Anthony Rose: 'China is determined to become a wine world power'

 

If you were to visit a Disneyland of wine, you might expect castles with crimson turrets and golden gates, statues with fountains, marble reception rooms and wine museums, and come across hokey names like Chateau Bacchus, Chateau De Da and Saint Louis Ding. All this, and more, exists, in China's Ningxia province, two hours west of Beijing by air.

While the cultural cringe may be palpable, Ningxia's development as a major wine region is a serious proposition. China is determined to become a wine world power and not to rely on overseas imports. With generous subsidies, the provincial government has a plan to turn this remote region into China's answer to Bordeaux.

There are some 60 wineries today with plans to double the number and expand the 30,000 hectares of vineyard to 66,000. The Chinese giant, Chateau Changyu Moser XV, opened its sixth château here in August. The state-owned food powerhouse, Cofco Great Wall, is building a winery the size of an airport terminal. Joining the party, Moët Hennessy's Chandon brand has big plans for fizz and Pernod-Ricard is already producing wines in the mould of its own Jacob's Creek with its Domaine Helan Mountain wines.

Sitting at 1,200 metres at the eastern foot of the Helan Mountain range, Ningxia's abundance of water from the Yellow River, its moderate climate and varied soil types are yielding a handful of surprisingly delicious red wines. The best are from small wineries such as Emma Gao's Silver Heights and JiaBeiLan, which surprised the world by winning an international trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2011. It looks like we will soon see some of the current cream of the crop here in the UK.

On the minus side, Ningxia reaches -27C in winter so the vines have to be buried to prevent them from dying. Mixed vineyards, unhealthy vines and an old-fashioned quantity over quality mentality among small growers prevails. And no one is quite sure yet which grape varieties will work best here, or if the local cabernet gernischt, believed to be the same grape as Chile's carménère, is a commercial proposition.

With the provincial capital of Yinchuan nearby, draws such as the tomb of Xi Xia King and ancient rock pictograms make wine tourism a reality. Eyeing Ningxia's success story, the neighbouring province of Inner Mongolia has just announced a 1 billion yuan (£100m) wine development plan. Thanks to a vast, expanding middle class with the cash to splash on eating and drinking, China is becoming the new frontier of wine with Ningxia spearheading its next revolution.

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders