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Featured Reviews

Gem Winery ‘2nd Ningxia Winemaker’s Challenge’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

19 September,2017
This wine is one that was made as part of the Ningxia Wine Regions ‘Winemaker’s Challenge as sponsored by the Chinese government, The Ningxia wine region is in the foothills of the Helan mountains, which divide inner and outer Mongolia, and is part of the Gobi desert. The challenge involves inviting 60 winemakers from 23 countries, pairing them with a winery to make a Cabernet Sauvignon from a 3 ha block, which is part of a large vineyard. The main objective is to promote the exchange of techniques and knowledge between both parties, and also to promote the region.

Leonardo Ricardez was one of the invited winemakers and was paired with Gem Winery, which actually hadn’t been built, but the owner rented space at another winery. Leonardo noted considerable variability between and within blocks, making direct comparisons somewhat difficult. In his block, there were Carmenere vines mixed with the Cabernet Sauvignon, which was included in the vinification. Leonardo’s approach was to make an elegant wine to showcase the region, thus emphasising the fruit. The partnership made 10, 000 bottles. 5,000 bottles went to the winery owner, who intends selling her wine in China. The organisers received 3,000 bottles, and the Leonardo received 2,000 bottles. He is considering selling his portion of the wine in New Zealand. I review the wine here. To contact Leonardo for availability, email: He is based in Blenheim.


Gem Winery ‘2nd Ningxia Winemaker’s Challenge’ Ningxia Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Cabernet Sauvignon from Other

Dark, deep ruby-red colour, a little lighter on the edge. The nose is rounded with a firm and concentrated core of blackcurrant and cassis aromas along with blackberry, dark herbs and a suggestion of leaf. This has good depth and density. Medium-full-bodied, the palate has fresh and moderately concentrated flavours of blackcurrant fruit with blackberries and cassis liqueur, unfolding dark herbs and a hint of leafiness. The fruit is up-front and lively, with fresh acidity, and is supported by balanced extraction, the tannins fine and grainy, but supple and rounded. The mouthfeel has sweetness and succulence, and carries with good linearity to an elegant, lighter finish of blackcurrants and cassis. This is a softly concentrated and sweet-fruited Cabernet Sauvignon with blackcurrant, cassis and herb flavours on a fresh, rounded and balanced palate with good structure. Match with lamb and beef dishes over the next 5-6+ years. Cabernet Sauvignon fruit, with a very small portion of Carmenere from Ningxia, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine aged 20 months in 20% new oak. 17.5/20 Sep 2017 RRP $TBA
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