New Latitude wine is a combination of the New and the Old World accentuated with an exotic touch and a new wine world to discover.
By Kathrin Puff, Winemaker, I have lived and worked for 5 years at Siam Winery, Thailand. In order to understand what New Latitude Wine is, one has to dig deep into the past and look far ahead into the future. To me the Old World is the cradle of winemaking and viticulture.
There is nothing left which has not been experimented with in terms of sustainable viticulture and winemaking. The wines have a certain character, displaying a more traditional frame and style. Most small vintners do not experiment with technology and the growers rely on their vineyard site and the micro climate. This is of course also the reason the Old World experiences with vintage variation. The old guard is often stuck in routine leaving little space for variation and improvements while authorities cling on to their control. For instance, once harvest is started there is no going back even if some plots have not yet reached full maturity. Old World wines tell stories, they talk about their traditions and locations, the hardship and disciplines which have been ingrained for centuries.
The New World has a more juvenile approach to winemaking and viticulture. Rather spoilt by the sun, countries like Chile or Australia can reap consistent qualities year after year. Winemakers are more open to experiment and try different things and rely on the latest technology and innovation. Wines are clear and straight forward, very lush and fruity and often technically sound. New World winemakers rely on analytical specs and data and put a high emphasis on the best picking date. If the taste and ripeness is not there, then there won’t be any picking. New World Wines are clean and straight forward in their taste profile, they are all about joy and easy to understand – the simplicities of life.
The New Latitude wines teach the right to be wrong. They turn the wine world up-side down. Whilst most wine books refer to the 30th to the 50th latitude as the wine growing country belt, countries like Thailand and India now proves this to be wrong. Located closer to the equator, the severe climate and much lower light intensity allow only a few grape varietals to be grown in Thailand whilst India, being upper North, can experiment with more different varietals since the light intensity is longer. It takes much more effort to get the fruit to set and ripe at the same time. As with all change of seasons, here it is rainy and dry season and hot, grapes do suffer like any other wine country. The rainy season is not convenient for grape growing, whilst the dry season (November through March) is the best time to obtain quality grapes with the help of irrigation. In this evergreen zone the vintner has to educate the plant when to go into reproductive cycle and assure the whole cycle is complete within the dry season. There is no risk of fruit rot, unless the showers come early; one Monsoon rain can ruin it all. It takes 120-130 days to ripen grapes in Thailand with 140 ideal for some varietals. During the rainy season or the second cycle, the vegetative cycle is completed, but the grapes are cut out early. .
Basically a New Latitude producer is doing everything twice in the vineyard, but harvesting only once, consequently twice the hardship. Even after 25 years, we are still in the experimental phase and developing the character of Thai Wine. The latest technology is imported and used in the cellar. They help to be innovative and create while treating the grapes in the best way possible. The white varietals are extremely aromatic and straight forward in their fruit profile, reminding a lot of New World wines with crisp with refreshing finish. The red wines show their typical character with hints of spice, some smokiness, jam and dark fruits. Their body is on the elegant side and balanced with a racy acidity more reminding of old world wines. Sparkling wines are quite successful and will confuse some tasters in the near future.