Picture of the Civic Tower of Treviso
Sauvignon Selection by CMB international competition medal

Host 2024

Spirits Selection by CMB traveling around the Chishui River

Registrations opens on February 1st. 


Guizhou · Renhuai

Enjoying the scenery of Maotai Town

Renhuai City is situated the northwest of the Guizhou Province in China and boasts a long and rich history and culture. The foundations of the city dates back more than 900 years ago, during the third year of the Daguan period of the Northern Song Dynasty (around 1109 AD), and its name poetically translates as "benevolence for the world and reconciliation for the border people".

In 2004, Renhuai was awarded the title of "China's Baijiu City" and was recognized as the primary production area of sauce-aroma baijiu in 2021. by 2022, its total economic output reached RMB 170.67 billion (€21.86 billions), ranking 12th among the top 100 counties and cities in China.

Welcome to Sauce Aroma Liquor Core Region

As the birthplace of China's prominent sauce-aroma baijiu, Renhuai has an established history for wines and spirits, some of them dating as far back as 3000 years ago. During the Han dynasty, it acquired a reputation for excellence because of its local goji berry infused spirit (Lycium chinense), which was described by the then Emperor Wu, as "sweet, pure and beautiful". 

As the city grew in importance during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Chishui river became an invaluable salt trading route for most of China, enriching all the cities on its bank in the process and helped pushing the notoriety of the local Baijiu nationwide. This economic boom especially benefited the spirits distilleries, which were asked to quench the thirst of a seemingly endless throng of sailors from all over the country and helped transforming the little-known village of Maotai on the bank of the river into a thriving and vibrant city. Until this day, the city has kept its reputation as a place where “thousands of people do business in the daytime, and thousands of lamps lit up at night".

Outstanding product quality

As we already mentioned, Renhuai is the main producing area of sauce-aroma Baijiu in China -and therefore the world! The sheer number of production facilities is staggering, with over 1000 of them concentrated in an area of approximately 1800 km²! Needless to say, this industry plays a very significant role in the local economic development. As such the region has recently invested heavily to protect and codify their Baijiu in an effort to increase its local and international reach and promote their products as one of a kind, with objective to achieve a geographical indication (GI) for their Sauce Aroma Baijius recognized globally.

Mountains and waters

Renhuai has a unique climate and terroir for baijiu production, nestled between the Wuling Mountains and the Chishui River. The Chishui River is of paramount importance to the baijiu industry in both Ghuizou and Sichuan, and as such is largely untouched as well as the only free-flowing river in China. Its name literally translates as the 'Red River' due to the color it takes on as it flows through the purple sandstone of its riverbed. Geographically, the river has an average altitude of 400 meters, is very rich in minerals and sediments as it flows through a subtropical monsoon climate and has a relatively stable pH throughout the year, making it ideal for the production of Baijiu.

All the fine spirits and wines of the world have their own unique production techniques, and Sauce Aroma Baijiu is no exception: It is highly dependent on its geographical location, climate tradition and its people. We have a word for this in English: “Terroir”!

Le Sauvignon Blanc et le Steiermark

For thousands of years, the distillers in Renhuai have been following techniques handed down from generations to generations. Today, and in true Chinese style, this process has acquired the “12987” nickname: 1 production cycle per year, 2 batches of Sorghum used in the production, 9 steaming cycles to break down the starch and start the gelatinization processes, 8 cycles of parallel fermentations and 7 separate distillations. After which the spirits will be stored for ageing, blended, inspected, and finally packaged for consumption! Each “ Sauce Aroma” Baijiu undergoes a similar production cycles, with the main difference coming from the fermentation starter, The “Qu”.

“Qu” – pronounced “chew” is a bacterial bomb that is used to kickstart fermentation once the starch has been broken down. It is a solid mass of crushed grains (in Sauce Aroma Baijiu, usually wheat, barley and sometimes pea) stored for an exceptionally long time to encourage bacterial growth… Some Qu bricks have been analyzed to reveal more than 2000 bacteria and micro-organisms! Each distillery has its own proprietary “qu” (usually a very closely guarded secret), raised in their unique environment and climate. “Qu” is the soul of the Baijiu and the signature of the distillery. More importantly, “Qu” is unique to each region, as it is heavily influenced by its surroundings… Basically “Qu” is the expression of Chinese “Terroir” in Baijiu production.

Heritage, provenance and terroir and become increasingly important in the world of spirits: They have become a critical factor in adoption by the consumers: Tequilas, mezcals, gins and new world whiskies have all been able to capitalize on this trend but few are aware that Sauce Aroma Baijiu also have a place on that playing field!

The tastings will be held from 6 to the 9th september 2024