What’s more impressive, in 2011, with only six years in the business, she managed to produce a wine that brought home the prestigious international trophy without the help of a foreign consultant.
For Jing, it’s all about artistry and quality. And respect for the grape. “It is faith,” she says. “In 1949, Chinese experts had already identified Ningxia as a premium wine region. They believed China was able to produce world-class wines.”
In 2011, by winning the highest award ever won by a Chinese winery with her Jia Bei Lan Grand Reserve 2009, Jing proved them right. Apart from her obvious talent, she credits her success to her mentor Li Demei, wine expert and columnist for DecanterChina.com, as well as the Old World winemakers who inspired her.
Jing recalls the retired French wine experts who helped local winemakers and how they would experiment with tastes. She remembers how, while on a trip to Gaja Winery in Italy, the Italian grandfathers shared their philosophy that wine is a “living thing,” and they discussed how bees and butterflies add to the health of the vines.
Today, China has become one of the world’s biggest wine markets as well as producers. But, while the majority of Chinese wineries were focusing on technical precision and mass production, Helan Qingxue, plus a handful of other boutique wineries, were instead becoming involved in the true spirit of winemaking, from mimicking classic Bordeaux to exploring new varieties and native grapes.
Jia Bei Lan Baby Feet Pinot Noir 2015 is a fine example of this movement. This not-for-sale vintage, originally made to celebrate the birth of Jing’s daughter, was discovered by renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson and later listed in The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition. Ever since, Baby Feet has become known for its experimentation with new blends.
Thanks to winemakers like Zhang Jing, a collection of Chinese boutique wines has left a mark on the international stage. She looks forward to the day when Chinese wines will be featured on wine lists around the globe, especially her own label: Jia Bei Lan.
Apart from those made by Helan Qingxue, some other Chinese vintages worth a toast are by Kanaan Winery, Martin Winery, Chateau Rongzi, Grace Vineyard and Tiansai Vineyards. Cheers!
Book your stay at Conrad Beijing to experience the best of Chinese wine.