Winery review: Del-Gatto Estates, Prince Edward County, Ontario

November 30, 2011

Del-Gatto Estates Winery

In the morning of August 2nd, we visited Del-Gatto Estates Winery, located in Cape Vesey, in the eastern part of Prince Edward County, Ontario.

It should remain the only winery in the East of the island we had a chance to visit because of time constraints.

The tasting shed looked a bit lost but was easy to find.

Del Gatto Estate is a family business which was established by Pat and Heidi Del-Gatto in 2002. The land was purchased a year earlier. On about 6 acres various grape varieties were planted.

Vinifera grapes have a hard time under the harsh climatic conditions found in this part of Canada. Therefore, Pat planted mostly hybrid varieties. Among them are the whites Vidal Blanc, Geisenheim (GM322), Chardonnay, Traminette, Frontenac Gris and Seyval Blanc. The red varieties include St. Croix, Leon Millot, Baco Noir, and Frontenac.

The Del-Gatto vision is “to create quality, hand crafted and distinctive, affordable wines”.

The cellar door with the Italian flag

Inside the tasting shed

Tasting two rosé wines, one three hours the other three days on lees

We tried the Vidal and two rosé varieties as well as the Cabernet Franc. All of the wines were quite distinct from what we had tasted so far. The hybrid varieties make interesting wines, usually with high acidity, a modest fruitiness, a medium body and a not too long finish. It takes a while to get used to their distinct taste but after that….it’s lovely all the way.

Since we could not take many bottles on the plane back to Europe, we decided to buy only two: the Vidal and the Cabernet Franc. The former we consumed with out friends Dominik and Kymm in Stratford, the latter we took back to Bangkok.

New plantings

On the back of the tasting shed, some of the vineyards are located. We found the newly planted lot next to a well established in the photo one below.

The stony soils are not very deep but mineral rich. Rare Waipoos and Solmesville clays are found in this part of the island. Also terroir and climate are very different in the East of Prince Edward County.

We learned that hybrid varieties do not have to be buried in the ground during the ice cold winter, which is also called “hilling” (covering the vines with soil). This saves about 5000 $ per ha. However, vinifera varieties have to undergo this procedure. The de-hilling takes place at the end of April. It is very labour intensive work.

The annual production at Del-Gatto Estate is about 400-500 cases.

Hybrid grape varieties

Young grapes on the vines

A bottle of Vidal

Back label

The 2010 Vidal

The cellar door staff was very friendly and helpful. We loved this place, despite the little blandness of the surroundings. The exploration of the Eastern part of Prince Edward County was truely enjoyable. You should see for yourself.

Del Gatto Estates Winery
Bella Vigne
3609 County Road 8
Picton, Ontario
K0K 2T0
Te: +1-613-476-8198

Restaurant review: ‘Kirchstuebel’ in St Martin, Pfalz

November 23, 2011

The St Martin church, picture taken from the yard of ‘Kirchstuebel’

Just below the church of St Martin in the hamlet of St Martin, Pfalz, a very charming little restaurant is located, named ‘Kirchstuebel’, literally translated as ‘the little parlour of the church’.

The Adam brothers

My brother Wolfgang had taken me there for a reunion dinner, just the two of us, on a dark November night.

The wine village of St Martin, with about 200 ha under vines, is located right at the start of the foothills of the ‘Pfaelzer Wald’, the hilly forest of the Pfazl region.

What a jewel of a little place this is. The country inn ‘Kirchstuebel’ is a rustic, and very cozy family owned and operated restaurant which offers local and non-local food, and a wide variety of local wines.

I was hungry and chose tortellini with porcini mushrooms and parmesan cheese. My brother was less hungry and went for a plate of selected goats cheese which was served with local bread. Boy I tell you how delicious these two dishes were, incredible.

The goats cheese selection contained harder and softer cheeses, some were mellow and creamy, others burly and forceful.

My tortellini were just a dream. They used an excellent olive oil, and first quality parmesan cheese. I was in “Schlemmer”- (gourmet) heaven.

Tortellini ai funghi porcini

Selection of goats cheese

The bread basket

The wine selection is another treasure of the ‘Kirchstuebel’. The list includes many locally made wines from St. Martin and vicinity. There is lots of variety and lots of choice. I, of course, went for the truly local stuff. Where could I get a wine from St. Martin when living in Asia, I thought.

With my tortellini I had a ‘2010 Sauvignon Blanc’ by the Brothers Ziegler Estate (Weingut Gebrueder Ziegler). The Ziegler family looks back at 200 years of experience in grape growing and wine-making. Today, the family business is run be Ulrich (the viticulturalist) and Juergen Ziegler (the wine-maker).

The wine has 12% alcohol, residual sugar of 6.7 g and acidity of 6.8. I loved its freshness, with aromas of tropical fruit.

2010 Sauvignon Blanc by Weingut Ziegler

I somehow sensed that my brother would not finish the goats cheese, and therefore ordered after I had tasted the SB, a red wine. My choice was a ‘2008 Pinot Noir Spaetlese dry’ by Weingut Roessler-Schneider, a family winery also located in St Martin.

Also this wine was very fruity. Cherries and blackberries were the dominant tastes. The colour of the wine is dark red, not the murky red of other Pinot Noir wines. I found it a very feminine wine, round and soft, with a presence.

2008 Pinot Noir Spaetlese dry by Weingut Roessler-Schneider

Needless to say, we had a great time. I wish for some more of these reunions.

Anyway, I will have to come back to this place in the daytime. The village of St Martin seemed so charming in the night, with its narrow little lanes, the old stone and timber framed houses. One must have a great view over the flats of the Pfalz.

If you visit the Pfalz region, you should definitely make time for St Martin and explore its wineries and country inns.

Weinstube Kirchstuebel (wine bar and restaurant)
Kirchstrasse 9
67487 St Martin/Pfalz
For opening hours, please visit the website!

Traveling in style in Mongolia

November 20, 2011

Traveling in Mongolia has its particular challenges. First and foremost, you need a good care, a vehicle which can master potholes, uneven roadsides, gravel and other earthen ground and so on.

In short 4WD and SUV models are preferable transportation means.

It is also an advantage if you have a few more horsepower then needed in the city to overtake slower traffic, to avoid a collision with a cow, horse or other farm animal and/or an oncoming bus or truck.

In short, we did have such a vehicle.

I like the Mongolian custom to stop from time to time at specific locations to pray and rest. Usually one walks around a kind of stupa made from stones and decorated with colourful flags and banners.

If you want to, you can also add a stone here and there.

Usually one walks around the stupa three times, clockwise. One prays for a safe journey and a good arrival at the final destination.

No better occasion for a re-invigorating drink, isn’t it?

Thanks to our Mongolian hosts, we did exactly this. But instead of vodka, we opened a bottle of red wine.

I loved the special wine box with opener and other wine paraphernalia.

Note, that the driver should only partake in the drink sharing at a symbolic level.

Thanks folks for making our trip to the grasslands such a memorable event.

The other day in Germany 3: 2005 Lemberger by Count Neipperg Estate

November 19, 2011


Another very good wine which I had tasted last time I visited Germany was a ‘2005 Lemberger’ by Count Neipperg Estate in Wuerttemberg, the 4th largest wine region in Germany (about 12,000 ha under vines).

Lemberger (also called Blaukraenkisch), a late ripening grape, is variety imported from Slovenia in the 19th century. Ever since it is a major variety in Wuerttemberg.

The wine is rich in tannins and has a somewhat spicy character. I liked the fruity bouquet. Because of its complex composition of acidity Lemberger has a good aging potential. The locals love it and deem the Lemberger wines superior to any other.

The Count Neipperg Estate is located in Schwaigern, near the city of Heilbronn in the north of the Wuerttemberg region. The estate has a long tradition (eight centuries!). The most important locations (terroir) are the ‘Neipperger Schlossberg’, ‘Schwaigerner Ruthe’ and ‘Klingenberger Schlossberg’. Apart from Lemberger, Trollinger, Riesling and Traminer grapes are grown among others.

Since 1971 the Neipperg family has also invested in the French wine industry (Saint-Emilion and Sauternes for instance). Since 2005 vineyards in Bulgaria were added to the portfolio.

Gräfl.Neippergsche Hauptverwaltung
74193 Schwaigern/Württ.,Schloss
Tel.: +49-7138-941400
Fax: +49-7138-4007

The other day in Germany 2: 2008 Johannisberger Vogelsang Spaetlese dry Riesling by Trenz Estate

November 18, 2011

2008 Johannisberger Vogelsang Spaetlese dry by Weingut Trenz

This was the white wine served at the before mentioned business dinner in Germany. I just loved this fresh, crisp and bone dry Riesling from the Rheingau.

The ‘2008 Johannisberger Vogelsang Spaetlese dry’ by Trenz Estate is a wonderful wine, full of typical Riesling falvours, with a good body and a long finish. It has a Spaetlese ripeness and the elegant dryness of an exquisite German Riesling wine.

I had never heard of the producer, I must admit. Weingut Trenz is a family winery located in the heart of the Rheingau.

Johannisberg is one of the most famous locations (terroir) in this lovely wine region.

Michael Trenz is a vintner with “body and heart”, as we say in Germany. He carries the family wine-making tradition which goes back for about 105 years!

You should visit the place if in Germany. Enjoy the scenery and the wines.

I will, when coming from the airport the next time.

Weingut Trenz
Schulstraße 1
65366 Johannisberg

Tel: +49-6722–75063-0
Fax: + 49-6722–75063-10

Opening hours offuce and sales:
Mon. – Friday 8:30-12.00 h; 13.00 – 17:00 h
Sa. 10:00-15:00 h

Trenz Cellardoor
Tel: +49-6722 – 75063-11
Fax: +49-6722 – 75063-12

Med. to Sa. from 17:00 h
Sun. and holidays from 12.00 h

The other day in Germany 1: 2009 J.J. Adeneuer No. 2 Spaetburgunder dry

November 16, 2011

2009 Adeneuer No. 2 Spaetburgunder dry

At a recent business dinner a dry Pinot Noir from the Ahr was served. It was a ‘2009 Adeneuer No.2 Spaetburgunder dry’ by Weingut J.J. Adeneuer in Ahrweiler, Ahr.

The ‘2009 Adeneuer No.2’ costs about Euro 16.- to 17.-, and is a ripper of a German Pinot Noir.

Since my main course was a fish dish, I had chosen the Riesling wine (more about this later), not a difficult choice for a Riesling aficionado like me.

But later in the evening when the dinner dragged on, I also had a good look at the red wine served with the food. I love the Pinot Noir wines from the Ahr, the smallest wine region in West Germany, therefore I had to taste it.

When I was a student at Bonn University we would sometimes skip some lectures and go on a spontaneous trip to the Ahr river. The Ahr valley is a very romantic place, a little jewel for a young student in love with life and everything.

Because of the darkness of the dining room, I could not verify the expected pale red colour of the Pinot Noir. The aromas were dense and fresh, strawberries and other red berries came to mind. The wine is medium bodied with fine tannins, a very good structure and a long finish. I found ratings on the internet between 17 and 18 points (on the 20-point scale).

I wished I had ordered some red meat as well…..

Weingut J.J. Adeneuer
Max-Planck-Str. 8
53474 Ahrweiler
Tel.: +49-2641-34473
Fax.: +49-2641-37379
Opening hours:
Mo. – Fr. 9.00 – 12.00 h and 13.30 – 18.00 h
Saturday 10.00 – 15.00 h
Sunday and holidays only with appointment

A day at the wine symposium in Chiang Mai – some highlights

November 14, 2011

Well, as you know, I am here in Chiang Mai at the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine to learn (foremost), to meet interesting people from the wine industry (and learn) and to enjoy myself (which is not hard in beautiful Chiang Mai).

In the following, I cannot (and do not intend to) present to my esteemed readers all what happened today. Instead, I choose a somewhat eclectic (maybe arbitrary) selection of bits and pieces, incidents, moments of glory which were stuck in my short-term memory and/or excerpts from my notes scribbled in haste on real paper during the symposium.

Let me start with the start. I was joined in my morning breakfast on the river front terrace of the hotel by Khun Visooth, CEO of GranMonte Family Vineyard. We had a pleasant chat and got to know each other a bit more. That was a very good beginning, indeed.

Tasteful flower arrangement for Tropical Wine 2011

The opening ceremony, although delayed by some time, was a ripper of an opening. Our Thai hosts did not disappoint us. The podium was richly and tastefully decorated with flower arrangements. Moreover, wine bottles and glasses on a wine barrel indicated the topic and theme of the event.

Wine and wine barrel

Even if the hearts of the members of the German delegation from Geisenheim sank for a moment when they spotted their “treasure”, a 1957 (in words: nineteen hundred fifty seven) dry Riesling wine from the Rheingau, which the Germans had presented to the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (RMUTL) as a special gift, on the beautifully decorated display, they kept their composure while wildly speculating what would happen to their beloved wine before the event started.

The treasure from Geisenheim (left, in the ice bucket)

We were to find out soonest. When representatives of the Thai host organizations pressed the “opening button” of the event on an i-pad, the sacred bottle rose from the bottom of the wine cooler it was placed in. Dramatic music accompanied the unexpected and meteoric rise.

A waiter made sure that the bottle was liberated from its cork in no time. Its golden shimmering liquid was poured into three large wine glasses which were presented to the organizers who toasted to the opening of the symposium.

The organizers opening the symposium

Goodness me, how I envied them. That they could taste the golden liquid of my preferred grape, a Riesling from the Rheingau, a wine only three years my junior, was just unbelievable.

I immediately plotted to use an unguarded moment after the ceremony to put my lips to one of these glasses and take a sip of the holy nectar. Wild thoughts darted through my brain.

The occasion did not arise. A waiter took care of the matter and brought the half-empty bottle and the three glasses to a safe place.

As an interlude, a traditional Thai dance troupe performed a welcome dance for us. Rose petals were gracefully spread around and dancers with fans and dressed in colourful costumes entertained the audience.

The professors from Geisenheim

All three keynotes were memorable. Prof. Hans-Reiner Schultz from Geisenheim presided over the session.

First Prof. Alain Carbonneau from Montpellier presented some of the challenges to grow vinus vinifera in the tropics.

The flying wine doctor, Dr. Richard Smart, was second and introduced us to the centrality of canopy management for tropical vineyards. This was my first encounter with Dr. Smart. So far I had only studied his famous articles and essays written in many wine industry journals.

Now here was the man in full flesh and blood. I was surprised about his creaky voice. But having been “conditioned” by my Australian wife, I am in no way a stranger to Australian accents in creaky voices. I loved his powerpoint presentation. I also learned that he has only recently relocated from Tasmania to Cornwall.

Dr. Richard Smart, the wine doctor

The third keynote was by Umberto Camargo from Brazil. For the first time in my life I learned about the wine industry of this coming economic giant and emerging power of the Latin world.

Over lunch I had the chance to meet a couple of wine writers and wine professionals which added to my general knowledge. And as you know from your own experience with conferences, the time after a big meal is the worst of the day. But I made it through.

Prof. Monika Christmann from Geisenheim spoke about the current climatic changes and their repercussions on the wine industry in Germany, among them the need to reduce alcohol levels in wine.

After the good overview of the Thai wine industry presented by Khun Prayut Piangbunta, the wine-maker of PB Valley Estate, I decided to retire to my room and let the many impressions sink in. I also wanted to write this blog entry in order to have a free evening.

Last slide of the presentation of Prof. Christmann

Hope you enjoyed the read. Please visit the websites of the organizers and the Thai Wine Association for more information about the event and the Thai wine industry in general.

To sum it up: this was a very rewarding day for an amateur like me.

Stay tuned to day two of the symposium. More news from the wine symposium in Chiang Mai is about to come.

3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine – Chiang Mai, Thailand 2011

November 13, 2011

Sorry folks, I have been absent from the scene for a while. My day job kept me busy, too busy, i.e. away from wine appreciation and culinary exposure trips. Frankly speaking, I had the chance to sample some good wines (alas) but I had no time to write about it.

But finally, my highlight of the year has arrived: I am in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, right now and participate in my first ever wine symposium:

the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine.

The chairman of the Thai Wine Association welcoming the participants, Nikki, wine-maker of GranMonte, on the right

Boy can you believe it, me the amateur among all these experts, the wine makers, vineyard owners, oenologists, scholars and wine scientists. These serious guys come from many countries. Tonight at the welcome reception I talked to people from Thailand, India, Myanmar, Brazil, France, Australia, South Africa and my native Germany.

The enthusiastic wine tasters at work

As most scientist, the organizers did not waste words, but went right into the serious stuff and invited all the participants to indulge in tasting the wines on offer from Brazil, Myanmar/Burma and the host country Thailand.

At first I was a bit hesitant but then joined in the tasting wholeheartedly. I found it so interesting to talk to the wine-makers and vintners, and listen to the experts who went from table to table.

I cannot say which wine and/or winery I liked most. One thing is for sure Terry Cummins and the others at the organizing committee did an awesome job in getting this conference together and running.

Tomorrow the serious part of the symposium is going to start. I will need some good sleep to get ready for the many presentations and talks. Seeya tomorrow.

PS: The Thai Wines Association has currently six members, all of them professional and enthusiastic vintners. Congratulations to you for getting such a distinguished crowd of exerts together, luring them to come to northern Thailand during these times of floods is not an easy thing to do.

Riesling from the Nahe river

November 3, 2011

2010 Riesling S “Vom Buntsandstein” Pastorenberg by F.E. Schott

Very nice and very drinkable wines from the Nahe are wines from the F.E. Schott Family Estate in Wallhausen, Nahe. About a year ago, I have met Michael Schott, the family wine-maker, at a wine festival in a suburb of Berlin where he and his mother presented their wares to the German capital city’s consumers.

I had used the opportunity to sample some of the wines. Because of my maternal grand-father and my long connection with the Nahe wine region (about 4,200 ha under vines), I just cannot ignore the wines from this jewel of a wine region.

The Schott Family Estate Winery

The location (terroir) Wallhaeuser Pastorenberg is one of the five vineyard locations in Wallhausen and Bad Kreuznach the family cultivate today.

Since 2009 the brothers Michael and Benjamin have taken over the cultivation of the estate. benjamin is taking care of the vineyards and Michael is making the wine. Apart from Riesling, also Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc are grown. The red grape varieties include Dornfelder, Dunkelfelder, St Laurent and Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling).

The 2010 vintage was not bad. The ‘2010 Riesling S “Vom Buntsandstein” Pastorenberg’ is a dry wine which won a gold medal at the local winery associations wine awards competition. The price is very reasonable (7 Euro/bottle). It is an easy drinking wine for every day consumption.

You should visit the family (they are very nice people) winery when you are near Bad Kreuznach. Wallhausen (with about 224 ha under vines) is a very pictureque little place.

An der Ruh 2
D-55595 Wallhausen – Nahe

Tel: +49-67 06 – 402
Fax: +49-67 06 – 6283