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08.13.2005

The World's Least Likely Wine Region?: Thailand

Ninety degree heat. Ninety percent humidity. Incredibly high precipitation. Flat, low altitude topology. Sounds like exactly the wrong place to grow grapes, right? Well apparently no one told the Thais that. And when we were talking about new wine regions to watch here last week, we certainly forgot to include Thailand.

Growing wine grapes in Thailand has to be done a bit differently than pretty much everywhere else, as you might expect, starting with the staggering fact that they actually get two crops of grapes per year without even trying(!). This incredible growth needs to be carefully checked through judicious pruning and dropping of fruit in order to get grapes that are ripe and well suited for winemaking. Of course, local varietals, Podkum and Malaga blanc, that can flourish in the heat and the particularly rich, loamy soil also have to be used.

Thailand has been growing wine grapes for some time, at least since 1994 (as a small entry in my '94 edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine indicates), but apparently in the last 6 years interest and production has boomed to the point that we're even starting to see some Thai wine in the United States. The Thais also seem to be focused particularly on making wine that goes well with their spicy food, which is great, and makes me want to try some.

The Napa Register, of all sources, has the full story on Thai wine. Check it out.

Comments (4)

Jack wrote:
08.13.05 at 2:08 PM

Interesting! Yes, I'm ready to taste.

I do wonder though if trying to make wine that will go with their spicy food is smart. All of the wines (I'm thinking whites) that go with spicy food are grown in cool climates, not warm or hot.

Melanie wrote:
08.14.05 at 11:10 AM

I love how they're totally not going by the book yet are managing to make wines... I can't wait to try these!!

Lenn wrote:
08.15.05 at 10:08 AM

I've actually had a Thai wine...over a year ago at a great little Thai restaurant near our old house.

It was a Monsoon Valley Wine Red (http://www.monsoonvalleywine.com/), the first-label bottlings of Siam Winery.

I remember it being juicy...obviously hot-climate and gulpable, but nothing I'd drink outside a Thai restaurant. Looking at their site now, it was 60% Pokdum, 30% Shiraz, and 10% Muscat D Hambourg.

The Pokdum is actually grown in floating vineyards (http://www.monsoonvalleywine.com/vineyards.html)(wild) while the Shiraz comes from vineyards in the mountains.

Joy wrote:
08.15.05 at 2:00 PM

I had a great Chenin Blanc from Khao Yai when I was in Thailand in April:).

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