Imports soar, local wines suffer. Mike Gadd on three Ningxia vintages. Bruno Paumard on a "new frontier" for Chinese wines. And lots more. Please forward this newsletter. Anyone can sign up here.
Grape Wall of China
Greetings from Beijing:

Spent a day driving around Ningxia with consultant Mike Gadd and talking about messy vineyards, excessive oak, the last three vintages, and more.

Met with winemaker Bruno Paumard of Inner Mongolia winery Hansen and tried 11 wines that he describes as a "new frontier" for the local trade.

And updated my argument that imported wine outsells local wine, despite a general belief it has about a 30 percent share. Falling local production, soaring imports and insights from friends in the field suggest it might now be double that.

Links and excerpts for those stories and more below.

Also, the Grape Wall newsletter and site take time and money. If they have helped your business, please consider making a small donation to help cover hosting, design and other costs. And, as always, much appreciated if you share this newsletter with others interested in China's wine scene.

Cheers,Jim Boyce


While many China wine watchers believe that imports have about a 30 percent share of the market, declining local wine production, soaring imports and the prospects of double-counting suggest it could be close to 60 percent.

Excerpt: "... the same wine might be counted multiple times. For example, consider a winery in Province A that makes and reports a million liters of wine. It then sells that wine as bulk to a winery in Province B, which uses it for blending and, in turn, also reports a million liters of production. In other words, one million liters becomes two million liters by the time it reaches the national spreadsheet."

Click here for the story.


Australian winemaker Mike Gadd joined the last three harvests in Ningxia. I interview him about vintage differences, messy vineyards, and more.

Excerpt: "I think [Cabernet Gernischt] was going to be Ningxia’s grape because no one else had it and they thought it fit the terroir. But then you find it is kind of green and weedy and doesn’t taste good all the time. It’s like the cool climate craze in Australia, with planting Cabernet Sauvignon in places like Tasmania, or in Marlborough in New Zealand. I worked on it in Marlborough and it smelled like cooked cabbage. Ten years later, people look at these green wines and say, “What the fuck?” Everyone was trying to be the new world Bordeaux."

Click here for the story.

(Note: Gadd was part of the two-year Ningxia Winemakers Challenge. See my Q&As with fellow competitors Justin CorransBrian CheeseboroughGianpaolo PagliaNova CadamatreChris Sargeant and Maria Isabel Tapia.)


Bruno Paumard of Hansen in Inner Mongolia says he created a “new frontier” for Chinese wine. We put 11 of his wines to the test.

Excerpt: "Paumard is so confident about his most recent vintages that he says Hansen has established a “new frontier” for Chinese wines. He cites a focus on putting the fruit first, on making regional-specific wine and, crucially, on changing the mindset at the winery where he has worked for seven years. He says many Chinese winemakers come from universities that stress process above all, partly because they had few local wineries to serve as examples, especially in terms of quality."

Click here for the story.



Someone's DRC doubled as a sorbet during the Chinese New Year holidays.

Excerpt: "Yes, wine can easily freeze during northern China’s harsh winters, as appears to be the case with this Domaine de la Romanée-Conti aka DRC that costs about USD15,500 / RMB100,000 per bottle. That pretty much qualifies as the worst “ice” wine."

Click here for the story.


While Chinese grape wine gets far more global media coverage than baijiu, China's national spirit, its volume is tiny in contrast. Enough baijiu is consumed annually to fill a 160-liter bathtub for each of the UK's 65 million citizens. Enough that it would take one hour for it all to flow over Niagara Falls. Enough, well, click here for more on the numbers, for additional examples, for a necessary humbling for anyone in China's wine industry.
Treaty (Ex)Port | Three labels from Treaty Port, the Shandong winery that doubles as a Scottish castle, have been listed in the UK by the Real Wine Company.

Pony Power | Two wines from one of China’s top operations, Kanaan in Ningxia, are now available at retail chain Dan Murphy’s in Australia.

China Picks | We see more good producers, sales often lag due to low visibility, high prices and poor distribution. My five wine picks for China Daily, with a nod to brands with decent value and distribution.

Spier Today | The most recent South African roadshow brought some tasty wine to Beijing. Spier's were my favorites.

Finally, the local wine trade got involved in the most recent Maovember charity campaign, including nine importers at the third Mystery Wine Party and CHEERS with a Win Your Weight in Wine event.
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Note: The content of this newsletter is general information. I make no guarantee as to its completeness or accuracy. Use it at your own risk. In other words, I try hard to be accurate, but mistakes can happen, so reader beware! Also, I'm not a fan of spam and aim to send this newsletter only to people who signed up at Grape Wall blog or agreed by email or in person to receive it. If you did not request it, but are receiving it, something has gone awry. You can unsubscribe at the bottom or let me know at grapewallofchina (at) Cheers, Jim Boyce
23 March 2018
Grape Wall covers China's wine scene. Winery visits, tastings, news, reviews, and interviews .Since 2007. Administered by Jim Boyce. Get the newsletter here.
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Q&A. Check Grape Wall's sessions with wine people inside and outside China.
Back issues. Check out the most recent ones.

Issue 38
The two-year Ningxia Winemakers Challenge, with 48 candidates from 17 nations, wrapped up in Beijing. The medalists, judges and more.

Issue 37
Lu Yang first master somm from China, Grace Vineyard turns 20, farewells to Patricio de la Fuente Saez and Mike Peters

Issue 36
Torres China turns 20, Grape Wall turns 20, 'Les Miserables' Chinese wine tasting

Issue 35
Have imports passed local brands? Plus Interwine Beijing and Spanish, Chilean & California wine promotion

Issue 34
Producers doubling as importers, Torres turns 20, the unimaginable wine region
Events. When we put down our wine and organize stuff.
Grape Wall Challenge
Chinese consumers are judges in this annual blind tasting.
China Wine Tour
The tour covered four bars, a Chinese red and white wine at each. Details here.
North by Northwest
Wine experts, chefs and journalists try Chinese wine. See here for the results.

Ningxia vs Bordeaux
Five wines from each region were blind-tasted by ten experts. The results were a bit controversial. Details here
I started World Baijiu Day in 2015 to introduce people to China's top drink, a grain-based spirit with annual sales of 10 billion bottles. The event will return with events in dozens of events including Beijing, London, Melbourne, Los Angeles and more.
A Final Word

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Tell those interested in China's wine scene about the newsletter and website.

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Thanks to those who have already helped Grape Wall.

Cheers, Jim Boyce
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