Heard it through the grapevine
You’ll be familiar with the dinner party boor who pontificates over Old World versus New World wines, refusing to countenance another viewpoint. One way to stump them is to turn the subject to new New World wines – the rise of wines from India, Burma and Thailand, not to mention the micro-caves of Sri Lanka.
Smug die-hards may scoff. But don’t be put off for you are simply ahead of the game. The meteoric rise in wine production in the aforementioned places is a glimpse of the future.
Let’s be clear, wine production in the Old World has been taking place for centuries, whilst the commercial production of new New World wines is less than a generation or so old. There is still a long way to go but they are perfectly quaffable even now.
Here are a few names you might, just, see in independent vintners in the UK. And if you don’t find them in the UK you will almost certainly find them on wine lists during your next Yonder holiday.
India: Sula Vineyards
About 100 miles from Mumbai are the fertile soils that have become home to India’s wine growing region. With a climate similar to the Napa Valley, a couple of award winning wines have been produced not least the Sula Rasa Shiraz which was the runner up at the Syrah Du Monde competition in Paris in 2010.
Burma: Red Mountain Estate
The Red Mountain Estate is Myanmar’s leading wineyard. Located on the slopes above Inle Lake in Burma’s Shan state, Red Mountain is pretty much the only reasonably priced wine available. The Pinot Noir and Shiraz are solid options whilst the Rose and Sauvignon Blanc is excellent due to the grape being well suited to the cool climate.
Thailand: PB Valley
Thailand’s wine industry is amongst the oldest of the new New World wines. However, popularity of Thai wines has waned as the country has developed and other New World wines have become more affordable. But PB Valley in the mountainous Khao Yai national park approx 150kms north east of Bangkok remains the market leader. As with many of its regional competitors, the Shiraz and Tempranillo grapes are the ones that thrive. But unlike the vineyards of Burma and Sri Lanka, the PB Valley set-up is seriously advanced and professional. The Tempranillo won gold at the 2006 Austrian Wine Awards
Sri Lanka: Cottage industry
Sri Lanka is the odd one out (and for the savvy entrepreneur amongst you a great opportunity). Unlike its neighbours, Sri Lanka, does not yet have a full-scale commercial vineyard. However, it has all of the right ingredients: rich red soils in the north of the country around Jaffna. Grapes are grown in abundance and the only production that I know of is by a group of nuns at the Rosarian Convent in Jaffna who make small quantities of sweet rosato. There are plenty of domestic producers who churn out some palatable, undefinable plonk. If you come across Sri Lankans talking about domestic wine, it will almost certainly be of the fortified sort and probably the origin will be cashews or coconuts.
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