Let there be wine in 2010

December 31, 2009

Pokal of German Riesling

Another year is coming to an end. And what a year this was. We were almost wiped out by the wild fires in February. We had no vintage and no income from the grapes but bought a new traktor. We had sufficient rains but grape prices in Australia promise to be the lowest in recent history which does not bode well for Two Hills our little boutique vineyard in Gelburn, Victoria. So what will 2010 bring for us small vintners?

Many grape growers have pulled out their vines. Thousands of hectares of vines are no more. This is most likely not enough to save the price slide. Many more of us will have to give up and/or supplement their incomes with off-farm work.

There are quite a few “lifestyle” people among us. They will have to decide if the price of “their hobby” is still affordable for another year. Then there are the pure investors, some of them lured into grape growing out of taxation reaons. They will be the first to abondon the industry for greener pastures or just walk away from their losses.

Some of us are the ever optimists banking on the future such as myself. “It will all come good”, one day or not at all, but we hang in there for the love and the passion and the satisfaction growing a good product which will reward our efforts. “Bring it on”, one more time, and let the wheel of life run another circle.

This is my last post for 2009. I will end my three years of wine and food blogging with a total of 401 blog entries. Uff, I made it. This means that every 2.6 days I prepared a new piece during the last 36 months. I am chuffed but not sure if I can keep this up. I have still not found an answer to the question: Shall I continue or do something else? Would that mean to stop drinking wine and eating good food?

I will keep on contemplating about this conundrum.

Another year in Bangkok is coming to an end. The last 16 months since our arrival were quite busy, full of change and excitement. We have not seen much of Thailand as yet but there is, god willing, still some time for that.

Tonight, the four of us will join the Bangkok St. Patricks Society’s New Years Eve party on a boat on the Chao Phraya river. I guess we will have a couple of drinks, maybe dance, and we will celebrate the end of another year on this plante and welcome 2010.

I will let you know how it went. But let me say: Happy New year to all of you. God bless you.

Christmas Lunch at La Villa, Bangkok

December 30, 2009

La Villa Restaurant

For Christmas lunch we had booked at table at La Villa, an Italian restaurant not far from our home in Thonghlor, Bangkok, right in our neighbourhood. We had eaten there before and therefore, knew that the food would be delicious.

All these bottles…

One of the house wines, a Sauvignon Blanc

We had antipasti and a pasta as “secondi” and, of course, the children wanted dessert. Below you can see what we had.

Charlotte’s choice

Margit’s choice

Lucy’s choice

My choice: mozarella in ham on greens

Spaghetti alle vongole


Tagliatelle with mushrooms

Other tagliatelle

Various ice creams and sorbets

The Adam family (do you like my new haircut?)

It all ended with espresso and an Averna. Before that we had a glass of red wine (house wine open), a Cabernet Sauvignon.

The food at La Villa is realy nice, and so is the service. It is not cheap but on an occasion like this, it was just the perfect choice.

La Villa – Il Ristorante
131 Soi Sukhumwit 53 (Paidee-Madee) Sukhumvit Rd. North Klongton
Wattana District
Bangkok, Thailand 10110
Tel. : 02 7129991, 02 7129129
Fax: 02 7129960

What a vintner needs

December 29, 2009

A cup of tea, a digital camera, a hat, a note book, a pen, a tape measure (?), glasses (old vintners do), some coins and a knife.

Anything missing?

Yunnan food at 中8楼 in Sanlitun – Beijing

December 28, 2009

Parallel to Xindong Lu where we lived in the early 1990s, the Sanlitun lane was nothing than a small side-street with a small food market in east Beijing. Ever since this small street took off from about 1993 onwards and has become one of the major hangouts in the city today.

During my recent visit I could witness this again. My friend Brian Wallace, the director of Red Gate Gallery took me out one night for a meal at Sanlitun.

He took me to 中8楼 one of the city’s classiest Yunnan restaurants. Apart from excellent food at very reasonable prices, Middle 8th offers elegant décor and excellent service.

Brian, director of Red Gate Gallery

Brian ordered the meal. I had seen the vegetables (picture below) on a table while we were waiting to be seated (booking in advance is recommended). It is Yunana vegatables in banana leaf, very tasty, lovely food.

Yunnan veggies

Scrimp salad

Sweet potatoes

Pigeon eggs, mushrooms and greens

Dali, Yunnan beer

Interesting beer glasses

Needless to say this was a wonderful evening and the two of us, we had a great time. I highly recommend the restaurant. Yunnan food is just very special indeed.

PS: Before we went for dinner, Brian took me to a boutique luxury hotel at Sanlitun, called “The Opposite House”. Red Gate Gallery is providing modern art by some of their artists during the months of October to December as a kind of “moving exhibition”.

The Middle 8th Yunnan Restaurant

The Opposite House
Beijing, China

Red Gate Gallery
Gallery Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Everyday
Tel/ Fax: (86 10) 6525 1005

Gallery Address:
Levels 1 & 4, Dongbianmen Watchtower
Chongwenmen, Beijing


Postal Address:
Beijing International Post Office
Box No. 9039, Beijing, China 100600

“Second-Christmas-Day” Party

December 27, 2009

The 26 December is called the “2nd Christmas day” in my native Germany. Since my father’s birthday fell on the 25 and was not celebrated because of Christmas, the 2nd Christmas day was usually the day his friends came to visit and congratulate him for his birthday.

Well, in this quasi tradition, we invited friends and acquaintances to our humble home for a Christmas barbecue, merging German and Australian customs of our family. I was very busy grilling pork and chicken, therefore no photos of the results of my labour at my “Weber grill”. Moreover, I grilled some veggies for the vegetarians among us (I was commended for the quality and the good taste). Margit had made various potato and bean salads; we had greens and white bread.

There are also no photos of the wines we consumed. Just two of the desserts. But a heck of a party it was. The 9 adults and the 9 children had a good time, as the two photos below show.

The “long” table

From 4 to 58 years old, 18 people around the table

The desserts:

Le Notre, the best dessert maker in town

The home made Pawlowa, Australian delight

Matthias and Beatrice had provided most of the wine (and the Le Notre dessert). We drank some beautiful drops. Here are the highlights:

‘2005 Rocky Passes Syrah’ (our last bottle) was perfect for the event: a Christmas party Australian style. It’s a beautiful example of cool climate Shiraz from our Upper Goulburn Wine Region. Vitto Oles makes great wines. James Halliday gave the 2005 Syrah 94 points.

‘2007 Altenkirch dry Riesling’, Lorch, Rheingau/Germany. Friedrich Altenkirch is a very well known vintner. Some of his wines were just rewarded silver and bronze medals at the International Wine Challenge and the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards. The 2007 Riesling is young and fizzy, a solid German wine. The wine-maker, Tomoko Kuriyama, comes from Japan not a common trait of German wineries.

‘2005 Château La Raze Beauvallet, Cru Bourgeois’ from Medoc, Bordeaux, France. The château (45 ha) is owned by the Sourice family and has retained the original ‘cru Bourgeois’ classification from the 1930s because of the wine quality. The wine style is fruity and soft, easy to drink.

Needless to say, we had some bubbly as well, mostly from Taltarni, Australia. We will do this again.

Merry Christmas 2009

December 25, 2009

Hi folks, it’s Christmas again and I wish all of you the best of all festive seasons. Cheers

Christmas time is “sparkling time” it seems. We bought a whole collection, some in prices reduced. At the moment we drink a lot of Taltarni, Australia and Prosecco by Cascine, Italy, both wonderful for any occasion, and moderately prced even by Thai standards. We are drinking lashings of it. Enjoy

Sichuan food in Beijing

December 23, 2009

Christmas decoration at Chang an jie

Also China shines in Christmas lights these days. During my recent visit I could check out various department stores and restaurants where I could experience the magic.

My good old friend Xingyuan took me to a Sichuan restaurant not far from where he is working at Jianguomennei. He ordered so many dishes which I cannot show all in this blog entry.

We were too busy chatting and catching up after a long time apart anyway. My photo-taking was slack at best.

Below you find shots of two spicy Sichuan dishes we had. That it was delishes goes without saying. We could not finish all the food.

I love the spicy Sichuan cuisine though at times some of the dishes are too hot for me. I drank a beer with the spicy food; Xingyuan had a coke.

Happy reunion in Beijing

Black chicken

December 22, 2009

Black chicken

Have you ever eaten “black chicken”? During my recent visit to Taiwan I was invited by a professor from Taiwan Normal University to taste this Chinese delicacy. It takes a while to get used to the colour. However, the chicken meat and the soup it “swims” in are just awesome.

Try it next time when ordering Chinese food.

Nihonmura in Thonglor, Bangkok

December 20, 2009

That’s the corner of my street where I live in Bangkok. The sign on the sail of the boat reads: “Nihonmura” or in Chinese “Ri ben cun” (they are Chinese characters) which means Japanese village. According to a journalist friend of mine about 40,000 Japanese and Koreans are living my neighborhood Thonglor.

There are many Japanese and Korean restaurants here as well, which we have not started to explore as yet. But today we spend the time on our terrace with Italian food and Australian sparkling from Taltarni Vineyards with vineyards in the Pyrenees, and Heathcote, Victoria and in Tasmania.

My life as a “food and wine” blogger

December 19, 2009

When a couple of weeks ago I read on Wannabe Wino that she (Sonadora, but she does not provide her real name) had completed her third year as a blogger, I was reminded that my own three-year-anniversary was approaching fast (at the end of December).

Sonadora has completed her third anniversary with a record of 1076 posts in 1096 days, I thought how wonderful. But it made me also think about my own up-coming three year anniversary.

I then also counted. At that time I thought that even if I were very industrious for the rest of the month, I will not surpass 400 blog entries. Now I am only nine more entries to go. This (the 400 in 1096 days) makes an average of 2.6 days for one entry. I think that’s not bad for someone who has a demanding day job, lots of travel to do, a family, and consequently only evenings for preparing his entries.

However, when I read through my various entries I somehow feel that my life seems to be rather repetitive. So far I did not run out of stories but the stories are very much shaped by the way I live, whom I know, whom I meet and where I go, my habits so to say. How can that be interesting for a stranger.

My statistics look good, the general trend is still pointing upwards. But I am contemplating about stopping my blog altogether. I ask myself why I am still doing it? What are my motives? Should I not spend my precious time doing something else, engage in some physical exercise for instance instead of sitting behind a laptop at night (after I sat behind a desk top for 8-10 hours at work).

So why do I blog? Well, it provides a framework for storytelling. After all we humans love the narrative. Moreover, I disciplines myself. I have to write and keep writing, writing and collecting, and researching of course. I usually make some sort of “investigation”, check out websites and thereby learn a great deal about food and wine and the people who’s passion this is. Yeah, I learn a lot.

Another benefit is “staying in touch”. Living in foreign lands makes it difficult to stay in touch with family and friends. By updating my blog, people can learn about my movements, my thoughts and my life. And I do not to have write letter.

So do I want to miss this? I don’t know. Have to embark on some more introspection, I guess.
Have a good weekend folks. Cheers