That wine and cheese make perfect companions is no secret. What makes the tasting experience at Four Season’s tented camp, Golden Triangle near Bangkok, a little different? They consist of robust flavours from locally produced wines and cheeses that bring a tropical twist to the table.
Under a thatched roof, the unlikely wine cellar serves up a typical full-bodied wines and artisanal cheeses produced in Thailand.
“Here, among an impressive collection of international vintages, is a selection of unique Thai wines that are a testament to the conviction and passion of the people that made them possible,” says Macall Newman, Camp Manager, with a smile.
Far from the cool dry climes of the Mediterranean, the idea of creating local wines would have seemed far-fetched at best, but not so for Chalerm Yoovidha, a wine-loving entrepreneur who had a vision of his own.
In 2002, on invitation of the Huay Sai Royal Research Project, Chalerm was surprised to find that a trial vineyard yielded positive results in the coastal province of Hua Hin, just southwest of Bangkok.
Encouraged by this he set out to identify a patch of land that would serve as his flagship vineyard – and so Monsoon Valley was born, with vineyards spread over an expanse of land that was once home to an elephant corral.
“Authenticity is everything with wine, and with the Monsoon Valley wines there is a taste of the ocean somewhere in the glass,” explains Restaurant Manager Sutas Klangsuwan. “The soil around Hua Hin is rich in shells and minerals that give the wines their special crispness.”
From Colombard and Chenin Blanc to Sangiovese, Rondo and Shiraz, a Thai rendition of all these classics shines through.
Pairing these artisanal wines with cheeses from the region has been an interesting project for the camp team, and after several trials, Chiang Rai cheese seemed to be the perfect match.
Sutas suggests that the pairing of wine and cheese is best experienced at room temperature. “During Thai summer, when the mercury is seen rising, room temperature might not be the best gauge,” he laughs!
The experience at the camp is highlighted by pairing dried fruits including strawberry, mango, and Phule pineapple from the Royal Project Foundation.
Of the Colombard sparkling wine, Sutas says: “The hint of sweetness balances the acidity, and enhances the fruity flavours. This sparkling wine also pairs well with the umami flavours of Thai papaya salad, dim sums, Parma ham, prosciutto and seafood such as lobster and prawns.”
On red wines, including Donfelder, Rondo and Shiraz, Sutas says they pair well with prime steaks or leaner fillets, as well as Thai cuisine with fish sauce-infused flavours.