NAKHON RATCHASIMA | Tired of the grands crus? Serve yourself a glass of wine thai. To dispose of their nectar, two sisters, Mimi and Nikki must convince the lovers put off by the tropical climate, rub to strict legislation and protect the vine of the elephants who venture on the field.
Too hot, too wet, too sunny: to cultivate the vine, has long been considered to be impossible in the kingdom. Today, Suvisooth (Mimi) and Vissotha (Nikki) Lohitnavy embody this adventure.
In the remote province of Nakhon Ratchasima, three hours north-east of Bangkok, the vineyards of GranMonte was planted in 1999 on 16 hectares of clay and limestone by their father, a former race car driver.
The two women have taken up the torch: Nikki takes care of the vine, Mimi marketing.
Eight grape varieties coexist, including international varieties such as syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chenin blanc, grenache and viognier. 10 000 bottles are produced each year.
And success is at the rendezvous, some vintages have been awarded at the international.
The one “who says that he never drank a “great wine” from a wine-growing tropical has not yet tasted one of the wines of the estate GranMonte”, is excited in 2017 in the French daily Le Figaro, Jean-Baptiste Ancelot, an expert who has visited more than 500 wineries around the world.
Wine expensive and elitist
A glass of cabernet sauvignon in hand, Nikki is caressing eyes, the vines drawn in chalk.
“The winemakers all over the world want to know what we’re doing here,” said to AFP the young woman of 33 years who has studied oenology in Australia.
“With climate change, they must adapt to warmer temperatures, heavier rainfall events”, they are so interested in our production methods.
During the monsoon, from may to October, the vegetative cycle of the vine is put to the test, and Nikki needs to monitor the rainfall.
You should also learn to cut the vines as a function of local conditions and work with temperatures that flirt sometimes with the 40 degrees during the dry season.
This viticulture laborious makes wines thai expensive and elitist. A bottle of GrandMonte sells most of $38.
The economic crisis linked to the sars coronavirus has left traces.
The field has lost $ 1.32 million, a shortfall that is difficult to catch up especially as the legislation on alcohol is more severe in the buddhist country.
Buy in the stores is proscribed at certain times. And, the authorities announced in early July an upcoming ban on the sale online. Declared objective: to prevent consumption by minors.
Moreover, there is no advertising allowed, according to a 2008 law.
GranMonte can make known its wine internationally, but not in the kingdom. “I can’t see a bottle, I can’t describe on the internet the taste of such variety or its qualities,” says Mimi. However, the major part of its production is sold in Thailand.
The two sisters have criticised this arsenal, citing a difference of treatment compared to the giants of the sector, which are of course subject to the same legislation, but take advantage of the notoriety of their mark to sell and advertise otherwise, according to them.
In their line of sight, a duopoly held by two of the richest families in the country.
The Sirivadhanabhakdi, whose fortune is estimated at more than $ 16 billion by Forbes, are at the head of the Thai Beverage Company that produces beer Chang. The Bhirombhakdi ($2.5 billion) have, to them, the brewery Boon Rawd and the famous beer Singha and Leo.
To mitigate the economic impacts of the sars coronavirus, the sisters, associated with small craft brewers, have called on the government to allow advertising and to continue to allow the sale on the internet. But the hopes are slim.
In the meantime, Mimi carefully monitors his vineyards. Elephants come from the nearby national park of Khao Yai wandering sometimes. “They are moving away from bananas and eat our grapes, we must call the +rangers+ to the rescue”.