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A REMOTE region of northern China that began growing grapes for fine wine just a decade ago has beaten the centuries-old French wine-producing region of Bordeaux in a blind tasting held in Beijing.

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A group of wine experts - five French and five Chinese - ranked the bottles from the remote and sparsely populated Ningxia region above those from Bordeaux at the tasting, held recently in Beijing.

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The jury sampled five wines from each region, selecting a cabernet sauvignon from the Grace Vineyard in Ningxia as the top-scoring bottle - a shock result echoing a 1976 contest that saw the classics humbled by New World wines.

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese wines took the top four places in a China vs Bordeaux blind tasting competition on Wednesday, but it wasn't exactly a thrashing of the world's most elite wines by Chinese upstarts.

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The wines were all red , mostly Cabernet Sauvignon-based Bordeaux-style blends. The Chinese side was represented by five of what are considered among the best Chinese wines produced; the French wines were five more pedestrian reds from Bordeaux negociants and commercial labels, not chateau-bottled wines.

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Five French and five Chinese judges tasted the wines blind at a wine bar in Beijing. In the end, the 2009 Chairman's Reserve from China's Grace Vineyards in Ningxia province came out on top.

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CHRIS MACIAS / cmacias@sacbee.com Jim Moore of Uvaggio winery is outstanding - and has little company outside of Italy - in making wine from vermentino grapes. He gets his grapes from two Lodi-area vineyards, one of them shown above.

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Copyright 2011 The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The nod from Wine Enthusiast was especially nice for Jim Moore of Uvaggio, a winery which specializes in Lodi-grown Italian varietals. Moore rarely sends his wines out for review, and when facing a world of competition from Bordeaux, Napa, the Rhone and other wine hot spots, he was happy to see Lodi get some love.

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DULLES, VA, Dec 13, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) --Destination Cellars, the first and only luxury destination wineclub, today announced the recipients of its third annual Winery andAlliance Partner of the Year awards.

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"Recognizing our winery and alliance partners is something I've cometo look forward to every year," said David Keuhner, founder and CEO,Destination Cellars. "Having quality and trusted partnerships hasshaped who we are today and it is a joy to be able to acknowledgethem with these awards." The following partners are recognized for their standard of partnerexcellence in 2011: International Winery Partner of the Year - Castello di Volpaia.Castello di Volpaia is located in the medieval village of Volpaia,famous for having the highest elevation of all of the wineries in theChianti area of Italy. Under the guidance of owners Carlo andGiovannella Mascheroni Stianti, they've found a project that, eventhough reaching international status, is deeply rooted in localtraditions.

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"We love being able to introduce members of Destination Cellars toour vineyard," said owner Carlo Mascheroni Stianti. "Being able tobring curious wine-lovers to Volpaia and the unique wineries here isa great opportunity for us to share our community with people whootherwise wouldn't be able to experience it." National Winery Partner of the Year - Hourglass. After his fatherlost his Zinfandel vineyard to phylloxera, Hourglass owner Jeff Smithlearned that the property's unique location would be perfect forproducing Cabernets. Completed in 2009 and under the direction ofwinemaker Bob Foley, Hourglass Cabernets represent a cutting-edge,modern Napa Valley winemaking style that is decidedly simple, withelegantly modern architectural influences.

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--> A high-profile wine expert that will serve as lead judge and a return to a single competition were among changes announced Monday by Gov. Bob McDonnell to the Virginia Governor’s Cup competition. The idea behind the makeover?  Make the industry take Virginia wine more seriously by running one of the most stringent and thorough wine competitions in the country.

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The revamped contest is a result of a partnership among the Virginia Wine Board (VWB), the Virginia Wineries Association (VWA) — which owns and manages the competition — and the Virginia Vineyards Association (VVA). In late spring, the governor assigned the organizations to find ways to improve the contest.  “Virginia wines have been gaining acclaim here at home, around the nation, and in key markets around the world.  Given this, we need to make sure that we have a competition that recognizes and promotes the best that we have to offer,” said McDonnell, who has promoted Virginia wines during trade missions abroad.

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As part of the revamping, the competition will again be a single event for all Virginia wines.  Recently the Governor’s Cup had been broken up into two competitions, one for red wines and one for white wines. The judging of both red and white wines will be divided into preliminary and final rounds to be held in January 2012.  The announcement of the Governor’s Cup award winner will be held on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 23 in conjunction with the Virginia Wine Expo, which runs February 24-26, 2012 in Richmond.

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