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/


Shanks of lamb and GranMonte 2010 Heritage Syrah Viognier

February 22, 2012

Sunday meals are important in our family.The highlight of the last weekend was the lamb below cooked according to a recipe from Jamie Oliver which was a bit altered to accommodate the availability of ingredients.

The lamb was cooked for three hours and served on mashed potatoes. The full recipe can be found here.

Instead of Guinness we used Coopers Ale, an Australian beer. Instead of raisins we used figs. Moreover, we braised very thinly cut celery and mixed it into the potato mash. Finally, we dropped the mint leaves from the recipe as well.

As veggies, green asparagus with mushrooms were offered. Needless to say, that the meal was super super delicious. The meat melted in the mouth. The bed of mashed potatoes gave a remarkable tilt to the dish.

The side dish

Here is the complete meal on the plate

As wine, I selected the ‘2010 Hertiage Syrah Viognier’ by GranMonte Vineyard in Khao Yai, the Asoke Valley, Thailand. GranMonte is producing excellent wines. We had visited the winery recently and participated in the annual harvest festival. I will write more about this event in another blog entry.

In a temperate climate I would have chosen a wine with a higher alcohol level, but in the tropics 12% is just fine. The Viognier gives it the acidity necessary to make this blend an ideal accompaniment for red meats such a lamb.

Isn’t this a wonderful colour

The bottle

GranMonte wines can be sourced from various places in Bangkok. The cellar door price of the Heritage Syrah Viognier is about 880 THB. If you are in Bangkok, please visit the Asoke valley and its wineries.

My tip of the day: drink more wines from Thailand.


A day at the wine symposium in Chiang Mai – some highlights

November 14, 2011

Well, as you know, I am here in Chiang Mai at the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine to learn (foremost), to meet interesting people from the wine industry (and learn) and to enjoy myself (which is not hard in beautiful Chiang Mai).

In the following, I cannot (and do not intend to) present to my esteemed readers all what happened today. Instead, I choose a somewhat eclectic (maybe arbitrary) selection of bits and pieces, incidents, moments of glory which were stuck in my short-term memory and/or excerpts from my notes scribbled in haste on real paper during the symposium.

Let me start with the start. I was joined in my morning breakfast on the river front terrace of the hotel by Khun Visooth, CEO of GranMonte Family Vineyard. We had a pleasant chat and got to know each other a bit more. That was a very good beginning, indeed.

Tasteful flower arrangement for Tropical Wine 2011

The opening ceremony, although delayed by some time, was a ripper of an opening. Our Thai hosts did not disappoint us. The podium was richly and tastefully decorated with flower arrangements. Moreover, wine bottles and glasses on a wine barrel indicated the topic and theme of the event.

Wine and wine barrel

Even if the hearts of the members of the German delegation from Geisenheim sank for a moment when they spotted their “treasure”, a 1957 (in words: nineteen hundred fifty seven) dry Riesling wine from the Rheingau, which the Germans had presented to the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (RMUTL) as a special gift, on the beautifully decorated display, they kept their composure while wildly speculating what would happen to their beloved wine before the event started.

The treasure from Geisenheim (left, in the ice bucket)

We were to find out soonest. When representatives of the Thai host organizations pressed the “opening button” of the event on an i-pad, the sacred bottle rose from the bottom of the wine cooler it was placed in. Dramatic music accompanied the unexpected and meteoric rise.

A waiter made sure that the bottle was liberated from its cork in no time. Its golden shimmering liquid was poured into three large wine glasses which were presented to the organizers who toasted to the opening of the symposium.

The organizers opening the symposium

Goodness me, how I envied them. That they could taste the golden liquid of my preferred grape, a Riesling from the Rheingau, a wine only three years my junior, was just unbelievable.

I immediately plotted to use an unguarded moment after the ceremony to put my lips to one of these glasses and take a sip of the holy nectar. Wild thoughts darted through my brain.

The occasion did not arise. A waiter took care of the matter and brought the half-empty bottle and the three glasses to a safe place.

As an interlude, a traditional Thai dance troupe performed a welcome dance for us. Rose petals were gracefully spread around and dancers with fans and dressed in colourful costumes entertained the audience.

The professors from Geisenheim

All three keynotes were memorable. Prof. Hans-Reiner Schultz from Geisenheim presided over the session.

First Prof. Alain Carbonneau from Montpellier presented some of the challenges to grow vinus vinifera in the tropics.

The flying wine doctor, Dr. Richard Smart, was second and introduced us to the centrality of canopy management for tropical vineyards. This was my first encounter with Dr. Smart. So far I had only studied his famous articles and essays written in many wine industry journals.

Now here was the man in full flesh and blood. I was surprised about his creaky voice. But having been “conditioned” by my Australian wife, I am in no way a stranger to Australian accents in creaky voices. I loved his powerpoint presentation. I also learned that he has only recently relocated from Tasmania to Cornwall.

Dr. Richard Smart, the wine doctor

The third keynote was by Umberto Camargo from Brazil. For the first time in my life I learned about the wine industry of this coming economic giant and emerging power of the Latin world.

Over lunch I had the chance to meet a couple of wine writers and wine professionals which added to my general knowledge. And as you know from your own experience with conferences, the time after a big meal is the worst of the day. But I made it through.

Prof. Monika Christmann from Geisenheim spoke about the current climatic changes and their repercussions on the wine industry in Germany, among them the need to reduce alcohol levels in wine.

After the good overview of the Thai wine industry presented by Khun Prayut Piangbunta, the wine-maker of PB Valley Estate, I decided to retire to my room and let the many impressions sink in. I also wanted to write this blog entry in order to have a free evening.

Last slide of the presentation of Prof. Christmann

Hope you enjoyed the read. Please visit the websites of the organizers and the Thai Wine Association for more information about the event and the Thai wine industry in general.

To sum it up: this was a very rewarding day for an amateur like me.

Stay tuned to day two of the symposium. More news from the wine symposium in Chiang Mai is about to come.


GranMonte Estate – 2009 Sakuna Rosé

October 9, 2011

“New latitude wines”, is a catchphrase coined in 2004 by Bangkok based wine writer Frank Norel.

For a long time the tropics were not considered suitable for the production of grape vine. The territory between latitude 30 and 50 were vintners “nowhere land”, so to speak.

This has certainly changed over the last decade. Nowadays grapes are grown in places like Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Brazil, and of course Thailand.

In November this year (12.-18.11.) already the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Beautiful colour – Rosé is ideal for the hot days in Bangkok

So far, I have visited about half of the Thai wineries. I love the wines produces by GranMonte Estate, a Thai wine producer from the Khao Yai wine region in the Asoke valley.

GranMonte is a family business and boutique vineyard. At this years Decanter World Wine Awards GranMonte won two silver and one bronze medals. This is recognition of the hard work of Nikki and her parents, Sakuna and Visooth Lohitnavy.

GranMonte Estate – 2009 Sakuna Rosé

Recently I discovered that I had “forgotten” a bottle of 2009 Sakuna Rosé in my wine fridge. Since it was a beautiful sunny day, the GranMonte Rosé wine was my natural choice to accompany our lunch.

Thai wines lend themselves to be paired with Thai food as well. The high acidity of the whites is a good requisite for such food and wine pairing. The Colombard and Chenin Blanc varieties are doing well in the tropics and are producing stunning examples of New Latitude Wines. But also Syrah and Cabernet are doing well.

The back label advised to consume the bottle within one year. Oh, I thought, it’s 2011 now and the wine was from 2009! Would it be too late?

Alas, it turned out that the bottle was perfectly fine. The Rosé made from Syrah grapes tasted fresh and fruity as the previous bottles I had served.

In an earlier blog entry I have described how to get to GranMonte Family Vineyard. The winery is definitely worth a visit. The trip from Bangkok to the Asoke valley takes less than two hours. However, I do know how the current monster floods have affected the region and the roads to get there. Maybe the end of the rainy season is a better time for a visit.

Luckily there is shop in Bangkok where you can get the GranMonte wines.

Address:
Granmonte Co,Ltd.
17 / 8 Soi Sukhumvit 6, Sukhumvit Road,
Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110
Tel : +66-2653-1522 Fax : +66-2653-1977
Mb. : +66-8-9169-7766
Marketing@granmonte.com

Address at Khao Yai
Granmonte Vineyard & Wines
52 Moo 9 Phayayen, Pakchong,
Nakornrachasima, Thailand
Tel : +66-36-227-334-5