The wine industry in Myanmar

March 31, 2015

I have written about the wine industry in Myanmar a couple of times. Recently, I found the above video clip on the Al Jazeera news channel. They interview Hans-Eduard Leiendecker, the wine-maker of Aythaya Vineyards in Taunggy, Shan State. Mr. Leiendecker is a man from the Mosel. He comes from Bernkastel, the famous wine centre, located in the central part (Mittelmosel) of the Mosel river.

Tropical viticulture (new latitude wines) has its specific challenges which are outlined in the video. Overall, production cost are not insignificant. Moreover, the nascent wine industry in countries sub-tropical and tropical countries is often subject to taxation and a regulatory environment which puts the young sector at a disadvantage.

I am very pleased about the positive outlook for the pioneer in Myanmar and hope that their efforts will one day pay off. The wine industry in neighbouring Thailand is a very inspiring example of an emerging vineyard and winery industry in a country without the many centuries of grape growing experience.

I will follow the progress and development, and hope to present you more success stories in due course.

Cheers

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It’s Riesling time

June 17, 2013

Selbach

2011 Selbach Riesling Classic

Recently, the supply with German Riesling wines in Bangkok has improved considerably. A fine specimen is the ‘2011 Selbach Riesling Classic’ by the Selbach Winery in Zeltingen, Mosel.

Selbach 1

The family enterprise has vineyards in Zeltingen, Wehlen, Graach and Bernkastel and is currently working 20 ha of vines, many of them in very steep locations along the Mosel river. 98% of the area is under Riesling, the rest is planted to Pinot Blanc. As is customary with many German wine producers, the Selbach Riesling assortment includes dry, semi-dry and sweet wines, plus late harvest and ice wine.

Selbach 2

In Bangkok only the classic dry Riesling variety from the Selbach winery is available (88 Parker Points). In order to get your hands on terroir specific and single vineyard wines you might have to identify a specific importer. Although ever since the new It’s Riesling initiative has started operating, one has a much better chance as a consumer to find more exotic Riesling wines of the highest quality.

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The Selbach Riesling Classic shows all the qualities of a good German Riesling. It is not bone dry, has a good acidity and citrus notes. Riesling is a perfect compliment with Asian cuisine, especially Thai and Chinese food. I paired it with the shrimps (in the picture above) and some spicy chicken (as in the picture below) and it worked very well.

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Chicken on my Weber grill


Winery of the Year 2012 – The German Champions

October 12, 2012

In the last week of September three of my favourite German wineries were honoured by the Wine & Spirits Magazine, and included in the top 100 list of the best wineries of the world in 2012.

The three wineries are the following:

1. Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel, Mosel
The winery has been in the Loosen family for more than 200 years. Ernst Loosen took over in 1988, and, as they say, the rest is history. Dr. Loosen is maybe one of the best known German vintners in the international wine scene. I was so happy when Barrique, my local wine shop in Healesville, Victoria was carrying Dr. Loosen wines.

Address:
Winery Dr. Loosen,
St. Johannishof
54470 Bernkastel, Mosel
Tel.: +49-6531-3426
info@drloosen.com
www.drloosen.com

2. C. von Schubert, Mertesdorf, Ruwer, Mosel
This winery has also a long tradition. The “Grünhaus”, as the estate is also known, was already mentioned in ancient documents in 966 when it belonged to the Benedictine monastery of Saint Maximin in Trier.

Carl von Schubert, the current owner-operator, belongs to the fifth generation of the von Schubert family. The estate produces outstanding wines and was awarded many national and international prices. I tasted some of the Maximin Grünhäuser 2011 vintage dry Riesling wines during our summer vacation

Address:
Dr. Carl von Schubert
Hauptstr. 1
54318 Mertesdorf
Tel.:+49-651-5111
Fax: +49-651-52122
info@vonschubert.de
www.vonschubert.com

3. Robert Weil, Kiedrich, Rheingau
The winery was set-up in 1875. The founder was the university professor Robert Weil who taught German at the Sorbonne in Paris. The Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71 forced him to return to his native Germany. He settled down in Kiedrich, Rheingau and extended his vineyards and laid the foundation for today’s estate. In 2010 I found some bottles of the Robert Weil 2008 vintage in a Bangkok wine shop. Delicious.

Address:
Winery Robert Weil
Mühlberg 5
65399 Kiedrich, Rheingau
Tel.: +49-6123 2308
Fax: +49-6123 1546
info(at)weingut-robert-weil.com
www.weingut-robert-weil.com


The vineyards of Myanmar I: Lunch at Aythaya Wines, Taunggy, Myanmar

February 8, 2012

View over the valley from Aythaya Winery

I habe written about the wines from Aythaya Winery near Taunggy, in the Shan State in Myanmar in an earlier blog entry.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Shan State and the twon of Taunggy. This gave me also the chance to drop in atAythaya which is located in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, about 5 km on the road leading to Taunggy.

Together with my two colleagues, we went for lunch at the winery cum restaurant. It was a glorious day with sunshine and warm temperatures.

In 1997/1998, Bert Morsbach, a German native, started with this venture and planted the first wine grapes in Myanmar. Though the first attempt was not successful, Morsbach continued his efforts until finally succeeding.

The elevation of the vineyard near Aythaya village is at about 1000 to 1300 m. But there is another vineyard in another location nearby.

The first wines were presented to the public in 2004, and since 2006 another German joined the team at Aythaya Wines: Hans-Eduard Leiendecker, vintner and wine-maker from Bernkastel, Mosel. When we visited, both were not at Aythaya, but the friendly Burmese staff showed us the premises.

Tractor spraying the vines through Bougaivillias and palm trees

We sat on a shaded terrace with a beautiful view over the valley. Some work was done in the vineyards. We also explored some of the surroundings.

A pond with vineyards in the background

The peakock is the symbol of Aythaya

The Aythaya product range is impressive

I had tasted Aythaya wines before, some of them in Yangon, others had been given to me by colleagues returning from Myanmar. Aythaya’s product range is quite impressive. I like their Sauvignon Blanc (late harvest) best.

Another terrace at the restaurant with vineyard views

The menu is quite simple and straight forward. To my great suprise also “Spaetzle”, a type of South-German dumplings, were on the list. My heart jumped. I had to try them. I was not going to be disappointed. The “Spaetzle” were delicious.

So was the wine, buoyant with tropical fruit flavours, fresh acidity and a pleasant finish.

Suebian “Spaetzele”

The flagship Aythaya wine, I would say

The back label of the Sauvignon Blanc

Beautiful SB in the glass

The Aythaya wine-maker comes from the Mosel river

Of course there is a lot to see in Myanmar. However, in my view nothing beats a visit to a real vineyard where “new latitude wines” are grown and made. The region around Taunggy is very interesting and the nearby Inle lake deserves your visit as well.

The best time to visit is November to February when the nights are cool and the days sunny and warm. Meet you there, one day.

Address:
Aythaya Wines
38G Myitzu Street, Parami Avenue Mayangone T/S,
Yangon, Myanmar.
Tel.: +95-664386, 664756
E-mail::Sales@myanmar-vineyard.com.mm
Website: www.myanmar-vineyard.com

and
Aythaya Vineyard
Aythaya-Taunggyi, Southern Shan States
Myanmar
Tel.: +95-81-24536.


Dr. Loosen, I presume

May 11, 2008

Last night we went to dinner with our dear old friends Liz and Walter. After nibblies (as we say in Australia) at their home we proceeded to Cork and Screw, the very hip and extremely trendy restaurant in Jakarta.

The food was excellent as always. We had an Australian Shiraz with the meals and moved on to dessert. Three of us had crème brûlé; Liz had some kind of chocolate dessert. There were only three wines to choose from, two “half bottles” and a Riesling Spätlese and can you imagine from where? The Mosel!.

And what was it? I could not believe my eyes, a ‘2006 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese’ for only about 33 €. We needed to have this wine. What a bargain. Usually one cannot get any Mosel wine here in Jakarta. I could have kissed the people from Cork and Screw and Vin +, the wine shop associated to the restaurant.

The empty bottle ‘2006 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese’, Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel, Mosel

I must admit that though I come from the Mosel, I have never had a bottle of Dr. Loosen’s wine (www.drloosen.com). He is such a famous vintner, sitting on all kinds of wine juries, all over the world. It had to come to that. I tasted his wine in Jakarta, a couple of thousand miles from home. The major German Riesling portal (www.riesling.de) lists him as the top vintner of their top 10 wineries.

“Wehlener Sonnenuhr” is one of the prime terroirs (about 65 ha) on the Mosel, all on steep slopes. A sundial is to be found right among the vines and that gave the location its name.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr (source: www.drloosen.com)

The wine has only 8% alcohol and was the perfect match with our dessert. Of course we drank it too young, but we had no choice, waiting was just not feasible. The wine displays and expressive nose, shows apple, lemon, almonds and nuts. The acids were well balanced and the full sweetness gives it a round and lingering finish. We all loved the wine.

When the waiter wanted to clear the table I told him my story: that I was from Trier, Mosel , not far away from where this wine came from and that I wanted to take the empty bottle home. “Tidak apa apa”, the kind man said, meaning “no worries” in Australian, and he gave me a Cork and Screw bag to carry the bottle.

How wonderful. If you happen to be in Jakarta one of these days, have a meal there; it’s certainly worth it: great place, great service, great food, great wines.