Today on the blog we have a very special guest – my Dad! Currently my parents and family friends are travelling in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and guess what? There are vineyards there! I am so glad my Dad wanted to write a guest post for us as surely this has to be one of those very unique wine travel experiences in the world! Enjoy guys!
We had talked about visiting Myanmar for the last 7 to 8 years and finally started planning about 12 months ago. The planning consisted of visiting the internet and looking at flights initially. After a bit of research one of the places we decided to visit was Inle Lake area, further research located that there were two established wineries in the area. One, Aythaya Vineyard, Myanmar 1st Vineyard Estate, actually had a couple of accommodation rooms that looked OK, it then became a must to visit although I was a little apprehensive over tasting the local wines.
The winery was founded in 1998 in what the locals refer to as the western style.
I thought with 3 weeks of travel (we’d previously been visiting our son and family in Chiang Mai in Thailand who are currently travelling the world, you can follow their experiences over on Our Awesome World Adventure) and with hardly any wine that the palate would be keen to try any type of wine.
As the days came closer to our stay I must say the excitement of a day wine tasting and drinking was growing all to quickly with the local Mandalay rum at a hefty $2.50 for a 750 ml bottle although very drinkable with a drop of fresh lime juice and a splash of coke I just needed a change. We flew into Heho airport and as we followed our driver from the airport we were handed a brochure of the winery by a young lady attired in their national costume, all passengers were handed the brochure and I took time out on the 45 minute drive to refresh my memory on a few details.
When we arrived at Monte di Vino Lodge we were taken to our rooms on the side of a hill overlooking the winery (approximately US$150 per night), tropical trees and flowers around it with buildings in the distance and hills one could have mistaken it for a location in NZ or Aussie, except for the odd Pagoda Spire on the hilltops.
Settled in (for me 2 minutes) and then to the serious business of wine tasting. We made our way to the restaurant a short 5 minute walk away and we were told we had a table reserved for us and asked if we wanted our complimentary wine tasting, a firm YES was my answer, 4 bottles arrived and a short brief of each by our Burmese host was provided.
Aythaya White Wine
Bottle 1: Sauvignon Blanc with the winery producing 25,000 litres of this 2015 vintage, all grown at the vineyard just 1300 metres above sea level, alcohol 10% ( I am thinking ok perhaps an extra bottle or two with out overdoing it) price converted to NZ around $13.70 a bottle. Although not a big S/Blanc fan, it was rather drinkable.
Very clear in colour of a light lemon, with a hint of citrus and apricots on the nose. A very pleasant apricot and lemon taste with a grapefruit finish, easy to drink and all 4 of us enjoyed it, we may just settle in for the afternoon.
Bottle 2: Same grape just picked later, again 2015 vintage with 14% alcohol and a cost of about $23 NZ per bottle, colour was no different than the first but had the added fragrance of cape gooseberries, sweeter to taste and fruitier with a more distinct grapefruit finish and a slight peppery overtone. Although my preference was the 1st tasting this was becoming a winner for the locals with the increased sweetness.
Aythaya Rose Wine
Bottle 3: A rose of Shiraz (85%) and Muscat (15%) with the Muscat being produced on their other vineyard some 100 miles away, this was a 2016 vintage with 13% in alcohol and around $16.80 NZ. Colour a very distinctive amber red, light on the nose with asparagus and rose pedals scents, tasting was of pre-tree ripened nectarines, peaches and apricots.
Aythaya Red Wine
Bottle 4: Shiraz (90%) and Dornfelder (10%) (a grape variety I could not remember having ever tasted) 13% alcohol and $16.50 NZ, 2016 vintage. Colour rich dark ruby red and immediately into my head popped the song Red Red Wine, fortunately not enough to drink to start singing it though. Scents of black Doris plum grass and ground fresh green pepper corns, dry to taste with hints of sweetness with quite strong leather overtones and the distinctive dark plums.
4 tastings and it was only the start of the wine to be consumed that evening. We then purchased a bottle of their bubbles the most expensive of all their wines at a modest $28 NZ a bottle. The winery had dreamed of making a bubbles since inception and they first produced a sparkling wine in 2016, so we were lucky to be trying their first vintage. Made from the same S/Blanc grapes with the colour and nose that was much the same as our first tasting, the taste was really fruity with flavours of peach, lychee and green guava, a really pleasant wine and well liked by all. The bottle finished with a lengthy discussion on do we just get another bottle but alas the sparkling rose won the race. Although no comparison as it turned out easy enough to drink was simply their rose with carbonated bubbles.
By now a couple of hours had slipped by with a few local snacks tasted and time to shower change and then return for dinner.
We viewed the cocktail list, the most expensive being $3.50 a glass although the idea of having cocktails was canned once a suggestion to return to a bottle of their bubbles was made. My mate and I settled on a couple of handles of the local draft beer just to ensure we did not quench our thirst on the intended red wine soon to be purchase afterwards. The red wine of choice was from their other label, La Bodega, these wines are made from grape juice imported from South Africa. Our bottle was $12 NZ and 100% Shiraz. I didn’t take notes but the 3 red wine drinkers had no trouble loving this drop, it was more to the wine styles we were used to although by the end of the evening, we decided it would be best to buy another bottle to really taste, although this suggestion was quickly cut short and that will maybe happen tonight instead. They do have a third label which I am hoping to investigate this afternoon after a tour of the vineyard.
Stay tuned for instalment 2!