Puchang Vineyard Rkatsiteli 2020, Dom Franco Chinois Marselan 2014 and Xiaoling Grand Vin De L’Himalaya 2019 were just three highlights from a series of wine tastings, food-and-wine pairings and book signings held last week at Wynn Palace Macau as part of the inaugural Chinese Wine Awards.

Meanwhile, behind closed doors, a panel of 27 international judges were tasting more than 750 wines from China. The Awards represented the first time ever that a line-up of exclusively made-in-China wines had gone before a panel of high-profile wine professionals from around the world, with results to be announced on 13 April. Chair of judges, as well as the event’s creator, was winemaker Eddie McDougall, founder and CEO of The Flying Winemaker.

Eddie has been tasting wine from China for many years, but it was when researching for The Flying Winemaker 2013 Discovery Channel TV show – it explored new and innovative wine regions across Asia, as well as pairing local wine with local cuisines – that he could see a “modern” China emerging. Eddie considers Shandong the original home of modern Chinese winemaking – Changyu was established there in 1892; and he visited the dynamic region of Ningxia when it was in its infancy, with Silver Heights an early pioneer. Things subsequently started moving at an accelerated pace, production rocketed, and more international groups such as LVMH have moved in – they founded Ao Yun in another emerging wine region, Yunnan. And so the Awards was conceived.

For the panel, Eddie was able to attract luminaries including Bordeaux expert Jane Anson, Tim Triptree MW (International Director of Wine & Spirits at Christie’s), the first Chinese master of wine Gus Zhu MW, Andrew Caillard MW from Australia, Reeze Choi from Hong Kong who made history last year by becoming the first Chinese finalist in the ASI Best Sommelier of the World Competition (he ranked third) and, from Japan, Kenichi Ohashi MW.  

There was a real buzz in the air. Jane Anson commented that less than 10 years ago the incidence of wine faults in China was high, while at this competition, there were few faulty wines, and indeed worthy gold medallists. The world-class event will surely help made-in-China wine take its place on the world wine stage, but it is about more than that, says Eddie. For quality to keep improving (and not only in China), ideas need to be exchanged globally, and winemakers need opportunities to put their wines in front of international experts for critical assessment.


March 16, 2024 — Kyle Oosterberg