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Chinese Marselan wins top award in Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2017

www.decanterchina.com by Sylvia Wu22/09/2017  

A red wine made from a French variety tipped as China’s ‘signature grape’ has won the highest award at the 2017 Decanter Asia Wine Awards, show results released today (20 September).

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Image: Trophy judging at 2017 Decanter Asia Wine Awards

The red wine, Tasya's Reserve Marselan 2015, by Grace Vineyard of Shanxi Province was awarded ‘Best Red Single-Varietal’ medal in this year’s Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA).

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Only 15 Best in Show medals were awarded after more than 3,200 wines were initially blind-tasted by more than 50 experts at DAWA 2017 judging week, including Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers.

The win is a coup for China’s emerging wineries and is one of the top awards won by Chinese red wines in Decanter competitions.

It also underlines why Marselan has been tipped as a possible signature grape for China, even though most of the country’s quality vineyards are still dominated by international varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Judy Chan, president of Grace Vineyard, told DecanterChina: ‘For years we have been looking for the most suitable variety in our vineyards. We’re thrilled to have won this award, because it not only rewarded our efforts, but also encouraged us to keep on working with these varieties.’

Marselan: the origin

Marselan is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, created in 1961 in France.

The variety was originally designed for Languedoc vineyards due to its resistance to heat and diseases, and was later planted in New World countries including Argentina and Brazil.

It has never found significant fame in France.

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Image: Veraison of Marselan at Grace Vineyard. Credit: Grace Vineyard

Marselan was first introduced to China in 2001, at Domaine Franco Chinois in Huailai, Hebei Province, according to Professor Li Demei, who was the chief winemaker of the project.

‘Big fruit bunches, small berries and good resistance to diseases’ are the key features of the variety that makes it favourable in Chinese vineyards, said Professor Li in his previous DecanterChina.com column.

Marselan plantings account for 4,000mu (267 hectares) of vineyard in China, in wine regions including Gansu, Changli of Hebei, Fangshan and Miyun of Beijing, Helan Mountain East of Ningxia and the Yanqi Basin of Xinjiang.

Read more about Marselan:

Marselan: The future ‘signature’ grape of China | Li Demei

Grace Vineyard, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, first planted Marselan in the Taigu County, Shanxi Province in 2006, as part of the winery’s experimentation on the most suitable grape variety for the local terroir, said Judy Chan, president of Grace Vineyard.

The winery’s Malaysian winemaker, Yean Li, said he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ with the potential of Marselan in Shanxi.

He noted that another potential variety for Chinese vineyards could be Aglianico, which won a Bronze medal at DAWA 2017.

2017 DAWA: More on the results

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Image: Trophy judging at 2017 DAWA

The 2017 Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA), now in its 6th year, saw a record-breaking 3,235 entries from 33 countries.

Including the Grace Vineyard Marselan, only 15 wines (0.46%) were awarded Platinum Best in Show, the highest award in the competition.

Among the 124 entrants from China, Li's winery’s Family Treasures Shiraz from Ningxia was awarded Gold Medal, followed by 67 Chinese wines which were awarded a Silver or Bronze Medal in this year’s competition.

Ningxia again led the way with 41 wines awarded a Medal or Commended Seal of Approval. Xinjiang followed with 29 wins.

All wines were tasted blind during a judging week in Hong Kong. Gold medal wines were then re-tasted to decide Platinum awards. Best in Show contenders were then tasted for a third time, with a unanimous decision by the DAWA chairs required for the result to stand.

The judging was overseen by Steven Spurrier, Chair of the 2017 DAWA, and vice chairs Gerard Basset MW MS, Michael Hill Smith MW, Andrew Jefford, Tasaki Shinya, Li Demei and CH’NG Poh Tiong.

Related article:Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2017 judging week begins

Click to see details of award winning Chinese wines in 2017 DAWA:

Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallists

Bronze Medallists

Commended Seal of Approval winners

(Editing by Chris Mercer)