Grace & ASC partner, Torres releases new Silver Heights wines, Australia rises again, WSET opens Hong Kong office, Ningxia explained in two photos & more. Please forward this newsletter! Anyone can sign up here.
Grape Wall of China

Season's greetings from China, where a flow of new brands, consumers and professionals keeps the scene fresh, where national distributors increasingly carry local labels, and where the pollution cleared in Beijing just in time for Santa to get through with the new Silver Heights wines for Christmas dinner (see photo above).

The past few months have been crazy due to work and the annual Maovember drive. Then again, you're doing something wrong in China if you aren't insanely busy.

I've posted some photos and summaries below that give glimpses into the scene and I aim to have lots more in 2017.

As always, please pass this newsletter to others who might like it: they can sign up here. I hope everyone has a favorite wine or two to drink on New Year's Eve!

Cheers, Jim Boyce
The rumors were true. Grace Vineyard and ASC Fine Wines, arguably the most significant winery and importer / distributor in China during the past 20 years, have partnered. The pair announced the news this week as Shanxi province-based Grace publicly ended its dozen-plus years of collaboration with Torres China. More here.

Silver Heights from Ningxia gets plenty of praise but one knock has been price, given its wines start at USD45. This week, distributor Torres released two less expensive wines under the label The Last Warrior, a nice option for newcomers to Chinese brands and venues seeking to offer local by-the-glass wine. More here.

Duty calls! It’s been a good year for Australian wine imports, with the country solidifying its position behind France, and 2017 might be even better given the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement calls for a tariff cut next week. More here.

Call it in Veronese veritas: Simone Incontro, Verona native and China bureau chief for VinItaly, talks about retail realities and opportunities in Shanghai. More here.

New Italian wine bar Vesuvio recently held a tasting that covered a dozen regions, with brands from importers China Wines & Spirits, East Meets West, Mercuris and Sarment. A look at the pros and cons, plus three favorite wines. More more.

When Chilean shop La Cava de Laoma opened in a remote corner of a huge Beijing retail / apartment complex over three years ago, few realized it would become a favorite stop for many. Sad news, then, that it has closed. More here.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) announced plans earlier this year to open its first international office, in Hong Kong, a sensible move given greater China is already its second-biggest market after the UK. More details.

The Beijing wine trade got involved in this year's Maovember charity campaign, with CHEERS doing a mulled wine tour. Q Bar hosting a mystery wine party that teamed nine distributors, and Cafe de la Poste organizing a China-France blind tasting.

Veteran importer / distributor Paradox has teamed with Inner Mongolia’s Hansen on a Cabernet Sauvignon for sale in Carrefours throughout China. More here.

Moët Hennessy wine brand Ao Yun, made high in Yunnan's mountains, became the first Chinese label to trade on Liv-ex, with a six-bottle case going for £1,410 (rmb12,200) to £1,600 (rmb13,800). More here.

China sent vines into space earlier this year and that should ultimately mean new wines for our planet, including everything from Gamaray and Beaujolais Nova to Ugniverse Blanc and ExtraTorrontestrial. More here.

The Institute of Masters of Wine recently announced 13 new members, including Fongyee Walker, the first based in continental China, She wrote her research paper on vine burial in China. More here.

Many wine regions are associated with a grape or style, like Mendoza with Malbec and Barossa with Shiraz. While Napa Valley is often linked with Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot from this region also shone at a Beijing tasting. More here.

Wang Runping of Gansu winery Mogao contrasted “old habits die hard” flood irrigation versus a modern drip system during a vineyard tour and talked about improvements he hoped to make before he retires. More here.
Finally, here are two photos that symbolize the phenomenal growth of the Ningxia wine region. The first is from 2012, when seven winemakers from five continents helped launch a two-year project called Ningxia Winemakers Challenge that saw each make a wine with a similar set of equipment in a common facility and ultimately compete for USD30,000 in prizes:
The second is from the newest version of that contest. It started in 2015, involves pairing 48 winemakers from 18 countries with local wineries, and has more than USD100,000 in prizes. Some change!
By the way, if you want insights into one winemakers' experience, including his take on fruit used for the contest, regional differences found in a tasting of 100 local wines, and grapes that might work best in Ningxia, see this interview with Brian Cheeseborough.

That's it for 2016. I wish everyone a wonderful New Year's Eve. See you in 2017!

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
29 December 2016
Covering the China wine scene since 2007. Trade news, consumer tastings, winery visits and more. Administered by Jim Boyce. Get the newsletter here.
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Read Grape Wall's interviews with wine people inside and outside China.
If necessity is the mother of invention, is procrastination the father? While avoiding work, I gathered a bunch of (what I deem) funny memes and images. See them here.
Back issues. Check out the most recent ones.

Issue 29
Riesling wins Wine 100, East Meets West-Tiansai partner, Pudao turns seven

Issue 28
A four-year study of wine tastes, the rise of Yunnan, anatomy of a vintage in Shanxi

Issue 27
Grape Wall Challenge results, CruItaly's Rory Quirk, CHEERS wine

Issue 26
Mas La Plana, Signature Wine Club, charity events

Issue 25
Rise of white wine, Ningxia analysis. Changyu-Moser sales in Europe

Issue 24
NWC launches, MWs as new Lafite, grower's Champagne, natural wine
Events. 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 this China's top drink, a grain-based spirit with over 10 billion bottles sold per year. The event includes dozens of events in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Sydney and other cities. Details here.
A Final Word

Grape Wall has covered the China wine scene since 2007 and requires time and money for everything from organizing events to writing posts to covering hosting services. Here are three ways to support it.

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

Send wine news and tips to grapewallofchina (at)

Donate via PayPal or credit card here or Wechat to help cover site costs.

The more support, the more work can be done. Thanks to those who have already helped Grape Wall.

Cheers, Jim Boyce
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