Talk about bottle shock. In what the organizers of a wine-tasting competition in France are calling a "thunderbolt in the wine world," a Chinese team beat out France, the US, and last year's winner, Spain. They can now proudly call themselves the best wine tasters in the entire world.
Twenty-one teams recently competed to blind taste and identify the details of 12 bottles of wine from around the world. With 108 points, the Chinese team—composed of Liu Chunxia, Tze Chien Chen, Xi Chen, and Xianchen Ma—reigned supreme. France came in second, the US, third, and the previously victorious Spain fell all the way to tenth behind Andorra, South Africa, Finland, and others. This was the fourth international blind tasting championships organized by the French magazine called La Revue du vin de France.
Among the wines tasted were a South African chenin from David Sadie Winery and a Lebanese IXSIR grande reserve. The competition took place at the Chateau du Galoupet, one of France's biggest wine estates, and the teams had to identify the country of origin, grape variety, vintage, producer, and appellation for each of the 12 wines.
Steven Spurrier's famed Judgment of Paris, the subject of the Alan Rickman dramedy Bottle Shock, turned 40 this year. (The famous wine competition in which two California producers triumphed over esteemed offerings from Burgundy and Bordeaux at a blind taste test judged by French wine experts, rattled the wine world to its very core and heralded the rise of New World wines. And while the French seem to have held it together this week by congratulating the Chinese team and calling them "humble," we can only guess that the French were no more ready for a takedown now than they were forty years ago. Perhaps knowing this, the Chinese team gallantly attributed their success to "50 percent knowledge and 50 percent luck," although they did admit that getting a slot on their team was fiercely competitive.
In fact, China's wine industry is exploding; now more than 10 percent of the world's total vineyards are in China. That's more wine acreage than France has—in fact it's more than any other nation on the globe besides Spain.
What's more, this isn't the first time China has bested France in a wine competition. Back in 2011, at the Decanter World Wine Awards, Winery He Lan Qing Xue's Jia Bei Lan 2009 Cabernet blend beat out of a bunch of wines including a French Bordeaux. It won the Red Bordeaux Varietal Over £10 International Trophy. That wine was produced in Northern China, in the Ningxia province—one of the more promising of the country's wine growing regions, with hot dry summers and bitter, cold winters.
Times are changing in the world of wine and things are moving eastward. You better get ready, France, for some serious, ongoing competition. Gān bēi!