Three Days of Wine Judging in Shanghai China

(May 2017) This past week I flew to Shanghai to participate in the Wine 100 Competition. In its 6th year, the competition includes both Chinese and international wines. This year there were over 900 entries, up from the original 50 entries submitted the first year of the competition.

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Organized by David Jiang, a retired McKinsey executive who loves wine, the competition is designed to help Chinese consumers to find quality wine in their market. Each year he brings in several MWs and MSs to round out the cadre of top sommeliers and wine experts in China. All together there were nearly 40 judges, organized into 6 panels each evaluating around 80 wines a day for two days.

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My wine judging panel with Director David Jiang (2nd from right)

Wine Trophy Judging

On the third day we did trophy judging, which included tasting all of the gold medal wines from each major country, including Germany, France, Italy, China, USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and others. Once those were selected, the winners from that round were re-evaluated to select the sweepstakes red and white wine for the total competition. Finally we re-tasted those two winning wines to select the top trophy wine of the competition. The results were quite interesting:

Top Two American Wines

I was pleased to see that the two wines that won for America included a Chardonnay from Willamette Valley in Oregon, produced by Domaine Serene, and a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, produced by William Hill.

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Domaine Serene Chardonnay 2014 and William Hill Cabernet 2013

Top Chinese Wine from Ningxia

Though we tasted some amazing Bordeaux blends from the Ningxia and Xianjiang regions of China, the winning wine was made from the Marselan grape, produced by Ho-Lan-Soul winery in Ningxia.  It was incredible with concentrated berry and earth flavors, smooth velvety tannins, and a very long finish.

Interestingly, many experts are starting to predict that Marselan will become China’s signature red grape varietal. Marselan is a cross between Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon, developed in France in the 1960’s and grown mainly in the Langedouc regions and parts of California. It is known for its rich berry profile, deep color, and supple tannins.IMG_4428

Top Chinese Wine from Ho Lan Soul Winery – 2014 Marselan

Sweepstake  White and Red Wine

The sweepstake white wine (best white wine of the competition) was a 2008 Riesling from Eden Valley in Barossa Australia, produced by a small winery named Eden Springs. The sweepstake red wine (best red wine of the competition) was a 2015 Shiraz from the Paarl region of South Africa, produced by a winery named BabylonStoren.  I had never heard of either of these wineries, but both wines were exquisite with concentrated flavors, complexity, and a very long finish.

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Two Sweepstakes Wines – a Riesling and Shiraz

 When we voted on the top trophy wine of the competition (blind again), we had to select between these two top wines.  The winning wine was the 2015 Shiraz from BabylonStoren Winery.

 Bumming Around Shanghai

 Since our hotel, the Hyatt Regency – Shanghai Wujiaochang, was located 30 minutes north of the city center, I was only able to get away one evening to have drinks with friends on the Bund. The taxi ride was only $7, and I met Christal and Angelina at the Roosevelt Rooftop Bar overlooking the Bund.  The Bund is the chic downtown section of Shanghai located along the winding river, with many trendy shops, restaurants, hotels, and a famous skyline (see below).

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The Famous Shanghai Skyline

Afterwards we walked along the Bund for a while, and then I headed back to my hotel. Since I had already spent 4 days as a tourist in Shanghai several years ago, and had seen most of the sights, I wasn’t that disappointed. In addition, the Hyatt Regency Shanghai is a brand new 5-star hotel with marble bathrooms, huge comfortable rooms, and a brand new fitness center with large pool. It is also connected to a multi-level indoor mall, filled with many good restaurants and shops.

While in Shanghai I also taught a master class on American wines, attended other master classes taught by MWs and MSs, and participated in several news media interviews.  Altogether I spent six eventful days in Shanghai before flying back home to California.

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Tourist Boat on Shanghai River Along the Bund

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