Jasper Morris heads to Ningxia

Berry Bros & Rudd’s Burgundy buyer, Jasper Morris MW, is heading to Ningxia in China to assess its potential as a fine wine region.

jasper morrisMorris is flying to the region in northern China later this week and as will be visiting numerous wineries in what should be the first of a series of visits to various Chinese winemaking regions over the next few years as the country develops its viticultural industry.

He freely admitted “I know too little about it” but also that both he and BBR “ought to know” more, hence the reason for his visit.

Although he will be visiting Changyu-Moser, a winery he does know and which BBR even stocks in the UK, the rest of the region is an unknown quantity and there are likely to be a lot of wines which are no good.

Yet it is the potential that Morris is looking for and he added: “It will take a little time but look at the short time it took [relatively speaking] for Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, Shiraz in Barossa Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley to establish themselves.

“If someone gets serious about wine in China it stands to reason a grape may find its natural home somewhere – and it may not be one of the main varieties.”

Speaking to the drinks business about the Chinese wines listed at BBR, Morris admitted that despite a buzz whenever they mentioned them, it took some encouragement before most clients would consider buying them.

Nonetheless, Morris stressed that they were “good wines” and “not a gimmick”. The cheaper of the two reds from Changyu-Moser was the better seller so far as it is less of a stretch for new customers and BBR has had to re-stock “two or three times” since they were listed.

On the subject of where he would like to go next in China, Morris added he was keen to visit Yunnan – touted by fellow MW Jancis Robinson as a wine region of the future – although that would be for the tea as much as anything else.

Morris’ findings and impressions from Ningxia will feature in an online article when he returns.

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