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Zaxee Winery: Our Favorite Shangrila Winery in Yunnan, China

Article by Lost Plate Food Tours

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Though China is still quite new to the wine game, there are an increasing number of local boutique winemakers making world-class wine throughout the country. Since 2009, when a Ningxia winery won China’s first international trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards, Chinese wines are quickly becoming a powerhouse in the wine world. Wine regions in Ningxia are probably the most well-known overseas, the wineries situated throughout the breathtaking mountains of northern Yunnan are perhaps China’s best kept secret.

In fact, this region has a long and storied history with wine. In 1910, French Jesuit missionaries built a magnificent stone cathedral and vineyard in the small village of Cizhong – one of the many beautiful places we visit on our Shangrila trip. Here, the missionaries planted grape varieties they brought from France and taught locals their wine-making techniques. Today, there are a handful of wineries in northern Yunnan, including Zaxee, which makes wines that esteemed wine critic James Suckling has rated as one of the top wines in China!

We’re super excited to announce our collaboration with Zaxee Winery, a major highlight on our 8-day “Wine & Dine” Trip through Yunnan’s Shangrila Region. We are now shipping our two favorite Zaxee reds to any address in China – at a special Lost Plate price. How special? The winery told us the price has never been this low!

Zaxee 2300 Cabernet Sauvignon

Zaxee Shangrila Yunnan Winery 2300 Wine

Tasting Notes: Zaxee 2300 is made using hand-harvested grapes grown at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level. Aged in large clay urns, a nod to traditional Chinese baijiu production, the wine develops a rich and deep texture without the influence of additional flavor notes from aging in barrels. The winemaker believes that this method is the purest way of honoring the natural vibrancy of the land, and to create a wine that is vibrant, nuanced, and well balanced with notes of peach, apple, and a floral perfume. The large temperature shifts in the mountain region lend the wine concentrated aromas of fresh fruit. This wine is a fabulous introduction to the purity and clarity of wines grown in the Shangrila region.

Zaxee 2560 Cabernet Sauvignon

Zaxee Shangrila Yunnan Winery 2560 Wine

Tasting Notes: Zaxee 2560 is made using hand-harvested grapes grown at an altitude of 2,560 meters above sea level. Compared to the Zaxee 2300, the higher-elevation grapes harvested for Zaxee 2560 receive a bit more sunshine. This results in thicker skins that translate to an amazing tannic structure, a deeper color, and higher natural acidity that is suitable for longer aging. The higher elevation also concentrates the flavor and structure of the wine until it’s brimming with flavor. The wine is vibrant and full bodied, with notes of dark cherries and cocoa. Extended aging in oak barrels lends the wine a complex aroma of woodsy spice, vanilla, and caramel. Zaxee 2560 was also rated as one of the Top Chinese wines (2021) by famed wine critic James Suckling, praising it as “a wine with good depth and class on the nose, showing dark cherries, tar, cocoa powder and a meaty, red-pepper undertone.” The wine is also served amongst many high-end establishments in China, including the W Shanghai, a luxurious hotel situated along the bund in Shanghai’s historic Huangpu district.

About Zaxee Winery

Zaxee Shangrila Yunnan Winery Vineyard

Zaxee is a small-batch winery located within a deep mountain valley in Benzilan, a village one hour north of Shangrila. The name of the winery derives from the Tibetan word བཀྲ་ཤིས, which has connotations of good fortune and blessings. While the region’s peaks rise over 5500 meters (18,044 feet) above sea level, Zaxee is uniquely nestled deep within a rugged valley at 2500 meters (8202 feet) above sea level. The valley creates a mild climate that rarely drops below freezing, yet glaciated peaks can be seen in all directions. It’s also a combination of some of the lowest latitude – highest altitude wines you’ll find in the world.

Due to the unique terroir – wine lingo for how geography, geology and climate combine with the grape varietal to create a wine’s signature flavor – ample sunshine, and nutrient rich mountain soil, the wines taste bold, structured, and pure. But, the region’s rough and remote terrain is also particularly challenging for the wine growers themselves, as heavy machinery is not easily transported into the mountains. Hence, all of Zaxee’s wine grapes are meticulously tended, harvested, and crafted by hand into the various wines they have on offer.

What we really love about Zaxee is that they work with local Tibetan farmers to grow truly world-class wine grapes, which is a positive influence for the local farming communities. Because the land here is owned directly by Tibetans, they do their utmost to keep the land pure and unpolluted so that they can pass these pristine vineyards on to later generations. Yak dung is also used as an all-natural fertilizer for the vineyards to avoid the use of synthetic substances that may damage the land.

Though the winery was just founded in 2017, Zaxee is already producing extraordinary handcrafted wines that are stunning expressions of Shangrila’s unique high-mountain terroir. With grape varieties imported from France, the winery now offers two Cabernet Sauvignon’s grown at varying altitudes, as well as a wonderful Chardonnay that many of our guests have said is the best they have ever tasted!

About The Winemaker

Zaxee Shangrila Yunnan Winery Winemake Quan

Mr. Quan is the chief vintner at Zaxee. After completing his winemaking studies from one of China’s top agricultural universities, the young and ambitious winemaker spent over 7 years in the elevated mountain regions of Northern Yunnan with the sole dream of creating a world-class wine that could truly reflect the unique high-mountain terroir of Shangrila. Adorning the label of each wine is the motto “pure, clean, and natural”, written in the Tibetan script. This is a tribute to the Tibetan heritage of the region, and Mr. Quan’s dedication to developing natural wines that are unique to the land.

“Yunnan is still a relatively young wine region, compared to old-world regions like Bordeaux in France, or even Napa Valley in California. Nonetheless, my dream is to make a Chinese wine that goes toe-to-toe with any fine wine from those old-world regions. I want to make a wine that reflects the unique terroir and culture of this region; something that can only be made here.” – Mr. Quan, Chief Vintner as Zaxee Winery

About The Founder

Zaxee Shangrila Yunnan Winery Founder Lu

Mrs. Lu is a bright and friendly women but you’d be surprised at the many challenges she had to overcome before opening the winery. In her 30’s, Mrs. Lu’s entrepreneurial spirit spurred her into starting her own business in the F&B industry. She got married, her business flourished, and everything was going seemingly well – until it didn’t. She got divorced, her business went bankrupt, and she went heavily into debt. With her independent never-give-up attitude, she picked herself up and started working in Shanghai to pay off her debts. A chance meeting with a young winemaker (named Mr. Quan), and two pivotal visits to the towering mountains of Northern Yunnan, sowed the beginnings for the small but ambitious Zaxee Winery.

“When I met Mr. Quan, he told me he wanted to make a wine that reflected the depths of the mountains and rivers I saw before me. He invited me to the vineyards in the winter. When I arrived, I stood there, at over 3000 meters above sea level, overlooking a valley of bleak vineyards. Though I was disappointed, I returned once more to the vineyards in the summer. To my surprise, the once barren valley was full of life. The whole vineyard was a vibrant green, as the roots of the grapevines dug deep into the dry soil to draw as much water as they could to survive the long and harsh winter. I felt lucky that I was able to experience so much hardship in my life, because like the grapes before my eyes, I knew I would come out stronger because of it. It was then that I decided I would open the winery with Mr. Quan. I hope that the wine we make at Zaxee can bring joy and happiness to everyone that drinks it, especially those going through hard times in their life.” – Mrs. Lu, Founder of Zaxee Winery

Contact Us To Order

Contact us by WeChat, email, or phone (all of the information is in the footer of this page). You’ll need to let us know what quantity you’d like to purchase plus your name and Chinese phone number & Chinese address. WeChat and Alipay payments are accepted. The wine will ship directly from the winery in Yunnan.

We hope you’re excited to try some of our favorite natural wines from the mountains of northern Yunnan. Order a few bottles to share with your friends, and don’t forget to shoot us a message to tell us about your experience and which wine you liked more! We’d love nothing more than to geek out over our favorite wines with you!

Zaxee Shangrila Yunnan Winery Wine Tour

Lost Plate founder, Ruixi Hu, tasting some 2560 Cabernet Sauvignon with guests during our “Wine & Dine” trip through Yunnan.

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