Helping hand from Aussie wine-makers

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Close co-operation with Australian wine-makers is helping Chateau Helan Qingxue – located in the less developed western autonomous region of Ningxia – to produce spectacular wines that are earning praise locally and overseas.

The vineyard’s resident wine-maker, Zhang Jing, recently returned from helping with the crush at Hewitson winery in Australia, while Michael Fragos, of Chapel Hill, has made the journey in the other direction September 2012, to help pass on expertise to the Chinese team at Chateau Helan Qingxue.

‘For such a young winemaking region, I have been extremely impressed with how modern the facilities are and with the depth of technical knowledge,’ says Fragos, who was able to communicate with staff in Chinese, having studied the language for five years.

‘In addition to this, the passion for wine and quality is tremendous. It was a fantastic opportunity to experience and discover the wines from a different country, while sharing some of my winemaking experiences with an emerging winemaking region. China is an increasingly important market for Chapel Hill.’

The limited-quantity 2010 reserve, which will sell for RMB629, will be distributed nationally and internationally by the Wine Republic, a Beijing-based operation which carries 207 wines from 50 wineries in nine countries.

The success of Chateau Helan Qingxue is likely to spark more interest in the wine-making potential of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. It is also home to Silver Heights, the boutique winery run by Bordeaux-trained Emma Gao and Helan Mountain, a Pernod Ricard owned operation.

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