Saturday, January 19, 2008
2003 Siam Winery Monsoon Valley Shiraz
Region: Pak Chong
First there were wines from the Old World, then along came wines from the New World. Now there are also the New Latitude wines; wines produced in countries such as India, China, Thailand, and Brazil where the environment does not naturally support the growing of wine grapes, and where is little history of producing high quality wine. Advances in winemaking and better control over cropping levels etc. have allowed wines to be produced in these areas where the vine would normally not do all that well.
Monsoon Valley is part of the Siam Winery group based in Thailand, a country certainly not known for producing quality (or any wine at all for that matter). What makes this winery interesting is it's promotion of two so-called "local" red and white grapes: Malaga Blanc and Pokdum. Malaga Blanc was introduced to Thailand in 1685 and has been used as a table grape whereas Pokdum is a mutation of a crossing of Golden Queen and Muscat Bailey A varieties. While both grape varieties are rarely used elsewhere in the wineworld in Thailand they both show promise to produce a product unique to Thailand.
The way some of these grapes are grown is also very non-conventional. The winery purchase a good percentage of its grapes from vineyards located in the Chao Phraya delta. It was here that a network of canals was built for drainage, irrigation and transport purposes during the reign of King Rama IV. The vine grow on narrow small islands with canals in between the rows which gives the illusion that they are floating on the water. Some photos can be found here.
While Monsoon Valley produce a number of wines based on largely on indigenous grapes it also produces from 100% Shiraz grapes grown in a more traditional way in Pak Chong. I had the opportunity to purchase some around two years ago. The total wine geek that I am I decided to purchase a case of this wine. The first bottle was consumed around 2 years ago. At the time I was quite disappointed with the wine and as a result it was left in the cellar until today when I decided to give it another go. Here is my tasting note:
Ruby red in colour. The nose is dusty and dominated by cedar aromas with some black, plummy fruit and hints of mint poking through. Quite round and smooth on the palate with the same plummy black fruit and hints of spice. Tannins are very soft. Smooth and decent length on the finish with spicey black fruit. Though a lacking a little structure this is a decent, and very respectable effort from a country not known for wine production. I am certainly a lot more impressed than I was the last time I tasted this.