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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Four Seasons Koh Samui, a luxury tropical hideaway

What better time to talk about beach vacations then now,when we’re battling the snow and ice of a January in London. Last month I went off to Thailand to escape the snow but looks like I came back a bit too early. I do, however, have some great memories from my trip, one of the highlights being a stay at The Four Seasons Koh Samui. Although the island may be known as a party place, the Four Seasons there is tucked away on a private hillside which is only accessible by  a long and winding path up a hill. Once you reach the top of the hill and after a quick check in, a golf cart is summoned to take you to your very own villa. While you’re a guest of the Four Seasons all transport around the hills is by deluxe golf carts. You just call reception and they send a golf cart to chauffeur you to the beach, the restaurant or the spa. The Four Seasons Koh Samui only has private villas which are scattered on the hillside, each with their own private infinity pool and views of the Gulf.  The back of the villa doesn’t have proper walls, only glass walls and sliding glass doors. There are also private residence rentals which are great for families. The villas are big, a good portion taken up by a veranda with a double lounging bed, dining table and of course, a deck which is part of the infinity pool. The cool sound of running water, courtesy of the pool fountain made for a very relaxing stay. The bedroom was huge with big comfy beds and mosquito nets. Those buggers were buzzing about but the mozzie nets worked really well. As did the air conditioning, although at night it cooled down with balmy breezes blowing across the veranda. While we were there, we were treated to a spa treatment in the hotel spa. It’s set in a coconut grove with 5 salas which are covered...

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Google Hangout with Nikki Lohitnavy, head winemaker at Granmonte Vineyard

Jan 02, 13 Google Hangout with Nikki Lohitnavy, head winemaker at Granmonte Vineyard

Posted by in Travel, Videos

I’m in Thailand at the moment, mostly on holiday but before I hit the islands, I stopped in northeastern Thailand to visit the vineyards of Gran Monte. Many of you may be scratching your heads – wine? made from grapes? in Thailand? Well, yes, and what Nikki Lohitnavy and her father, Visooth Lohitnavy have achieved in less than 15 years is pretty amazing. I did a Google Hangout with Nikki (+nikki lohitnavy) while we were relaxing at the Four Seasons in Koh Samui. If you’ve ever wondered about Thai wine (or didn’t even know it existed!), you’ll find Nikki giving a primer on how they got started and the future of their wines. Having tried them, I think it’s a very promising future! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exzYbk5-KK4 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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