Samui Wining & Dining
A Model of Consistency

Black Forest Distribution, the German wine professionals who never compromise on quality

 

5 Importing wine to Thailand, and distributing it to up-market resorts, hotels and restaurants, sounds like a dream occupation. Indeed, more like a vocation, or even a mission. And in some respects, it is a perfect way for someone, who is truly passionate about wine, to spend his time. Add to that the tropical environment and relaxed Koh Samui lifestyle, and it must beat most ordinary people’s daily occupations.

     However, it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing other people’s jobs through rose coloured glasses. As German born Matthias Gerbert, Koh Samui’s branch manager for Black Forest explained, being a relatively small wine and beverage distribution company in Thailand does have its challenges. With no historical wine culture, this country is still not really aware enough of the intricacies of wine protocol. Often, wine is treated as a mysterious foreign product, not easy to quantify or clarify. Sometimes perceived solely as a rich man’s commodity. And unfortunately, the customs officers at the container docks, near Bangkok, can be guilty of not showing Black Forest’s cargoes, of precious imported wines, enough respect. Often delaying the container’s release, on erroneous misdemeanours, in order to extract kickbacks. Not ideal, when time is of the essence. The wine urgently needs to get to safe and climatically control

led storage facilities. Considering the Customs and Excise department already impose a huge import duty on all wine brought into the country, far higher than any other alcoholic beverage, one would like to think its passage would be smoother! Luckily for the thirsty wine drinkers here, Black Forest’s commitment to bringing in, and keeping in perfect condition, their hand picked quality wines remains resolute. And the grateful wine enthusiast’s drinking pleasure is all the richer for it.

 

       Black Forest managing director, Hans-Peter Blumer, personally chooses the wine selection they offer. Also from Germany, Peter founded the company back in 1994, whilst in Phuket. He had noticed how, at that time, the choice of quality beverages was very limited. And being a connoisseur, Peter got the idea of looking into the options of importing to the island. The task was to look for wines that would suit the climate, cuisine and conditions found in Thailand. It seems like a very obvious thing to do now, but at that time, this was forward thinking. The wines that suit this climate are very different to those heavier, fuller-bodied wines that thrive in colder countries. And of course, the cuisine here means much more emphasis needs to be put on the white

 

Their focus is wholly on providing
discerning consumers with wines that
genuinely reflect value for money.

  

 

       Many things have changed in the wine world during the subsequent years. But the one thing at Black Forest, never to change, is that when picking their wines, quality is paramount, always. Peter attends wine fairs around the world - looking for the styles of wines he knows work the best here. Black Forest is not a high volume, low price driven supplier. Their focus is wholly on providing discerning consumers with wines that genuinely reflect value for money. Peter-Hans Blumer’s winning philosophy being: “When it comes to beverages you can't fool anyone. People know what they want and they know what it is the very second they take the first sip! The only philosophy that lasts is to provide proper quality - and then we have to fight to get it to the lowest possible price.”

       Here at the Koh Samui branch, Matthias is very enthusiastic about some of the newer arrivals from Italy, Spain and Argentina. The gorgeous Tuscan wines from Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona are clearly a range Matthias is proud of. And the tremendous value Argentinian wines from J&F Lurton are proving a very in-demand product for house wine. The white Torrontes Chardonnay winning universal acclaimed amongst of some of the island’s F&B big hitters. But the one wine (again a white wine), that Matthias was most clearly delighted with, was the Spanish Blanc de Pacs (a blend of three different grapes) from Pares Balta. Coming in an elegantly tall bottle, this ‘organic farm grown’, bouncy, mighty white wine, which hails from the Catalonian region of Penedes, packs a surprising punch. Typical of other good examples of organically grown white wines, it will jump out of the glass at you, with intense flavours and vibrant texture. (It often seems to be the case that the more delicate younger white wines are the ones which benefit most from organic growing techniques.) If you want to try something unique and rewarding, look out for this perfect-for-Samui wine gem. For a Spanish white wine, it’s quite a revelation. And, being no more expensive than an average bottle, it’s a great example of Black Forest’s wine selection expertise.

       This company, although quite small, is reassuringly traditional and professional in its approach to wine. True to their philosophy, highly focused, and dedicated to find and provide wines that will never disappoint. They are not interested in gimmicks or fads, just in continuously raising the standard of their splendid wine selection. By taking this straightforward stance, the wine business really can be that simple. Everyone knows that due to taxation, the price of wine is higher than anyone would prefer in Thailand. But in a way, that’s a red herring. It’s an even playing field for everyone. And most wine lovers are still prepared to pay the penalties to drink it. So consistently good quality must be the first priority. And Black Forest’s impressive list of high-end customers proves they are getting this part right. With or without the assistance of the unsympathetic customs officials!

 

 

Peter James


 


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