Gran Monte harvest festival 2014 – Khao Yai, Thailand

February 28, 2014

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Traditional folk dances to welcome the guests

The Gran Monte Harvest Festival was the highlight of the year for me here in Thailand. For the third time in a row I had the opportunity to participate in this wonderful event at the Gran Monte Family Winery in the Khao Yai region, about 2 1/2 hours northeast of Bangkok. And it is not getting boring, just the opposite. Each year Khun Visooth and his team surprise their guests with new highlights.

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Khun Visooth overseeing the competition

On the wine front of course everybody is eager to taste the new vintage. This year we were, among others, looking forward to the second vintage of the Viognier. Nikki Lohitnavy, the wine-maker, is doing a great job. I just love her hand grafted wines. And every year it seems they are getting better and better.

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Margit with Sole, the Chenin Blanc

For tasting notes, please visit the wine blog of my friend Oliver, the Winegetter. I cannot do tasting notes like him; just reading Oliver’s descriptions is mouth watering.

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Ripening grapes

Another novelty this year was that the evening program of the event was held in new building for the VinCotto Restaurant. After the addition of the tower, a wine cellar and a much enlarged main hall, the new VinCotto restaurant has the flair of a traditional country inn. I particularly liked the various bits of veranda which reminded me of an Australian porch.

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Together with my wife Margit, I threw myself into the festivities. Since we stayed overnight in the cottage at the estate, we did not have to worry about anything. Many musicians joined us in the evening and entertained the crowd with the good old songs from the last century: rock and roll.

GM HF5

Since we are leaving Thailand for Europe in June, it felt a bit like a farewell. But the good thing is that to travel back home to Australia we have to come via Thailand. Therefore, there is hope that this was not our last harvest festival. We will come again.

Cheers

GM HF6


Thai wine and spicy Asian cuisine

July 8, 2013

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‘2012 Colombard’ by Monsoon Valley

Many white wines go well with Asian cuisine, for instance my beloved Riesling, either in its dry or semi-dry incarnations.

Fortunately, Thailand has his own wines which do pair well with its cuisine. Chenin Blanc and Viognier wines from Gran Monte Winery, as well as Chenin Blanc from PB Valley come to mind.

One of my least favourite grapes, Colombard can also make a good wine to drink with spicy Asian food. Monsoon Valley Wine produces a Colombard wine (Classic Range) which I find ideal with spicy cuisine.

The grapes are produced near Hua Hin, a coastal town about 3 hours south of Bangkok. I personally have not visited the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard as yet but it is on my to-do list.

This Colombard wine is a blend made from Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Malaga Blanc grapes. It is light and fruity with some citrus aromas and fine acidity but has some residual sweetness which makes is well suited to accompany spicy dishes.

The 2012 vintage has won various bronze medals for instance at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2012, and the FBAT Wine Challenge in 2012.

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Spicy prawn noodles


Schnapps made in Thailand – Licci by PB Valley Estate

February 9, 2013

Licci 1

My twin daughters 18th birthday in November last year, was accompanied by a dinner party. The Great Hornbill Bistro in Soi Sukhumvit 39 had kindly provided the venue, the food and the wine.

Together with about 20 of their friends, Lucy and Charlotte held a celebratory birthday dinner at the mezzanine floor of the bistro. I had selected the wines. My choice was the entry level wines of PB Valley Winery, one of my favourite Thai winery.

The ‘2010 Sawasdee Khao Yai Chenin Blanc’ and the ‘2010 Sawasdee Khao Yai Shiraz’, both very fruity and lively wines, seemed to be ideally suited for newcomers to the world of fine wine.

Licci 2

My daughters had asked me to serve them shots when the meal was over to conclude the event. It was also a signal that the night was still young and that they could troupe out to spend the rest of the evening at a place of their choice, probably near Khaosan road and surroundings.

Fortunately, PB Valley Estate produces a fine Schnapps (40% alcohol) distilled from fresh Lychee fruit grown in Northern Thailand. The kids, used to shots of vodka and other taste-neutral alcohols, could not believe it. The intense Lychee aromas just blew them away. They all liked it.

For me, it was also the first time that I had a go at this “Schnapps”. I just loved it. Licci, although not cheap (quality has its price), is a great product and ideally suited as a digestive after a beautiful Thai or Western meal.

PS: PB Valley Estate is currently celebrating their vintage festival. You should visit. Have a look and enjoy to explore Thai vineyards and wineries. The Khao Yai national park is just next door.

Address:
The Great Hornbill Bistro
59/3 Soi Sukhumvit 39, Sukhumvit Road,
Klongton Nua, Wattana,
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Opening hours: Mo – So. 11-22 h
Tel.: +66-2 262 0030
Email:hospitality@pb-partners.com

The Great Hornbill Bistro is the cellar door of PB Valley Khao Yai Winery in Bangkok.

PB Valley Khao Yai Winery
102 Moo 5, Phaya Yen,
Pak Chong 30320, Thailand
Tel.: +66 (0) 2 262 0030
www.khaoyaiwinery.com


Darling Cellars – Chenin Blanc from South Africa

December 24, 2012

Darling Cellars 1

‘2012 Arum Fields Chenin BLanc Reserve’ by Darling Cellars

Ever since residing in Bangkok, Thailand I have learned to appreciate a grape variety which was not on my wanted list before: Chenin Blanc. Thai vineyards and wineries are producing some outstanding Chenin Blanc wines.

So when I had a chance to taste a South African version of it, I bought this bottle right away. The colour of the wine is golden. I was a bit surprised about the intense apple aromas I tasted with the first sip. The wines is soft but still crisp.

Darling Cellars 2

The tasting notes by Darling Cellars speak of guava flavours. The wine has 13% alcohol. The grapes come from non-irrigated vines. The wine makers are Abé Beukes and Welma Myburgh.

Darling Cellars 3

The vineyard is located in the Darling district in the Western Cape, which used to be a dairy area, about an hour from Cape Town. The mean annual rainfall of the region is 600 mm only (occurring from April to August). The mean temperature is 24 degrees Celsius.

I will try this wine again. Next time with some food.

Address:
Darling Cellars
Mamre Weg Station, R315,
Darling 7345, South Africa
Phone:+27 22 492 2276
www.darlingcellars.co.za


Sparkle sparkling Crémant de Loire !

August 16, 2012


Crémant de Loire

When visiting in Germany lots of reunions with family and friends await us, usually accompanied by some sort of joyous celebration; and summer is as good as it gets if it comes to sparkling wine.


Crémant de Loire

The other day in Bottrop we had a ‘Crémant de Loire Marquis de Beaucel Brut’ which is available at the discounter Aldi. In fact some good wines are carried by this food chain. For less than 6 EURO you can have a bottle of Crémant de Loire, which makes a refreshing and reinvigorating drink.

The wine is made from Chenin Blanc grapes sourced from the Loire Valley in France. This valley is hiding many great discoveries as regards wine. My last visit was when I was still a student and toured France with my friend Ulrich. I guess I should go again and explore this wonderful part of France.

Here in Thailand Chenin Blanc is also produced as one of the white varieties which grow well in the tropical climate.


Easter Sunday at the Great Hornbill Bistro in Sukhumvit 39, Bangkok

April 8, 2012

The Great Hornbill bistro

It was a glorious Sunday morning, this Easter in Bangkok. The four of us had booked a table at the Great Hornbill Bistro in Sukhumvit 39 which is basically the urban cellar door for PB Valley Wines.

We came for a late breakfast and had planned to spend a couple of hours at the Great Hornbill so that we could also have lunch. I also intended to buy some of PB Valley’s wines.

The inside, light, but the tree in front provides some shade

From the grand opening, we knew that the Great Hornbill offers excellent food and great service. Moreover, we also like the wines of PB Valley Winery. We had not been back since that event, somehow it never worked out with all my travels, school and sport events and so on.

So let us see what we had: Breakfast first.

We start the day at around 5.30-6.00 in the morning, usually on our terrace where we read and linger. So we had had our morning coffee (cappuccino) and a cookie with it. Naturally we were ravenous at about 10 when we got to the Great Hornbill Bistro. At this time of day, the place was not crowded, the waiters were very attentive and very accommodating to our needs.

So what did we have?

Egg Benedictine seemed just the right stuff, one was with salmon the other regular. The girls went for the sweet stuff, a banana pancake. All very yummy. What a good beginning this was.

Salmon

Regular

The sweet stuff

Then (after we had some pleasant parent-teenager conversation) came lunch.

(I admit we ordered a bottle of ‘2010 PB Valley Reserve Chenin Blanc’ with the breakfast. Not because we are alcoholics, no, but because it felt like the first full meal of the day which warranted a proper glass of wine.)

PB Valley Chenin Blanc

This is a very nice wine, medium bodied with a good structure, with tropical fruit flavours and some vanilla from the oak barrels the wine is aged in (12 months). Very refreshing in the tropics, just the right wine to go with breakfast and a light lunch.

..and lunch was????

Lucy ordered the duck a l’orange

Margit went for the spicy penne with sausage

Charlotte had a chicken curry with roti

And I had this lovely pasta

Needless to say, we had a second delicious bottle of PB Valley Reserve Chenin Blanc.

The food was very good, fresh and with great taste. The pasta was “al dente” which in Asia is not easy to get (cooks often seem to think “noodles are noodles”). We had a great time, placed our wine order (the Great Hornbill delivers the wine to your home), and will be back soon.

Do you look for a pleasant place to have breakfast? The Great Hornbill Bistro is it.

Address:
The Great Hornbill Bistro
59/3 Sukhumvit 39 Road
Klongton Nua, Wattana,
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel:+66 2 262 0030 Ext. 118
Fax:+66 2 262 0029
Mobile: +66 81 834 7910
Email: hospitality@pb-partners.com
GPS Location: 13°44’15.58”N 100°34’17.62”E


GranMonte harvest festival 2012

March 4, 2012

GranMonte Vineyards in Khao Yai, Thailand

About two weeks ago, my family was invited by Khun Visooth, the owner of GranMonte Family Estate, to attend this years harvest festival at GranMonte vineyard in Khao Yai, Asoke Valley, Thailand.

The four of us had rented a car and drove up country for a day of fun, food, entertainment and excellent wines.

Rows of vines at GranMonte

The Adam family: Margit, Charlotte, Lucy and me

We were some of the first guests, and used the time to walk around the vineyards and inspect the cellar door. It was a big event, about 120 plus people were expected.

Chenin Blanc grapes

Chenin Blanc ready to be harvested

Syrah grapes

Beautiful bunches of Syrah

I did not take any pictures during the evening meal. We were just to busy enjoying ourselves. And my little camera is not good at night either. The following pictures were taken while we waited for the start of the harvest festival.

The terrace of the restaurant where dinner would be served later

The restaurant

The GranMonte cellar door

The award winning wines of GranMonte

The entrance to the winery

This is where the event started, the entrance to the winery. We had nibblies and various wines, including freshly fermented grape juice, which we call in German “Federweisser”.

Stainless steel tanks

What would wine be without oak.

Selected wines on oak barrel

Khun Visooth and his family thanking the guests

The party was just wonderful. We enjoyed the food and the free flow of wine. The band played nice music even with some songs from my youth.

One highlight of the evening was the release of the ‘2010 Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah’, the award winning flagship wine of GranMonte. It was poured from 1 1/2 litre bottles. Delicious stuff.

Unfortunately, we had to leave the very same evening at about 10 in order to get back to Bangkok. I had to leave for the airport the next day at 5 h in the morning. The other guests slept in a nearby hotel and could enjoy a second day of play, wine and food.

We made the best of our time. I loved the music and the band as well as the volunteers singing and dancing. We left fully satisfied with a couple of boxes of GranMonte wine in the car.
Thanks Khun Visooth for inviting us.

If you holiday in Thailand you should set a day aside and organise a day trip to Khao Yai. The mountains are beautiful, the trip is pleasant and in the Asoke Valley a few wineries with restaurants are waiting for you; one of them GranMonte.

Address:
GranMonte Vineyard & Wines
52 Moo 9 Phayayen, Pakchong,
Nakornrachasima, Thailand 30320
Tel : +66-81-923-200-7 , +66-84-904-194-4
+66-81-900-828-2 , +66-80-661-755-5
http://www.granmonte.com/


Food and wine pairing

March 31, 2010

Beautiful scrimps in garlic and olive oil

In the hot weather of March and April big meals are not very attractive. Alas, Thailand has a lot of choice in seafood and lighter dishes are the go. Some rice with tofu and green vegetables and plenty of scrimps are the right stuff for a light meal. The question is which wine to drink with it?

A simple “Chinese set” meal

There is a lot of choice actually. As far as white wines are concerned one could choose a Chenin Blanc from Gran Monte, Thailand, for instance. Or one could have a Pinot Grigio from Italy or Germany. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are other possible choices.

If the dish is spicy, and the above one was, the ‘Grande Signature de Rapatel’ by Gérard Eyraud, France, a blend of Roussanne and Bourboulenc, is a great choice. The wine is oily and thick and full of apricot flavour. It balances the spicyness of the food in a wonderful way. I never thought that a Roussanne could be such a good complement to Asian food. My tip of the day: try it.

PS: You can get bottles of this wine in Bangkok from Lake House and Comte de Sibour.


What wine to drink in Bangkok’s hot season?

March 24, 2010

This is the time of the year when the thermometer shows already 32 degrees Celsius at 6:30 in the morning. In mid April it may reach 40-44 Celsius at noon. Alcoholic drinks are not ideal under such conditions. However, a glass of wine with lunch is still something desirable. So what to drink?

Well, my first choice is obviously white wine, maybe a rose, but the wine needs to be chilled. Gran Monte Estate, one of the nine Thai wineries, is located in the Khao Yai region, a two hours drive north of Bangkok, and offers both, white and rose.

Today I talk about their ‘2009 Spring Chenin Blanc’, a fresh and vibrant young wine, very well made with tropical fruit aromas. The grape variety is not my preferred choice when it comes to white wine but for the Gran Monte I make an exception. This Chenin Blanc is perfect for hot days and goes well with Italian and Asian dishes. The alcohol is 12.5% only which makes it also easy to drink in hot weather.

If you live in Thailand or visit Bangkok, try it out. It is worth the odd 500 Thai Bath you pay for the bottle if you purchase directly from the Gran Monte Bangkok shop.

PS: Gran Monte offers also a Syrah rose (the Sakuna rose) in a half bottle which I have tried as well. More about this wine another time.

Address in Bangkok:
Granmonte Co,Ltd.
17 / 8 Soi Sukhumvit 6, Sukhumvit Road,
Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110
Tel : 02-653-1522
Marketing@granmonte.com


Vineyards of Thailand Part 2: Gran Monte, Asoke Valley, Khao Yai

January 11, 2010

Gran Monte vineyards

I have visited Gran Monte located in the Asoke Valley in the Khai Yai area before. But this time we did not have an appointment with the boss, Mr. Visooth Lohitnavy, and a winery tour was out of the question. We played the innocent tourist, and walked right into the cellar door and tasted the new vintage.

Cellar door to the right, beautiful mountains ahead

The tasting room

2009 was a great year for Gran Monte. The winery won about 20 national and international awards for its “new latitude” wines, and is now firmly established as one of Thailand’s top producers easily matching international standards.

Wines on display in the tasting room

2009 Spring Chenin Blanc

Though Chenin Blanc is usually not “my variety”, I just loved the ‘2009 Spring Chenin Blanc’ which won a silver medal at the AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge 2009. It’s a very fresh wine with a beautiful bouquet, and a clean finish. I liked it much better than the ‘2009 Sole Unwooded Chenin Blanc’. The ‘2009 Sakuma Rose Syrah’ was not for tasting but we bought some bottles nonetheless. Finally, we bought a whole selection from different vintages, varieties and price ranges. More about the food and wine pairings and our experiences with Gran Monte wines will follow soon.

Newspaper reviews about Nikki Lohitnavy

The daughter of Visooth Lohitnavy, the managing director and CEO, is Nikki (or Visootha). She is the first female wine-maker in Thailand. With a degree in oenology from Adelaide, the young vintner is on a mission, and one can feel this when visiting Gran Monte. The 2009 vintage with its excellent whites shows her hand.

Gran Monte has a guest house and restaurant at the winery. The park around the house and the cellar door is very lovely too. When we visited the place was very busy, with many visitors dropping in, most of them Thai. Apart from wine, there are a wide range of local produce including creams and lotions available from the shop.

Gran Monte is definitely worth visiting when going on a winery tour in Thailand, a “must” so to say. There are many other interesting things to visit in the Asoke valley and its surroundings. Khao Yai is just a beautiful region.

Address:
GranMonte in Bangkok
Granmonte Co,Ltd.
17 / 8 Soi Sukhumvit 6, Sukhumvit Road,
Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110
Tel : +66-2-653-1522
e-mail: Marketing@granmonte.com

GranMonte Vineyards and Wines at Asoke Valley, Khao Yai
52 Moo 9 Phayayen, Pakchong,
Nakornrachasima, Thailand
Tel : 081-923-200-7 , 084-904-194-4, 081-900-828-2 , 080-661-755-5
www.granmonte.com