^ The Xinjiang region is one of the key wine producing areas in China
When luxury brand LVMH bought some vineyards and set up a winery in China a few years ago, the wine world sat up and took notice. What was more surprising was it weren’t paying attention sooner. After all, China is in the top 10 wine-producing countries by volume, and wine has has been made in the country for more than 2,000 years.
Wine was highly prized by the leaders back in those early days, but grain spirit baijiu soon became the drink of choice, and it wasn’t until the late 19th century when winemaking was taken seriously again. The 1980s saw the country’s wine regions mapped out properly, and investment was ramped up over the next couple of decades.
The key grape in China is Cabernet Sauvignon, with able support from Carmenere, Marselan, Chardonnay and Riesling, as well as a clutch of local varieties. And you’ll find wineries dotted all over the country – there is no single stronghold, although the key regions are Shangdong in the north-east and Xinjiang in the north-west.
Among the IWSC winners this year are Shacheng Winery 1979 National Famous Wine Longan NV. Made with the Longyan (‘dragon eye’) grape, it offers delicate herbal and minty aromas, with a refreshing stone-fruit character. The rich, honeyed Golden Icewine Valley Black Diamond Vidal 2017 from Chateau Changyu scooped another gong, too.
China will definitely be worth keeping an eye on in the coming years, and as its wines start to become more widely available, expect to see more bottles on our shelves – and more awards to come, too.
Shacheng Winery 1979
Zhangjiakou Great Wall Brewing
National Famous Wine Longan NV Delicate pear, herbal and minty aromas. Complex and well-textured palate of fleshy white stone fruits. Refreshing and well-balanced in the lovely fruit finish. 11.5%
Golden Icewine Valley Black Diamond Vidal 2017
Chateau Changyu Icewine Co.
Fresh, zingy, and as mischievous as Goldilocks. Sweet, seductive honey, delectable dried apricot, and alluring almonds. Intense and inscrutable, who's the jealous one now? 11%
Cabernet Franc 2017
Amongst the wild herbs she taunts, with rosemary, thyme, and black forest fruit. Luxurious. 14.5%
Chateau Changyu Baron Balboa
Pithy lemon and limes lead the entry, with baked apple and creaminess adding some complexity. 13.5%
Chateau Changyu AFIP Global
Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Gorgeously textured with delicate berries, sweet oak, and a tickle of mint. 13%
View all top-rated Chinese wines