The Lion sleeps tonight?

June 30, 2008

Well, he did not sleep but he watched the football final between Spain and Germany from 2 this morning till 3:30.

Congratulations to the Spaniards, they were the better team. What to do with this Monday morning?

I experimented with video clip downloads on my blog. Well, its not always fine wine and delicious food.

It can be dancing too. How about a dance in the backyard?

Please watch first the cartoon character clip, then you’ll know what the “real people” in the second clip attempted to do. Not easy to follow examples, it seems. Enjoy the show.

We were not the only people who were inspired by the song. On You Tube is one of rather under-dressed young women trying to follow the same dancing instructions.

PS: Note – This is only a temporary blog entry.

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German Wine Regions: The Saar

June 28, 2008

One of the premium Riesling producing wine regions in Germany is the Saar, which is part of the Mosel region (the English usually call it Moselle, using the French word for the river). In fact the Mosel Wine Region used to be called (until 2007) “Mosel-Saar-Ruwer”, the latter two being small tributaries to the larger Mosel river. Along the three rivers about 13,400 ha are under vines these days, most of the vineyards are to be found on steep slopes, offering breathtaking views.

The village of Wiltingen, home to many famous wine producers along the Saar

Along the river Saar vine cultivation goes back a long long time, roughly 2,000 years only. Until Napoleon conquered this part of the various German lands, most wineries were in possession of the catholic church, monasteries, and other clerical institutions. Napoleon secularized the administration and with it most vineyards and wineries came into private hands.

The area between Serrig and Konz is the main production base of the Saar. Further upriver only small and singular plots are planted with vines. The most renown wine producing villages along the Saar are
Serrig, Saarburg, Irsch, Ockfen, Ayl, Schoden, Wiltingen, Kanzem, and Wawern. Moreover we find vineyards along one of the smaller side valley’s Filzen, Koehnen, Nieder- and Obermennig, Krettnach and Oberemmel.

Ayler Kupp, one of the prime ‘terroirs’ of the Saar

The dominant variety is, of course, Riesling. The total area under vines is about 1,500 ha, mostly on steep slopes with gradients of up to 55 per cent. Other but minor varieties are Pinot Noir, Dornfelder, Pinot Gris, Rivaner, Kerner and Pinot Blanc. The soil consist mainly of blue Devon slate soils. The alcohol content of the wines is usually low (between 8 and 12 %), but the acidity of the wines shows excellent structures and compositions and this is why the wines can be cellared for long periods of time.

Steep vineyards in Ockfen

The vineyards are ready for spring to come

The two photos above were taken in Ockfen, showing vineyards in the location ‘Ockfener Bockstein’, one of the prime ‘terroirs’ in that village.

Springtime and lots of work to do to make the season a success. Lime is distributed by hand in the vineyards, here in Schoden.

There are many prime wine producers along the Saar. The top estate is probably Weingut Egon Mueller (also called the godfather of Saar Riesling) – Scharzhof in Wiltingen. Among the highest rated Riesling wines in Germany (on www.riesling.de) Egon Mueller has three of the top eight wines.

But there are many other prime producers. I can only mention a few. For instance Weingut Fortsmeister Geltz-Zilliken in Saarburg, or Schloss Saarstein in Serrig. Then there is the rising star, Roman Niewodniczanski and his team at Van Volxem in Wiltingen. His wine maker, Dominik Voelk, is young and ambitious, and by the way is a native of Franconia, a wine region with long traditions in excellence. When I visited the estate in March, he had completely sold out all his wines. I am now waiting for the release of the newest vintage in September (grand cru only). Then there is Weingut Dr. Siemens in Serrig and Weingut Peter Lauer in Ayl.

Also other producers are worth mentioning. Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, which operates a wine bar just across the cathedral in Trier (Trierer Dom), possess vineyards in Wiltingen. Four star ratings were awarded to Weingut von Orthegraven in Kanzem and Weingut von Hoevel in Konz-Oberemmel but there are many others who produce excellent Saar wines.

I love the Saar Rieslings with their well balanced, “filigree like” acid compositions. I love them for their explosiveness, zest, intensive aromas; they have structure and balance, are low in alcohol and usually impress with a long finish, lingering on your tongue’s taste buds like ballerinas which you can still see before your inner eye long after they left the stage.

I encourage you to visit the Saar and sample as many wines as you can, it’s worth it, definitely. This time of the year should be perfect, as the pictures below demonstrate. I hope they can entice you to give it a go and lure you to the Saar.

Explore the beauty of my home region, do not forget to visit Trier, its just around the corner.

Vineyards in Schoden

The ‘terroir’/location ‘Herrenberg’ in Schoden

Near Schoden the Saar is most picturesque. The hills, the forests, the river and the small villages offering local food and wines make the Saar a prime destination for tourism.


Restaurants in Germany – Lutter and Wegner im Künstlerhaus, Munich

June 27, 2008

While in Munich I stumbled across another one of the Lutter and Wegner chain restaurants – Lutter and Wegner im Künstlerhaus – and could not resist to have lunch there before departing to Frankfurt (www.l-w-muenchen.de).

The outside terrace

Colourful room “Venezia” with great views upon the Lenbachplatz

Bottles arranged like art

Art for the wine aficionados

Lutter and Wegner is not just a restaurant but a symbiosis of bar, lounge, gallery and in the evening live and other music are performed. Moreover, about 350 wines are on offer. I could only sample two of them with my lunch, hope you are more successful. The restaurant was the perfect choice of a enjoyable lunch before leaving this wonderful city and returning to tropical Jakarta. I could not resist the mushroom risotto. It was delicious, a wonderful combination of flavours.

The mushroom risotto

Of course I had to have a wine with my food. My first wine consisted of a ‘2005 Grauer Burgunder, dry’ (Pinot Gris) of Weingut Otto Laubenstein, Baden (www.laubenstein.com). It had a rather yellowish colour which came as a surprise to me, I had expected something more pale, straw colour like. The wine suggestion for the risotto was a ‘2007 Bürklin Wolf – Weissburgunder’ (white Burgundy). I should have tried my meal with this wine too, I guess.

My second glass of wine which I drank instead of having a dessert is considered a rarity in other parts of the world and this is exactly why I ordered it. The ‘2006 Blauer Zweigelt, Weingut Tement’, Südsteiermark (www.tement.at), showed a beautiful deep red colour. It displays flowery aromas, dominated by red berries, and is very smooth indeed and not heavy (12.5% alc.). The wine is aged for only about six months in small oak barrels.

Blauer Zweigelt (created in 1922 in Klosterneuburg by Fritz Zweigelt) is a cross between Blaufraenkisch and St. Laurent. It is the most widely planted red variety in Austria (resistance to frost) but has also gained some presence in Canada: the Niagara Region in Ontario and British Columbia.

Wine prices I found reasonable. The Pinot Gris sold for € 3.5 and the Blauer Zweigelt for € 4 for a 0.2 ltr/glass.

Address
Lutter und Wegner im Künstlerhaus
Lenbachplatz 8
80333 Munich
Te.: +49-895459490


Berlin – Auerbachs Bookshop

June 26, 2008

Auerbachs Bookshop from the outside

A very good friend of mine made me aware of this little marvel of a bookshop. Its owner, Gabriele Seeboden, is a very friendly and helpful person. But the shop does not only offer books, also a rather interesting selection of fine wines is on offer, all from small, family-owned vineyards and wineries. Gabriele’s passion is book and wines, that’s for sure. The clients love her for the excellence of the service; they also love the flair of the bookshop.

Gabriele Seeboden with a customer in front of the wine rack

This year the bookshop celebrates its 125 anniversary. It was opened by Richard Auerbach in 1882. Gabriele Seeboden is the third successor of Mr. Auerbach. It is not easy these days for such small ventures to economically survive. This was one of the reasons to add a product which goes well with books and reading. Wine is the natural choice, I would say. Wine tasting are also organised at the bookshop from time to time. Give it a go and visit when in Berlin. You will not find such combination anywhere else.

Address:
Auerbachs Buchhandlung
Albrechtstr. 10
12165 Berlin
(near Rathaus Steglitz underground station)
Te.: +49-30-7913125


Restaurants in Germany – Hotel Prinzregent, Munich-Riem

June 25, 2008

Bavaria is just such a beautiful place. I just cannot get enough of it. Especially at this time of the year travelling around Upper Bavaria is truly enjoyable. Even sub-urban places such as Riem have their charm. I stayed in a small hotel at the outskirts of Munich to attend a conference at the Messe Zentrum (the fair).

The very first evening, I asked the receptionist where one could have a decent bite of food, preferable Bavarian style and I was pointed into the direction of the Hotel Prinzregent (www.prinzregent.de), in fact a country inn style place along the main street in Riem. The ‘guest room’ of the public bar part was fairly busy at a Friday evening.

The Bavarian country inn – Hotel Prinzregent

As it was my first evening back in Germany I could not resist ordering a pork roast Bavarian style with ‘Semmelknoedeln’, a kind of cooked carbohydrates made from leftover bread crumbs. It was so delicious I completely forgot to take pictures for my blog. I drank wheat beer with the meal though the Prinzregent has a nice wine list available. For dessert, which I usually do not have, I had ‘Apfelkuechle’, a kind of apple backed in a doe and seasoned with raisin. After that mighty meal I was exhausted and went to bed early.

The pasta

The very next day I came back to enjoy some more of the delicious food at the Prinzregent. Unfortunately, I did not order the roasted pork again (I should have) but went for a vegetarian pasta dish. It was ok but could not match the pork. The side salad was fresh and tasty.

The salad

This time I tried some of the white wines with my food. First I ordered a Riesling from, of course, the Mosel. A ‘2006 Weingut Schmitges dry Riesling from grey slates’ was my choice. It is a young but very enjoyable wine, typical for the region, elegant, displaying aromas of citrus and green apples, a fruity, minerally kind of wine.

For my second glass I choose a Sylvaner from the native lands of my mother, Franconia (the most northerly part of Bavaria). Horst Sauer is one of the icons of the vintners and winemakers from Franconia. His ‘2006 Eschendorfer Lump’ is just divine. The Germans like to describe a wine as “filigran”, which my dictionary says means “lacy” or “filigree”. I do not know if that makes sense to you. Anyway, the wine shows the typical Franconian character, is complex and fine, well balanced, has a good structure and a lingering finish. The prices for the wines were not on the cheap. The fellow at the next table turfed the idea of having a glass of wine after he saw the prices. Well, I was in a festive mood that day and did not bother.

White sausages Bavarian style, isn’t this beautiful?

My last meal at this wonderful place I enjoyed sitting in the large beer garden under very old chestnut trees reminiscing about the wonderful time I had in Bavaria. It was rather a late breakfast than lunch and therefore I ordered the typical Bavarian “white sausages” which is eaten with sweat mustard. A wheat beer matches that perfectly. Sorry you wine folks.

Address:
Hotel Prinzregent an der Messe
Riemer Strasse 350
81829 Munich
Te.: +49-89-94539-0
http://www.prinzregent.de


Eating out in Yea, Victoria

June 24, 2008

When we are on our vineyard in Glenburn, Victoria, we love to visit wineries and vineyards in the vicinity but we also love to tour the small country towns, villages and hamlets in rural Victoria. One of our favourite destinations, and just about 32 km northwards of Two Hills Vineyard is the small town of Yea.

Yea is about 100 km north of Melbourne and has a population of about 1000 souls. In 1837 the first settlers arrived in the district – the Shire of Murrindindi – from New South Wales (under the leadership of the explorers William Hovell and Hamilton Hume) and ever since the area along the Goulburn River was settled as farmland. It was originally known as Muddy Creek settlement and later named after Colonel Lacy Yea, who was killed in the Crimean War. Before white settlement, the Woiwurung people of the Kulin nation occupied the area. Unfortunately, they had to bear the brunt of the effects of British settlement policy and were frequently and forcibly resettled and never obtained titles of their native lands.

Today Yea is a pleasant country town and centre for agriculture, forestry and tourism. Needless to say, quite a few wineries are located in the area, most of them members of the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association.

There are quite a few eating places to choose from. Depending on your time and your budget, the whole range of country food is available at your finger tips. We usually frequent three places which I would like to introduce to you today briefly.

1. Marmalades

Marmalades is a cafe, tea house, local produce and wine store cum gallery and offers all kinds of local and international food. It has a very pleasant atmosphere. There is a library and a reading groom.

marmalades.jpg

You can park right in front of the place.

The counter

Below you can see some of our most preferred dishes.

Margit, Charlotte and Lucy around the table

2. Elmers

A little bit further down the main road, near the Foodworks supermarket, you will find Elmers, another cafe cum restaurant. At times you need to book because it is so crowded. As the occasional tourist just try you luck.

Behind the counter at Elmers, people are very busy.

3. The Country Club Hotel

Located about between the two, is the Country Club Hotel. It has, as most Australian pubs or hotels, a public bar and a restaurant. There is usually some kind of life music in the restaurant on the weekends. This is a good place for the evenings to go out and/or meet with friends and family.

I somehow do not have pictures of the inside of the Hotel and of the food served. However, let me assure you that I ate there the best Kangaroo steak I had ever consumed in Australia.

Mind you my first Kangaroo meat I tasted during my university years in Bonn. The ‘mensa’, as it is called in German, the university eating place, a ‘cantina’ so to say, had offered it as a novum to its hungry young men and women some 30 years ago.

Also the other dishes on the menu are worth trying. The Country Club Hotel also offers local wines with their meals. So if you are in the vicinity and you want to try solid, modern and traditional country style food please drop in and give a couple of hours of your time to Yea and its eateries. You will be pleasantly surprised. You will also have the opportunity to sample some of the finest locally produced wines from the Upper Goulburn Wine Region since all three restaurants have a variety of locally produced wines on offer.


Friday again – ‘2003 Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz’

June 21, 2008

I was sick for a couple of days. There is a bad virus going around. I also seem to suffer from insomnia these days and its certainly not the European Soccer Championship which is causing the “insomnia”. My head spins in the night. There is so much preparation to do before we can leave for Bangkok.

But Friday night I felt a bit better and why not celebrate the end of the week with a beautiful glass of Australian red wine. I decided to open a bottle of ‘2003 Saw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz’ (www.shawandsmith.com) which retails at the Duty free Show at Jalan Fatmawati (Bumi Ayu) for about US$ 30, not cheap indeed.

Here are my tasting notes:

Deep purple red colour in the glass, the wine has vibrant nose of raspberries, black currant, jam and jelly aromas, it is first peppery-spicy is the mouth, as typical for a Shiraz, than displays an intense, creamy, fat and rich aroma of wood berries, it is well balanced and ends with a long and intense finish. The wine has 14% alcohol.

The grapes for this wine were grown in the warmer parts of the Adelaide Hills near Macclesfield. The wine was aged for 12 months in old and new French oak barriques.

PS: At this point in time the Adelaide Crows are leading the Brisbane Lions in the footy game.