Culture and wine – Gran Monte Family Estate, Thailand

March 29, 2013

Remember I promised you two more pieces about the Gran Monte Harvest Festival last February? Here is number two.

What was very positive at the the Gran Monte Harvest Festival is that the event is also a means to educate future Thai wine lovers to grape growing, wine making and wine appreciation. Moreover, such events can be used to promote tourism and local specialties, products as well as culture.

GMonte 20 web

The program of this years Gran Monte Harvest Festival was full of both. At the various food stalls one could sample local cuisine including the Gran Monte wines. Moreover, the Gran Monte shop carries all kinds of food and non-food items made from local raw materials. Furthermore, all visitors were presented with a beautiful traditional piece of cloth to be wrapped around the waist or used as shawl.

But also an entertainment program was carefully prepared consisting of dances and dance performances. This gave local dance troupes an opportunity to show off their skills and promote local culture, the backdrop to which were the stunning mountains of the Asoke Valley.

GMonte 200

From the vineyard emerged the first group of dancers

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Colourful Thai costumes and head gear were displayed

This was not all. Gran Monte Family Estate is also deeply involved in supporting charitable organizations and other good causes. One could attribute this to their pro-active corporate responsibility policy. Three cheques were presented and they went to the following initiatives:

1. The Thai Elephant-Assisted Therapy Project (TETP)
2. The Forest Fire Prevention Unit, Khao Yai-Nakornrachasima
3. The Vajiralongkorn School, Pak Chong-Nakornrachasima

Apart from traditional culture, Gran Monte also promotes contemporary arts. The highlight for me is the rock band playing in the evening. Many songs remind me of my youth, the good old days of rock and roll of the 1970 and 1980. It does not take long to get people off their seats and on to the dance floor.

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The rock band

Because of the neighbours, the band cannot play all night (this is most likely what the Gran Monte guests would want) and that is one strong reason why one has to come back to the next harvest festival.

Enjoy more excellent wines and the music at the next Gran Monte Harvest Festival in 2014. The 2013 vintage promises to be the best ever.

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2011 Asoke by Gran Monte Winery, Thailand

January 27, 2013

Asoke 1

2011 Asoke Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah by Gran Monte

As you can see from the two pictures above and below, the newest vintage of the flagship wine of Gran Monte Family Estate, had no label as yet when I tasted this wine a few days ago.

The 2011 Asoke, a blend of about 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah, is a ripper of a wine, maybe the best red, Thailand’s vineyards have to offer.

The previous vintage, the ‘2009 Asoke’ has won many medals, two gold, three silver and three bronze medals, at international wine shows in Europe and in Asia.

Asoke 2

What a beautiful colour

The 2011 vintage of the Asoke has so far won a bronze medal, but I am confident that this young wine has a great potential and will win more awards when it has settled and aged a little.

It has lots of dark fruit flavour, blackberry to me. The tannins are still a bit astringent but will mellow with time. As the previous vintage, I guess it has spent some time in new oak. It is a very pleasant wine, strong and powerful, the best red I had in a long time.

The wine-maker is Nikki Lohitnavy, the young and talented and already well known vintner of Gran Monte Estate. Nikki is getting better every vintage. In a few years time her wines will be collectors items, I guess.

Asoke pasta

We had the wine with a meal, of course. It was not red meat with which this wine would harmonize Extremely well. Instead it was a pasta cooked by my daugther Charlotte (our resident cook, my wife Margit, is absent for a while). She is a very good apprentice, and the pasta was superb.

Asoke cooks

Charlotte (left) and her twin sister Lucy

Needless to say that this simple meal with the excellent wine from Gran Monte, made a wonderful father and daughter event.

My suggestion to wine lovers in Thailand: secure a couple of bottles of this wine, put them down in a good wine fridge, and enjoy one after the other with or without food, at special and ordinary occasions, and when you want to show off. This is the thing.

The upcoming harvest festival at Gran Monte Estate, on February 2 and 3, will give you a unique opportunity to learn more about Gran Monte wines, the vineyards and the wine-maker. You should book now and/or visit Khao Yai at your own pleasure. It is worth it.

PS: While writing this on my terrace, I am drinking another one of the great Gran Monte wines, the 2012 Viognier, a beauty of a single vineyard, single variety wine.


PB Valley Chenin Blanc 2010 – Wines from Thailand

June 16, 2012

2010 PB Valley Chenin Blanc

One of my favourite Thai wines is the ‘2010 PB Valley Chenin Blanc’ by PB Valley Khao Yai Winery in Khao Yai, Thailand. This wine was awarded a Bronze medal by Decanter earlier this year.

It has a good acidity and a nice freshness. The tropical fruit flavours are refined and not overpowering. It is amazing that this grape variety from the Loire Valley in France is growing so well here in the tropics.

Fish and veggie salad

We had it with a white fish and a salad made from various vegetables. The wine was a perfect complement.

Look out for this wine. It’s very good value for your money. You can buy it here in Bangkok at the Great Hornbill Bistro in Soi Sukhumvit 39.


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 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