Bodegas Muriel Reserva, Rioja

November 30, 2009

2001 Bodegas Muriel Reserva, Rioja

I do not buy a lot of wine from Spain, main reason being that I do not know enough about Spanish wines. But the other day I made an exception and bout a bottle of ‘2001 Muriel Reserva’ from Rioja, Spain. Made of Tempranillo grapes, this wines is just wonderful, rich and full, lot’s of red forest fruit, silky and smooth the tannins.

As you can see from the picture below, the colour of the wine is already like a brick. Reserva wines by Muriel are aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels and three years in the bottle. It was a great pleasure to drink this wine. I need to learn more about the wine region of Rioja and its wines. We had the wine with dinner, of course.

The colour of the Rioja

Muriel is located in the heart of the Rioja region in the small town of Elciego, next to the river Mayor, east of the E-804 from Zaragoza to Bilbao. When in 1973 on our final study tour before concluding “Gymnasium” (high school), I passed the area on my way from Burgos to San Sebastian not knowing anything about the famous wine region (not that I would know much more today).

Muriel also makes a white wine, from Viura grapes, the website said. Honestly, I have never heard of the Viura grape, what an ignoramus I am. There is so much to learn out there. Life is just beautiful.

Tree of life

November 29, 2009

The “tree of life” is a concept found in many cultures with various interpretations. The picture above was taken at the outskirts of Bangkok, a Bodhi tree under which Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment.

Today is the 29 November, a very special day. It is the 15 anniversary of my children, the twins Lucy and Charlotte.

Happy birthday girls.

Below are the flowers for you, a special orchid which just bloomed on our terrace.

Since it is seven o’clock here in Manila, I have no bottle of champagne for a toast. That we will do later today when reunited in Bangkok.
Cheers folks

Dreams of Two Hills Vineyard

November 28, 2009

Brownies Landing at Two Hills Vineyard in Glenburn

While the north American continent celebrates Thanksgiving and the Muslim world Eid ul Adha, I am homesick for Australia and our small farm-cum-vineyard in Glenburn, Victoria.

There, we had lots of rain, the vines are doing well, the grass is lush and green and our two dams are full of sweet water.

Brunello di Montalcino and pasta

November 27, 2009

2004 Pietroso Brunello di Montalcino

Just a simple dinner with a pasta and a salad. I grabbed a bottle of red from the wine fridge and woh, where did I buy this wine? It was a ripper of a red, ‘2004 Brunello di Montalcino’ by Pietroso (about 100 km south of Florence in Tuscany).

Aged for 36 months in oak barrels, this 100% Sangiovese wine is just a wonderful drop. Intense forest fruit flavours, great structure, good mid-palate weight and a long finish, round and silky. It took us by surprise.

A delicious pasta

We had just a simple pasta for an ordinary dinner during the week. When I went back to the supermarket the next day to look for this wine, I could not find it any more. I know why: it’s marvelous. Look out for this Brunello di Montalcino. It’s worth it. Azienda Agricola Pietroso produced 2004 about 13,000 bottles of this Brunello. I think it was one of the best wines we had had recently.

How to open a bottle of wine

November 26, 2009

This is another technique to open a bottle of wine (and not breaking off the neck) if you are not in possession of a proper bottle opener.

Please do not mind the French.
The clip is self-explanatory, in fact amazing. It shows “where there is a will…….”.


The best 10 German dry Riesling wines

November 25, 2009

It was a bit disappointing for a native from the Mosel River to read through the list of best dry Riesling wines of Gault Millau’s newly released wine guide 2010.

Among the best German dry Riesling wines of 2007 and 2008 there was not a single one from the Mosel, Saar or Ruwer.

I know that my home region is more famous for its semi-dry and sweet Rieslings but…

The good news it that a wine from the Nahe where my materal grandfather had introduced me to dry wines many decades ago was ranked the second highest.

Moreover, the vintner of the year is also from the Nahe. Tim Fröhlich (35) was awarded this prestigious title. The family estate Schäfer-Fröhlich is one of the best wineries in the Nahe Region and produces outstanding dry and sweet wines.

The winner for best dry Riesling (with 96 points) was a wine from the Pfalz, a ‘Forster Kirchenstück GC’ by Dr. Bürklin-Wolf (70 €). Emrich-Schoenleber received 95 point for a ‘Halenberg Grosses Gewächs’ (29 €). Among the top ten five Riesling wines came from Pfalz, two from Rheingau and Rheinhessen each and one wine from the Nahe.

That the Franconian wines were missing from the list was a further disappointment. Also in Franconia the 2007 and 2008 vintages were outstanding (as is the 2009).

Two other wines received 95 points, a ‘Abtserde Grosses Gewächs by Keller Estate, Rheinhessen and a ‘Forster Pechstein GC’ also by Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, Pfalz (35 €). 94 points were awarded to three wines: a ‘Deidesheimer Hohenmorgen GC’ by Dr. Bürklin-Wolf (35 €), a Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg by Georg Breuer, Rheingau (40 €) and a ‘G-Max’, also by Keller Estate, Rheinhessen (I found a price of 160 € from an internet sales website). From some chat on the internet I got the impression that you won’t see a bottle on any shelf. This wine is “rationed” and reserved for special customers. Keller estate was “the producer of the year 2006” of Gault Millau.

Two wines were given 93 points: ‘Kastanienbusch Grosses Gewächs’ by Rebholz Estate, Pfalz (32 €), and ‘Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Alte Reben Goldkapsel’ by Josef Leitz, Rheingau (65 €). Wine number 10 received 92 points and it was a ‘Birkweiler Kastanienbusch Schiefer’ by Siener Estate, Pfalz (16.50 €). This is the only wine in my price-range.

Needless to say that all the wine gurus of the world have written about these wines and these producers, John Gilman, Jancis Robinson, Eric Assimov to name only a few. Some of the wine reviews you can find on the internet, some of them are linked by the specific estate named above. It seems there is lots of research to be done.

Go wine enthusiast. You can, of course, also buy the wine guide, Gault Millau.

Tio Pepe – Fine sherry

November 22, 2009

Palomino Fino

We had a sherry, but not any sherry: I bought a bottle of Tio Pepe, in my local supermarket, one of the best and most popular sherries. I was a true find. The Palomino Fino is made from the Palomino grape variety, one of the most important for the production of sherry. Fino is the driest of the traditional sherries and also the palest in colour, as you can see from the photo below.

Tio Pepe

Sherry is one of the underrated wines of today. When we visited Madrid two summers ago, we ended up in the sherry bar of town, “La Venencia”, an icon and heaven for the sherry lover. This somehow has triggered our re-discovery of sherry and ever since sitting on the rustic table in this bar, I just love this type of fortified wine. Tio Pepe’s Palomino Fino is wonderful with food. We had it with antipasti, olives and bruschette. What a joy. It’s not cheap in Thailand (we paid about Thai Bath 1,600 which is 32 EURO!) but I could not resist.

On the nose

November 20, 2009

This is the most beautiful time in Bangkok. For about 6 to 8 weeks we will have very pleasant temperatures. Since I walk to the office, a luxury in Asia, this matters quite a bit. These days I can enjoy every step on my 20 minutes walk to work.

This walk is also a good training for the nose. Yes, you red right, the nose. You agree with me that the nose is a very important organ for any wine connoisseur. The first thing you do when tasting a wine is swirrling the wine. Your nose trys to catch the fragrances emitted by the liquid. Most of our noses need regular training. Well, let me come back to my walk to the office.

If I could only close my eyes when walking (too dangerous though) it would be even more striking. Taking the nose on a walk in Asia is quite an adventure, one might think. That’s true. However, my morning walk takes me along two busy Sois (Thai for street): Thonglor and Ekkamai and Soi 10 which connects the two.

The nose in action

This means that about 80% of the route is boring for my nose, just the fumes of the passing vehicles, some petrol notes maybe, mostly tar and lots of dust. In the evening I have started to wear a mask because it is just too tedious walking along the traffic jam. But that is very different in the mornings (I am an early bird). So the remaining 20% of the way are interesting; half of it pleasant, half of it not so pleasant.

First highlight is the Chinese chicken restaurant with two large pots on the gas stove full of chicken meat bubbling in the water with, I guess, “Sichuan spices”. Then I pass by walls and large gardens tucked behind them. During this time of the year not many plants are flowering but still my nose is on high alert sniffing for the scent of jasmin or other blossoms.

Just before I turn around the corner, I greet the “barbecue” man, roasting various types of meats, some on skewers, sausages, chicken wings and so on, on his mobile cart as breakfast for the passers-by. Here my nose catches notes of charcoal, burning fat and skin, the smell of freshly cooked meat.

Around the corner is the next highlight, the Chinese noodle shop, warm smells of steam engulf my olfactory organ, freshly hacked herbs add corriander fragrances. One lady sells fresh fruit and vegetables as well as freshly baked sweets for the casual wanderer. If my nose is lucky it can capture a fragrance of tropical notes and the aura of fresh bread.

But before I come to the the dim sum place, usually still closed when I pass by, though the trays under steam, I have to pass three locations where the garbage of night clubs and restaurants is kept on the pavement before it is collected in the morning. Here the nose finds aromas of decomposing organic matter which is a sweet-sour smell. This is sometimes a challenge.

The worst places are those where dogshit, many urbanites keep small dogs as pets, accumulates. The Thais being very tidy people sweep the walkways daily. As a consequence the danger to step into dogshit is not that big. However, the pungent and acrid smell of canine turds is another challenge for my nose. The odour is very strong even if the source of it has long disappeared from the scene.

The last stretch is lined with beauty salons (there are so many), which from time to time let a fargrance of lavender escape from the parlour. An executive “supercars” dealer, night clubs (zillions), bus stops and a computer laboratory complete the row of building I have to pass. Finally, comes the dim sum place but only on my way home will my nose be in the position to indulge in the aromas of the fine dumplings.

Nose training, I recommend it. From time to time close your eyes and trust your olfactory organ, and enjoy, as we say in Asia. Cheers folks. I am off to a drink, red wine, I suppose. Have a good weekend and a nice smell.

First Fire Warning in Victoria

November 18, 2009

Goodness me, the first fire warning is out for this fire season. After last year’s February 9th desaster, new categories were created: “extreme”, “severe” and “very high” are the three new categories.

North Central, the region were Glenburn and our vineyard (Two Hills Vineyard) are located is marked as “severe”, whereas North east and Mallee are classified as “extreme”. Being far away from home does not help in such a situation. I will check the weather radar on my PC on a daily basis.

With the high temperature (38-39 degrees celsius) of the last days, I guess the land has dried out again. I was so happy with the rains we got in September and October which filled our two dams to the brim.

Restaurant review: Bombay Palace, Kuala Lumpur

November 17, 2009

Bombay Palace

A beautiful building houses the Bombay Palace: 1001 nights come to mind

I usually do not use business dinners as a source for my blog entries. However, in the case of Bombay Palace I make an exception from this rule. I had started the day (a Sunday) with an Indian breakfast to which my friends took my in one of the many shop-house-eateries in Bangsa. Needless to say that it was super delicious.

Bombay Palace1

The excursion of my taste buds to the Indian subcontinent continued with the dinner at Bombay Palace. I always wanted to dine there but the occasion never arose. Therefore, I was very excited about the prospect of a dinner in this famous restaurant. Ever since living in New Delhi I love north Indian food.

Bombay Palace2

A water fountain decorated with roses was to be found in the entrance hall

I did not feel like eating any meet, and therefore ordered a vegetarian “platter”, a selection of various vegetarian north Indian dishes as you can see from the photos below. The food was excellent, and so was the service in the restaurant. I can only highly recommend the place. You must eat there! if visiting Kuala Lumpur.

Bombay Palace3


Bombay Palace5

My “selection” of vegetarian dishes

The wine list included wines from all over the world. After discussing wine preferences with my fellow diners, I selected a French wine, a ‘2006 Sancerre’ by Pascal Jolivet, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, France (12.5% vol. alc.). I love Sauvignon Blanc wines not only because we grow our own but because I just love the finesse, the crispness and the fruity flavours.

Pascal Jolivet is a unique guy with a strong philosophy when it comes to the making of fine wines. With more than 30 ha under vines the Domaine Pascal Jolivet is not a boutique producer. His vineyards are located in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume in the Loire valley. In the USA the ‘2006 Sancerre’ retails for about US$ 22. We very much enjoyed this clean and crisp wine, just the right choice since it went well with our meals.

I admit that this was my first encounter with a wine of Pascal Jolivet. I do not drink much French wine but this time I was in an exploratory mood which is good from time to time. I recommend it and also the Sancerre by Pascal Jolivet.

Bombay Palace4

The wine list

To sum up my experience I must say that the evening at Bombay Palace was just great. The food was excellent and the wine list gives you enough choice to find a complement to the north Indian cuisine. I will come back, promise.

Bombay Palace
215, Jalan Tun Razak
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan 50400, Malaysia
+60 3 2145-4241