Opening Night – The Great Hornbill Bistro, Bangkok

February 29, 2012

The other day, Heribert Gaksch, responsible for marketing and business develpment at PB Partners which include restaurants and the PB Valley Winery, invited me to the official opening of its newest venture: the Great Hornbill Bistro in Bangkok.

The opening was a great opportunity to also present the whole range of the wines produced by PB Valley Winery. I had visited the winery some years ago and reported briefly about it on this blog.

With the opening of the Great Hornbill Bistro, the winery has come to town, so to say.

At the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine in Chaing Mai in November last year, I had also met Prayut Piangbunta. PB Valley oenologist and wine-maker (he is also the director and manger of PB Valley). Khun Prayut was Thailands first oenologist. From 1996 to 1998 he had studied in Weinsberg, asmall town in my native Germany.

Needless to say, Prayut was also in town for the opening, despite the fact that in the middle of vintage time, the chief wine-maker has to organise pickers and winery staff in Khao Yai for harvesting and processing of the new grapes.

I did not take any photo of the event myself. This is why I just put photos of the brochures into this blog entry. I was just to busy enjoying the food, the wines and the great company at the opening.

Everything was impressive. It was a splendid evening. The wines of PB Valley are just wonderful. I will have more of them, especially the Chenin Blanc and the red blend with the Dornfelder.

So my suggestion to Bangkok wine and food lovers is to check out the Great Hornbill Bistro and sample the wines of PB Valley.
Cheers

Address:
The Great Hornbill Bistro             
Bistro and Wine Shop (B.B. Holding Co. Ltd.)   
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      


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.