Wine drinkers are familiar with the terms ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ to refer to different wine regions, but if the Monsoon Valley Winery in Thailand has anything to say about it, we’ll be adding the term ‘New Latitude’ to the list.

WineThailand

Thailand makes wine, you ask?  Well it was news to me too, so I popped over to a recent tasting of Monsoon Valley wines to see for myself.  My discovery was not that yes, they actually do make wine in Thailand, but the real revelation was they’re actually quite good!

Monsoon Valley has only been producing wine for 10 years, is the biggest of only five wineries in Thailand, and is solely responsible for all exports (to over 18 markets, of which the UK is one of the biggest).  Their grapes are grown towards the south of the country at 13 degrees north of the equator in the Hun Hin Vineyard where the loamy sand and slate soils along with the cooling effects from the Gulf of Thailand, allow the grapes to ripen suitably.

The woman at helm is German winemaker, Kathrin Puff, who trained in Italy, but was ready for a new challenge. It’s safe to say she found it! Quoted in the Drinks Business on July 5, 2011, Puff says of her decision to make wine in Thailand “Of course I was sceptical, as anyone would be, but I like to give new things a try and once I start something I always want to see it through to the end”.

The wines are made to compliment Thai food with its rich blend of flavours and spice.  Therefore some of the wines have a slight sweetness to them to counteract the spice of the food.  The 8 wines at the tasting were divided into two ranges: ‘classic’ and ‘premium’.  The classic range are blends - Chenin Blanc & Colombard,Shiraz & Pokdum (an indigenous variety); while the top wines are 100% single varietals of the same grapes (minus the Pokdum).

It’s safe to say I prefered the wines of the premium range as they were the drier styles. I particularly liked the Colombard and Shiraz. Colombard is usually a very lackluster, verging on boring variety, but this one was fresh, well-balanced, with notes of passionfruit and citrus. It impressed the judges at the 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards who gave it a bronze medal

The Shiraz showed good structure and bold tannins after spending 12 months in French oak barrels and had lovely dark berries and plums with just the right amount of spicyness.

Both the classic and premium ranges are excellent value as they retail for around £7 and £9 respectively.

I think we should all be like Kathrin and try something new – and a bottle of wine from Monsoon Valley is the perfect way to start!

This article first appeared in evines.co.uk