The sky is the limit

September 30, 2009


It was at a Sunday afternoon, I had one hour for myself before our official meeting was about to start and I decided to have a glass of wine in Vapiano in Mittelstrasse which is near Friedrichstrasse in the centre of Berlin.

Vapiano is a worldwide operating chain restaurant in an Italian style, but at times I like to go there. The standardization means that you know in advance what you are getting.


I went through the wine list and choose the Gavi (6 Euro/glass) which was nice but I should have odered the most expensive wine on the list, the Riesling (8.5 Euro).

La Scolca, Piemont, Italy.
fine, elegant, harmonious and fresh.

Weingüter Wegeler, Rheingau, Germany.
According to ‘Fine Wine Review’, of the USA, this Riesling is the best Spaetlese in Germany and award winner of the German Riesling competition.

I sat in the “garden” (or better: the yard) of Vapiano and enjoyed my glass of wine in the hope that I was not to be disappointed when later that day the election results would come in. What a splendid hours that was.

Autumn in Berlin – Affentaler Spaetburgunder

September 27, 2009


Evening at Griebnitzsee, near Berlin and Potsdam

I am in Germany right now attending meetings and conferences. Ever since I landed in Hamburg, the weather has been fine, with mild and sunny autumn days.

Today is election day and at about 18 h we will know who is going to govern the Germans for the next four years. Last night we were all invited by our boss to dine at his home. He and his wife are known for their hospitality. One of the wines on offer came from Baden, a famous German wine region. I must admit that I am rather ignorant about it’s wines.


2008 Affentaler Spaetburgunder 1.5 liter bottle – look at the colour

I was presented with a glass of ‘2008 Affentaler Spaetburgunder’ (12.5% vol. alc.). Needless to say, that I had never heard of “Affentaler”. And only while writing this blog entry I learned that the producer of this excellent German Pinot Noir is a wine co-operative. “Affental” is located 10 km south of Baden-Baden and belong to the city of Buehl.

This is a very elegant wine, fruity, dry and very harmonious, a thorough enjoyment. The 2007 vintage had earned 87 Parker points. The 1.5 liter bottle lasted a while but it was difficult to drink any other wine after we finished it. All of us wished for more. I will look out for it when shopping for wine next time.

A poem a day…

September 24, 2009


I have started to read an Italian classics: “Science in the Kitchen and Art of Eating Well”, by Pellegrino Artusi (in Italian: La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene), written in 1891 (!!!!). It’s a great book. The following poem depicts it’s spirit:

“Tutte le societa, tutte le feste
Cominciamo e finiscono in pappate
E prima che s’accomodin le teste
Voglion essere le pance accomodate.

I preti che non son dei meno accorti,
Fan dieci miglia per un desinare.
O che si faccia l’uffizio dei morti,
O la festa del santo titolare,
Se non v’e dopo la sua pappatoria
Il salmo non finisce con la gloria.”

In English:
Every social gathering and holiday
in s with a feats begun and terminated;
and before our heads can have their say
our bellies must be fully sated.

Priests, who are said to know a thing or two,
will walk ten miles for a meal.
Wheater giving last rites with little ado
or calling on the local saint to heal,
if food and drink don’t close the story,
they cannot end the psalm in glory.

I raise my virtual glass of wine and drink to the poet Filippo Pananti.

PS: My Yellow-vented Bulbul birds have left the nest today which came quite as a surprise. I wanted to check on them this morning and take a photo but there was only one bird in the nest. When I lifted my camera, the remaining bird flew away. Nobody could see my face, but I wonder what it looked like. They are gone. So fast. How could they grow up so quickly? Hope they survive, and come back from time to time. there are no cats on our terrace.

Italian wines for Sunday lunch

September 23, 2009

Sundays in Bangkok is usually fish day. There are many beautiful fish for sale in the markets. So for lunch we select a fish and a white wine. Often I choose to have a Riesling with the food. This time we went “Italian” and bought two bottles of white wine, one on the cheap side, the other a bit dearer. The former was a ‘2007 Montecelli Soave Classico’ from Piave in the Veneto, the latter a ‘2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio’ from the Trentino, in Alto-Adige, Italy.


2007 Montecelli Soave Classico


2008 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio


The Soave might costs about 3-4 Euro in Europe (or less). If I would buy the Pinot Grigio in the US I would have to pay 25 to 28 US$ for the bottle. In Thai Bath I paid about 500 for the Soave and about 1,000 for the Pinot, which corresponds roughly to 10 and 20 Euro respectively. We liked both wines. The Soave is a bit edgy and had a salty/oily after taste. The Pinot Grigio from Santa Margherita is just great, light bodied, spritzy with crisp acidity and a light lemon-citrus flavour.


Fried potatoes, zucchini and onions


Red snapper in caper and olive marinade

The food was simple. Red snapper is a beautiful fish which I like very much. The recipe is from the Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan. I have written about this fabulous cooking book in earlier entries of my blog.

I just love lunches like this one. We all relax, enjoy the food and the company. This was the first time we moved away from the dry Riesling-fish pairing and moved tp the Italian whites. We will repeat this, for sure.
And as Epicurus said: “Pleasure is the beginning and end of living happily”.

Birds growing up

September 22, 2009


Birds with proper feathers

I regularly monitor the development of my two little birds, and as you can see from the photos, they are growing up fast, very fast. I am very protective of my Yellow-vented Bulbuls and hope they can grow up in safety to become beautiful birds. The nest is now getting smaller for the growing birds.


Always hungry


Also the parents are very attentive and wary of the humans of course.

The Yellow-vented Bulbul or Merbah Kapur (Pycnonotus goiavier) of the passerine family is quite common in South-East Asia. They originate from the mangrove forests and coastal scrubs which were so widespread in this part of the world. They forage not only on insects but also eat small fruit, berries, sip nectar and nibble on young shoots. They are also not afraid to browse for feed on the ground.

The adult birds are about 20 cm long, their crest is slight and they are yellow under their tail. They remind me of Zorro as the black stripes on their face look like a mask. Both parents incubate and raise the young. We had only two eggs but they lay up to five. I look forward to the next stage in their upbringing.

A Sunday at Bloody Hill

September 21, 2009


Great Yarra Valley views from the Mayer Vineyard (left to the dam)

On a beautiful Sunday in early August, we were in for a surprise visit to the Mayer’s. We bought some “nibblies” (Australian for cold meats, sausages, cheeses, condiments, etc.) and some wine in Healesville and drove up the steep drive to Bloody Hill on top of which their beautiful house (rammed earth) is situated. Alas, they were in and happy to welcome their unannounced intruders.


The vineyard at the crest of the hill is very neat


Some of the wines on “offer” (f.l.t.r.: a Silvaner from Franconia, Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, a Riesling from the Pfalz and a Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley)

We came at the right time. A shipment of Riesling wine (about 60 cases) which Timo had made on a visit to Germany last year had just arrived and was ready for tasting. Moreover, as a member of the South Pack, Timo was in the preparation of a wine tasting tour to three Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). The South Pack is a group of eight innovative young Australian wine-makers who have raised the bar for the selling of premium and super-premium wines in sluggish markets.


The German Brotzeit

A quick “Brotzeit” was thrown up and the wine tasting could start. We did not drink in any kind of order but rather according to gusto and enthusiasm. First cap of the rank was the German Riesling Timo had made, Dr. Mayer Riesling of which I have no picture which speaks for itself. This was not a time for tasting notes but for joy and nourishment of body and soul, for Australian and Swabian story telling and song.


Bloody Hill Pinot Noir

Timo is a native of a small hamlet, called “Grossheppach” (about 4,500 inhabitants), today part of the small town called Weinstadt (translated: wine city) in the Rems valley (the Rems is a small river), Wuerttemberg, about 15 km east of Stuttgart. As everything in Germany, Grossheppach has a long history.


Coat of arms of Grossheppach showing the river Rems and four grapes on a vine

Furthermore, the village has a long tradition of vine cultivation and wine making. Timo comes from a family of small vintners (and farmers).

In 1279 a historical deed is the earliest written testament of the flourishing wine production in Grossheppach. Magister Rudolf, a local doctor, had bequeathed his house in Esslingen and three vineyards in Grossheppach to the Abbey of Bebenhausen which was witnessed by knight ‘Fridericus miles de Heggebach’.

Timo showed as a historical chronicle of Grossheppach with black and white photos which also depicted his family in the 18th and 19th century. Here we are, thousands of kilometres away from the old land and talking grape production, wine traditions and wine styles. To cut a long story short, Timo had made his first ever Riesling wine in Grossheppach and shipped it for sale to Australia.

It was not the time for tasting notes, I guess. We opened one bottle after the next. First the Riesling wines, then Chardonnay and finally Pinot Noir and Shiraz, all Mayer Vineyard wines and Timo Mayer creations.


Mayer and Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir and a traditional German wine label with the coat of arms of Grossheppach

The Mayer Vineyard is only a small operation (2.5 ha under vines). All wines are hand crafted and from a single vineyard. Timo believes that wine is made in the vineyard, therefore there is minimal interference. The reds are unfined and unfiltered. Timo makes wines with a difference, with great character and individuality. As he says “he wants to bring back the funk”, and funky these drops are. James Halliday, “the wine pope of Australia”, has awarded his highest rating, a 5 stars, to the Mayer Vineyard.

The Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir is one of the newest creations from the masters hands; a great wine, elegant, whole bunch fermented if I am not mistaken. Timo assumed that all of it would be sold during the South Pack promotion tour together with the Riesling. By now there should be nothing left, I guess.

Needless to say that the day extended to the night and ended with a pasta feast for 9 hungry mouths.


The pasta sauce in the making



The magician at work, this time in the kitchen and not in the wine cellar

We had a great time. The children played all afternoon. We walked the vineyard and Timo showed me where he shot a deer. Then we went to get some of that venison for us to take home. The “Brotzeit” led to dinner and then it was time to drive home to our own vineyard in Glenburn. Good news is that Timo is planning to make Riesling again in 2009 and maybe the following years.

For sales and enquiries contact:

The following wines are for sale:
Bloody Hill Chardonnay
Bloody Hill Pinot Noir
Big Betty Shiraz
Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir (also as the Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir)

Two young birds

September 19, 2009


My two little Merbah Kapur – Yellow-vented Bulbuls have grown a little. The parents are very busy collecting insects to fee the two hungry beaks. They have also grown some feathers.