More detailed plans for the first Ningxia classification system have been announced by officials in the fast emerging Chinese wine region in an effort to produce more consistent quality wines, reports DecanterChina.com.

Ningxia wine classification will go ahead

Ningxia has risen to prominence in recent years as one of the premier Chinese wine regions – scooping a string of medals at the 2015 Decanter Asia Wine Awards.

Now, officials in China’s Ningxia wine region have announced plans for its first winery classification system, in order to create a quality-based hierarchy among wineries similar to those in some other wine regions, such as Bordeaux, according to a DecanterChina.com report.

Heated debate

A classification for Ningxia was first announced in 2013, and the move immediately triggered heated debate in the international trade.

Many criticised it as ‘too early and too ambitious’, whereas the local authorities and consultants believe ‘the earlier the better’.

‘The wine industry in Ningxia is still in its very early stage of development,’ said Chinese wine authority LI Demei in a previous DecanterChina.com column.

‘The new regulation combines the international norm and the reality of the region,’ said representatives of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Proposed Ningxia classification rules

A ‘classified’ winery should plant its vines by variety, with 90% vines planted in the same block being the same grape; and the yield for grapes should be controlled at 500 to 800 kilograms per mu (seven tonnes to 11 tonnes per hectare, roughly 57.7 to 92.3 hl/ha for red wine).

Every two years, a committee formed of ‘winemaking experts, critics, trade body representatives and consumers’ will be summoned to evaluate and give scores to every applying winery.

A winery can be classified or promoted within the system, and estates will be able to print their status on bottle labels, according to proposals.

Once a winery is qualified as a ‘First Growth’, the top level of the classification, it will be re-examined every 10 years.

Find more news and information about Chinese wine on the new-look DecanterChina.com

Editing by Chris Mercer