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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The vineyards of Myanmar II: Lunch at Red Mountain Estate

February 11, 2012

View from the tasting shed: Majectic mountain chain in the back

Red Mountain Estate is located near Inle lake in Shan State. It was the second vineyard in Myanamar I had the chance to visit in January.

I had met its French vintner and wine-maker, Francois Raynal, at the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine in Chiangmai, Thailand in November lasy year. Francois has presented the experience of Red Mountain Estate and the challenges of cultivating and producing “new latitude wines”.

The international wine experts were very positively surprised by the good quality of his wines. Ever since his impressive presentation, I wanted to visit the place. And here I was.

Some of the vineyards at Red Mountain estate

Unfortunately, Francois was not there when we visited the estate. But the staff was very friendly. They took us around the premises and explained the various items. I will show you the modern facilities in another blog entry later. Red Mountain Estate has lots of steel tanks, new oak barrels, a bottling facility and an underground cave for the storage of its wines.

The bottle shop

From the “tasting shed”, a roofed veranda open at four side, one has a good view of the vineyards and the surroundings. Red Mountain was set up in 2002, so it is a bit younger than Aythaya. Every year some more vineyards were planted. In 2006 the first wine was produced (about 1000 bottles). Today the annual production is about 120,000 bottles.

The Inle Valley series, a low price vin-de-table

Before lunch, we did a kind of tasting of some of the wines. The Chardonnay, the most expensive one on the list, we had reserved to be sampled with lunch.

We started with the Sauvignon Blanc, then went on to the rose and ended with the reds.

Red Mountain Sauvignon Blanc

The wine we liked best was the SB, fresh and fruity. The only thing I hated was the cheap plastic cork.

The rose

A very drinkable wine, well suited for hot summer days.

The Red Mountain Shiraz-Tempranillo blend

The Shiraz-Tempranillo blend is somehow special. It is a light bodied red with low alcohol and with pleasant fruit flavours and tannins. I guess that it must be difficult to get to the desired style. I consider the wine to be work in progress.

The food was OK. But I did not take pictures of it, so I guess it was not exceptional. There might be some room for improvements here.

Friends who had visited the estate just a couple of months earlier, were pleasantly surprised by the general improvements of the facilities. While we were there quite a few small tourist groups dopped in for a meal and/or a tasting.

Francois had reported about the difficult process of experimentation in a completely new environment and a economy riddled by the international sanctions. Some of the cuttings had to come from Israel, the oak barrels from Hungary, the bottles and corks from China, and so on.

But Red Mountain is a place to watch. The investment undertaken is huge, the staff motivated, the wine-maker committed, and Myanmar is a coming power in South-east Asia. It will take no time to get the tourist flow to come to vineyards and wineries. Myanmar has a lot to offer.

PS: We bought as many bottles of the Sauvignon Blanc as we could carry.

Address:
Red Mountain Estate
Taung Chay Village Group, Nyaungshwe Township,
Southern Shan State, Myanmar.
Tel: +95-081-209366, +95-081-209554
Fax: +95-081-209475
Mobile: +95-09-5174312
www.redmountain-estate.com

Red Mountain Production Co., Ltd
No. 39(A), 7 1/2 miles, Pyay Road,

Mayangone Township, Yangon, Myanmar.
Tel: +95-01-664970, +95-01-652662
Fax: +95-01-652793
Mobile: +95-09-2035632, +95-09-5021843
Email: redmountain.tc@gmail.com
info@redmountain-estate.com
contact@redmountain-estate.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.


Red Mountain Estate – Wines from Burma

December 11, 2010

Pinot Noir by Red Mountain Estate

My friend Moritz brought some bottles of wine from a trip to Burma back to Bangkok. He gave me a ‘2009 Pinot Noir Taunggyi Wine’ by Red Mountain Estate which is located in the Southern Shan State at the picturesque Inle lake. The vineyard was planted in 2003 at about 1000 meters altitude.

When I opened the bottle and found a plastic “cork” my enthusiasm declined rapidly. Well, what will the wine taste like, I thought, with such an enclosure?

To say it from the outset, the wine is a project in the making. The technology used by Red Mountain Estate may be ultra modern. All equipment is imported from Europe and the wine is aged in Hungarian oak. However, the tropical conditions, as customary to New Latitude wines, is still a challenge.

The colour of the wine is a dark red. It is medium bodied and has 12.5 % alcohol. The taste is a mixture of saw dust and rubber, not unpleasant though, and perfectly drinkable.

I had the chance to taste some more of the Red Mountain Estate products at Moritz’s house. I liked the Chardonnay best followed by the Rose. The reds were not particularly strong, a bit thin, for my taste. As I said, work in progress.

Front label of Red Mountain Estate Pinot Noir

The location of Red Mountain Estate is very beautiful, almost spectacular. Photos of the Inle Lake, the vineyard and the winery can be found on the estate’s webpage (Moritz has some on his facebook site). I should visit this region and have a look myself.

The back label of the Pinot Noir by Red Mountain Estate

PS: We had some antipasti – fried salami – before the main course, a pasta. The recipe is from a Jamie Oliver cookery book. Wonderful, so tasty, with olive oil and fresh Parmesan cheese.

The fried salami antipasti

Address:
Red Mountain Estate
Taung Chay Village Group, Nyaungshwe Township,
Southern Shan State, Myanmar.
Tel: +95-081-209366 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +95-081-209366      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
      +95-081-209554
Fax: +95-081-209475
Mobile: +95-09-5174312
www.redmountain-estate.com


Aythaya: Wine from Myanmar

May 3, 2009

myanmar

Nice peacock label

Did you know that also Burma (Myanmar) produces wines (some more “new latitude wines”, I guess)? Well, that’s an exotic place to grow the noble grape vine, isn’t it. We know of Burma only that it is a military dictatorship denying Aung San Suu Kyi the win in an election 20 years ago. Cyclone Nargis comes to mind and the devastation it brought to the Irrawadi delta. But grape wines and wine production?

myanmar1

The wine from Myanmar

Watch out. My friend Wolfgang brought me a bottle of Myanmar wine, to be precise a bottle of ‘2006 Aythaya Myanmar Rose Muscat’. Grown in Aythaya village near Inle lake in the Southern Shan States at an altitude of 1,300 meters this rosé wine is produced by Myanmar Vineyards Estate Ltd.. It seems that a bunch of Germans up there is attempting to do the impossible and produce fine wines.

myanmar2

The colour, a dark rosé

The plastic cork was not to my liking. The colour of the wine, a deep rosé, however, was quite appealing. A slight aroma of raisin (is it from the Muscat?), I thought to detect. The swish in the mouth was not what I expected. The bottle must have been exposed to some unfortunate conditions. I took a second sip. Not my wine, I must admit. No fruit, could be any liquid, I guess.

From the website of the estate I learned that the venture started in 1997 and that the first wine was made in 2004. Exports started in 2006 and put Burma on the world wide map of wine production. I hope my next bottle will be OK. The grape varieties grown are Muscat, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Also a Grappa is produced. Unfortunately, one cannot access the references (articles in newspapers) given on the webpage. I will have to find out more about this vineyard. Stay tuned to Myanmar wines.


Charming Hotels in Asia: The Savoy in Yangon, Myanmar

May 1, 2009

savoy0

The entry to the hotel

Yesterday I got my visa from the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok so that I can attend a meeting in Yangon next week. Last year I visited for the first time and stayed in a charming little hotel, called the Savoy.

savoy1

The reception area

savoy5

The rooms

I know there are many more charming places in Yangon. I love the Savoy’s colonial atmosphere, the transquility and the quiet. I alos liked the food and the wines. However, because of time constraints last time, I did not have a chance to talk to the cook. Why the cook you might ask? Well he is supposed to come from Luxemburg. That’s my Mosel neighbourhood. This time I am going to talk to him about food and wine.

savoy4

Restaurant at the second floor, Kipling’s what an enticing name.

savoy2

The Rossini, Italian restaurant at the ground floor

savoy3

The wine cabinet at the Rossini restaurant

The wine selection is quite interesting; I remember Italian, Chilean and Australian wines. I will check them out next week. I’ll tell you more after my return. Keep tuned in.

Please visit the hotel’s website for more information.

Address:
Savoy Hotel
129 Dhammazedi Road, Yangon, Myanmar
Tel: +95-1 526289 526298 526305
Fax:+95-1 524891 524892

Email: res-savoy@myanmar.com.mm
gm-savoy@myanmar.com.mm
Website: http://www.savoy-myanmar.com