Augusta Treverorum – home at last

July 24, 2008

My hometown of Trier (lat.: Augusta Treverorum) from the ‘Kockelsberg’

Alas, we made it. Grandparents were very happy to see us. Blue sky and summer sunshine greeted us. A splendid holiday awaited us. In short, Germany at its best. We are so lucky.

The Mosel river

Margit and I, we went to check out our favourite “watering whole”: the wine bar of Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt opposite the cathedral and the church of “Liebfrauen”.

The ‘garden’ of the wine bar

Riesling was our choice. We had a ‘2007 Kaseler Riesling dry’ (subregion: Ruwer) and a ‘2007 Wiltinger Riesling dry’ (subregion: Saar). Both wines were young and fresh, which make them a delicious drink in a hot summers day. We both preferred the wine from Wiltingen, Saar.

Cheers, and “zum Wohl” as the Germans say.

PS: I am loading this up from a small flat in Madrid which we rented. The internet connection is weak and blogging difficult. Please bear with me.

Holidays, at last…

July 14, 2008

We are on our way to Europe, having a break at Singapore Airport. Its a great place for spendind a couple of hours before “jumping” from Asia to Europe.

There the Mosel is waiting for us, and we will spend a couple of days with my mother in Trier before moving on to Franconia for another family visit.

I hear a whisper: wine, wine, wine, delicious wine!

Chinese Liquor

July 13, 2008

It is not just the grape wine bottles which we are drinking up before moving to Bangkok. I have a small collection of exquisite Chinese liquors given to me over the years by Chinese and Taiwanese friends.

The sorghum based spirits are wonderful though Western people often have difficulties appreciating the scent (some say it smells, well it does: of Sorghum of course). The Shandong liquor was smooth as silk. For ‘Gu Jing Gong Jiu’ you need to be in a youngish suicidal mode and not afraid of headaches.

‘Maotai’, if it is the real stuff, is not only expensive, but a very nice drink. During my time in Beijing we drank a lot of rough ‘Er Gou Jiu’, but the bottle below is a ‘de luxe’ version.

Unfortunately, the bottles cannot come to Bangkok, so we enjoy them now. Soon our reserves will be gone and we can start anew to collect them. Thanks god that I have so many friends in Mainland China and Taiwan.

Shandong Bai Jiu, smooth like silk

Kweichow Maotai, 43% and Gu Jing Gong Jiu, 38%

Lao Beijing Ming Jiu (Er Gou Jiu), 45%

My orchids must know…..

July 12, 2008

My garden is my treasure, as you probably know. We were very lucky to have such a splendid place for so long. Living in Asian capital cities finds garden enthusiasts like me often in dire straits as far as nature is concerned.

Most of my orchids were passed on to me by my friend Peter Hagen before he and his family left Indonesian after many years. I will pass them on to a friend as well.

The other day another one of my orchids, an orchid which was not very generous with blooming in the past, bloomed. Wandering about the garden, I wondered if the plant knew that I am leaving soon.

I know of course that the onset of the dry season is also the season for many orchids to bloom. But a nicer good-bye I could not have imagined.

A “special” Orchid…

..and the “normal” ones.

Exploration trip to Bangkok

July 11, 2008

The other day, the four of us went to Bangkok. I had a seminar and staff training with my new team and the three women checked out the new school and were going on house hunting to find a new home.

The last evening of our stay we met and compared notes. Nothing could be better for such undertaking than a family meal at a nice Thai restaurant. We walked down the street right into the Ninth Cafe.

What a great time we had

The restaurant is a very pleasant place. I was there once before. The staff was very friendly and we were very hungry. We ordered a couple of appetizers. Margit and myself we had fish with mashed potatoes and the girls had a Chinese chicken soup. It all tasted delicious. We were in a jolly good mood. Everything had worked out so well and we are very optimistic about our coming move to Thailand.

Of course the adults had a bottle of wine with their meal. We choose a bottle of Hardy’s Cabernet Sauvignon, nothing special but delightful and it suited the mood.

A typical Thai appetizer

Appetizers for the hungry kids – chicken wings

Fish with mashed potatoes

A Chinese type dish

Happy girls

The gods were smiling on us

The Ninth Cafe
59/5 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road
Bangkok 10330

Note: This restaurant gets excellent recommendations and reviews. Go and visit.

Family meals and the emptying of my wine “cellar”

July 4, 2008

Our last 60 days in Jakarta have started. Soon we will be moving to Bangkok. We try to enjoy every day. Apart from sorting out things, we are spending our time at home with family meals and drinks.

A delicious seafood pasta

I do not have a large supply of fine wines left but some of the bottles I have kept for special occasions. So what did we drink over the last couple of days? Here is a quick run-down:

‘2002 Léon Baur Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg’, alc. 13.5 % Vol.
We drank it before lunch as an aperitif. This is an aromatic wine, very generous in its flavours. It comes from a limestone “terroir” and is the gem of the Léon Baur collection. Low yields make great wines. It’s rather high in alcohol and has 15.2 g/l in sugar. A very enjoyable Gewürztraminer typical for this grape variety (

‘2003 Wiltinger Gottesfuss, Riesling Kabinett Feinherb, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt’ , alc. 11 % Vol.
As you know, I love wine from the Saar River, and Wiltingen is one of the major location to produce first class Riesling wines. “Feinherb” is the German word for semi-dry. “Gottesfuss” is one of the best locations in Wiltingen, a very steep, stony slate ground which produces a fine, acidic, and balanced wine. Normally I prefer dry Rieslings but with a spicy Asian meal, the semi-dry version does very well. (

‘2005 Hollick Coonawarra Reserve Chardonnay’,
alc. 13.5% Vol.
We had it with a seafood pasta. What a delicious Chardy this was. Although cellaring for up to 7 years is recommended, the bottle did not last that long. It displayed aromas of white peach, had crisp acidity and balanced creamy overtones. Though the wine was matured in French oak for 10 month, it was not “over-wooded”. Beautiful (

‘1999 Mildara Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon’, alc. 13.5% Vol.
The Mildara brand belongs to the Fosters Group ( Liz and Walter brought it with them and we had it with all kinds of cheeses, salamis, coleslaw, salads and all kinds of “nibblies”. Despite its age, it displayed all the freshness of a typical Coonawarra wine. The colour was a deep purple. The intense aromas ranged from cassis, to dark berries and plum with hints of mint and herbs. The 18 months in oak have given the wine great depth and bony tannins, mellowed by age. The wine had an excellent structure. It was well aged.

‘2004 Knappstein Clare Valley Enterprise Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon’, alc. 14.5% Vol.
The bottle retailed for US$ 26.50 at the Jakarta duty free store in Jalan Fatmawati. I had it reserved for a special evening. the wines is Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at its best. Wonderful creamy, cassis, blackberry and mulberry flavours. A big Australian wine, full and complex but heavy which lingers on long after you swallowed the last drop. The fruit is grown on the “terra rossa” soils. Low yields guarantee the quality of the fruit. 2005 was an excellent year with a long ripening season. We had it after a meal just for enjoyment. This is a great wine indeed. (

The farewell dinner with our Australian friends (Brett, Janie, John and Dhanya) last night was a delight. We drank some very good wines. I only mention them in passing. Hope you don’t mind. We started with a pre-dinner drink, a ‘2006 Vasse Felix, classic dry white’ from Margaret River, Western Australia. The entreés we washed down with a ‘2007 Yarra Burn Sauvignon Blanc Semillon’ from the Yarra Valley, Victoria. We switched to red before the main course (a pasta bolognese), first to a ‘2004 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot’ and then a ‘2003 Vasse Felix, classic dry red’. Three Margaret River wines stood against the cool climate SB form the Yarra Valley. It was a wonderful evening. No sadness was to find only the joy of being together and having a good time. I love this Australian attitude to life.

Its pruning time in the vineyard

July 1, 2008

Winter in Victoria is usually a very nice time, not too cold but has many days with beautiful blue sky and sunshine. It always reminds me of an Irish summer.

In the vineyard we are busy pruning , of course. The vines below are awaiting the pruners.

Our professional association, the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association advertised recently a pruning course (

This reminded me of the virtual-pruning tool of the German University of Hohenheim near Stuttgart. From time to time I play with it to somehow make up for not being in the vineyard this time of the year. Its in German, but I am sure you will master it. Its strait forward.

Wachsen = grow
Schere = secateurs
Biegen = bend
Neu = new
Zeit = season
Fruehling = spring
Sommer = summer
Herbst = autumn
Winter = winter

Check out the link below and prune your heart out. Have fun.