January 16, 2008

Thailand Makes Wine?
Lima, Peru

Thai vineyard locations

The Thai Wine Association says that it was formed in 2004, "ten years after the first Thai wine grape was launched."

As an armature wine lover, I'm quite curious about what Thai wine tastes like. I never dreamed of looking for such things while in Thailand, as I typically don't indulge in such expenses unless I'm in a region where the wine is too good and too inexpensive to pass up (like in Argentina, for example).

Elephant in Thai vineyard

There's just something that seems off with the notion of wine vineyards in Thailand, though it seems understandable that people would endeavor to produce Thai wine, given the 400% wine tax the country currently levies against imports (often from Australia and Chile).

Siam Winery is situated near Samut Sakorn, 30 miles southwest of Bangkok, in the viticulture area known as the "floating vineyards." It's Thailand's largest and oldest viticultural area that comprises of 10,000 acres in the Chao Phrya delta. It's here the traditional Thai grape varietal, such as Pok Dum and Malaga Blanc, are used in the production of white wine. The vines are grown on islands, separated by canals, which is quickly becoming the country's first appellation.

The grapes for the red wines are grown in the mountainous vineyards on the Pak Chong hills, that is becoming recognized as Thailand’s prime county for planting internationally known varietals. In this cooler climate region are the vineyards planted with Shiraz and Colombard grapes, yielding a crop, which brings depth and structure to the wines.

Thailand's Monsoon Valley label seems to have a spread of selections, as produced in the Buddhist calendar year 2544 (2003 A.D.):

  • Monsoon Valley Red 2544—a dry red, a blend of Pok Dum, Syrah and Muscat grapes. A ruby red robe with bright and clean red fruit aromas. Violet and spices on the palate supported by subtle oak. This wine is medium-bodied with a round velvety finish.
  • Monsoon Valley Shiraz Special Reserve 2544—made exclusively from Shiraz grapes. The result a full-bodied wine selected from the best cuvee from harvests twice a year. This is a new-world styled wine that has a dark purple robe. The wine exhibits warm aromas of cedar, spices and intense ripe plums leading to a smooth elegant finish.
  • Monsoon Valley White 2544—a fresh dry white wine made from Malaga Blanc and Colombard grapes. The color is pale golden with green hue. The taste has a fresh and delicate aroma of citrus with a touch of watermelon enhancing its character. A light-bodied wine with crisp acidity with a medium length finish.
  • Monsoon Valley Rose—a pink (onion skin) color with an orange tinge. On the nose it displays red fruit aromas. The palate offers watermelon mixed with exotic fruits such as mango and kiwi. This is a light-bodied wine that's crisp, fresh and with a delicate finish.

Humm, something I'll have to check out next time I pass through the Land of Smiles.

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