Viña Tondonia White Reserva 1987, Rioja, Spain

October 18, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we drank a very special type of wine, a white Rioja, vintage 1987, called Viña Tondonia White Reserva! Our wine-making friend, Timo Mayer from the Yarra Valley had brought the bottle all the way from Europe to Bangkok.

The winery is owned and managed by the third generation of the López de Heredia family. For a hundred and thirty one years this enterprise is producing exceptional and unique wines. The founder of the company, Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta, defined in the late nineteenth century what a “Supreme Rioja” wine could be. Viña Tondonia White Reserva 1987 bears witness to this philosophy.

Timo Mayer opening the bottle in our kitchen

The wine is made from Viura (about 70%, also called Macabeu in France) and Malvasia grapes. It was kept for 10 years on the yeast in old, large oak barrels and for 13 years in the bottle before the wine is finally released.

1987 is the current vintage! Who can afford to leave wine for 23 years in the cellar?

The wine is a unique experience. It is completely dry, has a fine bouquet with a hint of dried fruit. First, we did not know what to make of it but with each sip it dawned on us that we held something very special in our glasses. Awesome stuff, indeed. One can taste the passion which went into this wine.

Cheers mate

The wine can be bought in Germany from “Weinhalle“. It is not cheap but worth to be explored if you long for a unique and amazing wine experience.

The best Mongolian hotpot ever

October 15, 2010

The Bull Brauhaus, Mongolian Hotpot restaurant in Ulaan Bataar

I was invited by my Mongolian friends to dine at “The Bull Brauhaus”, a Mongolian Hotpot restaurant in Ulaan Bataar, the capital city of Mongolia. The restaurant was packed with customers when we arrived, among them a large group of young Tibetan monks. The time of my visit coincided with an international conference on Mongolian Buddhism; even Richard Geere was in town.

I had hotpot before, in places as diverse as Japan, Korea, Thailand, China and Indonesia. However, the hotpot experience at “The Bull Brauhaus” was another matter. I guess it was the best hotpot ever. The quality of the meat was outstanding. A great variety of condiments was on offer. Each of us had its own little hotpot stove. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of them.

Look at the condiments

Look at the meat

We drank ‘Mongol’ beer with the food which was a good choice.

Mongol beer

The Mongolian quality vodka: Chenggis Khan

At the end of the meal the obligatory vodka was served. Chenggis Khan vodka seemed to be the preferred brand by my host. In the following day s of my visit I should have more of it. Needless to say that we had a jolly good time. If in Mongolia do as the Mongolian do, is a famous saying. The Bull Brauhaus in Ulaan Bataar is definitely worth a visit.

Wine from Franconia: Weingut Juliusspital, Würzburg

October 12, 2010

During a recent visit to Berlin, I bought also some bottles of fine wine. I treated myself to a ‘grand cru’ or ‘Grosses Gewaechs’ as the Germans call it. The ‘2006 Juliusspital GG dry Silvaner’ was just the stuff which makes my wine lovers heart jump. The winery is one of the best in Franconia and ever since my late grand father took me there as a 16 year old boy I am in love with its wines. Franconian Silvaner is one of my favorites. The wine comes in the ‘Bocksbeutel’ bottle typical for Franconia.

2006 GG Silvaner Juliusspital dry

Nothing is better suited to wine enjoyment than the presence of a wine expert. When Timo Mayer, owner and wine maker of The Mayer Vineyard from the Yarra Valley, Victoria visited us recently in Bangkok, I could not resist to open this treasure of a wine from Franconia.

It has a golden colour, and is quite oily with a beautiful bouquet. The structure is good and it finishes with a tender bitter note due to the fine tannins. In short: a wonderful wine.

The wine is ready for tasting

Weingut Juliusspital
Klinikstr. 1
97070 Würzburg

Tel.: +49-931393-1400 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +49-931393-1400      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +49-931393-1400      end_of_the_skype_highlighting 
Fax: +49-931393-1414

Some treat me nicely

October 11, 2010

Beijing Kempinski Hotel

At a recent stop-over in Beijing, the Kempisnki Hotel at the Lufthansa Center surprised me with a beautiful bottle of wine, a 2009 Dragon Seal Cabernet Sauvignon. Thanks folks, that was a wonderful gesture,

A day in the country – Italy at its best

October 8, 2010

There is nothing more beautiful than a leisurely day in the Italian countryside. These beautiful long summer evenings with olives, figs and prosciutto, and , of course, an insalata caprese with mozzarella di buffalo.

What should the wine be? Well, there are many choices. If it is still hot and warm, I would have an Italian white, an aromatic wine from Alto Adige, or a Frascati or a Pinot Grigio.

But that particular evening, we had a red wine, a bottle of Cannonau di Sardegna by Sella and Mosca. It is claimed that the grape variety came from Spain to Italy in the 14th century. This is very likely because Cannonau is the local term for Grenache. And Grenache is of Spanish origin. It is one of the most widely planted grape varieties and makes delicious wines.

The modern style of this variety is lower in alcohol than the traditional one. It is a very enjoyable wine, full of forest fruit with fine tannins and a good balance. You should try a Riserva, though. We had only the simple “country wine” version. Anyway, it was just ‘a day in the country’

Rinaldi 2008 Barbera d’Alba – the real stuff

October 5, 2010

2008 Barbera d’Asti by Rinaldi

To have an experienced wine-maker staying over at ones home is a blessing. I always learn so much about different wine styles and different wines. When Timo Mayer, owner and wine maker of The Mayer Vineyard in the Yarra Valley, visited us in Bangkok recently, we had the chance to catch up with the world of wine-making.

He brought a bottle of ‘2008 Barbera d’Asti’ of Giuseppe Rinaldi from Piemont, Italy. He had visited the winery on a study tour to Italy and wanted to share this treasure with us. Rinaldi makes his wines “the good old way”, using no barriques, no destemming, no filtration etc. He is one of only about a handful of wine-makers left who are not producing heavy (oaked) wines for the American market.

One bottle is just the beginning

The results of this traditional style wine-making are wonderful. The wine is fruity with a good structure, the acids are remarkable, the tannins are fine and delicate. You taste the earth the grapes were grown on and not the oak they were exposed to. This is Barbera d’Asti of the best. If you have a chance to indulge in it, my suggestions: do it.

Rinaldi Giuseppe Az. Agr.
Via Monforte, 3
12060 Barolo (Cn)
Tel.: +39-173-56156
Fax: +39-173-56156
Year founded: 1890
Owner: Rinaldi Giuseppe

Restaurant review: Quán Ăn Ngon, Hanoi, Vietnam

October 4, 2010

Quán Ăn Ngon and the tents in the garden

My favourite restaurant in Hanoi is Quán Ăn Ngon. When I went there recently I indulged in delicious Vietnamese food. The pity is if you are just one person it is difficult to just grasp the full potential of a Vietnamese meal. Who can eat five-six dishes all by himself?

The place was packed with people when I got there, but the friendly waiters found a table just for myself. I started with a Hanoi beer, then ordered some Chinese rolls, some soup, some salads and had a jolly good time watching the buzzing place and the happy people around me.

Hanoi Beer

My meal

The picture one of the very friendly waiters took of me

Postscript: This is the place to go to when in Hanoi. A people’s place. I just love the food. They have also a branch in Ho-Chi-Min City but I find the Hanoi one much more appealing.

My verdict: five out of five.

Caution: Not much for wine drinkers. Hanoi Beer is the go.

Quán Ăn Ngon
18 Phan Boi Chau,
Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel.: +84-4-3942-8162
Fax: +84-4-3942-8164‎