A wine made from 100% Marselan in Xinjiang was awarded a Platinum Medal at the 2018 Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA), providing further evidence of this variety’s potential as China’s ‘signature grape’.
The winner, a 2016 vintage of ‘Caring Nature, Barrel Aged Marselan’ by Chateau Zhongfei, was awarded a Platinum medal at DAWA 2018 – one of the top accolades - after being blind-tasted by the six vice-chairs of this year’s competition.
The win follows a high-profile victory in last year’s competition for a 100% Marselan wine, produced by Grace Vineyard of Shanxi Province, which won a ‘Best in Show’ award [link].
An additional seven wines made partially or fully from the grape have won one Silver Medal, three Bronze Medals and three Commended Seals of Approval at DAWA 2018. Their origins cover China’s key winemaking regions, including Helan Mountain East of Ningxia, Yanqi of Xinjiang, Penglai of Shandong and Shanxi.
A crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, Marselan originated in France but has desirable characters for Chinese producers, including big fruit bunch, small berries and good resistance to diseases, said Professor Li Demei, returning vice-chair of Decanter Asia Wine Awards.
Marselan: The future ‘signature’ grape of China
‘We started planting Marselan since 2013, and 2016 was the second vintage of this wine,’ Zhang Yan, chief winemaker of Chateau Zhongfei, told DecanterChina.com.
Chateau Zhongfei was founded in 2012 in Yanqi, Xinjiang, with 2014 being its first commercially released vintage.
The winery’s over 4500 mu (300ha) plantings also include international wine grapes such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are widely planted varieties in Chinese vineyards.
‘We believe that Marselan has the potential to develop more regional characteristics than other international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot,’ said Zhang, who is keen to ‘establish and consolidate the winemaking techniques’ for the variety.
Among the Silver Medal winners, four are sweet wines. The winners include an Icewine from Northeast China (Tonghua Winery ‘Yasay Oak Aged Ice Wine’ 2016, Tonghua, Jilin), and three Petit Manseng from Chateau Junding (Shandong), Shandong Taila Winery (Shandong) and Citic Guoan (Xinjiang).
Fifty-seven percent of the 123 Chinese wines that entered DAWA 2018 were awarded a Platinum (1), Silver (17) or Bronze (52) medal, with an additional 17 granted a Commended Seal of Approval.
Thirty-three of these winners are from Ningxia, which is closely followed by Xinjiang with 28 wins. Benefiting from sufficient sunshine and an arid climate, both Northwest regions are currently regarded as China’s top sources of fine wines.
The 2018 DAWA
Launched in 2012, the Decanter Asia Wine Awards is open to wineries that already have presence in or exploring the opportunities of the Asian market.
The 7th edition of the awards received 3,138 entries from 37 countries. Only 39 (1.25%) wines were awarded a Platinum Medal or Best in Show, the highest accolade of the competition.
Entrants were tasted blind by panels of experts. The competition has more than 50 expert judges, mainly based in Asia, and judging took place over a week in Hong Kong at the beginning of September. DAWA 2018 was chaired by international experts, including Sarah Jane Evans MW, Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Michael Hill Smith MW, Andrew Jefford, Li Demei and CH’NG Poh Tiong.
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