Decanter talks exclusively to Professor Li Demei, China's leading authority on wine as well as a DecanterChina.com columnist, author and winemaking consultant across China, about his involvement in the first Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter, which takes place at The Ritz Carlton in Shanghai on Saturday 29th November.
What wines are you showing at your Meet the Producer seminar?
The focus is Great Cabernets from China. So, together with Steven Spurrier, I will be presenting Grace Vineyard Deep Blue 2011, Ningxia Helan Qingxue Vineyard Jia Bei Lan Reserve 2011, Domaine Franco Chinois Reserve 2011 and Silver Heights “The Summit” 2012. Firstly, these Cabernets represent the highest standard of Chinese wines. Secondly, their consistent quality is also recognised by the market.
Which other masterclasses are you looking forward to at the Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter?
My favourite masterclasses definitely include ‘A personal tasting with Angelo Gaja’, the Grange Masterclass with Peter Gago and the Vega Sicilia Masterclass with Pablo Alvarez. These are all legendary wines of their regions, and vivid examples of the local terroir and wine style.
What practical advice would you give to someone who is going to an event like this for the very first time?
For wine lovers who come to a big-scale wine tasting event for the first time, you need to be prepared. I would particularly recommend attending the formal tastings because it is very rare and exceptional to have these producers in Shanghai. After booking a tasting session, you should really read about the winery by doing some research into its background. That way, you will understand, appreciate and enjoy the tasting a lot more.
How did you first become involved in wine?
Wine is a brilliant medium of communication. Whether it is a gathering among friends and families or a business dinner, you always need some alcohol to break the ice. I’m not a heavy drinker, and can’t stand the way Baijiu (Chinese white spirit) is quaffed at Chinese dinner tables, so I tend to order wines instead. Once I started drinking wine, I was immediately attracted by the depth of knowledge and the profound history of wine. And I still am!
What is the best piece of wine advice that you have ever been given?
Wines are there to be drunk and enjoyed, not for showing off or investment.
What do you most enjoy about wine?
The rich flavours and textures, as well as an unlimited diversity of styles—these are the charms that keep me obsessed with the world of wine.
Written by Georgina Hindle