Thailand: Winemaking in the Tropics - Village Farm Winery
At the entry level there is a delightful rose of Syrah with the even more delightful name of Ma Cherrie. The Village Cellar line offers a 100% Chenin Blanc and a Shiraz with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of these are fruit forward styles that are easy to enjoy.
The Chateau des Brumes Shiraz / Cab blends have a name that evokes France, and this is more than a coincidence. In a controversial, but highly successful move, the des Brumes wines are made in part from Cabernet grape concentrate brought in from France.
This practice is somewhat akin to chaptalization which is the adding of sugar to increase the potential alcohol of a wine. Some would say the most honest way of accomplishing this would be the addition of concentrated grape juice, which is exactly what des Brumes is doing.
It is not only the addition of the sweetening agent that some might consider to be cheating, but that the grapes come from France. No laws are being broken, and the resulting wines are of excellent quality, so it is mostly a question of honesty on the label that is at stake. Chateau des Brumes is completely honest about the origin of their wine.
I usually let the product in the glass make up my mind about a wine, and in this case Chateau des Brumes gets my vote. There are three levels of the Shiraz blend, a Gold label with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, the Les Prestige with its mauve color label and 30% Cab and at the top La Fleur a royal blue colored label and 40% Cab with the longest aging in oak barrels.
The vineyards are maturing and the amount of French wine they are adding is decreasing, but during my visit there I saw first hand one of the reasons they like to hedge their bets.
More than 1/3 of their Cabernet fruit had been destroyed by that oldest of vine pests, powdery mildew. Oidium as it is known to the techie crowd was one of the nails in the coffin of the French wine industry in the late 19th century, but it is far from unheard of even in modern times.
Fungicide and other extreme measures can be taken to prevent the mildew, but you have to commit to spraying before it shows up, and in this day and age the unbridled use of petrochemicals is not highly regarded by careful stewards of the land. Therefore they take their licks, and keep on trying to produce the highest quality grapes they can.
The resort itself is a treat to visit. Taking the rustic air of the Village Farm name to heart the whole place is designed to evoke a visit back to simpler times, but without any sacrifice of comfort.
The rooms are sparse but comfortable and overlook a whirlpool bath and pool. The day spa has all of the usual treatments and massages that Thailand is famous for, and the old barn converted to a restaurant hosts daily wine appreciation courses.
A small glass window bust-out lets visitors peek into the winery itself. Carved out of the ground with much of the bare rock left exposed, it has a real traditional wine cave feeling that also helps to keep the temperature down. The winery is tiny, and only has two basket presses to process the grapes as they come in. It seems an impossible task. Half of what little space they have is set aside for the temperature controlled barrel aging room.
Combining hand ons techniques with modern advances and some good old fashioned ingenuity they make the best of what they have, and every glass of wine they pour proves the results.
Viravrat Cholvanich took what was an only a fruit farm just a decade ago, and has added to it a modern wine destination. The plans for the next generation are in place with daughter Viravadee having already taken over the reins as Managing Director.
Further down the road then some of the other wineries of the area, Village Farm is the perfect place to end your tour of the wine scene centered around Khao Yai National Park. Enjoy a facial and back rub, saunter over to experience a Thai Fusion dinner, pop a couple of corks, and then rest up in your room after a brisk swim and soak.
Visit their web site at http://www.villagefarm.co.th/ to learn more about them, or to book accommodations.