Two Men from Mosel River tasting New Latitude wines in Bangkok

March 18, 2013

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Gran Monte Syrah grapes in Khao Yai

Recently a good old friend from high school times, Thomas Weber from Trier and his wife Birgit, visited Thailand for a holiday. Since Thomas is a kind of a wine geek, someone who has written two books about wine, and who knows every vintner along the Mosel river, I intended to introduce him to a selection of New Latitude wines.

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The two wineries I had in mind where GranMonte Family Winery and PB Valley Wines, both located in the Asoke Valley in Khao Yai, Thailand. Unfortunately, Thomas did not have sufficient time to go and visit the vineyards in person. Therefore I decided to bring the vineyards to him.

We did two tastings, one shortly after his arrival in Bangkok, the second one the evening before his departure. The first wine tasting took place in our home. I had selected three wines (one white and two reds), all from GranMonte Family Winery.

We started with the ‘2012 Viognier’, according to some critics the best white wine Gran Monte has ever made. Thomas was amazed that such an outstanding wine could be produced here in Thailand (I provided him with a farewell gift, guess what it was?).

We followed up with two Gran Monte Syrah wines, the ‘2010 Hermitage Syrah’ and the ‘2009 Orient Syrah’. This was the first time that Thomas had ever tasted wines grown in the tropics, or, as they are also, called ‘new latitude wines’.

He was amazed by the high standard and the outstanding quality of the wines. All of them fully satisfied his expert palate pampered by vintage after vintage of excellent wines from the Mosel. The Thai wines from Gran Monte can positively compare with any wines from Europe, that was the verdict after the first round of tastings.

The second wine tasting was conducted over a dinner (forgive me that I skip the food here) at the Great Hornbill Bistro in Soi 39 Sukhumvit in Bangkok. This place is the Bangkok cellar door of PB Valley Khaoyai Winery.

Again we tasted three wines, one white and two reds. We started with the ‘2012 Pirom Khao Yai Reserve Chenin Blanc’, an excellent vintage and very enjoyable wine. We liked it so much that we consumed quite a few bottles with our entrees. Only for the main course we switched to red.

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The Cabernet-Dornfelder blend is being decanted

First we had a bottle of ‘2011 Pirom Khao Yai Tempranillo’. The wine had a beautiful aroma but the somehow ‘green (gemuesig) taste’ disappointed a little. The more we were looking forward to the ‘2010 Cabernet Dornfelder cuvée’. It had time to breathe after the decanting. This wine, an unusual blend, did not disappoint. It displayed its character, was full of flavor, had structure and an excellent finish.

The surprise of the evening was, that Mr. Gaksch had reserved for us a bottle of the lovely PB Valley Lychee Schnaps so that we could harmoniously end our Thai wine tasting.

The overall verdict is that Thailand produces outstanding wines and that more needs to be done to bring this good message to the world of wine.

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The happy tasting party

I strongly advised Thomas to come back again, and instead of spending time at Thai beaches, go and visit Thai wineries and enjoy the pleasure their excellent wines provide the casual and the “un-casual” drinker.
Spread the gospel.


Advertising for China’s wine market

January 24, 2012

The other day when I travelLed in China, I realized that there are quite a few advertisements regarding grape wine displayed in prominent public places.

I found some attractive ads on a rotating billboard which I photographed. A glossy airline magazine had also a few ads which I found interesting.

Let us have a look at them.

The first four pictures below show caucasian men looking at wine bottles and/or seem to sample wine. The men are of a mature age and seem to know what they are doing. They emit the scent of experts, professionalism and sincerity suggesting that we the viewers can trust them.

I found the ad for icewine intriguing. The three others deal with red wine, the most appreciated grape wine in China.

The next Three pictures show specific wine brands promoted by the ad. Two of them are for Chinese brands, Chateau Junding and Niya, the thrid is for a French wine Chateau Marquis de Terme, Margaux? The price of 1600 Yuan is not insignificant, but many Chinese consumers go for the most expensive Frnech red wines. As almost everything in China wine consumption is booming. In 2012 China has overtaken the United Kingdom as the fifth largest wine consumer in the world.

The last two photos from an airline magazine cover a specific winery and wine region and invite people to visit the place. This is wine tourism in the making.

Given the fact that many prospective Chinese investors are visiting vineyards and wineries in Australia these days, and more and more buyers of Australian premium wines come from China, it is worthwhile to have closer look at the Chinese wine industry, wine consumption habits, change of tastes and many other issues related to the appreciation of fine wine.