When thinking about new wine producing areas, many of us will consider the New World countries such as Australia, California and Chile. It may surprise many wine lovers, however, to learn that China has a considerable wine industry. The political changes in this vast country have resulted in a relaxation of import rules and a growing and affluent middle class. This is turn has led to an increase in the amount of wine being imported and there has been much contact with French wine producers. Now, however, domestic Chinese wine production is on the increase, with the vineyards of Ningxia being particularly renowned.
The rise of Chinese wine
The French were first to take advantage of the changing situation in China and French wine arrived there in 1980. French producer, Remy Martin saw the size of the opportunity and seized the initiative with the first joint venture to make domestic Chinese wine in 1980. More vineyards were planted and Chinese wine has begin to find its way onto western supermarket shelves, where they have been found to include wines of considerable quality.
The regions of Chinese wine production
The production of Chinese wine is increasing and is dominated by a small number of large producers, such as the China Great Wall Wine Company, Changyu Pioneer Wine and the Dynasty Wine company. These companies are producing their wine from a number of notable wine producing areas, such as those of the Hebei regions of Beijing, Yantai and Zhangijakou and also Yibin in Sichuan. Wine is also produced in Jilin, Shanxi and Ningxia but the largest region is Yantai-Penglai, which accounts for around 40% of Chinese wine.
Buying Chinese wine
Clearly, the Chinese wine industry is still in its infancy and quality is mixed. Nevertheless, there are some rare treats to be found and Gilbert & Gaillard has an expert in China to bring the best Chinese wines to the attention of Gilbert & Gaillard readers. These wines are judged by exactly the same criteria as every other wine in the guide, thus allowing wine lovers to compare wine from this new region with more well-known wines from Europe. In doing so, they can buy Chinese wine with the same confidence that have when they buy from better known producers.