VERONA, Italy, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Two Chinese professionals were honored the prestigious Int'l Vinitaly Award 2019, organizers of the ongoing Vinitaly wine fair announced on Sunday.
Oenologist Li Demei and wine educator Leon Liang were given the top prize, along with Italian winery Ornellaia "in recognition of the excellence of its wines," Veronafiere said in a statement.
During the same ceremony, American blogger and journalist Madeline Puckette was also proclaimed Wine Communicator of the Year.
Set up during the 30th edition of Vinitaly in 1996, the international award is given to outstanding personalities, firms, or institutions that distinguish themselves for their efforts in promoting the wine sector and wine culture.
Li Demei, associate professor of Food Science and Technology College with Beijing University of Agriculture, "is China's top oenologist, and he is credited as a leading force for improving wine quality at Chinese wineries," the jury wrote in the motivations.
Among his several achievements, the jurors stressed, the professor was the first chief winemaker and technique director for Chinese-French joint-venture project Domaine Franco Chinois, and the first to help a Chinese wine win an international award.
"Li Demei is responsible for helping improve the quality of Chinese wines on the global stage with his various consulting work, and particularly in China's northwest Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions," they added.
As for Leon Liang, the wine educator and co-founder of Grapea Institute (along with Master Sommelier Lu Yang) was awarded for being "a great and passionate promoter of Italian wine for more than 10 years, having perfected his knowledge through many study trips to Italy."
"Grapea and its team run over 150 seminars and wine tastings in 14 cities throughout China in 2018 alone, and also collaborate with the most relevant international wine associations and a growing number of Italian consortia," the jury said.
Finally, the Italian winemaker awarded this year -- Tuscany-based Ornellaia, which was acknowledged for having become "in a very short time a symbol of Made in Italy."
"Founded only in 1982 -- and therefore quite young according to Italian standards -- the Ornellaia has succeeded in producing a range of wines that are much sought after all over the world," the jury said.
"Its flagship wine, the Bordeaux blend Ornellaia Bolgheri Rosso, is one of Italy's true cult wines."
Overall, this 53th edition of Vinitaly -- running in the northeast city of Verona from Sunday to Wednesday -- is seeing the participation of some 4,600 exhibitors from 35 countries and regions, and presenting over 16,000 wine labels in their catalogue.