Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Vietnam, small, South East Asian country with a history of viticulture dating from French colonial times. Recent attempts to revive viticultural traditions and make wine have had mixed results. The most suitable locations for conventional viticulture in this hot and wet country are in the highlands—on the slopes of Ba Vi Mountain west of Hanoi, for example, where vinifera vines were grown by French colonists about a century ago, or on the upper slopes of the central highlands. Contrarily, however, Vietnam’s first commercial grape winemaking venture, the Thien Thai Winery, was established on the steamy southern coastal plain at Phan Rang, in Ninh Thuan province, 350 km/210 miles north east of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). The attraction was the existence of established vineyards producing substantial quantities of table grapes a year, mostly from red-berried cardinal vines grown on pergolas. The first wines, both still and sparkling, were released in 1995 but the winery was mothballed in 2002. Subsequently, though, two of the biggest fruit wine producers began drawing on grapes grown in Ninh Thuan for still and sparkling grape wines. Hanoi-based Thang Long Liquor uses primarily Cardinal and more recently planted Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc for its grape wines. Lam Dong Foodstuffs, through its beverage subsidiary Vang Dalat (Dalat Wine), is now Vietnam’s largest grape wine producer and has also drawn on these grapes as well as a large vineyard it has developed close to the Central Highlands city of Dalat. Many domestic wine labels also rely, sometimes exclusively, on imported bulk wine bottled locally.