Dokdo Winery – Korean wine?

November 29, 2012

Korean wine

During a recent visit of the Korean parliament in Seoul, I came across the above poster. The advertisement was not about soju, the popular rice wine, but a wine made from grapes.

I was puzzled. Do they grow wine grapes in Korea? When approaching the display, things became a bit clearer.

The award winners

As it turned out, the display was about the islands of Dokdo, which are claimed by Korea and Japan in a territorial dispute arousing nationalist feelings in both places. The display was a kind of political statement.

A winery in the Napa Valley in California was bearing the same name, Dokdo Winery or Dokdo Vineyards. This brand was created by a Korean-American dentist Ahn Jae-hyun living in the Napa Valley, California.

Established in 2007, the winery produces about 20,000 bottles a year. Dokdo wines had also won a gold medal at the 2012 Korea Wine Challenge.

The 2012 Korea Wine Challenge

According to the wineries website, the new product was introduced into the market to draw people away from the controversial debate over which country – Korea or Japan – owns the rocky islands.

“Instead of appreciating the beauty of Dokdo, the world has been too busy fighting over it. The island should not be fought over; it should be shared,” the website said.

Unfortunately, I had no chance to sample the wine.

True is also, that Korea is an emerging market as far as grape wine is concerned. With rising incomes, wine consumption is also rising. In fact every restaurant I visited during my brief stay offered a selection of various wines, often from France but also from other wine producing countries.


The wine glut is over – is it?

November 27, 2012

Recently quite a few reports and news sources have talked about the end of the wine oversupply which we experienced in global wine markets during the last couple of years. After years of wine surplus, it seems that poor vintages in the USA, Australia and Europe will lead to a drop in global production by about 20%.

“Technically” Australia is still oversupplied. But the demand for Australian bulk wine is back to normal, say some analysts. New acquisitions of vineyards producing wines at the luxury end is being reported. Sales prices for such estates were rather depressed during the last couple of years. For cash rich buyers sales prices and timing are right to make such new investments.

The mid-term prospects for high-quality grapes and high-quality wines are good. Such news is music to my ears. As a small vineyard with just under 4 ha under vines we have survived so far. Our plan is to bring our Pinot Noir vineyard back into production this season. The rest remains mothballed for another year.

Two Hills Vineyard Chardonnay plot

After that, we intend to bring first the Chardonnay and if demand should recover also the Sauvignon Blanc back into production. Currently we work on land fertility. Some of our Merlot is going to be pulled out. If we replant, it would be with Pinot Noir, I guess. But this is not going to happen until we are sure to find buyers for our fruit.

Let us hope that the wine glut is over, and that a reorientation to high-value grapes and wines is becoming a robust trend.


Wang Ping Steak House in 桃園 Taoyuan, Taiwan

November 26, 2012

The shutters of Wang Ping Steak House when still closed

Together with my friend Jim I went to Wang Ping Steak House in 桃園 (Taoyuan) for a kind of farewell meal. The International Center Land Policy Studies and Training (ICLPST) had made a booking but we had to be there at 17.20 h already, because the place was fully booked.

Can you imagine that? Chinese gourmets seem to know what is good, and they eat early. So off we went and presented ourselves at the above time. It was a rainy day, with low hanging clouds, and it was dark when we arrived.

We had to wait a few minutes. Then we were shown to our table on the ground floor. The menu is in Chinese and in English. Straight forward so to say. We ordered in no time.

The appetizer arrangement

The salmon and mushroom arrangement was lovely and wetted our appetite. We were offered a glass of fizz, so to say, fizz with a sweet plum taste. We did not protest.

The fizzy plum drink

Both of us had ordered the mushroom soup. It came in two vessels, a soup bowl with the mushrooms lumped together like a little tower, the broth came separate. I was not quick enough to take a photo of both. The soup was good, fully flavoured, creamy and intense.

The mushroom soup

We ordered a bottle of house wine. Red was the colour we had chosen. I do not know much about French wines. When a bottle of ‘2010 Ginestet Bordeaux’ arrived, I was wondering what it would taste like.

As it turned out, Maison Ginestet is a wine trading house specializing in Bordeaux wines.

The wine was full bodied, had beautiful forest fruit aromas, and was dense with a long finish. Just the right wine with red meat, I thought. The typical Bordeaux blend is a good choice when eating beef or lamb.

Grand vin de Bordeaux

I liked the dark red colour

The sorbet

To cleanse the palate, a sorbet was offered. Again it had a plum taste. The fine acidity made sure our palates were ready for the main course.

Dried plums and plum sauce for the lamb

Jim’s main course: lamb

Beef fillet

Jim went for the lamb chops, I ordered the beef fillet. Big dishes but we were ready for it.

Chocolate dessert with ice cream

Crème brûlée in a shell

Also the desserts did not disappoint us. What a lovely way to end our farewell meal.

The service at Wang’s is very efficient. The well trained waiters and waitresses are polite and attentive. We both enjoyed the evening.

I was about to board a plane a few hours later. Jim stayed behind for another two weeks at the Centre. As always we are confident to meet again for another joint teaching engagement at ICLPST.

Chinese flower tea

Come and eat at Wang’s

PS: I highly recommend a meal at Wang’s. They have several outlets, I think.

Address:
Wang Ping Steak – Taoyuan Jhongshan Branch
No. 546, ZhongShan Road, Taoyuan
Taiwan –
Tel.:+886 – 03 – 339 1650


Shopping shrimp restaurant in 八德 (Bade), 桃園 Taoyuan, Taiwan

November 23, 2012

Shopping shrimp restaurant poster

I agree that this is a strange name for a restaurant – Shopping Shrimp Restaurant – but I was told it is the transliteration from Chinese into English. Anyway, the three of us, Jim, Steve and myself, we were really looking forward to check out this place.

Jim had been there before and was raving about the pepper shrimps, the best in the world. In fact the “shrimps” turned out to be Thai prawns. Why did I have to come from Bangkok to sample Thai prawns here on the beautiful island of Formosa?

Tacky plastic plates at Shopping Shrimp

The deal was that you could eat as much as you wanted for 499 NT $ including four mugs of 0.4 litres of beer. Who can refuse such an offer?

From the International Center for Land Policy Studies and Training (國際土地政策研究訓練中心), where the three of us were teaching, we jumped on the bus to Bade and reached the restaurant in no time.

The inside of Shopping Shrimp Restaurant

We were early and the place was still rather empty. Later it should fill up quickly. The friendly staff selected among themselves the one who spoke some English and off we went and ordered our food.

The menu

The menu was in English and Chinese with big colour photos so that one would know what was ordered. We selected a few dishes, and anxiously awaited what was to come.

Pepper shrimps in a clay pot

It did not take long and the first clay pot of pepper shrimps arrived at our table. More followed soon. the waiter brought us the menu for more orders and we sampled the various types of prawns in all flavours and shapes.

Garlic shrimps

More shrimps

Shrimps wrapped in a leave

Shrimps on rice

Needless to say that the food was super delicious. We ordered more and more, even another pepper shrimp clay pot. We did not need carbs that night.

Taiwan draft beer

Needless to say, we washed the food down with fresh Taiwan draft beer. The three of us, we had a jolly good time. Shopping Shrimp Restaurant is a cool and groovy place.

Remark: Steve and Jim are from San Diego, they taught me Californian slang over dinner.

The three diners: Jim, me and Steve


Mosel wine in the EVA Air lounge in Taipei

November 22, 2012

The other day, while I was waiting for my flight home to Bangkok, I discovered to my great amazement in the business class airline lounge of EVA Air, that a wine from my native Mosel was on offer.

What a pleasant surprise, I thought, when I spotted the label in the wine cooler. It was a ‘2011 Bockstein Kabinett Grand Cru’ by St. Urbans-Hof in Leiwen, Mosel. The wine village of Leiwen is only a couple of kilometers away from my home town Trier.

I have visited the winery and love their crisp-dry Rieslings. For the first time I had the opportunity to taste one of their off-dry wines. The terroir, “Bockstein” in Ockfen, a small village at the Saar river, a tributary to the Mosel, is also a place very dear to me.

From the raised hides in the hunting territory of Schoden (another village at the banks of the Saar river) one could have a glimpse of the “Bockstein”, a rock formation towering over the Saar valley. It’s vineyards are very steep and the Riesling grapes grown are famous for their high quality.

Off-dry whites are not my favourites, but of course this wine showed it’s outstanding quality. It was full and lush, smooth as silk in the mouth, with intensive and mellow Riesling aromas. It had also a long finish, and I loved the balance of sugar and acidity.

Moreover, I found my beloved Mosel (Saar) here, thousands of miles away in a place of Asia where I least expected it.


My favourite wine bar in Trier: Weinsinnig

November 20, 2012

Selecting the wine

If you want to imagine me happy, imagine me in “Weinsinnig”, my favourite wine bar in Trier, Mosel.

Manuela Schewe and her team are doing a great job. I just love, that the wine bar is also a kind of cellar door for quite a few wineries. Most of them do have a cellar door of their own. However, with Weinsinnig they have a cellar door right in the middle of town.

I love this concept.

Among the wine producers you can find: Winery

Bender
Deutschherrenhof
Heymann-Löwenstein
Jakoby Pur
Lauer
Markus Molitor
Maximin Grünhaus
Nick Köwerich
Pauly
Philipp Kettern
Stephan Steinmetz
Van Volxem
Von Hövel and
von Othegraven

The selection of these, mostly local, wineries guarantees to the wine lover that he or she can choose from a broad range of different wine styles, varieties, terroir and even wine regions.

So far I was not able to try all of them as yet, but believe me I am working on it whenever I visit my lovely Trier. Stay tuned.

Cheers

Address:
WEINSINNIG
Weinbar & Verkauf
Palaststraße 12
54290 Trier
Tel.: +49-651-979 01 56
info@weinsinnig.com


Pork on the rotisserie the German way: Schwenkbraten

November 17, 2012

‘Schwenkbraten’

Actually, ‘traditional German ‘Schwenkbraten’ is when the pork is on a movable gridiron which is beeing moved over a coal fire. The above picture is more of a rolled piece of pork on a rotisserie.

However, that may be, the German love to grill as much as the Australians do. And since the summers in Germany tend to be unpredictable, often short, every opportunity to be outside and operate a grill is used to everybodies delight.

What a delicious piece of meat?

The pork is stuffed with onions, bacon, maybe herbs

My friend Juergen doing the carving job

Ready to be served

Note: Let me tell you that the above pictures were taken in Eitelsbach, Ruwer. My old friends Elisabeth and Juergen Olk had organised a family reunion to which we were kindly invited. It was a lovely summers afternoon, with little children darting through the garden, and adults chatting, telling stories, and drinking and eating. Apart from some Ruwer wines, mostly Riesling, the preferred drink was beer. We had a delightful time. What a beautiful day that was.