The Winery in the Sky

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Every year, towards the end of February, winemaker Jacques Bacou leaves his 18th century Château du Roc in the Corbières area of Southern France and heads for Thailand. But he’s not coming for the bright lights of Bangkok or even the sea and the sand. He’s heading to the Wang Nam Keaw district, 230 km north east of Bangkok and the home of Village Farm Winery.

Once described as “the boutique winery in the sky” the vineyards lie over five hundred metres above sea-level, along the ridges and slopes of the Korat Plateau. It’s here that the French-style wines of Château des Brumes (it means “Chateau in the Mist”) are produced under the supervision of Jacques Bacou. He sometimes travels to Thailand several times each year to oversee the production of these interesting wines.

The grapes are hand-picked at night, a practice common in hot countries. The grapes remain cool and so do the grape-pickers. In any case, the main vineyard is eighteen kilometres from the winery and the grapes must get there within one hour to maintain their quality. These wines are not yet available in Pattaya, but if you can’t be bothered traipsing to Bangkok you can get them delivered. Just telephone The Village Winery on 04422 8407 or 08 1877 3711.

Château des Brumes 2010 (red), Thailand. (Siam Paragon, Emporium Bt. 840)

The Shiraz in the blend gives this wine its dark colour; a rich vibrant ruby-red with crimson hues and a lovely forthcoming fruity aroma of black cherries and dark fruit. There are hints of peppery spiciness too and I thought I could pick out the smell of black plums and a sort of woody, earthy smell of the forest. But perhaps I’m getting a bit carried away. The point is that it’s worth giving the lovely aroma some attention. The wine needs a fair bit of air-contact for the aromas to develop, so give it time or better still, tip the whole lot into a decanter about half an hour before you intend to serve it.

Jacques Bacou: travelling wine-maker. Jacques Bacou: travelling wine-maker.

The wine has a full and firm body and a surprisingly soft mouth-feel. There’s a refined fruity taste and the firm tannins give it a satisfying framework. It’s as dry as the proverbial bone, but there’s just the tiniest hint of sweetness. The wine has a long and satisfying dry finish too. It really is a very well-crafted wine and predictably very French in character.

The blend contains 90% local-grown Shiraz, the remainder being French Cabernet Sauvignon so the Shiraz qualities tend to dominate. At 13% alcohol content, it would be excellent with food. Full-flavored game, roasted or grilled meats and stews spring to mind.

Château des Brumes 2007 “Le Prestige” (red), Thailand (Siam Paragon, Emporium Bt. 1,750)

This elegant wine has been aged several years, which accounts for the significantly higher price. It turns out to be a rich, ruby-red with a pleasing slightly oily appearance. The aroma is much more restrained and subtle than the 2010 vintage but quite complex. You should be able to pick out the aroma of blackberries, brambles and a touch of spicy woodiness. There’s a fair bit of fruit up front and the taste is refined and balanced. It’s very French, in fact. The mouth-feel is soft and gentle and although there’s a good firm body, the tannins are well under control and don’t dominate. There’s a pleasing touch of “edge” to the taste that adds further interest to this fairly full-bodied wine.

But honestly, you’ve really got to give it time to adjust. Just imagine living in a green bottle for five years. After emerging you’d need some time to come to your senses and so I think, does the wine. I’d suggest opening the bottle around 45 minutes before serving. If you like, pour it into a decanter or glass jug to aerate it. Serve it cool, but not cold. It really seems more like a food wine to me and I suppose the obvious choices would be red meat, game, or perhaps rich pasta dishes.