3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine – Chiang Mai, Thailand 2011

November 13, 2011

Sorry folks, I have been absent from the scene for a while. My day job kept me busy, too busy, i.e. away from wine appreciation and culinary exposure trips. Frankly speaking, I had the chance to sample some good wines (alas) but I had no time to write about it.

But finally, my highlight of the year has arrived: I am in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, right now and participate in my first ever wine symposium:

the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine.

The chairman of the Thai Wine Association welcoming the participants, Nikki, wine-maker of GranMonte, on the right

Boy can you believe it, me the amateur among all these experts, the wine makers, vineyard owners, oenologists, scholars and wine scientists. These serious guys come from many countries. Tonight at the welcome reception I talked to people from Thailand, India, Myanmar, Brazil, France, Australia, South Africa and my native Germany.

The enthusiastic wine tasters at work

As most scientist, the organizers did not waste words, but went right into the serious stuff and invited all the participants to indulge in tasting the wines on offer from Brazil, Myanmar/Burma and the host country Thailand.

At first I was a bit hesitant but then joined in the tasting wholeheartedly. I found it so interesting to talk to the wine-makers and vintners, and listen to the experts who went from table to table.

I cannot say which wine and/or winery I liked most. One thing is for sure Terry Cummins and the others at the organizing committee did an awesome job in getting this conference together and running.

Tomorrow the serious part of the symposium is going to start. I will need some good sleep to get ready for the many presentations and talks. Seeya tomorrow.

PS: The Thai Wines Association has currently six members, all of them professional and enthusiastic vintners. Congratulations to you for getting such a distinguished crowd of exerts together, luring them to come to northern Thailand during these times of floods is not an easy thing to do.


East meets West – 龙徽

March 26, 2011

Finally, we managed to have a dinner in our new home like in the good old days in Thonglor. All four of us sat on the terrace and enjoyed a family meal together.

The pasta (zucchini) below was just delicious.

I went through my wine fridge but could only produce a bottle of ‘2008 Cabernet Sauvignon’ by Beijing Dragon Seal Winery, China. It was given to me by the hotel manager during my last trip to Beijing.

A bottle of Dragon Seal red wine was one of our first wines when we moved to China in 1990. The winery has quite some history which goes back to 1910 and some French friars in Beijing who started to grow grapes and make wine. Ever since French viticulturists and oenologists have been associated with the brand. The modern Dragon Seal Winery was founded in 1987. Various white and red wines are produced today.

The grapes are grown in Huailai County (怀来县) in Hebei Province about 150 kilometers northwest of Beijing which has a semi-arid climate. The precipitation in this part of China is very low (below 400 mm per year). Mean temperatures range from -7.4 Celsius in January to about 24.4 Celsius in July. Humidity in August-September is between 60 and 70% only.

Product range – screen-shot from the Dragon Seal website

The flagship wines of Dragon Seal Winery are it’s Huailai Reserve, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Syrah (50%) which is matured for a year in French and American oak and it’s Cru de Huailai, a 100% Syrah made from grapes grown in Donghuayuan (东花园镇).

Does this not sound very exotic in your ears?

Well, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is a solid but overall ordinary wine (‘Landweinkatagoerie’). The enclosure consisted of a plastic “cork” (uuh). I was immediately suspicious. 2008 vintage (!), but was the bottle sealed properly?

Yes it was. The wine has only 12% alcohol. The colour was a beautiful dark red. But the taste was OK. It is a rather light wine with pleasant red fruit aromas. We did not regret opening the bottle, and it also matched the pasta somehow. I must try the two flagship wines mentioned above. They won medals at international wine shows. That’s my resolution from this wonderful family meal in Ekamai.