Last day of 2012: Taking stock

December 31, 2012

What to do on the 31 of December? Well, I thought to check out my wine fridge. Small as it is, the review did not take very long.

I was amazed that my wine collection included wines from Germany (yes mostly Riesling wines), Austria, Italy, Canada, Australia, China, Vietnam, Myanmar and of course Thailand. This makes eight countries, four in the West and four in the East.

I also realized that I have no French wine in stock.

Wine fridge 1

1982 Scharzhofberger Spaetlese

Two wines in particular I look forward to taste in 2013.

One is a ‘1982 Scharzhofberger Riesling Spaetlese’ by Egon Mueller from Wiltingen at the Saar river, the second a ‘2009 Pinot Noir Centgrafenberg Grand Cru’ from Rudolf Fuerst in Buergstadt, Frankonia.

Wine fridge 2

2009 Centgrafenberg GG Spaetburgunder

Both wines, both terroirs and both vintners are among the top in Germany.

The Riesling bottle looks OK, just the label has suffered a bit. I wonder what a 30 year old wine will taste like. In any case it is a treasure. I wonder when I shall open it?

The bottle of Pinot Noir I bought from Fuerst junior during a wine tasting at Karthaeuserhof in Eitelsbach last August.

There are of course other treasures in my wine fridge. More about this next year. Now I will get ready for the New Years party.

I wish all of you a good start into 2013, and stay tuned to the Man from Mosel River.

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2012 Gran Monte Viognier: Thai wine at its best

December 30, 2012

Before the end of the year I want to return to the wines of my host country Thailand. As you know I have written about the Thai wine industry, Thai wines and Thai wineries before. Thai wines have received international recognition, and the industry, though tiny by international standards, is progressing well.

The old vine grower’s quote may still apply, “that grape growing and wine making are easy, that only the first 200 years are difficult”. So in Thailand the search for the right variety and the right terroir are still ongoing and experimentation is the rule rather than the exception. Having said this I believe that the Thai wine industry has made tremendous progress and shortened the learning curve. This is in part due to very talented and open-minded wine-makers and vignerons.

This time of the year is the best season Thailand has to offer. The Thai winter in Bangkok with temperatures ranging from 32 Celsius in the day and 24 Celsius at night, with dry winds and blue sky, is just marvellous. The lower morning temperatures make everybody more relaxed and cheerful.

Summer Salad 1

Greek salad

In such conditions light summer lunches are the fashion. We had a kind of Greek salad and some salmon on beetroot. Very lovely.

Summer Salad 2

Greek salad and salmon on beetroot

Thai white wines are a very good accompaniment with this type of food. Fortunately, I was given some bottles of the Gran Monte 2012 vintage (thank you Khun Visooth Lohitnavy). Gran Monte Estate is one of the top Thai vineyards and winery.

Gran Monte Viognier 2012

The 2012 Viognier is a wonderful wine. I think that Khun Nikki Lohitnavy, the wine-maker, has done a marvellous job. This is maybe the best white wine I have had from anywhere in 2012.

The grapes for this wine are grown at 350 m above sea level in the Asoke Valley, in the Khao Yai region. The skin contact was short, only 3 hours. Wild ferments in new oak puncheons did a great job. The 5 month on lees seem also to have benefited the wine. The alcohol content is only 12% vol. Total acidity is 7.1 g/L. Residual sugar is 1.4 g/L and the ph is 3.26.

I tasted stone fruit, a bit of apricot, and also some tropical fruit. The wine is well balanced, had a superb structure and fine acidity. I love the long finish.

This is the only Viognier wine grown in Thailand! I believe that the variety is well suited to the tropical conditions and shows great promise.

I think the wine is going to be released soon. So look out for this 2012 Viognier by Gran Monte and ask for it if you are patronizing wine bars in Bangkok.


Boxing day with wine from Canada: 2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah

December 28, 2012

Marynissen Syrah

2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah

We had Canadian friends over for boxing day lunch. They had come from Beijing (where they now live and work) and were on holidays in the kingdom. It was a wonderful opportunity for a reunion, and we made the most of it.

I had prepared various meets on my barbecue (on my Weber, also from Canada): large chunks of beef and pork skewers. It was easy to select the wine.

The bottle of ‘2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah’ from Marynissen Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario was just the right stuff.

I had only this one bottle which was hand carried all the way from Ontario, then stored in my mothers house in Trier for a while, until I had space in my suitcase to carry it to Bangkok.

In short: this was a true rarity.

Marynissen Syrah 2

2007 Syrah by Marynissen Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake

When we visited Canada two years ago, we had also visited some wineries in Prince Edward County as well as near the Niagara falls. Marynissen Estates was one of the latter.

You can look up my archives of the Man from Mosel River where you will find reviews of Del Gatto Estates Winery, Closson Chase Vineyards, Huff Estate and The Grange of Prince Edward County Estates. My glands go berserk when these names come over my tongue.

Marynissen Syrah 3

The back label

2007 was a ripper of a vintage in Ontario with little rain and many dry and sunny days.

I do not know if I could taste all what is written up here on the back label. The wine is definitely a Rhone style wine. The colour is a very dark and beautiful deep red.

It stinks when you catch the first whiff with your nose. Burned tire aromas come to mind. But when you got used to that, it is the most beautiful drop of red you can imagine. Smooth and full, intensive dark fruit. I wish more wines were made that way.

My experience is that you cannot get Canadian wines outside Canada. The only exception is ice wine which is offered in duty free shops in airports, mostly from Inniskillin Wines.

But if you happen to know where to get Canadian wines in Thailand, please let me know.

The wine regions of Canada are certainly worth a visit.

Address:
Marynissen Estates
1209 Concession 1
RR#6,
Niagara-on-the-Lake
Ontario, Canada L0S 1J0
Tel: +1-905-468-7270
Fax: +1-905-468-5784
info@marynissen.com
www.marynissen.com


Terroir Moselle – A marketing initiative for wine from the Mosel

December 27, 2012

The Mosel

Steep vineyards along the Mosel river

When I visited my home town Trier recently, I came across an article in the local newspaper about the joint marketing efforts of vintners of the Mosel river.

With the help of government (in this case the European Union), producers from three countries – France, Luxembourg and Germany – have united their efforts to promote their produce: wine from the Mosel river.

Terroir Moselle is the name of the undertaking. The project shall benefit about 4,000 vintners across the borders of the three countries. It includes about 229 villages and hamlets along the river Mosel which are involved in grape and wine production.

The project was started in 2010 for a duration of three years. About 20 associations, institutes and other bodies from the three countries had initiated it after preparatory work in 2009.

The total area under vines along the Mosel is about 10,500 ha, 180 ha of which in the Lorraine, France; 1,350 ha in Luxembourg, and the remainder in Germany (Saar 110 ha and Mosel 8,880 ha).

Map Vignobles Moselle

The Moselle

“River, terroir, grape production and wine making” are the unifying features of the project. Producers in the three countries face similar challenges. Many are small family units with insufficient “muscle” to raise awareness for their products: high quality wines from the Mosel river, in highly competitive markets.

Unfortunately, the website does not give an account of the achievements and the impact of the joint undertaking. The newspaper article mentioned ‘joint tasting across borders’ and ‘presentations in international wine shows’ as examples.

The members of “Terroir Moselle” have now to come up with a plan to sustain activities after the end of the funding period (December 2013). The total amount of EU support for the three years is 250,000 EURO.

I wish them well.


Darling Cellars – Chenin Blanc from South Africa

December 24, 2012

Darling Cellars 1

‘2012 Arum Fields Chenin BLanc Reserve’ by Darling Cellars

Ever since residing in Bangkok, Thailand I have learned to appreciate a grape variety which was not on my wanted list before: Chenin Blanc. Thai vineyards and wineries are producing some outstanding Chenin Blanc wines.

So when I had a chance to taste a South African version of it, I bought this bottle right away. The colour of the wine is golden. I was a bit surprised about the intense apple aromas I tasted with the first sip. The wines is soft but still crisp.

Darling Cellars 2

The tasting notes by Darling Cellars speak of guava flavours. The wine has 13% alcohol. The grapes come from non-irrigated vines. The wine makers are Abé Beukes and Welma Myburgh.

Darling Cellars 3

The vineyard is located in the Darling district in the Western Cape, which used to be a dairy area, about an hour from Cape Town. The mean annual rainfall of the region is 600 mm only (occurring from April to August). The mean temperature is 24 degrees Celsius.

I will try this wine again. Next time with some food.

Address:
Darling Cellars
Mamre Weg Station, R315,
Darling 7345, South Africa
Phone:+27 22 492 2276
www.darlingcellars.co.za


To blog or not to blog?

December 23, 2012

Mosel Bullay

Mosel in mid December near Bullay (shot taken from the train)

Is the retirement of the Man from Mosel River imminent?

Every December I ponder the very same question. Shall I continue this blog or not?

You might have noticed that I am struggling this year. The last three months were particularly painful. My day job is sucking up all my energies. I have been feeling drained and empty for a while. One could say that I am Gulliverized by my professional responsibilities, which have grown over the years and weigh more heavily on me now that I am getting older.

My stats show this too. I have been sliding a little, and continue to slide a little every month.

I started this blog in January 2007 and have posted a couple of hundred entries. At the end of this month I have six years of blogging under my belt. They say ‘people do not read blogs any more’; these days people are on Twitter and Facebook instead.

So why waste so much energy and time?

When I scroll though older posts I also notice that I am repeating myself. I eat the same food, visit the same places, and tend to drink (if possible) my favourite wines. Am I spent?

Not quite, I think.

Let me tell you what happened to me last weekend in my home town Trier. I had only about 43 hours available. I arrived late the first evening and was much too tired to do anything.

Saturday night, after a family meal, we watched some slides and family photos, before I could go on a stroll and check out the Christmas market. I also intended to have a glass of wine. My favourite wine bar, ‘Weinsinnig’ was my destination.

The place was crowded and I only found a table at the back. That table, however, was reserved and I was asked to swap with a place right across the “wine list”, a wall with about 20 or so wine bottles in metal holders and a description of the wine and the producer. I will tell you another time which wines I sampled that night.

When I went up to that wall with my phone to document what I had tasted (two reds) and returned to my table, a woman approached me and asked: “Are you the Man from Mosel River”? You cannot image how flabbergasted I was. How could she know?

It turned out the the woman was Manuela Schewe, the owner and initiator of ‘Weinsinnig’. She had seen my last post about the wine bar. After the introduction, we had a good chat about wine, wine bars, the vagaries of life and so on.

Well, and when I was leaving I thought that I should think it over again before giving up my blog and retiring the Man from Mosel River.


Red and white in the snow

December 21, 2012

R and W in snow

Without words!

Merry Christmas to all my readers