We put made-in-Thailand red wines to a blind taste test. We never expected this to be so controversial.
- By BK staff
- | Mar 21, 2017
Village Farm BK PICK!
Chateau des Brumes Le Prestige (80% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) 2013 (B1,900)
They say: “This wine has the complex aroma of wild flowers and layers of forest berry flavors. Rich character of blackberry, violet and subtle spice are slowly and pleasantly released over time.”
We say: This is good wine–nice, strong fruity character.
Verdict: This is really like no other Thai wine we’ve ever tasted—well-balanced, lacking any acidic kick and with a smoky depth—but at a price. For almost B2,000, this bottle competes with some heavyweight Italian and French stuff. And there’s another big “but”… some of Thailand’s winemaking community dispute the vineyard owner Viravat Cholvanich’s claims that it’s made with 100-percent Thai grapes. Our sommelier taster also said he was certain he wasn’t tasting Thai grapes. Nonetheless, Viravat Cholvanich assures us he makes this bottle with nothing but 100-percent Thai grown grapes. Whether you take their word or his (and after some lengthy conversations, we take his), the flavors and intensity in this bottle shone compared to its competition.
Monsoon Valley RUNNER UP!
Shiraz 2014 (B1,200)
They say: “Sweet notes of dark plum and cherries, and chocolate aromas supported by subtle spices and toasty oak. Medium body in style with juicy texture complemented by fine grain tannin and an enticing fruit flavor profile.”
We say: Very light—sort of like rose. This makes a perfect wine for Thailand because it’s light and just slightly sweet.
Verdict: Our second favorite bottle comes from one of the biggest vineyards in the country (and the company responsible for Spy Wine Coolers), Siam Winery. Like most of the wines in this taste test, it’s also made from shiraz grapes, whose reputation for being dark and full-bodied was quite the opposite from the light, summery red flavor profile we picked up.
Heritage Syrah Viognier (95% Shiraz, 5% Viognier) 2013 (B960)
They say: “Full bodied with aromatic nose of red berries, cassis, red gummi bears and distinctive black pepper. The palate shows arrays of red berries, dark cherries and lifted floral notes, vanilla and freshly cracked pepper with great acid backbone… smooth with full yet velvety tannins.”
We say: It smells very sweet but tastes the complete opposite—there’s a touch too much sourness at the expense of any discernible fruit flavor, but it’s not bad.
Verdict: You could turn up to a dinner party with this and not be too embarrassed. The second cheapest wine in this test, we’d also take it over the more steeply priced Issara Estate.
Issara Estates Khao Yai
Shiraz 2012 (B1,350)
They say: “Driven by the complexities of black fruits, red berries, raisins and tobacco. This wine exhibits hints of pepper, roasted coconuts and complemented with mild wood smoke finish from the barrel segment.”
We say: The sweetest out of the lot, this one really didn’t go down well. Our visiting wine pro was most dismissive, calling it overripe and bearing the hallmarks of lazy winemaking and cheap production owing to the jammy, candied flavor. Still, one other taster marked it as their second favorite.
Verdict: Issara Estates are not selling this stuff cheaply, and we can’t quite see why. Research into the business shows that it’s actually a real estate project whose key selling point is that it overlooks a vineyard. Tasting this wine, we can’t help but feel it works better as a marketing gimmick than something you should put on your dinner table.
PB Valley Khao Yai
Reserve Shiraz 2012 (B790)
They say: “Intense aromas of hay, plum with a hint of smoke. The palate is bold and medium bodied with refreshing natural acidity. Lovely savory licorice comes through as well as some fruits.”
We say: The very strong, slightly metallic aftertaste is matched by what feels like a high alcohol content. Much like Issara Estates, the taste is sharp and also quite jammy.
Verdict: Khao Yai’s largest vineyard produces some predictably drinkable but non-remarkable plonk. In its defense, this is the cheapest bottle in the whole test, tasting very much like Issara Estates’ wine and for almost B600 less.
All wines were tasted blind at room temperature by BK staff and one professional sommelier.