China’s wine, long derided by drinkers outside the country as cheap swill, has taken one tiny step toward respectability this week. At the Decanter World Wine Awards in London, a red Bordeaux-style blend called Jia Bei Lan, from the winery He Lan Qing Xue in Ningxia province, won the trophy for “Red Middle East, Far East & Asia over £10 ($16).” According to Decanter, the judges called the wine “supple, graceful and ripe but not flashy.” The same winery also won a silver medal for its 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.
The British wine magazine’s annual awards are among the industry’s most popular, with 12,252 wines submitted this year from 41 countries. Experts from more than 25 countries judged, led by Steven Spurrier, who led the controversial “Judgment of Paris” tasting in 1976, which pitted Californian wines against prestigious ones from France.
Other Asian countries picked up medals as well: India’s Sula Vineyard won a silver for its 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, made at a winery in Nashik, about 108 miles northeast of Mumbai. Japan’s Grace Wine won a silver for its Koshu Kayagatake, made of Koshu (sometimes spelled Kyushu) grapes, a local variety little-known outside Japan.