Tell someone that Southeast Asia is capable of growing and producing its own wines, and they’d likely laugh in your face. But yet, it’s happening in the likes of Thailand, Indonesia, and Myanmar. You’re looking at New Latitude wines, a niche in the wine industry that is slowly but surely growing its roots. In fact, some of these New Latitude wine brands have won awards, firmly setting in stone that its popularity can only go upwards from here.
It may have taken several years, but as the vineyards continue producing better crops, New Latitude wines are becoming more refined. In 1999, Bert Morsbach, owner of Myanmar 1st Vineyard Estate began growing vines in the Shan State Vineyard in Myanmar. Five years later, it was ready to produce wine, but he mentions in an interview: “In hindsight, it was a lousy wine. But every year it has been a little bit better.” And better it has been — the vineyard now makes over 300,000 bottles of its Aythaya wine a year.
Meanwhile, down south in Thailand, the Monsoon Valley Red produced in Hua Hin got a bronze medal during the Decanter World Wine Awards, Asia 2014, and the Jepun Sparkling Rosé from Hatten Wines in Indonesia won a silver medal at the Le Mondial du Rosé in Cannes.
While New Latitude wines will never have the same elegance and history as Old World wines do, its selling point is a unique terroir thanks to the extremely different climate its vines grow in. This results in extremely interesting flavour profiles that will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about wine. Interested to taste them? Here are some Southeast Asian New Latitude wines to try out.
- Located in Pattaya, the vineyard started in 2002 growing table and wine grape varietals. From those fruits, they began bottling their own wines including Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz. The vineyard also has a gorgeous accommodation where you can saunter out to the winery anytime you like, whilst enjoying the view of Buddha Mountain.
Red Mountain Estate is one of the three vineyards in the Shan State of Myanmar. With an elevation of 1,200-metres above sea level with plenty of rain, sunny days, and cool nights, the area is excellent for viniculture. Its soil is also similar to that of Australia and South Africa — a deep, red-brown sandstone. It was in 2006 that the first wines were produced in Red Mountain Estate, and the brand’s Riesling and Pinot Gris are perfect for pairing with our spicy Southeast Asian cuisine.
You’re looking at the very first vineyard and winery to open in Thailand — 30 years running now. Located on the edge of Khao Yai National Park and measuring at 400 hectares, it is also Thailand’s largest vineyard. The grapes that are grown in the vineyard yield some very good wine varietals, including its award-winning Chenin Blanc. The brand’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are also worth trying out.
From the Hua Hin Hills, Tab Kwang, and Chiang Mai vineyards in Thailand come Monsoon Valley, an award-winning New Latitude wine. But what’s interesting with Monsoon Valley is that the brand uses Old World values with New World, modern equipment to produce these wines. Monsoon Valley has several popular wines that constantly win awards, and they are the Brut Blanc de Blanc, Cuvée de Siam, Chenin Blanc, and Muscat.
Hailing from Bali in Indonesia, Hatten Wines has made a pretty good name for itself, having won Winery of the Year in the 2017 Asian Wine Review. Several of its wine varietals won accolades — the Tunjung Sparkling Brut won Best Sparkling Winner, Jepun Sparkling Rosé won a Gold Medal, the Alexandria and fortified wine Pino de Bali both won Silver Medals, and bronze medals were awarded to the Hatten Wines Rosé and dry white wine AGA White. The winery started out making rosés, but clearly it has evolved with far more since.
Find this winery in Asoke Valley, Khao Yai, which was once a cornfield and cashew plantation. Then, the Lohitnavy family bought the land in 1999 and turned it into a vineyard. The winery produces over 120,000 bottles of wine per year, with the Heritage Syrah and Spring Chenin Blanc being the more popular, award-winning ones. At the winery, you can take on a guided tour of the estate, do a wine tasting at the cellar door, dine at the restaurant (and continue having more wine), and even stay in the guest house.
Housed in one of the two major vineyards in Myanmar is Myanmar’s 1st Vineyard Estate — yes, that actually is the name of the vineyard — that produces Aythaya Wine. Over 300,000 bottles of the wine are produced in a year, with most of them being consumed by the locals. The Aythaya red is particularly popular, made with Shiraz grapes. Other note-worthy bottles to try include the Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.