Ningxia wine competition in HK crowns a non-Bordeaux blend

A 100% Shiraz from China’s leading wine region Ningxia has won the highest accolade at the inaugural Ningxia wine competition held in Hong Kong, a surprise win for a region primarily known for its Bordeaux blends.

Gong Jie, owner of Chateau Hedong, receiving the Diamond Award for best red wine at the award ceremony of 2018 China Helan Mountain’s East Foothill Wine – Hong Kong Bauhinia Award Competition held on 9 January at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hong Kong.

The 2015 Shiraz from Chateau Hedong – the northernmost winery in Ningxia’s East Foothills wine region – has emerged as the sole winner of the ‘Diamond Award’ for best red wine at the ‘2018 China Helan Mountain’s East Foothills Wine – Hong Kong Bauhinia Award Competition’, after a panel of seven judges including Sarah Heller MW and Darius Allyn MS assessed about 100 samples from over 40 wineries.

Three other Gold medal winners were also non-Bordeaux blends; Dongfang Yuxing Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, a 2014 Shiraz from He Lan Soul and a Chardonnay from the Xixia King winery. 

The win came as a surprise of some sort for a region that has come to be known as ‘China’s Bordeaux’ for its predominance of Bordeaux varieties.

Asked by dbHK about the choice of Shiraz over a blend, Gong Jie, owner of the Hedong winery, admitted that he had experimented with blends but Shiraz’s expression turned out to be better, a result of its stony granite soil and large diurnal range.

Founded by Gong in 1997, the winery has over 3000 mu (200 ha) of vineyards with roughly 8 mu (0.53 ha) reportedly having vines of more than 50 years old. In addition to its single varietal Shiraz, the winery also makes single varietal wines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Gernischt (Carmenere), Pinot Noir and Merlot.

Today, Ningxia has close to 200 wineries with most wines sold domestically. As of September 2017, only wines from five wineries in the region are exported, according to Ningxia’s official Chinese Newspaper Ningxia Daily.

Organised by the China Helan Mountain’s East Foothills Wine Region Chamber of Commerce (Hong Kong), the competition is in line with local government’s steadfast determination to drive Ningxia’s international visibility via Hong Kong, leveraging the city’s tax free policy and its position as a trading hub in Asia. 

“Hong Kong is an important financial, trade and shipping hub in the world, and the capital of wine. The chamber will capitalise on its members’ resources to promote Ningxia Helan Mountain East Foothill wine region and introduce Ningxia wine to the global stage,” Li Xuemeng, chairman of the organisation, told dbHK.

Last year, Ningxia made its first appearance at Vinexpo in Bordeaux with 15 wineries showcasing their wines at a China Pavilion. At the moment, wines from Legacy Peak and Silver Heights, are among the Ningxia wines available in Hong Kong.

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