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China Daily / Life - Entertain

Uncorking potential

An international winemaking contest taps Ningxia's bottled-up possibilities. Zhang Zefeng reports.

The Helan Mountains' eastern foothills in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region are ideal for growing quality grapes. [Photo provided to China Daily]

South African winemaker Justin Corrans embarked on a journey into the unknown to practice his craft in September 2015. He flew over half of the hemisphere to take part in a two-year winemaking challenge in a country he knew nothing about. His destination was the Helan Mountains' eastern foothills in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, which hosts some of the country's best-known wineries.

"I was very much overwhelmed by the size of the wine industries and the quality of the wines," Corrans recalls.

"There were some very good wines, very good vineries and very passionate Chinese people making wine."

Corrans was one of 48 winemakers from 17 countries who took part in the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge.

Contestants were paired with local wineries. He worked with Domaine Lanxuan and received a 3-hectare parcel of grapes to make cabernet.

He harvested the fruit by hand during the first two months. He selected the best grapes and used high-temperature fermentation to enhance extraction.

He returned to Ningxia twice to perfect his creation.

Corrans describes his wine as elegant, fruity and well-structured.

"I want people to be able to taste my wine and say: 'This is a world-class wine.'"

The contest's final round took place in Beijing on Aug 29.