From Old World producers like Italy and France to New World offerings from Chile, Australia, and even Thailand, exploring the vast universe of wine provides an inexhaustible adventure – and one that’s best enjoyed with good company, when you’re on holiday
"Owned by Siam Winery, Thailand’s Monsoon Valley is one of the country’s leading wine producers"
Whether you prefer the flavour of a smooth, full-bodied bottle of red or the light, zesty punch of a fragrant white, there’s no disputing the fact that wine is one of the best beverages to enjoy amongst friends. Wine tasting is like an adventure, and there’s always a new flavour or style to try – particularly when you’re on holiday.
If the spirit of adventure has struck whilst you’re on your travels, what better way to satisfy it than by sampling a selection of new tipples? Of course, restaurants and wineries are among the best places to test out new wines when you’re on vacation, and Thailand offers plenty of choices. However, those staying in one of the Kingdom’s luxurious private rental villas may also find that they have access to an extensive wine cellar, which is fully stocked with tasty gems, both home-grown and imported. The world of wine is immense, and a little bit of knowledge can go a long way in helping you to select the perfect vintage to accompany your meal. We’ve rounded up five of the world’s leading wine producers – all of them available in Thailand – to give you a hint of the flavours waiting to be enjoyed.
"Chablis is one of France’s most popular white wines"
Wine is made in practically every country across the globe, but the Old World producers in France and Italy still have the edge in terms of global popularity. Both of these regions focus largely on the terroir – the specific characteristics of the climate and soil, which are said to give grapes their unique flavour. Despite a labelling system that continues to baffle many of today’s wine consumers, France still holds the title as the world’s number one wine producer. Key regions include the Loire Valley, Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. Classic, elegant notes that never overpower the flavour of accompanying food characterise French wines, and you’ll find that the nuances here are less fruity and earthier than offerings from New World producers like Argentina and Australia.
Red Burgundy – or Pinot Noir – is regularly one of the top picks from France. Chablis is another favourite, crisp offerings from this region. A bottle of Petit Chablis is the perfect match for a seafood feast, thanks to its refreshing flavour and dry, medium body.
Bordeaux wines, on the other hand, are almost always created from a blend of different grapes. Red wine from this region encompasses Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec – amongst others. A deep, rich red bottle of Chateau Le Monge from the Medoc region comes with a smooth, subtle finish preceded by lightly fruity aromatics and spicy notes.
"When it comes to wine, Chianti is one of the world’s leading names"
Although Italy falls just behind France in the global wine production stakes, with over 800 wine grape varieties and 20 wine-growing regions it’s no surprise it’s still a global favourite. Italy’s glorious selection of wines is largely informed by the country’s culinary scene, which is why a bottle of authentic Italian vino is often the best accompaniment for a sumptuous Italian meal. In terms of regional production, Tuscany and Piedmont lead the way. Situated in the northwestern corner of the country, Piedmont’s heavy hitters include Barolo and Barbaresco. The strong flavour of these super-dry red wines is based around the late-ripening grapes of the region.
Tuscany’s offerings are created by the distinctive flavour of the Sangiovese grape, which is responsible for one of the world’s favourite bottles of wine – Chianti. Of course, this comes in various levels of quality and price, but a glass of Grignano’s Chianti Rufina is heart to beat alongside a plate tangy tomato and seafood linguine.
South American gems
"The shift in Chile’s wine production industry has brought about a more intense focus on the quality of the grape’s flavour"
Currently the world’s ninth biggest wine producer, Chile is growing exponentially in popularity and can more than hold its own against some of the globe’s other leading wine regions. Not so long ago, Chilean wine wouldn’t have been a serious contender for a special occasion. However, in the last decade the country’s industry has become a lot more quality-focused, and it is now producing a plethora of unique, delicious flavours. Another plus is that many of the country’s producers are committed to organic, biodynamic viticulture. The latest generation of Chilean offerings also offer excellent value for money.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the country’s principal offerings, and is generally from the coastal Casablanca region or the Leyda Valleys. The strong ocean breeze in these areas helps to keep the grapes fresh as they ripen beneath the sun’s rays. If you prefer Chardonnay, Espino by William Fevre provides a crisp, fresh punch with pear and honey notes.
However, Chile’s selection of reds is not to be scoffed at either. A Paso del Sol Merlot is rich with the aromas of red and black berries, with a subtle yet spicy infusion. Nuances of chocolate, tobacco and black pepper make this a memorable Merlot with a long-lasting, smooth finish.
Treasures from Down Under
"Australia’s Yarra Valley region produces some of the country’s richest reds"
From rich, full-bodied reds to crisp, bubbly whites, there’s no doubt that Australia’s expansive selection of wines runs the full gamut of flavours, offering something to please everyone. The country is home to more than 100 individual wine regions, each with its own distinct character – hence the broad variety.
Western Australia’s (WA) Margaret River region produces some of the country’s most sought-after vintage. In fact, the area is home to more than 120 individual wine producers. WA’s wine making reputation is based largely on its cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay (both produced around the Margaret River region), although its sauvignon blanc, merlot and shiraz are also well worth trying. Deep Woods’ Side by Side chardonnay packs a powerful punch of ripe stone fruit flavours, with subtle, sweet notes of brioche and dough. Heading south to Australia’s Victoria province, the Yarra Valley produces some of the country’s finest vino offerings, including superb pinot noir and sparkling wine. A bottle of pinot noir from the Deakin Estate is worth adding to your collection. This medium ruby red boasts an irresistible aroma of strawberry and plum, with delectable nuances of French oak spice, too.
Leading the way in Southeast Asia
"The Khao Yai PB Winery in Thailand has been producing some of the region’s finest wines since 1989"
When asked about the world’s wine producing countries, Thailand is unlikely to spring to mind. However, that doesn’t mean that the Kingdom’s grapes aren’t worth your attention. In fact, wine produced in the Land of Smiles has grown hugely in popularity over in the last two decades. So, if you’re on holiday in Thailand, it’s well worth sampling the local offerings.
Situated a two-hour ride away from Bangkok, Khao Yai is one of the leading wine regions. The tropical hills are peppered with an array of vineyards and wineries, including the PB Valley and Winery. The current selection available from the estate includes a Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Shiraz, Tempranillo, and more. Guided tours and tasting sessions at the PB Winery have also become popular.
Further south in the Hua Hin Hills lies Monsoon Valley Winery. Old World production techniques hold sway here, and even the original vines were imported from Australia and France before being planted in an ancient elephant corral to ripen beneath the balmy Thai sun. Owned by Siam Winery, the offerings of Monsoon Valley have become favourites with restaurants in Thailand and across the world.