Two Hills Vineyard aerial picture

June 12, 2013

Our vineyard

Source: Google maps when searching for Two Hills Vineyard

My children provided me with the above picture. Unfortunately I do not know where they got it from. Sorry for that.

The road on the right, is Two Hills road and the gum trees lining it. On the left side from the road one can see our two dams, the two vineyards (between the dams and right from the dam on the right). Also the shed can be identified. The white “lines” around the different blocks are from my slashing with the tractor. Also my windbreak can be seen (left line leading to the creek).

Looking at this shot, makes me terribly homesick.

Our next visit will be the highlight of the year for us.


Durif from Rutherglen Estates at Songkran in Bangkok

April 13, 2013

Durif 1

Rutherglen Estates 2008 Durif

It is the Thai New Year, called Songkran, the water festival. In down town Bangkok the mob is celebrating, dancing, and splashing people with water, a cleansing ritual and a good omen.

Instead of mingling with the crowd, we are enjoying some beautiful red wine on our terrace. From Wine Connection in Thonglor I got a bottle of ‘2008 Durif Single Vineyard’ by Rutherglen Estates, one of the largest wine and grape producers in the region (more than 300 ha under vines).

Durif 2

2008 Single Vineyard Durif

The wine is big with 14.5% alcohol. It has not much of a nose. The first sip comes as a bit of a shock, sucking your mouth dry like a vacuum cleaner. The second mouth full is already better, and then you are sailing. Some red fruit, some vanilla from the oak. Pleasant and satisfying, a warm climate red whispering in your ear the hot air of the northern Victorian sun.

Durif 3

Bavaria Blue

We had some Bavaria Blue cheese from Bergader Creamery with it. This is my favourite Bavarian cheese, and not only because I worked as a young man on a dairy farm in Petting which delivered its milk to that company.

Every time I am in Germany I bring some of this cheese with me. It is super delicious. And the red wine from Rutherglen was just the right complement, a perfect match so to say to the strong and hearty cheese.

More such glorious days can come, with wine and some good food.

Happy Thai New Year to all of you.


Best Australian Riesling 2012 – I need to try harder

February 7, 2013

Dr. Loosen Riesling

Author with a Dr. Loosen Riesling from the Mosel

As a man from the Mosel, I love the Riesling wines grown on the steep slopes of the valley. This is not to say that there are no other good Riesling wines elsewhere.

I also love the Rieslings from Rheinhessen, the Rheingau, the Pfalz and Alsace of course. When it comes to Riesling wines from my adopted home Australia, I still had not the necessary exposure which I very much regret.

Recently two Australian Rieslings won the top awards at two major wine shows in Australia. The ‘2012 Ravensworth Riesling’ a single vineyard wine produced by Ravensworth Wines, was the best wine of the 2012 Canberra International Riesling Challenge.

And the ‘2012 The Lodge Hill dry Riesling’ by Jim Barry Wines was awarded the honor of best table wine at the National Wine Show of Australia.

This is something. This is big. But what is even better is the pricing of these wines. The Ravensworth Riesling retails for A$ 20 and the Lodge Hill Dry Riesling for A$ 22. This is quality for money, I assume, and you need to buy now, because who knows how long this will last.


2011 Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc

January 31, 2013

Nothing is more refreshing at a hot summers day than a light lunch with a young and zesty wine, right?

We did just that the other day. The food consisted of a white fish (snapper in our case) in a spicy sauce, mixed vegetables and steamed rice.

Delicious.

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A summer’s lunch

Asian food can be paired with a variety of different wines. My choice of the day was a ‘2011 Sauvignon Blanc’ by Deakin Estate, Australia.

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2011 Sauvignon Blanc by Deakin Estate

This is “value for money” wine here in Thailand, “pedestrian” so to say but solid and exactly what one would expect from a young and fresh Australian Sauvignon Blanc. Therefore I recommend it.


Critter wines ?

January 22, 2013

Critter wine labels

Screen shot of the search result: critter wines

What are critter wines, you may ask?

Well, especially in Australia vintners and wine-makers seems to love to put pictures of cute little animals on to their labels. They select mostly marsupials but also other little animals which call Australia their home are to be found.

So on any super market shelf in Australia you will find bottles of wine with penguins, turtles, owls, emus, brolgas (a crane), and of course koalas, wallabies and kangaroos on their labels.

These are “critter wines”.

I found various entries on “critter wines” in the blogoshere with interesting essays and ruminations about this kind of wine labels, the quality associated with the products and the marketing of these wines. One of the main question is “do they all suck”? Of course not. But some do.

Many of these critter wines show a high level of quality. One of the most famous labels is yellow tail, owned by Casella Wines, one of the biggest family-owned enterprise in the Australian wine industry.

But because of the strong Australian dollar even a successful enterprise like Casella Wines struggels especially when they are exposed significantly to the US wine market.

Let us hope that Casella Wines can manage to stay in business. Then we can continue to enjoy their critter wines. The wine blog epicurious lists the ‘2007 Reserve Pinot Grigio’ (South Eastern Australia) by yellow tail($15) as one of the top five critter wines.

I guess this vintage is gone by now. I should try their Pinot Grigio although this is not my favourite grape variety.

http://www.epicurious


The wine glut is over – is it?

November 27, 2012

Recently quite a few reports and news sources have talked about the end of the wine oversupply which we experienced in global wine markets during the last couple of years. After years of wine surplus, it seems that poor vintages in the USA, Australia and Europe will lead to a drop in global production by about 20%.

“Technically” Australia is still oversupplied. But the demand for Australian bulk wine is back to normal, say some analysts. New acquisitions of vineyards producing wines at the luxury end is being reported. Sales prices for such estates were rather depressed during the last couple of years. For cash rich buyers sales prices and timing are right to make such new investments.

The mid-term prospects for high-quality grapes and high-quality wines are good. Such news is music to my ears. As a small vineyard with just under 4 ha under vines we have survived so far. Our plan is to bring our Pinot Noir vineyard back into production this season. The rest remains mothballed for another year.

Two Hills Vineyard Chardonnay plot

After that, we intend to bring first the Chardonnay and if demand should recover also the Sauvignon Blanc back into production. Currently we work on land fertility. Some of our Merlot is going to be pulled out. If we replant, it would be with Pinot Noir, I guess. But this is not going to happen until we are sure to find buyers for our fruit.

Let us hope that the wine glut is over, and that a reorientation to high-value grapes and wines is becoming a robust trend.


Tempus Two Chardonnay 2010, Hunter Valley, Australia

October 21, 2012

2010 Tempus Two Chardonnay

The grapes for this wine are actually not coming from the Hunter valley but from the cool climate Adelaide Hills wine region. The wine is a modern product, harvested by machine, made in steel tanks and briefly kept in French oak barrels in order to get the spicy vanilla character.

The Tempus Two winery, founded by Lisa McGuigan, a member of the fourth generation dynasty of celebrated vintners, the McGuigans, is situated in the Hunter valley.

The cellar door, an ultra-modern building, is just outside Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales in the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges (a region with freezing cold winters). Fruit for the Tempus Two wines comes from many different vineyards wine regions all over Australia. The band was established in 1998 only.

Back label explaining what you taste

This mass produced wine, is something for easy, every-day drinking. Apart from the Chardonnay, the Varietal Range includes a Blanc de blanc, a Verdelho, a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot, a Cabernet Merlot and a Shiraz.

The two premium brands are called the Pewter Range, which comes in distinctive bottle shapes, and the Copper Range, with more modern-style wines.

Since we were on a modified Dukan diet ( we made concessions for the alcohol), we had it with fish, a mackerel, which is a strongly-flavoured and oily fish. The wine coped well with the strong fishy taste. The citrus flavours and the high acidity were a great complement to the food.

Mackerel

I would have eaten another portion of the fish, and certainly could have had a second bottle of wine. My verdict: highly recommended.

PS: In Thailand, Siam Winery is the agent of Tempus Two.


“Great food, crap wine”!

October 9, 2012

Delicious seafood soup

When a little boy, my Australian nephew Nick, had written in a guest book “great place, crap food”. I was reminded of this great line the other day when we tried to enjoy a wonderful Jamie Oliver seafood dish with a mass produced, cheap industrial wine. We adapted this seafood soup from Los Angeles to accommodate Thai conditions.

Yellow tail SB from Australia and New Zealand

We knew what we were in for. I was not surprised that this wine by yellow tail was of low quality. The Shiraz from the same series, I would call “very drinkable”. The Sauvignon Blanc is also “drinkable”, however, I would omit the word “very”. Anyway.

But a good thing happened nonetheless, and that was the big surprise for me. Because of the high quality of the food, the wine was, shall I say “augmented” beyond belief. It became quite drinkable.

Yellow tail Sauvignon Blanc

The bottle does not carry a production or vintage year. The blend is an Australian & New Zealand one, with grapes coming from both places. I do not know if the producer is doing himself a favour with this kind of wine. The fact that it is on the market is proof that there is demand, and therefore there should be supply.

After all, it was my choice to have this wine with the seafood soup.

Cheers


2010 Steingarten Riesling by Jacob’s Creek

June 12, 2012

2010 Steingarten Riesling by Jacob’s Creek

The other day I picked up two bottles of Australian wine at Beijing International Airport. I was in transit and browsed through the duty free shops when I saw them. First I thought them a bit pricy, but then I decided to take two, one white, one red.

The white wine was a ‘2010 Steingarten Riesling’ by Jacob’s Creek. Some wine critics call this wine a ‘benchmark of Australian Riesling’.

Usually, I avoid buying Jacob’s Creek because my wife hates the brand. For her it stands for cheap mass-produced wine. During our time in Beijing in the early nineties there was only cheap Jacob’s Creek available in some selcted shops. Ever since she does not like the producer.

However, I had heard about “Steingarten”, maybe one of the best Riesling terroirs in Australia. And because I am still searching for my favourite Australian Riesling, I thought to give it a try. The original Steingarten vineyard is located at Trial Hill in the Eden Valley, South Australia.

“Steingarten” is German and means “garden full of stones”, but in the case of Jacob’s Creek its a brand name. The wine is “cool climate” and the grapes come from selected locations at higher altitudes of the Barossa Valley.

The bottle had even an individual number (I bought bottle number 22947); and it was low in alcohol (12.5 %). I paid about 25 EURO for it which is not cheap. In my native Mosel valley there is plenty of first class Riesling around for such a price.

The wine was not bad. It had the normal Riesling aromas (lime, citrus and green apple in this case), a solid structure, fine acidity and a good finish. However, I must be spoiled by the German kind of this wine so that also this one did not trigger my enthusiasm.

Needless to say, the search for an Australian Riesling which satisfies me is going on.

The bigger disappointment was to come: the food.

Of course we had the wine with food. Shakespearean cuisine was the go, which is a rather sweet affair with lots fo figs and raisin. Every individual dish tasted interesting. But we made a basic mistake: the various dishes did not harmonize at all with each other. I will just show some pictures and spare you the details of the dishes.

Here is what we had:

The fish

The raisins

Raisin-onion dish

Other veggies

…and the fish with jam


Wine bottle enclosures – yellow tail bubbly

May 22, 2012

It was quite a surprise when I openen the bottle of yellow tail sparkling the other day. When I peeled off the metal foil I discovered a whole new enclosure. Where I had expected metal, there was only plastic. Moreover, the plastic top could be used to close the bottle after pouring the wine. Great, I thought, and kept the bottle top for future use.

This sparkling wine by yellow tail is very fresh and fruity, a bit sweet as well, I would say. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the cold and bubbly liquid.

A few days later, I even bought some more of it. Cheers to you


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