Culture and wine – Gran Monte Family Estate, Thailand

March 29, 2013

Remember I promised you two more pieces about the Gran Monte Harvest Festival last February? Here is number two.

What was very positive at the the Gran Monte Harvest Festival is that the event is also a means to educate future Thai wine lovers to grape growing, wine making and wine appreciation. Moreover, such events can be used to promote tourism and local specialties, products as well as culture.

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The program of this years Gran Monte Harvest Festival was full of both. At the various food stalls one could sample local cuisine including the Gran Monte wines. Moreover, the Gran Monte shop carries all kinds of food and non-food items made from local raw materials. Furthermore, all visitors were presented with a beautiful traditional piece of cloth to be wrapped around the waist or used as shawl.

But also an entertainment program was carefully prepared consisting of dances and dance performances. This gave local dance troupes an opportunity to show off their skills and promote local culture, the backdrop to which were the stunning mountains of the Asoke Valley.

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From the vineyard emerged the first group of dancers

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Colourful Thai costumes and head gear were displayed

This was not all. Gran Monte Family Estate is also deeply involved in supporting charitable organizations and other good causes. One could attribute this to their pro-active corporate responsibility policy. Three cheques were presented and they went to the following initiatives:

1. The Thai Elephant-Assisted Therapy Project (TETP)
2. The Forest Fire Prevention Unit, Khao Yai-Nakornrachasima
3. The Vajiralongkorn School, Pak Chong-Nakornrachasima

Apart from traditional culture, Gran Monte also promotes contemporary arts. The highlight for me is the rock band playing in the evening. Many songs remind me of my youth, the good old days of rock and roll of the 1970 and 1980. It does not take long to get people off their seats and on to the dance floor.

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The rock band

Because of the neighbours, the band cannot play all night (this is most likely what the Gran Monte guests would want) and that is one strong reason why one has to come back to the next harvest festival.

Enjoy more excellent wines and the music at the next Gran Monte Harvest Festival in 2014. The 2013 vintage promises to be the best ever.

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Restaurant review: Lutter & Wegner, Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

March 25, 2013

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Lutter and Wegner, Genadarmenmarkt, Berlin

In was in the middle of the afternoon. I was on my way to a meeting when I passed by the Lutter and Wegner Restaurant at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. It was cold and windy. Snow covered the streets and sidewalks on this day in late March when everybody longed for spring.

Fortunately, I could not resist the temptation. I entered and asked a young waiter if I could just have a glass of wine. He nodded and I sat at a table opposite the entrance so that I had a good view of what was going on outside.

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My “Prosche” of a red wine

The waiter recommended an Austrian wine, a ‘2007 Imperial’ by Schloss Halbturn, Neusiedlersee. He said that this is the “Porsche” of the reds, and I decided to give it a try.

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blaufraenkisch and Merlot. It’s soft tannins and the delicate balance of fruit and acidity give it a exceptional elegance. It blew me away, and was indeed like a “Porsche”, fast, compact, elegant, the highest quality, just perfect.

This wine and this visit made my day. Go and check it out when you are in Berlin.

Greetings from:

Lutter&Wegner


Two Men from Mosel River tasting New Latitude wines in Bangkok

March 18, 2013

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Gran Monte Syrah grapes in Khao Yai

Recently a good old friend from high school times, Thomas Weber from Trier and his wife Birgit, visited Thailand for a holiday. Since Thomas is a kind of a wine geek, someone who has written two books about wine, and who knows every vintner along the Mosel river, I intended to introduce him to a selection of New Latitude wines.

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The two wineries I had in mind where GranMonte Family Winery and PB Valley Wines, both located in the Asoke Valley in Khao Yai, Thailand. Unfortunately, Thomas did not have sufficient time to go and visit the vineyards in person. Therefore I decided to bring the vineyards to him.

We did two tastings, one shortly after his arrival in Bangkok, the second one the evening before his departure. The first wine tasting took place in our home. I had selected three wines (one white and two reds), all from GranMonte Family Winery.

We started with the ‘2012 Viognier’, according to some critics the best white wine Gran Monte has ever made. Thomas was amazed that such an outstanding wine could be produced here in Thailand (I provided him with a farewell gift, guess what it was?).

We followed up with two Gran Monte Syrah wines, the ‘2010 Hermitage Syrah’ and the ‘2009 Orient Syrah’. This was the first time that Thomas had ever tasted wines grown in the tropics, or, as they are also, called ‘new latitude wines’.

He was amazed by the high standard and the outstanding quality of the wines. All of them fully satisfied his expert palate pampered by vintage after vintage of excellent wines from the Mosel. The Thai wines from Gran Monte can positively compare with any wines from Europe, that was the verdict after the first round of tastings.

The second wine tasting was conducted over a dinner (forgive me that I skip the food here) at the Great Hornbill Bistro in Soi 39 Sukhumvit in Bangkok. This place is the Bangkok cellar door of PB Valley Khaoyai Winery.

Again we tasted three wines, one white and two reds. We started with the ‘2012 Pirom Khao Yai Reserve Chenin Blanc’, an excellent vintage and very enjoyable wine. We liked it so much that we consumed quite a few bottles with our entrees. Only for the main course we switched to red.

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The Cabernet-Dornfelder blend is being decanted

First we had a bottle of ‘2011 Pirom Khao Yai Tempranillo’. The wine had a beautiful aroma but the somehow ‘green (gemuesig) taste’ disappointed a little. The more we were looking forward to the ‘2010 Cabernet Dornfelder cuvée’. It had time to breathe after the decanting. This wine, an unusual blend, did not disappoint. It displayed its character, was full of flavor, had structure and an excellent finish.

The surprise of the evening was, that Mr. Gaksch had reserved for us a bottle of the lovely PB Valley Lychee Schnaps so that we could harmoniously end our Thai wine tasting.

The overall verdict is that Thailand produces outstanding wines and that more needs to be done to bring this good message to the world of wine.

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The happy tasting party

I strongly advised Thomas to come back again, and instead of spending time at Thai beaches, go and visit Thai wineries and enjoy the pleasure their excellent wines provide the casual and the “un-casual” drinker.
Spread the gospel.


Rabbit Carrot Gun – Delight in Singapore

March 17, 2013

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Shop houses in Singapore

The other day in Singapore I had not much time to explore the town in which I had lived in 1996-97 for about seven month. Just about three hours I had for myself. I walked out of the hotel and into the neighbouring streets for a quick walk.

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Old trees and old houses, what a beautiful blend

It was at the end of lunch time, I was hungry but not that hungry. My stroll lead me to a lane with traditional shop houses, many of them converted into fast food eateries, mainly Indian types of food.

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Rabbit Carrot Gun – an oasis of quiet in a busy street

At a busy corner, I found “Rabbit Carrot Gun”, a kind of cafe cum restaurant/bar. In all the hectic of the traffic, this little eatery provided the kind of shelter an oasis does in the dessert.

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I consulted the menu and found some delightful dishes, a mix of ‘East meets West’-type of selection. I was thirsty and ordered a beer from the tap. No wines seemed to be available, but I did not ask for the wine list. My own fault.

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It was a hot day in the tropics, and I ordered a light dish only. Goats cheese and beet root on a bed of fresh garden salad, that seemed just the right order.

On the neighbouring tables only a few people were drinking beers, most enjoyed various juices. I could not see any wine. I should have asked for the wine list. My own fault.

I craved for a glass of the fermented grape juice, and thought that this was the only thing lacking in this lovely place.

Only while writing this blog entry and looking up the “Rabbit Carrot Gun” website, I found out that in fact quite a few wines were available.

I would have loved a glass of Cloudy Bay Sauvignan Blanc for instance which is on the list but had to be content with the beer from the tap (a lovely drink, don’t get me wrong).

I will have to come again.

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A coffee to end my light meal

Address:
Rabbit Carrot Gun
Tel.: +65 6348 8568
chef@rabbit-carrot-gun.com
49 East Coast Road,
Singapore 428768


FohBoh – The Wine Community and the future of blogging

March 10, 2013

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The FohBoh Wine Community website

It’s about four years ago that I joined the Open Wine Consortium which was later renamed the FohBoh Wine Community. Membership is about 5,951 when I checked today, so only a few short of six thousand people and/or companies.

The group provides a global platform for food and wine professionals and attempts to help them in their business. It’s a kind of network of people passionate about wine and the wine industry. I am a member but not a very active one. I update my page only very seldom.

As a (mostly enthusiastic) hobby blogger I have to manage my own time even more carefully. My day job requires me to be on twitter and facebook, direct the production of content for our company websites, video clips, write short stories, and coach our team to do PR work on social media. This leaves little time for my own existence as a food and wine blogger. Moreover, having spent so much time in front of a device, I just cannot help it in the evenings and prefer to have ‘time without gadgets’.

I constantly contemplate about stopping my own blog, The Man from Mosel River, despite the fact that when people identify me as “The Man from the Mosel”, I am thrilled and motivated to soldier on. Fact is that I would maybe be better off with a facebook page to which my twitter account “Man from Mosel River” could be synchronised.

I could become quicker, provide shorter inputs, but especially more pictures and video clips. My android hand phone would be the device where most of the input would go through, so no need for a laptop or anything bulky.

Nowadays professional wine bloggers have teams of writers, freelancers etc. to fill their wine blogs. Just think of Jancis Robinson, Dr. Vino or James Halliday. And as time goes by, I am getting slack regarding a regular up-date of my blog. Consequently my numbers are going down as well. I also might have to ‘re-vamp’ my Man from Mosel River, make it more funky and have moving pictures.

Headlines in newspapers and magazines muse and contemplate about the power of food and bloggers. At the same time it is so easy to leave feedback and comments on sites such as trip advisor. Why bother with a fully fledged blog?

Hmmm, I might do something else. But the cracks in my armour are getting slightly bigger. I have to think. As always bear with me.

What would you suggest, by the way?

PS: What I like is my archive which has become quite big over the years and allows me to trace sunken memories and paths of my past.


Women in the wine industry

March 8, 2013

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Lucy and Charlotte Adam

Today is international women’s day. It is a very special day especially since exactly 25 years ago I have met my wife Margit for the first time (in an Italian language class in Rome). So we are celebrating today, and I will tell you what wine we will drink at this special occasion.

But before I come to this, let me also say that the next generation is getting ready. My two daughters Lucy and Charlotte are in the middle of their preparations for the IB examinations. They have big plans. Both want to study at Melbourne University.

At this, I admit, very preliminary point, both will have some connection with the land and country, it seems. Lucy intends to do an oenology course (but she will study politics), and Charlotte wants to get involved into environmental science for sustainable agriculture. If they stay course, we might welcome two new vintners at Two Hills Vineyard.

This is of course the future calling, but the two have not disappointed at no time.

By the way, my role has also been defined in advance: farm hand, is my destination.

OK back to the present. What will we be drinking tonight? Can you guess?

It will be a ‘2012 Maximin Grünhäuser Riesling trocken’ by Schlosskellerei Maximin Grünhaus C. von Schubert in Mertesdorf, Ruwer. I have written an entry of the earlier vintage of this wonderful wine from my beloved Mosel river.

PS: Thanks to another “Man from the Mosel”, my friend Thomas Weber, I am in the possession of the above bottle. Thank you Thomas for carrying this treasure more than 10,000 miles to the other end of the earth.