Thai wine and spicy Asian cuisine

July 8, 2013

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‘2012 Colombard’ by Monsoon Valley

Many white wines go well with Asian cuisine, for instance my beloved Riesling, either in its dry or semi-dry incarnations.

Fortunately, Thailand has his own wines which do pair well with its cuisine. Chenin Blanc and Viognier wines from Gran Monte Winery, as well as Chenin Blanc from PB Valley come to mind.

One of my least favourite grapes, Colombard can also make a good wine to drink with spicy Asian food. Monsoon Valley Wine produces a Colombard wine (Classic Range) which I find ideal with spicy cuisine.

The grapes are produced near Hua Hin, a coastal town about 3 hours south of Bangkok. I personally have not visited the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard as yet but it is on my to-do list.

This Colombard wine is a blend made from Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Malaga Blanc grapes. It is light and fruity with some citrus aromas and fine acidity but has some residual sweetness which makes is well suited to accompany spicy dishes.

The 2012 vintage has won various bronze medals for instance at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2012, and the FBAT Wine Challenge in 2012.

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Spicy prawn noodles

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Gran Monte Harvest Festival 2013 – Guest House and hospitality

April 7, 2013

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My room key

This is the third and last of my Gran Monte Harvest Festival blog entries. I know that the festival was in February and now it is already April. However, visiting Gran Monte Vineyard is always a good choice regardless of the time of year.

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The view from the guest house

During the harvest festival I was very lucky to stay at the Gran Monte Guest House which is just in the middle of the Gran Monte vineyards with great views.

It is wonderful to wake up in the morning, hear the birds sing and step out of the room, a room with a view so to speak and be right in the middle of things.

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The wine education at Gran Monte also includes some harvesting of grapes, just a little for the feeling of it. Of course I also participated, took the secateurs and cut a couple of bunches, just for fun.

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Secateurs and a little basket

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Beautiful and healthy grapes

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Syrah grapes ready for harvest

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Anty Fung, project manager from Asian Palate in Hongkong

In my first blog entry I mentioned that I shared the bus with a couple from Hongkong. It turned out that Anty Fung was a very knowledgeable wine writer and wine promoter working at Asian Palates.

To educate Asian wine drinkers to grape wine is not an easy undertaking. Often the description of what you are going to experience when you drink a specific wine is completely intangible to non Europeans. The references are out of sync with Asian life experience so to say.

This means tasting notes have to be re-written so that Asian consumers can connect to the product. Anty is working in this exciting sector and it was a great pleasure to listen to her and her assessments.

Moreover, she was great fun.

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The awesome breakfast at Gran Monte

Finally let me tell you that the breakfast at Gran Monte Family Estate is just another marvel. Look at the picture above. Would you not love to have this kind of egg dish in the morning?

You can have it. Just go and check it out at Gran Monte guest house. Stay there for a weekend and experience the uniqueness of a Thai vineyard and winery with great food and fine wines. You are also going to meet a Thai family which is very passionate about wine, viticulture and the environment of the Asoke Valley.


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.

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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.

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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.


Wine bars in Bangkok – Water Library Thonglor

February 28, 2013

Water Library

Virtual visit only

You might know by now that Bangkok is the capital of Asian gourmets. Thai’s are obsessed with food, they hunt for the best bargains, and constantly photograph what they were eating. Social media sites in Thailand are cluttered with pictures of dishes right before consumption. These pictures are shared with friends and family, so that everybody knows about the best food in town.

Also the wine bar scene is very lively. You can find all kinds of wine bars, at the lower price end or the high-luxury one.

The latest craze in Thonglor where I used to live, seems to be the Water Library, a wine bar cum restaurant with excellent reviews. I admit that I have not been there in person as yet. I visited “virtually”, meaning I looked at their website.

Tripadvisor rated the Water Library as 46 out of 6,862 restaurants in Bangkok, which is very impressive. Water Library has received six reviews, all rate the place as excellent.

I studied the wine list which has 19 pages in a pdf-format. The list is impressive too. Largely, it seems to be about “point-drinking”. Mr. Parker must be very happy about this. Very few wines on the list do not show the Parker rating. Prices are considerable, and I admit, way above my budget.

A ‘2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spaetlese’ by Joh. Jos. Pruem, a wine from my beloved Mosel, is an excellent drop, but 2,800 Bath or Euro 72,- is a bit much for me (the 2011 vintage sells for 19,40 in Germany).

But what I take really issue with is the fact that not a single Thai wine has made it’s way onto the list of Water Library. As an advocate of new latitude wines, I think that every place with a bit of a reputation should include some of the excellent wines produced in Thailand, on Thai soil, and by Thai vintners.

Nonetheless, I will check out the place and report back to you.


Wine from Thailand: GranMonte 2011 Heritage Syrah

February 27, 2013

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2011 Heritage Syrah by GranMonte Family Estate

My private situation is not conducive to blogging at all. And in fact I should take a complete break, I think at times. But then I just withdraw from my current world to escape into the illusions I have cultivated over the last weeks.

I needed to treat myself to something nice, and my choice was an obvious one, a ‘2011 GranMonte Heritage Syrah’ by GranMonte Estate in Khao Yai, Thailand.

I just love the dark red colour and the intense red berry aromas. The wine is elegant, and I very muchnenjoy the balance of tannins and spicy acidity. I did not give the wine a chance to improve with cellaring but might do this with one or two bottles at a later stage.

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Spear ribs and morning glory

My girls had cooked dinner, spear ribbs with morning glory. The ribbs were marinated in an Asian plum sauce, and caramelized glazing was just delicious. The contrast with the morning glories was stricking, and the white rice “glued” it all together.

What a lovely family dinner this was. Thai wine and food with an Asian heritage.


Schnapps made in Thailand – Licci by PB Valley Estate

February 9, 2013

Licci 1

My twin daughters 18th birthday in November last year, was accompanied by a dinner party. The Great Hornbill Bistro in Soi Sukhumvit 39 had kindly provided the venue, the food and the wine.

Together with about 20 of their friends, Lucy and Charlotte held a celebratory birthday dinner at the mezzanine floor of the bistro. I had selected the wines. My choice was the entry level wines of PB Valley Winery, one of my favourite Thai winery.

The ‘2010 Sawasdee Khao Yai Chenin Blanc’ and the ‘2010 Sawasdee Khao Yai Shiraz’, both very fruity and lively wines, seemed to be ideally suited for newcomers to the world of fine wine.

Licci 2

My daughters had asked me to serve them shots when the meal was over to conclude the event. It was also a signal that the night was still young and that they could troupe out to spend the rest of the evening at a place of their choice, probably near Khaosan road and surroundings.

Fortunately, PB Valley Estate produces a fine Schnapps (40% alcohol) distilled from fresh Lychee fruit grown in Northern Thailand. The kids, used to shots of vodka and other taste-neutral alcohols, could not believe it. The intense Lychee aromas just blew them away. They all liked it.

For me, it was also the first time that I had a go at this “Schnapps”. I just loved it. Licci, although not cheap (quality has its price), is a great product and ideally suited as a digestive after a beautiful Thai or Western meal.

PS: PB Valley Estate is currently celebrating their vintage festival. You should visit. Have a look and enjoy to explore Thai vineyards and wineries. The Khao Yai national park is just next door.

Address:
The Great Hornbill Bistro
59/3 Soi Sukhumvit 39, Sukhumvit Road,
Klongton Nua, Wattana,
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Opening hours: Mo – So. 11-22 h
Tel.: +66-2 262 0030
Email:hospitality@pb-partners.com

The Great Hornbill Bistro is the cellar door of PB Valley Khao Yai Winery in Bangkok.

PB Valley Khao Yai Winery
102 Moo 5, Phaya Yen,
Pak Chong 30320, Thailand
Tel.: +66 (0) 2 262 0030
www.khaoyaiwinery.com


Gran Monte Harvest Festival 2013 – Thai wine at its best

February 4, 2013

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Gran Monte Family Estate Harvest Festival 2013

I just returned from this years Gran Monte Harvest Festival in Asoke Valley, Khao Yai, about two hours northwest from Bangkok. The Gran Monte Family Estate is a true family wine business with the whole family engaged in some part of the venture.

Overall my experience with the Thai wine industry is that all of the protagonists are very hard working, charming, committed and passionate people. This is why they have created the Thai Wine Association to jointly promote their passion for the fermented grape juice here in the tropics, creating exquisite new latitude wines.

It was the second time that I attended this lovely event. You can read about last year in this blog entry. Needless to say that it was utterly enjoyable. In fact it was the highlight of the wine season for me.

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Vineyard view from the guest house

This is the first of about three blog entries on the Harvest Festival at Gran Monte which I plan to write. The first one provides you with a general overview.

The second will deal with the local economy, culture and corporate responsibility.

And finally, in the third one I will take you on a walk through the Gran Monte Vineyards.

Please stay with me and share my Gran Monte 2013 experience.

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The map of the locality

The Harvest Festival is a well planned and organised affair at Gran Monte. We were picked up at the Emporium in Bangkok by a van and made our journey to the vineyard. I shared the vehicle with an Indian family of three and a couple from Hongkong, Ms Anty Fung, project manager from Asian Palate and her partner.

Khun Visooth had put me up at the Gran Monte Guest House. I settled in and enjoyed the vineyard views from the balcony. At about 5 in the afternoon it started with traditional Thai folk dances. The place was buzzing with local and some foreign guests. The car park was quickly filled up.

This years program was a bit different from the previous one. Much has happened sind 2012. A new vintage was just released, quality wise even better than any before.

And let me tell you a secret, if the weather plays along the 2013 vintage will be even better. Trust me, I have seen and tasted the grapes.

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Food stalls provided Thai local cuisine, and you could also start tasting various vintages of Gran Monte wines. Gran Monte had won many new awards during the last 12 months at various international wine shows in Asia and Europe.

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I have written about some of the new wines, the Sakuna rose, the Voignier and the Asoke, but there is the Chenin Blanc, the Vedelho and the Syrah about which I will let you in another time.

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The whites

The whites include the Sole and the Spring, then there is the Sakuna rose which is also available as a sparkling wine, and the new flagship wine, the Voignier which has its price.

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The reds

The reds are as spectacular as the whites. Since oak is expensive the well grafted reds of Gran Monte have their price too. And remember there is a 400% luxury tax on wine in Thailand.

I had ample time to taste the above wines during the celebratory dinner. I danced my heart out to the music of my youth.

And I met many new and old friends and engaged in stimulating discussions about wine and the Thai wine industry.

Soon more about wines from Thailand. Cheers