In a game of word association mention ‘Thai wines’ and most people will say ‘cat’s pee’, followed quickly by ‘pass me a Singha will you’. Over the years I’ve been as guilty as the rest, though an avid wine drinker at home, I morph into a beer guzzler as soon as I board a plane for Thailand. Drinking wine in the tropics just seems wrong.
But all that changed once I visited Khao Yai Hills, the ‘Bordeaux of Thailand’, a two-hour drive north-east of Bangkok. Although Thailand’s wine industry is only two decades young it is already producing a range of award-winning blends taking on the big guns of Europe. Leading the charge is Thailand’s youngest and only female oenologist, 25-year-old Nikki Lohitnavy of GranMonte Estate. Trained at the University of Adelaide Nikki has pinched some Aussie know-how and blended it with local conditions.