June 26, 2015

The majority of the world’s wine-making regions lie between latitudes of 30-50N and 30-50S; the climate is best suited to grape growing within those parameters. It could be argued that climate change will shift those boundaries in favour of certain regions; the wine-growing areas in England are just outside the northern hemisphere range for example.

More interesting for us in South-East Asia, is however, the emergence of decent winemakers on our doorstep at New Latitudes. Last month one of my students brought along a sparkling wine made in the Traditional Method (think Champagne) purchased in Bali and made by the Hatten winery (latitude 8N). One of the two grape varieties noted on the back label is actually a French table grape and the other had no information readily available sadly. However I don’t want you to think I am being overly critical because we really liked the wine. It had great acidity, definitely had the yeasty and toasty notes associated with this method due to resting on lees (dead yeast cells) for almost 12 months. It was really pleasantly fruity and very drinkable.

Another range of wines to look out for are Monsoon Valley Wines made by the Siam winery from well-known international grape varieties such as Shiraz and Chenin Blanc grown very close to Hua Hin, Thailand. Sadly they do not have a distributor in Malaysia for the moment. But if you are travelling to the region their winery apparently has great tasting tours available and a lovely restaurant. They produce at latitude 13N, have a lady winemaker from Germany with much European experience and get very good reviews for their wines.

At the top of my personal travel itinerary however is the Sula winery in Nasik, at latitude 19N, a few hours north of Mumbai in India. Again they produce wines from international grape varieties, Tempranillo, Shiraz etc. I met Ajoy the winemaker recently and tasted the Sauvignon Blanc which was quite delightful. Their wines are available in M&S (only in the UK so far) under the label Jewel of Nasik. Rather conveniently there is a resort attached to the winery for those who can’t wait until the wines reach Malaysia.

Finally I hear that wine is also being made in Myanmar (latitude 21N). One of the wineries, Aythaya, was set up by a group of Europeans who shared a love of the country and wine, who could argue with that? I was recently in Yangon but clearly didn’t get to the right places as I saw no evidence they were making wine, and believe me I do try to seek out such information for you, I must try harder…..

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