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

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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.