About The Author:

"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.

Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com.

(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A New Latitude Shiraz

Back on September 30, The Wine Guy, in a blog entitled “Que Sera Syrah?”, called this ubiquitous and versatile grape, the “Grand Duke” of red wine grapes.
(Reader’s Note: any of The Wine Guy’s former blogs are accessible in the archive section to the right or by utilizing the search function on this blog site.)
I commented at length about its adaptability for wine producers worldwide. That fact was born out in a recent new Shiraz I tried, which was a gift from my son. (See photo of Mr. & Mrs. Wine Guy enjoying a glass of wine with their pride and joy)

Regular readers are aware of Mr. & Mrs. Wine Guy’s love of travel, particularly to Mexico. Some of our travel genes must have passed to our son, a resident of Atlanta, Ga. Since first visiting Thailand as part of his completion of an International M.B.A. program, he has returned 3 times. On his last visit he brought back a bottle of Buddhist Era 2550 (that’s vintage 2007 to us) Monsoon Valley Shiraz. Siam Winery, one of six established wineries in Thailand, bottles this wine. It is also the country’s largest wine exporter and a pioneer since 1999 in what is now called “New Latitude Wines.

“New Latitude Wines” (as opposed to Old World & New World wines) are those grown in regions falling between 20 degrees north latitude and 20 degrees south latitude. Among the countries producing exportable and recognizable New Latitude Wines are India, China, Brazil and, of course, Thailand. Siam Winery first became known for their wine coolers and then for their utilization of two unique grape varietals, the red Pokdum and the white Malaga Blanc. These wines were developed specifically to grow in the type of climate found in the Chao Phyra delta. This delta is home to Siam’s Winery’s famous “floating island” vineyards. They have become a unique and well-photographed tourist attraction. These indigenous grapes were also developed for characteristics that pair well with Thai cuisine. The more international and traditional wine varietals (such as the Shiraz in question) are grown in higher elevation of the Pak Chong foothills near the coastal city of Hua Hin (Siam Winery calls this their Hua Hin Hills Vineyard). Offshore ocean breezes combine with the elevation to help offer a Mediterranean-style climate here despite its 13.2-degree north latitude (compared to Bordeaux’s 44.8 degree north latitude). In addition to Shiraz, you’ll also find the French Colombard among the major red varietals grown. Siam Winery produces five other labels in addition to the popular Monsoon Valley brand and you’ll find their wines in over 700 Thai restaurants worldwide including at least 300 in the United Kingdom. That’s no surprise given the very large British ex-patriot community that exists in Thailand. Bangkok, the capital, is home to a very well established wine society that was founded by British ex-patriots and it has been instrumental in helping recognition of Thailand as a leading pioneer in “New Latitude” wines. The Wine Guy has even found Monsoon Valley wines at Thai restaurants in his home state of Arizona.

Monsoon Valley Shiraz 2007 was entered in FBAT (Food & Beverage Association of Thailand) International Wine Challenges in both 2008 and 2009. It garnered Bronze in 2008 and Silver in 2009, indicating it benefits from, and is capable of, additional bottle ageing. The wine was aged twelve months in French Burgundian oak before its initial release and scores a 13.5% alcohol content.

As I tried the wine I noted less of the cracked pepper and a little more fruit forwardness than you’ll typically find in either the Australian or French versions of this varietal. There was nice red plum and raspberry in the fruit characteristics and for spice, there was some light peppery notes laced with a nice hint of cedar. As the wine aired, a subtle coffee aroma was also present. I found it to be a uniquely pleasant presentation that confirmed my admiration for the ability of Syrah (Shiraz) to produce an amazing variety of wines to enjoy.

Monsoon Valley also produces a Podkum/Shiraz blend that is supposed to be a red wine that is particularly well suited to pairing with Thai cuisine. The Wine Guy typically prefers a Nigori Sake’ with Thai food. However, I plan to make an exception the next time I dine at a Thai restaurant with this wine on the menu. Exploration and discovery has always been one of the most wonderful aspects of having wine with food!

If you want learn more about wines from Thailand, begin with a visit to this website: www.bangkokwinesociety.com. You can also visit them on Facebook. If you undertook my suggestion in the 9/30 blog, “Que Sera Syrah”, to explore the versatility of Shiraz/Syrah, add the Monsoon Valley Shiraz to my list of suggested wines to try. Enjoy!


  1. I think you'll find the Brits there are still patriotic.

    You meant expatriate

  2. Thanks for the interesting and informative post. I enjoyed it and look forward to more in the future.