COMMON WISDOM will tell you that tasty wine grapes don’t grow alongside coconut trees,” says the 16th edition of Lonely Planet Thailand. “But advances in plant sciences and a global palette for wines has ushered in the geographic experiment dubbed New Latitude Wines, produced from grapes grown outside the traditional 30- to 50-degree parallels.”
Thailand is the pioneer of New Latitude Wines, says the guidebook. The epicentre is the Khao Yai area, about 170 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, where more than a dozen wineries have opened. “If you’re familiar with viticulture in the Old World, you’ll be shocked to see all the cultivation rules Thai vineyards successfully break.” For example, inducing false dormancy through pruning, and planting grasses to prevent soil erosion in the rainy season.
One aim is to produce wines that pair well with the complex flavours of Thai food. The guidebook also points out that “a wine drinker’s palette is often altered in a hot climate” and, therefore, thinner wines can be more satisfying than bold, chewy reds (which, by the way, ought to be chilled in Thailand lest their leathery notes turn straight to vinegar).
Two of the country’s leading New Latitude wineries, says the guidebook, are PB Valley (www.khaoyaiwinery.com) and GranMonte (www.granmonte.com); they’re inside Khao Yai National Park. “Both are scenically set and offer tours, tastings, luxury lodging and classy restaurants for lunch and dinner.”
There’s also Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, about 240 kilometres southwest of Bangkok. Its tours can include tastings, full meals and—something you’d never be offered in the Loire Valley—an elephant ride. www.huahinhills.com
Seventy costumes from a galaxy far away go on display at the Denver Art Museum from 13 Nov. 2016 to 2 Apr. 2017 as the travelling Star Wars and the Power of Costume exhibition reaches the mile-high city. Organized by the Smithsonian and George Lucas’s Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the show focuses on the creative process behind creating the costume—and hence, to some degree, the character—for everyone from Darth Vader to Han Solo. See how the evil emperor Palpatine’s outfits change as he descends into darkness, and admire the intricacy of Padmé’s gowns. “Walking into the galleries is like entering a room of old friends,” wrote the New York Times when the show visited Manhattan last summer. http://denverartmuseum.org
The 2016 dates for the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest most important book fair, are 19-23 Oct. The first three days are for the trade only, but the final two are open to the public (€19 admission). More than 250,000 bibliophiles will attend. Besides the chance to visit the booths of more than 7,000 publishers from over 100 countries, patrons can choose from a long list of ancillary cultural events, from a virtual-reality opera to demonstrations of Flanders chocolatiers’ art. Alongside the expected publishing houses, such as Penguin/Random House and HarperCollins, are newer, non-traditional players, including Google. http://buchmesse.de/en/
There are plenty of aircraft museums, but what makes the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim, near Marlborough on New Zealand’s South Island, different is its emphasis on storytelling. Its First World War exhibition, Knights of the Sky, features an array of warplanes in action scenarios devised by Lord of the Rings director Sir Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films and executed by Weta Workshop, which did the props and special effects for the Rings trilogy. You can visit the Red Baron’s bi-plane just after it crashed and see Australian soldiers stripping it for souvenirs while the baron’s body lies nearby. On 1 Nov. 2016 the centre’s Second World War show, Dangerous Skies, opens, using the same techniques as Knights of the Sky to tell WWII stories from the Battle of Britain to the Eastern Front and Burma. www.omaka.org
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