A visit to Thai winery, Granmonte Family Vineyard

May 31, 13 A visit to Thai winery, Granmonte Family Vineyard

Posted by in Asia, Food and Wine, Travel

Earlier this year I escaped to the sunny beaches of Thailand but on my way to the beach I stopped off to visit Thai winery, Granmonte Family Vineyard. I know you may be surprised to hear that wine is produced in Thailand. I must admit when I first heard of it, I was extremely sceptical, especially as I had tried Thai wines in London and not been very impressed. But a few years ago I had met Nikki Lohitnavy, the young winemaker of Granmonte, in Bordeaux and tried her wines, very good indeed. So it was with much anticipation that I headed to Granmonte after touching down in BKK. Granmonte is a boutique, family owned vineyard that was started by Nikki’s father, Visooth, in the late 1990’s. The vineyard is located in the Asoke Valley which is located adjacent to the Thai national park of Khao Yai, roughly 175 kms northeast of Bangkok. One interesting fact I discovered while there is that the Asoke Valley was designated by the King of Thailand as vineyard country to combat poppy growing (and opium production) back in the mid-20th century. The valley has a unique microclimate, situated at 350 metres, it is cool enough year round to grow grapes. Although this being Thailand, it’s still quite warm. The Khao Yai park is also one of the few places in Thailand where wild tigers can be found and elephants as well. Nikki related a story where the local elephants were eyeing her vines and the ripe grapes on them. Luckily, they weren’t able to cross the road, otherwise it would have been bye-bye that year’s harvest. Nikki joined as the family winemaker in 2009 shortly after finishing her wine education at the University of Adelaide. She has done several harvests around the world and has brought all that knowledge to her family vineyard. Granmonte specialize in chenin blanc and syrah but Nikki has plenty of other experimental plots going on their 15 hectares. While I was there, we...

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Latest podcast- Japanese koshu, Rioja and the wines of Navarra

Mar 26, 12 Latest podcast- Japanese koshu, Rioja and the wines of Navarra

Posted by in Asia, Podcast, Spain

This episode features one of Japan’s few female winemakers, Ayana Misawa, 5th generation winemaker for Grace winery (“Chuo Budoshu” in Japanese). I met Ayana at the annual Koshu of Japan tasting, held in London in late February 2012 and she sat down to tell me a bit more about the history of the koshu grape in Japan. In the UK market, Rioja is one of the most reliable and dependable wines around. However, the Spanish have woken up to the fact that they need to innovate and I met up with the winemaker for one of the centenary wineries of Rioja, Bodagas Bilbainas. Rioja has a number of wineries that are over one hundred years old but that hasn’t stopped them from looking at innovative or different ways of making their wine. Diego Pinella Navarro, head wine maker, is part of the new generation taking Rioja wines into the future. Lastly, I move up a bit further north to the wines of Navarra. Navarra is situated just north of Rioja but other then the rosés of the region, most people don’t know much about the wines. I chatted with the Consul General of the D.O.  Jordi Vidal when he was in London last week to find out more about what’s going on there, both with the traditional varieties they have always used as well as some newer ones. And, the regions wine making connections with France…. Any questions or comments, just leave me a note in the comment section. Find the podcast on iTunes: http://bit.ly/wHVS9g or Podomatic if you don’t have iTunes: http://bit.ly/GRuZAV Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Thai Wine at Bordeaux en Primeur

I know what you’re thinking. You went all the way to Bordeaux for en primeur and you ended up drinking Thai wine?? How did that happen? Believe me, I didn’t even know that any Thai wine was going to be available when I trundled up to Chateau Angelus, a Premier Grand Cru Classe in St.Emilion for a tasting of their en primeur. I had already tried their wine earlier in the day but we decided to stop by the chateau and see what other wines they had on tasting. The en primeur tasting of the 2010 Ch. Angelus as well as it’s second label and other wines from around St. Emilion were sequestered upstairs in a private tasting room overlooking the vines but on the ground floor of the visitor’s centre, as you walked in to the right, they had set up a tasting of wines that Ch. Angelus consults on in various parts of the world. And this is where I encountered two smiley, happy faces as a I walked by. I lived in Thailand for a few months back in my English teacher days and have always found the Thai people to be extremely hospitable. How could I not stop and try the wines? Also, I was intrigued to find a Thai wine in a Premier Grand Cru Classe chateau in the middle of Bordeux. Nikki Lohitnavy, GranMonte winemaker and a Thai sommelier working in California, Tina Tepmsomket, were behind the table happily pouring wine. “Would you like to try the wine”? Tina asked me. There was a selection of 1 rose, 1 white and 2 reds. I inquired about the rose and Nikki told me it was off dry, like a California zinfandel. That did it for me, white it was. The GranMonte 2009 Sole chenin blanc, a blend of 95% chenin blanc and 5% viognier that had been made with wild yeasts. I sniffed the wine, hmmm, floral, white fruits on the nose, then, a sip, swish and spit. Creamy...

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Japanese Wine hits London

January is the beginnning of wine tasting season in the London. I’ve been so busy going to events that I have been woefully neglecting The Wineslueth but now I’ve made a promise to myself to get back into the blogging habit. Let’s start off with the most interesting tasting last week – wines from Japan.  Japanese wine is breaking into the London market (or at least trying to). The Japanese came to town last week with one of their oldest grape varietals, koshubudo or koshu for short. 15 wine producers have banded together to form the Koshu of Japan (KOJ) association to ensure quality and promote the varietal to the world. Speaking to one of the producers, he told me that koshu was brought to Japan a thousand or so years ago and came from the Caucusus. I suppose a thousand years is long enough for a varietal to be considered indigenous. Koshu is grown in the Yamanashi province close to Mount Fuji and there are 80 wineries producing not only koshu but also international varietals like chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, cab franc and merlot among others. Many of the wineries go back to the late 1880’s but the majority were founded between the two major world wars. Wines made from 100% Koshu was on tasting last week at the Imagination Gallery in Central London. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wines.  The general characteristics, pale, straw coloured wines with a pronounced citrus flavour profile. I also found distinctive mineral notes in many of the wines, the product of the volcanic soils where the vineyards are located. Many of the wines were also aged in barrels or sur lees which gave the wines body. I got to chatting with  the winemaker of Diamond Winery, founded in 1939 as a cooperative and then converted to a winery in 1963,  Yoshio Amemiya. Yoshio spent 3 years overseas, studying winemaking techniques in Bordeaux, Burgundy and one other place in France. In 2003...

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