Chinese wines beat French in tasting, but it's not best vs best

Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:46pm EST
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By Terril Yue Jones

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese wines took the top four places in a China vs Bordeaux blind tasting competition on Wednesday, but it wasn't exactly a thrashing of the world's most elite wines by Chinese upstarts.

The wines were all red , mostly Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux-style blends. The Chinese side was represented by five of what are considered among the best Chinese wines produced; the French wines were five more pedestrian reds from Bordeaux negociants and commercial labels, not chateau-bottled wines.

They ranged in price from about 200 yuan to 350 yuan ($30-$55).

Five French and five Chinese judges tasted the wines blind at a wine bar in Beijing. In the end, the 2009 Chairman's Reserve from China's Grace Vineyards in Ningxia province came out on top.

In second place was Silver Heights' "The Summit" 2009; in third was 2009 Jiabeilan. Grace Vineyards' Deep Blue 2009 took fourth place. Like all the Chinese wines in the tasting they too were from Ningxia, a small, sparsely populated region in north-central China.

Fifth place went to Saga Medoc 2009 from Barons de Rothschild Collection, a commercial label from the owner of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, which scored the highest of the French wines in the tasting.

It wasn't exactly replicating the 1976 tasting of California vs Bordeaux in Paris, in which a top red and white from Napa Valley shocked the wine world by beating out some of the most famous French labels.

But it shows that Chinese wines are beginning to come into their own and have the potential to become great, said Jim Boyce, a China wine expert who helped organize the event.   Continued...

<p>A man drinks a glass of red wine during the 6th Shanghai International Wine Trade Fair June 1, 2011. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>