Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wines From Thailand To Madeira

Good grief! More than two weeks have elapsed since my latest post in this here blog. I have at least two good reasons for my lapse: grandchildren Rayden-Light Kanah-Dunne and Kaheala-Night Kanah-Dunne, visiting with their parents from Bangkok. They're asleep here, giving me an opportunity for a photo that wouldn't be just another blur as they scurred about Fairytale Town, chased the cat Miyagi, and chalked up the sidewalk out front.

Nevertheless, their visit wasn't without wine, though their own thirst ran mostly to apple juice. Their father and mother, our son Justin and his wife Mohana, brought with them, for one, a bottle of Thai wine, the Mythical Garden Mangosteen Fruit Wine. The wine was a surprise in several respects. Wines made from fruit other than grapes in the U.S. almost invariably are sweet. The mangosteen, however, was dry. It was a strikingly colored wine; depending on the light, it could flash amber, gold, red-orange or mahogany. It smelled of fresh tropical fruit, a touch floral, and with hints of leather and spice. While solidly structured and even somewhat rich in texture, the flavor was delicately yet refreshingly fruity. The alcohol came in at 12 percent. The mangosteen is a small fruit with a thin but sturdy skin that conceals bright white juicy flesh.

Alas, Mythical Garden apparently is no more. The facility housing production was on a bank of a canal in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. First, the winemaker left, then last year's prolonged floods in central Thailand inundated the property, wiping out everything on the site. Last I heard, it's been abandoned, despite the quality and promise of the wines. Corti Brothers in Sacramento was stocking the line, and may still have some on hand.

Because this was the first reunion of our family in six years, it qualified as a special occasion, calling for a rare wine to conclude our last dinner of the gathering. That role was filled wonderfully by a Malvasia Madeira, vintage 1942. The wine was dark caramel in color, with rich suggestions of caramel and nuts on the palate. It was both luxuriously and liltingly sweet, age having only improved its exquisite harmony and length. We paired it with small wedges of an Amish gorgonzola; no one complained. Specifically, the wine was the Vinhos Barbeito Reserva Velha Malvasia Madeira 1942 Quinta Mae Dos Homens, imported by the Rare Wine Co. of Sonoma. I don't see the 1942 in the shop's current catalog, but a 1948 Barbeito Malvasia Madeira is listed for $295 and an 1834 Barbeito Malvasia Madeira is available for $695, among several other vintages. Corti Brothers in Sacramento also has an extensive selection of Madeiras.

Soon, I'll be off for the Pacific Rim Wine Competition in San Bernardino, to be followed Friday by the Calaveras County Wine Competition in Angels Camp. I'm anticipating that they will provide me with material enough to resume posting here with more frequency.

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