Happy New Year from the Man from Mosel River

December 31, 2010

Greetings from Two Hills Vineyard in Glenburn, Victoria, Australia. Today, the year 2010 is coming to an end. As usual it was another busy year, a year which made us mothball our small family vineyard and wait for better times of the Australian wine industry. We are not giving up at this point in time.

Blogging has been fun and a great learning experience. Although my day job does not leave me much time for my food and wine passion, I was able to turn our a few pieces.

To all my friends, readers and followers: thank you very much for supporting me and my blog by your visits, comments and suggestions during the last year.

You folks keep me going; now that I will be entering the fifth year of “my life as a food and wine blogger”.

I wish you and your beloved ones all the best for the festive season at the turn to the new year. May you enjoy life, health and togetherness and, of course, a glass of wine here and there.

I have another poem by Jelalludin Rumi for you.

This We Have Now

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come
and go.

This is the presence
that doesn’t.

What else could humans want?

When grapes turn to wine,
they’re wanting this.

Happy New Year. Have a good start into 2011.

On the farm

December 30, 2010

Goodness me how the time passes. The year is almost over. Before coming to Glenburn, I thought that I could find the time to post every day a picture at least. And now I have not touched my beloved blog for a couple of days.

Christmas was wonderful. We celebrated with family and friends and it went on for three days. I got a new camera for Christmas, a Nikon Coolpix, and I have been playing with it. The photos below come from this new toy.

Our two dams are full after all this rain

The sky is blue with beautiful clouds

And in the evening the clouds turn red

And the night sky is just fantastic

Needless to say, we drink a lot of Two Hills Merlot these days. The days are warm and the nights are cool. The air is crisp and clean. It is very quiet here, especially in the night. This is paradise, heaven on a stick so to say. More soon.

Merry Christmas from Bangkok

December 23, 2010

I wish all of you Merry Christmas. Hope you have a peaceful and relaxing time with family and friends.

Cheers everyone

I have a poem for you. It’s from my favourite poet, Jelaluddin Rumi or Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد بلخى) and popularly known as Mowlānā (Persian: مولانا). The poem goes like this:

Say I am You

I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.
To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am the morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.
I am the wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.
I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, though, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of a stone, a flickering
in metal. Both, candle
and the moth crazy around it.
Rose and the nightingale,
lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,
and the falling away. What is,
and what isn’t.

You who know Jelaluddin, You the one in all, say who I am.
Say I am you.

Top Australian Riesling wines

December 21, 2010

Riesling grape

I admit that as a German Riesling aficionado I have my problems with Australian Riesling wines. I try them again and again but, and to my great chagrin, I have not found what I am looking for.

Australian Riesling wines from the Adelaide Hills, the Clare Valley, the Eden Valley, Tasmania, Canberra District and from Great Southern in Western Australia enjoy a good reputation.

Also our own wine region, the Upper Goulburn Wine Region, produces some beautiful Riesling wines.

The September/October issue of the Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal summarised the tasting of 26 Australian Riesling wines. All of them were under crew caps! Impossible in my native Germany.

Only one of them came from Victoria (Paradigm Hill 2009 Riesling from the Mornington Peninsula). The price range was from A$ 22 to A$ 45 (16.75 to 34.2 EURO). The four top rates wines were:

– 2010 Jacob’s Creek “Steingarten” Riesling (it is German for “stone garden”), a tank sample, Barossa Valley, South Australia

– 2009 “The Florita” Riesling by Jim Barry Wines, Clare Valley, South Australia

– 2009 Premium Riesling by Helm Wines, Canberra District, New South Wales

– 2009 Riesling by Plantagenet Wines, Mount Barker, Western Australia

The magazine carried also a photo of the vineyard where the Jacob’s Creek “Steingarten” Riesling is produced. It reminded me of my home region along the Mosel and Saar river. Here every vine has a single “stick” and is “wrapped” around it with no wire between the posts, nothing.

The “Steingarten” vineyard is entirely worked by hand because of it’s steepness. Also this reminds me of the Mosel with its ultra-steep slopes. The stones are of red colour, though, whereas the Mosel has blue and grey slate.

And believe me these Australian wine producers are not modest. At the recent International Riesling Challenge in Canberra they gave the top wine the title: Best Riesling in the World. Can you imagine. Modesty used to be a virtue which must have jumped out of the window down under.

The trophy was given to a ‘2005 Pauletts Aged Release Polish Hill Riesling’ from Polish Hill in the Clare valley, South Australia by Paulett Wines.

I cannot even try this wine because it is sold out. My search continues. I keep you posted.

The year of living baldly

December 20, 2010

It is now about exactly one year that I cut what was left of my hair and adopted the new hairstyle which has become so prominent especially among celebrities but also among many ordinary men like me.

From Bruce Willis to Kelly Slater hairlessness has rarely been that cool. I remember of course Yul Brunner from my youth. He was not my role model, though, I was rather orienting myself towards the hairy hunks such as Frank Zappa, Ian Anderson, Neil Young or Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Opinion is divided about the outcome. My children just love it and my mother just hates it. She is reminiscing about the good old days when I belonged to the post-hippy or flower-power generation and my long red curls touched my shoulders. My mum treasures the memories of that time.

Well, I am not the same. About 40 odd years older, one has to think about re-inventing oneself. The central questions for some is: Is bald beautiful? To others the main question is: Is bald practical? And the third category of people might ask if it is beautiful and practical at the same time?

I of course cannot answer the first and the last question. I find practical that I do not have to dry my hair after washing them in the morning. I wet flannel is actually sufficient to clean myself now. But I have also some more work, because I have to shave my scull regularly.

But what is most important to me is that I feel good about myself. And that’s what I do. I might stay bald for a while.

Cheers, have a sip of wine and enjoy the coming festive season.

4. Sunday of Advent with German Riesling

December 19, 2010

It was my time to cook Sunday lunch. Anyway, the three gorgeous women I share my life with were due to travel to Australia later today. In order to give them time to pack, I prepared lunch. I admit, however, that Margit helped me quite a lot. Otherwise, I guess, I would not have accomplished the task.

So what did I cook? A strange dish, I must say, straight out of the Jamie Oliver cookery book titled “Jamies does…”. It is a recipe from the Maghreb, Marrakesh to be precise. It consists of spicy vermicelli stuffed with prawns in a courgettes-tomato kind of sauce and on top a large fish is positioned (sea bass, snapper, etc.). Since we did not have a whole fish, we used fillets of sea bass.

The whole process is too complicated to be recited here. The recipe can be found on the internet, one of Jamie’s websites. Boy that dish is delicious, just wonderful. I would like to encourage you to try it, especially if you like spicy food.

The prawn-stuffed spicy vermicelli with fish

The fish is succulent but crisp

On the plate

As the title of this blog entry suggest, Riesling was the wine of my choice. German Riesling is my favourite. Wine does not age in my care here in Bangkok in the tropics. I selected a ‘2008 Riesling Kabinett’ by Schloss Johannisberg, one of the oldest Riesling producers in the Rheingau and Germany as a whole.

2008 Riesling Kabinett Schloss Johannisberg

A Kabinett was just the right wine because of its relative high “rest sugar” it’s off-dry or semi-dry, “halbtrocken” or “feinherb”, as the Germans say. However, the label did not say if the wine was dry or semi-dry. But my palate told me the sugar level must be at about 9 grams or so. Alcohol was 11.5%.

In any case the wine went extremely well with the very spicy vermicelli. I just love the bouquet, this slight petrol note on the nose. This is a wonderful rich wine, with a fine balanced acidity, the taste of apples and peaches are prominent.

2008 Riesling Kabinett Schloss Johannisberg

I wish we had more of this drop

If you buy this wine directly from the producer, you have to spend 17 Euro for a 0.75 litres bottle.

The meal with this wine was just perfect for the occasion. Time fly’s. Christmas is approaching fast and soon I will be back in Glenburn, Australia and taste many new-world wines.

Fürst von Metternich-Winneburg’sche Domäne
Schloss Johannisberg

D-65366 Geisenheim
Tel.: +49 (0) 6722-7009-0
E-Mail info@schloss-johannisberg.de
Tel:. +49 (0)6722 96090
E-Mail restaurant@schloss-johannisberg.de

Christmas season lunch in Bangkok

December 18, 2010

While Europe is going under in snow, Bangkok is enjoying coolish winter days, some of them nice and sunny with temperatures in the mid twenties. Then a light lunch is what we need.

Grilled vegetables and some cold cuts are just the right food. And what do you drink with it?

Well, a ‘2007 Sauvignon Blanc’ by Mount Nelson from New Zealand is just the right wine. Apart from Riesling and Silvaner (only from Franconia), Sauvignon Blanc is my favourite white. Moreover, it goes well with light summer lunches, I think.

Grilled ‘veggies’

Cold cuts

Golden Sauvignon Blanc

Come to my garden !

December 16, 2010

Right now it’s winter time in Thailand. Temperatures are between 24 and 28 during the night and up to 32 Celsius in the daytime in Bangkok. A nice time of the year. This is why so many tourist are now arriving here in Thailand.

These days my terrace garden is in full bloom. Some of the beauty I will share with you. Just fill you glass with a delicious and crisp Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling and scroll down at your leisure.

Season’s greetings from the Happy Gardener

Bodega Berberana – Wine from Rioja

December 12, 2010

Pasta ai funghi porcini

A pasta ai funghi porcini needs a strong wine as accompaniment. Therefore I selected a ‘2003 Carta de Oro Crianza Rioja’ by Bodega Berberana, one of the oldest Rioja wine producers.

The ‘2003 Carta de Oro Rioja’ by Berberana

I believe it is high time that the 2003 vintage is consumed. The wine’s colour is already changing from dark red to the brick brown. But it has still the strength, the flavour and the body which makes this Rioja wine so superb. This blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Grenache is just the perfect wine for a “heavy” pasta. It is velvety and smooth with a long finish, a complex wine for every day drinking. Just honest and good stuff.

The back label of the Berberana Rioja

The colour is slowly changing

Red Mountain Estate – Wines from Burma

December 11, 2010

Pinot Noir by Red Mountain Estate

My friend Moritz brought some bottles of wine from a trip to Burma back to Bangkok. He gave me a ‘2009 Pinot Noir Taunggyi Wine’ by Red Mountain Estate which is located in the Southern Shan State at the picturesque Inle lake. The vineyard was planted in 2003 at about 1000 meters altitude.

When I opened the bottle and found a plastic “cork” my enthusiasm declined rapidly. Well, what will the wine taste like, I thought, with such an enclosure?

To say it from the outset, the wine is a project in the making. The technology used by Red Mountain Estate may be ultra modern. All equipment is imported from Europe and the wine is aged in Hungarian oak. However, the tropical conditions, as customary to New Latitude wines, is still a challenge.

The colour of the wine is a dark red. It is medium bodied and has 12.5 % alcohol. The taste is a mixture of saw dust and rubber, not unpleasant though, and perfectly drinkable.

I had the chance to taste some more of the Red Mountain Estate products at Moritz’s house. I liked the Chardonnay best followed by the Rose. The reds were not particularly strong, a bit thin, for my taste. As I said, work in progress.

Front label of Red Mountain Estate Pinot Noir

The location of Red Mountain Estate is very beautiful, almost spectacular. Photos of the Inle Lake, the vineyard and the winery can be found on the estate’s webpage (Moritz has some on his facebook site). I should visit this region and have a look myself.

The back label of the Pinot Noir by Red Mountain Estate

PS: We had some antipasti – fried salami – before the main course, a pasta. The recipe is from a Jamie Oliver cookery book. Wonderful, so tasty, with olive oil and fresh Parmesan cheese.

The fried salami antipasti

Red Mountain Estate
Taung Chay Village Group, Nyaungshwe Township,
Southern Shan State, Myanmar.
Tel: +95-081-209366 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +95-081-209366      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Fax: +95-081-209475
Mobile: +95-09-5174312