on September 26 attended by an overflowing auditorium with no walls, used deftly for the inauguration ceremony. These included a Presentation in Chinese on Wines and Finance by Kangren Chen, the Vice Mayor of Yinchuan. This was followed by a short Presentation by Zara Muradyan, Executive Director of the Vine and Wine Foundation of Armenia on Armenian Wines and followed by Giorgi Samanishvili, Oenologist and Consultant with a guided tasting of 5 wines from Georgia. Bernard Burtschy made a good case for the organic viticulture being less difficult and important in China.
The highlight was a presentation by Prof Demei Li who is by now a familiar face at any Chinese Symposium. One of the Top Ten Wine Consultants of China, who literally brought Ningxia region to the attention of the world when one of the wineries he consults in the Eastern Foothills of Helan Mountains -Helan Qingxue Vineyard whose Grand Reserve Jia Bei Lan 2009 won the Trophy for the Best International Wine over £10 in 2011, spoke about Wines in China in General and Ningxia in particular with a guided tasting of 5 wines.
Winery Visits and Tastings
Besides the open tasting for 3 days at the International Wine Expo at the Exhibition Center where over 200 producers from 20 countries showcased their wines giving the visitors an opportunity to taste several wines from China and in particularly Ningxia, the judges were invited to several wineries during the hectic schedule.
I visited the following wineries, the details of which would be carried out in another Article in a future issue:
Chateau Yuanshi (Dinner only)
Chateau Great Wall Terroir
Chateau Changyu Moser XV
Domaine Chandon Ningxia
Minning Wine Street
The event has been conceptualised and partnered by Concours Mondial with Beijing International Wine and Spirit Exchange which we had visited in 2016 and were simply awe struck with the stock exchange type of working.
Detailed accounts will be published in future editions. One thing for sure, is that Ningxia will roar like a lion in the near future. The government of China and Yinchuan is betting on the right horse. The prices are still high but good wines should be available at better prices soon. Otherwise, the charm of Ningxia wines may be lost- at least in the international markets.
For a few of the related earlier Articles, please visit:
BRWSC 2018: Huge success showcasing famous Ningxia Region in China
CMB 2018: Concours Mondial de Bruxelles goes out of Europe to China
BRWSC 2016: Wine Tourism is the Key
China beats India in the First Decade
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