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 2009 Cabernet blend has won the Red Bordeaux Varietal Over £10 International Trophy.
The award was given out at the Decanter World Wine Awards presentation dinner at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden last night.
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 at the Decanter World Wine Awards, chosen out of more than 12,000 wines entered. In the final judging category, He Lan Qing Xue was tasted against Regional trophy winners including St Emilion Grand Cru Chateau Boutisse and Catena Zapata’s Appellation Cabernet Franc, and wines from Australia, South Africa, California and other premium regions specialising 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.
It is produced in Ningxia province in Northern China, in quantities of about 20,000 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 2006, trained in Bordeaux and did an internship at Chateau Palmer.
He Lan Qing Xue also won a Silver for its 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, while another Chinese winery, Domaine Helan Mountain in Xinjiang Uygur, won Silver for its Classic Chardonnay 2008 and Bronze for its Premium Collection Riesling.
As panel chair Ch’ng Poh Tiong said ‘The Decanter World Wine Awards 2011 was a golden harvest for Middle East, Far East and Asia.
Not only did China pick up medals but Japan, India and Thailand won Silvers and Golds.
‘India and China remain winemaking countries with their doors and windows completely wide open to all sorts of competing ideas – both outside and inside the country.’
See the full DWWA 2011 results
Written by Adam Lechmere