When talking about wine destinations, images of manor houses and vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see often come to mind. Ask anyone about wine regions, and you’d hear Languedoc, Bordeaux, and Burgundy, as well as endless discussions about terroir.
When you’re shopping for wine, you’d probably be biased towards bottles that come from France, Italy, Spain, and Australia. You would also put California’s Napa Valley on your list to see its sun-soaked vineyards, sprawling estates, and designer outdoor furniture like the ones from Taylor Creative Inc.
You’d also try bottles from Chile, South Africa, and Argentina from time to time. If you’re a wine connoisseur, you might even visit these places to collect one-of-a-kind bottles and see how they’re made. But there’s another name you can add to your list of wine destinations, and it’s Ningxia, China’s leading wine region.
Fast Facts About Ningxia
Ningxia is an autonomous region in the central north of China that lies between the Yellow River and the foothills of Helan Mountain. Most of the region’s viticulture takes place in a river valley in the northern region. What’s even more interesting is that the valleys where the vineyards have been built were once made up of dunes and arid landscapes. In the context of terroir, Ningxia benefits from its diverse geography of tablelands, flood plains, deserts, and forested mountains.
Ningxia Wines to Try
Ningxia produces a range of grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Gernischt. Plus, local vineyards have produced their own award-winning bottles.
A true connoisseur would pay a visit to Ningxia and see what the fuss is about. So if you’re heading up there, here are 16 wines that have received awards over the decade:
- Helan Mountain, Xiao Feng Chardonnay — This multi-layered and expressive wine has persistent notes of pineapple, mango, lemon, oak, and grapefruit. Its palate leaves hints of flint and spice, a seductive mix.
- Helan Qingxue, Jiabeilan Reserve — The aroma displays blueberry and stewed capsicum, creating a stringy palate of sweet spice, graphite tannins, shortbread, and cassis.
- Jade Vineyard Ningxia Messenger Reserve — This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine has been hailed as one of the best wines from China. It boasts a vibrantly spiced nose of sandalwood and leather. Its palate is characterized as earthy, angular tannin, and cooked fruits.
- Ningxia Helanshan Manor, Syrah — A deep but refreshing nose of cinnamon oak and dark fruits and a juicy palate of vanilla, ripe tannins, and blackberry make this an easy choice.
- Helan Qingxue, Jiabeilan Reserve — This wine carries a rounded note of blackcurrant, toast, and cherry. It shows a palate of red berries and cherried oak, a juicy dessert wine.
- The Wens, Family Reserve Nikollection Cabernet Gernischt — It has hints of violet aroma, pepper, and vanilla. The palate shows spice, black fruits, and a chocolate finish.
- Jade Vineyard, Aria Reserve — Perfect for the dinner table, this wine leaves an appealing note of green capsicum and leather.
- Chateau Miqin, Oak Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon — It has a playful and fresh nose with notes of graphite and violet, with a balanced palate of blueberry, tannins, and black cherry.
- Ho-Lan Soul, Reserved Organic Marselan — It’s a crossed-variety wine with a nose of dark berries and coffee, leaving a palate of sweet oak, balanced tannins, and blue fruit.
- Li’s Shiraz — Helan Mountain’s answer to Barossa Valley, this shiraz is floral and spicy, leaving notes of black fruits, elegant tannins, and a spicy but elegant finish.
- Helan Qingxue, Jiabeilan Pinot Noir — This is a rounded pinot noir with a strawberry and cherry nose with a delicate baked fruit and pepper palate.
- Ho-Lan Soul, Holan King Organic Cabernet Franc — A feast for the senses, this wine has marzipan and candied strawberry nose and full-bodied sour cherry palate with hints of stony minerality.
- Ningxia Lilan Winery, Lancui Cabernet Sauvignon — Images of fragrant flower fields come to mind with hints of clove and cassis. Its chocolate and baked spice and fig palate is awakening.
- Jade Vineyard, Hyacinth — It’s a classic but bold nose of violet, cassis, and clove, with a palate of pure blackcurrant and blueberry with notes of red pepper and rich tannins.
- Jade Vineyard, Messenger Reserve — It has a vibrant note of sandalwood and leather greets you, with the palate displaying cooked fruits, angular tannin, and earthy minerality, one for the dinner table.
- Chateau Pengsheng, Zijue Cabernet Avignon — Hints of ripe blackcurrant and fine oak invade the senses, leading to a spicy chocolate palate with smooth tannins.
Ningxia wine may be new to the scene, but it is gradually forming its own identity. While it may take some time for consumers and connoisseurs to have full confidence in this rookie wine region, Ningxia has made its way to supermarket shelves across the globe.
So it won’t be a surprise if they become a mainstay, too. And that’s all thanks to its beautifully desolate desert landscape, extreme temperatures, vast fields irrigated by the Yellow River, and its enthusiastic community of winemakers and workers.