Chinese ice wines won three golds in Decanter World Wine Awards 2017

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Chinese ice wines have won three out of the five gold medals awarded to Asian wines at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA).

Among them an ice wine from Tonghua, Jilin province was awarded ‘Platinum Best in Category’.

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The result shows Northeast China’s potential to produce world-class ice wines, said local producers and experts.

Making ice wines in China the natural way

Due to the severe winter in north China, winegrowers need to bury their vines every year after harvest. The extreme conditions have seen Chinese winemakers develop new techniques to produce ice wines.

Image: Huanren ice wine region, Northeast China. Credit: Zhan Jicheng
Image: Huanren ice wine region, Northeast China. Credit: Zhan Jicheng

‘One solution is to cut off the canes that carry the fruit and leave them on the trellises, and bury the rest of the grape vines in November, before the soil freezes,’ said Chinese ice wine authority professor Zhan Jicheng, of China Agricultural University.

In order to produce ice wines in a more internationally recognised way, the local winegrowers are also developing a new ‘double-cane (or double vine) rotation pruning’ technique.

The method allows one fruit-bearing cane to be left un-cut and un-buried before the iced berries are harvested, while the other cane is buried for fruit production in the next year.

Image: Huanren ice wine region, Northeast China. Credit: Zhan Jicheng
Image: Huanren ice wine region, Northeast China. Credit: Zhan Jicheng

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Though no official figures have been released, Professor Zhan estimates that currently China produces 3,000 tonnes of ice wines every year.

Heilongjiang Luyuan Winery won a third gold in this year’s DWWA, after winning Platinum Best in Category in 2016 and a gold medal in the 2016 Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA) with its Château Fenhe ice wine.

It said that it was ‘thrilled to receive the prestigious award’ at DWWA 2017 for its 2015 vintage.

By winning a third award, ‘we hope that the trade and consumers from all over the world begin to recognise the quality of Chinese ice wines,’ said Wen Hui, general manager of the Beijing branch of the Yajianggu Winery.

China’s awards demographics in 2017 DWWA

47 Chinese wines were awarded a medal in the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards. Besides the three gold medal-winning ice wines, China has also won 15 Silvers and 29 Bronzes.

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An additional 44 wines were awarded a Commended Seal of Approval.

With 24 medals and 35 seals of approval, Ningxia dominated the majority of the awards won by the 13 Chinese wine regions in this year’s competition. Xinjiang followed with 11 awards.

This year more than 17,200 wines globally entered the Decanter World Wine Awards. It marks the highest entry for what is already the world’s biggest wine competition, now in its 14th year.

All wines were tasted blind by 219 international experts, including 65 Masters of Wine and 20 Master Sommeliers during a week of judging in London.

Only 34 wines were awarded a Platinum Best in Show, the highest accolade in the competition.

Stay tuned for tasting notes, bottle shots and details of Chinese award-winning wines, due to be published on DecanterChina.com in early June.

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