Yering Farm Wines

June 13, 2008

Enough of Europe and Indonesia, today I will take you to my future home country, Australia. This might be a sign of homesickness. Usually during the months of June-July-August we go back to our farm and spend splendid winter days in Glenburn, work a bit in the vineyard, plant trees, watch the kangaroos, have friends and family over for lunches on the grass (it’s not a lawn) and visit neighboring wineries and pubs.

As you probably know from earlier blog entries, the owner-winemaker of Yering Farm Wines (, Alan Johns, is also the person making our Merlot wines. In his huge shed thousands of bottles of Two Hills Wines wait to be consumed and in a dozen or so barrels our 2008 Merlot is doing what young wines do.

Yering Farm is beautifully located. When you turn off the Maroondah highway (also known as Whitehorse Road taking the name from White Horse Hotel in Box Hill) in Coldstream on the way to Yarra Glen, you will find it on the right hand side long before you see the town. The cellar door is an old hay shed with a very rustique character and great views of the Yarra Valley. Since I have posted pictures with these beautiful views before, I present today photos from the inside of the cellar door.


The cellar door and tasting room


Many medals on the wall



Alan introducing his wines to a group of wine tourists

My hot tip of the day: when you are in the neighborhood visiting Yering Farm should be on your to do list. Have a good time there and say hello to Alan.

Restaurants in Jakarta: Champa – Wine and Spirits Circle Dinner

June 11, 2008

Saturday night marked a rare occasion, because the Jakarta Wine and Spirits Circle had not organised a function for a while. Therefore, the invitation for a dinner cum wine tasting came just at the right time. We are members of the Circle since many years and cultivate some very fond memories of past wine tastings.

The event took place at the Champa restaurant, which provides Vietnamese and Indochinese food. The Champa opened its doors to the public in 2002 and possesses a warm and cosy atmosphere. I had already been to this restaurant with friends and business associates a couple of times and always liked the food.

The tables were a bit crowded by the glasses

The menue showed exciting features

‘Four temptations’, the entree ‘Goi Cuon Ca hoi, Goi Cuon Malay, kai Hoer Bai teay, Tom Ham Pho Mat’, freele translated, it reads as follows:

– Champa fresh spring rolls made of salmon
– Crispy minced chicken and crab meat martabak style
– Thai famous deep fried herb chicken in Pandean leaves
– Roasted Tiger Prawn and herb crust with cheese on salad

The main dish named ‘Bo Nuong Hed Hom ca Hoi Mojo’ consisted of grilled tender loin with mushroom cheese and stir fried Norwegian salmon with Mojo.

The dessert, called ‘Da Vanni’, was a crepes filed with Banana and cream, vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with nuts and chocolate.

How about the wine you might ask. Well, Alsatian and Austrian wines were on the agenda. we started with an aperitif, a ‘2004 Domaines Schlumberger Sylvaner’. Woh, an Alsation Sylvaner, Sylvaner being the grape of Franconia and its famous Bocksbeutel wines. It felt fresh and fizzy, a nice aperitif, I must say.

We faced seven glasses on our table, it felt a bit crowded in the limited space available. Three were for whites and four for red wines.

White wines

– 2004 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris
– 2004 Domaines Schlumberger Gewuerztraminer
– 2005 Leth Gruener Veltliner Kabinett

Red wines

– 2004 Leth St. Laurent Reserve
– 2004 Leth Linot Noir Classic
– 2006 Pfaffl Blauer Zweigelt
– 2003 Sepp Moser Blauburgunder Gebling

Let me say it from the outset: this was not an evening for scribbling down tasting notes. I was in a much too good a mood for that. I also do not know much about Alsatian and Austrian wines. But the evening confirmed one thing: one has to drink and taste a lot in oder to understand the intricacy of the various grape varieties and the wines. I promised myself to drink more wine from the two regions.

Domaines Schlumberger is a wine estate in Alsace. It was established in 1810 (these Europeans have awfully long traditions in wine making) and has 140 ha under vines, half of this area classified as “grand crus”. Schlumberger only vinifies his own grapes. Today, the sixth and the seventh generation of Schlumbergers run the estate. Much of the vineyards is organically farmed (60 ha organic and 30 ha biodynamic).

The Domaines Schlumberger Gewuerztraminer was semi-dry I would say but showed some very fine aromas and great balance. Also the Pinot Gris must have had some high residual sugar because I perceived it as almost sweet. Both wines went well with the Asian food. However, I liked the Sylvaner best. Unfortunately, I did not check the bottles to identify from which “terroir” the Schlumberger wines came from (there are 4 grand crus: Kitterle, Kessler, Saering and Spiegel) and the wine list is silent about their provenience. Maybe we drank only the “normal” wines (Les Princes Abbes) and not the ‘grand crus’.

The Sepp Moser Estate ( in Rohrendorf in the wine region of the Kremstal produces mainly white wines. The location Gebling has been used for vine cultivation since 1284 and is a steep south facing terraced vineyard. The Pinot Noir displayed the typical characteristics of the variety and the ‘terroir’ (hot days, coll nights during vintage time).

From the Pfaffl Wine Estate, located near Vienna in a region called “Weinviertel”, a Blauer Zweigelt was included in the tasting. Zweigelt is a red grape variety developed in Austria in 1922 and, of course, it bears the name of the developer (Fritz Zweigelt who should later became director of the Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterburg). Zweigelt is today the most widely grown red grape variety in Austria. Interesting is that the grape is also cultivated in the Niagara wine region of Ontario/Canada. The Pfaffl family cultivates about 30 ha of vineyards and goes back generations.

The Leth Estate is located in the village of Fels at the river of Wagram, Lower Austria and has about 40 ha under vines. The wine-plus website ( awarded the winery three stars. The estate has practiced organic viticulture for decades and produces mainly white wines (70%). We were lucky to taste two reds from Franz Leth’s cellar.

In fact after all the tasting I settled in the end for the ‘2004 Leth St. Laurent Reserve’, which I liked best. It is a full bodied red with a fruity flavour and a mellow finish. The grape variety originates from France and belongs to the same family as Pinot Noir. St. Laurent (also called Pinot St. Laurent) is an aromatic dark red grape with aromas of forest berries and black cherries. Today it is mainly planted in Austria and the Czech Republic (and a small area in Palatinate and Rheinhessen in Germany).

When we left, and we were among the last guests, there was nothing left of this wine and many others. My resolution for the evening was to try more wines from these two wine regions.

The Champa
Jl. Wuaya 1/50
Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta 12170

The mighty wine bloggers

June 10, 2008

Two Hills Vineyard: newly planted Chardonnay

Blogging is all in vogue these days. Millions of people write in their free time entries into their electronic diaries or online journals as they are called.

The founder of “Vinography” a reward winning wine blog, Alder Yarrow is the pioneer of wine blogging. His blog won various awards over the last years. In 2008 it received the American Wine Blog Awards for ‘best overall wine blog’ and ‘best writing’; in 2007 the same award was bestowed on him for ‘best wine reviews’. Vinography won accolades by the Salon des Vins de la Loire Wine Blog (2007) and Food Blogging Awards (2006, 2005, 2004).

Vinography is more than a private blog (, it is a professional undertaking with various distinguished contributors. But apart from very interesting information about wine, wineries and vineyards, food and everything related to wine, Alder also collects blogs and he assembled a list of wine blogs, which you can find on his website. This list is of course not complete. An undertaking like this is never completed, there are always new people starting their blogs out there, and it is tedious to find them.

The list of about 600 or so odd blogs and wine podcasts is a very interesting piece of information.

There are about 65 winery blogs and 43 wine podcasts, some of them quite entertaining. The remainder are blogs in various languages. English is of course the most common language used by wine bloggers; the next most prominent is Italian followed by French. There are even wine bloggers writing in Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that some of these bloggers are pretty organised and that they do things together. For instance the German wine blogger organise so called “wine rallys”, where they write about a common theme selected by the members and hosted by one of the bloggers where all pieces produced about this theme are collected, analyzed and propagated.

The Vinography list of wine blogs according to language goes as follows:

404 English
41 Italian
36 French
29 German
22 Spanish
11 Portuguese
5 Chinese
4 Dutch
2 Japanese
2 Hungarian
2 Norwegian
1 Indonesian
1 Slovak

There is a wealth of information to be found about wine, wine regions, wine-making, etc. Some of these blog are humble private tools for enjoyment and distraction, others are professional instruments for marketing, information, analysis, presentation and sale.

Check it out yourself and have fun. It’s worth it.

Kayzer Soza – bar cum resto in Berlin

June 8, 2008

I love Berlin; it’s a great city with so much on offer. My friend Rainer Heufers took me to a rustic place in Tucholsky street, near the synagogue, called “Kayzer Soza”, named after the mythic film figure. Rainer knows Berlin very well since he lived there for a couple of years.

The inside of “Kayzer Soza”

Berlin is a cosmopolitan city again with a growing Jewish community. Just across the street from the restaurant was a bagel bakery.

“Kayzer Soza” was buzzing with people, mostly young, happy people with lots of time on their hands. Many were seated on the pavement of the sidewalk where we could not find space so we went inside. There it was rather empty at this early time, but that was about to change soon.

We ordered a hearty meal consisting of a strange selection of dishes: Suebian cheese noodles, a Mediterranean salad, olives, and a bottle of ‘Primitivo’, a ‘2006 Terre di Montelusa’ from Italy. We just felt like that after a long day meeting. The wine intrigued me because he comes from Brindisi in Apulia (Puglia) and I never knowingly drank a wine from there. It was a robust country wine. I guess the bottle did not cost more than 3 to 4 EURO. My last ‘Zinfandel’, as the ‘Primitivo’ is known in the US, I tasted more than 10 years ago during a winery tour in California.

When I opened the menu a poem jumped into my eyes. Freely translated it said the following:

“Good wine makes good blood.
Good blood makes good deeds and
good deeds lead mankind to heaven”.

It is said to originate from the Veneto, the lovely Italian wine region.

Suebian cheese noodles

The salad

A simple wine but matching the occasion

My friend Rainer tugging in

“Just off the boat….”

June 7, 2008

Colleagues from afar (fltr. Rainer, Sagarica, Joerg, Annemie, Philipp)

I attended a work conference in Potsdam near Berlin. The very first day, I went out with some colleagues to have lunch. We found a Bavarian Beer garden restaurant, usually no place to have a decent wine but plenty of good beers in big glasses. Wheat beet or “Weissbier” is one of my favorites.

Bavarian Wheat beer

May is asparagus time in Germany, usually enjoyed with a glass of white wine, maybe a Pinot Gris or Blanc, or a Riesling. Not so in a Bavarian environment, of course, but the beer was delicious too.

Asparagus, ‘old German style’

A typical Bavarian “snack” is “white sausages” served with sweet mustard. Well, Potsdam is far away from Bavaria so the sweet mustard was missing in this case.

Bavarian “Weisswuerste”

White and blue are the colours of Bavaria. Next time you find yourself in a Bavarian environment, try out some of the special local dishes.

Back home again

June 6, 2008

Having lunch at Lutter und Wegner im Künstlerhaus, Munich

You might have sensed it. I was away for more than two weeks. Work took me to Germany and I had no time for blogging, only work, work, work. But fortunately, there were some occasions to taste good wines and enjoy some marvelous German food. More about this later.

In May the weather in Germany was much better than in March or April during my previous visits. The temperatures were very pleasant. The sky was always blue, everything was green, nature at its best.

The trip took me from Frankfurt to Bonn, Berlin, and Munich. For the first time I went by train from Berlin to Munich and from there back to Frankfurt Airport.

It was a lovely ride, the fields were green, acacia trees, linden trees and chestnuts in full bloom, farmers cutting grass to make hay, young barley, wheat and rye growing nicely, canola (rape seed) already advanced just after blooming, young maize plants just 10 cm high. Only here and there one could spot some cattle in lush paddocks. The German landscape seemed almost void of people although the country is much denser populated than Australia.

The six hours on the train were very enjoyable. I spotted the last vineyards in the Saale valley. When crossing the Hallertau, a couple of hours north of Munich, I saw huge trellis systems for the cultivation of hops for beer production. The next vineyards I should see were near Stuttgart when the train moved on to Mannheim and finally Frankfurt.

No I am back in steamy tropical Jakarta and we are getting ready to move to Thailand at the end of August. By then it’s 10 years that we lived in Indonesia, a decade of my life. Time passes. I am afraid that the next months will not allow me to write much since so many organizational tasks await me here. Bare with me.