2013 in review

February 5, 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Elbling temptation – Open day at the Fuerst Winery in Metzdorf

September 30, 2013

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The Fuerst Winery in Metzdorf

My day job does not leave me much times these days. However, as promised, I wanted to share with you some of my wine experience during the last summer vacation in Europe. Today I want to inform you about our visit of the “Hoffest”, a kind of open day with all kinds of program for the guests including food and wine of the Fuerst winery in Metzdorf, a small village on the banks of the Sauer river.

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Elbling, one of the oldest vine varieties

The Fuerst family is know for their excellent Elbling wines. Elbling, a white grape, is one of the oldest grape varieties in Europe. It’s origins are not entirely clear. Some claim that the Romans brought the grape to Gallia and Germania, others say that is was an indigenous variety cultivated by Celtic communities long before the Romans arrived.

However that may be. It is very high in acidity, and therefore suitable for the production of sparkling. The total area under Elbling grapes has decreased over the years. Less than 600 ha are planted to Elbling grapes these days, most of it along the Mosel river. Luxembourg has about 120 ha of Elbling vineyards.

The wine is spritzy and fruity, in short a straight forward affair, a pleasant and down to earth experience. It should be drunk young.

It was a splendid day when the six of us visited on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately we had missed the breakfast and morning walk in the vineyards, which was offered as an culinary and educational experience for the guests.

Because everybody was in the vineyards, the seats and tables in the winery were rather empty when we arrived which left us with lost of choice. Just about 30 minutes later the place should fill up very quickly and we were lucky to have a comfortable place.

We were hungry. The photos below show the different dishes we ordered. Apart from various cold platters, even a simple sausage with fries could be ordered. The barbecue and grilled meat were the favourites with many guests.

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I was eager to taste the Elbling wines. They should not disappoint me. There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summers day, I must say. The relatively low alcohol of the wine also helps.

Before we left I searched for the vintner; and the young wine-maker sold me a few bottles. I was amazed. Here you get value for your money. Please check out the price list of the Fuerst winery. You will find many pleasing offers.

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The man from the Mosel with daughter Lucy

Concluding I will say that Elbling is an underrated grape variety but makes very pleasing wines. If you visit the Mosel river and its tributaries, please plan for an excursion along the Elbling wine route and visit some of the lesser known hamlets and villages and taste the wines of small family owned vineyards and wineries.


Back from paradise

August 13, 2013

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The Mosel river near Trittenheim

In the picture above you will see the wine village of Leiwen (left). Further around the bend of the river (to the right) is the wine village of Trittenheim. This is basically the view of the Mosel you will get when you drive though the Hunsrueck mountains.

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Trittenheim, Mosel

And this was also our first view of the Mosel when we arrived in Germany for our summer vacation this year. We were mesmerized. What a splendid view, what a splendid landscape, what a splendid river, how good to be home.

From the outset let me tell you we had a great time (only about 3 weeks), and despite our at best erratic planning and our lousy preparation, we were able to line up some unique, memorable and exquisite encounters with the wine and food world.

I intend to write in more detail about most of these encounters. But let me not be too optimistic as regards the time available for blogging.

So what were the highlights of our visit?

Well, we had the best pork-knuckle ever (!) after a two hour march through the forests near the Ammersee on our way to the monastery of Andechs, a famous location for catholic pilgrims. Bavaria is a fantastic place to visit especially if the weather gods are smiling on you, and smile they did. We had warm, at times even hot, weather during the whole time of our holidays.

Along the Mosel we visited three wineries – two along the Ruwer, one on the Sauer, both tributaries of the Mosel – and had one wine tasting in Trier city at Oechsle. Wonderful, exquisite, I can only rave about the many fresh and zesty wines we had the opportunity to sample.

The wineries we visited were:

Fuerst Winery, Metzdorf, Sauer
Karthaeuserhof Estate, Eitelsbach, Ruwer
Maximin Gruenhaus C. von Schubert Winery-Estate, Mertesdorf, Ruwer

Another highlight was the visit of one of the best restaurants in the Alsace region of France. For a family lunch we went to the Auberge du Cheval Blanc in Lembach, Alsace near Wissembourg in the Vosges mountains.

Needless to say we spent many afternoon and evenings in wine bars and beer gardens, among them the wine bar Kesselstatt and the wine bar “Weinsinnig”, two of my favourite places to relax and enjoy a good glass of wine in Trier.

More soon. Stay tuned.

PS: I made some gorgeous pictures.


Thai wine and spicy Asian cuisine

July 8, 2013

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‘2012 Colombard’ by Monsoon Valley

Many white wines go well with Asian cuisine, for instance my beloved Riesling, either in its dry or semi-dry incarnations.

Fortunately, Thailand has his own wines which do pair well with its cuisine. Chenin Blanc and Viognier wines from Gran Monte Winery, as well as Chenin Blanc from PB Valley come to mind.

One of my least favourite grapes, Colombard can also make a good wine to drink with spicy Asian food. Monsoon Valley Wine produces a Colombard wine (Classic Range) which I find ideal with spicy cuisine.

The grapes are produced near Hua Hin, a coastal town about 3 hours south of Bangkok. I personally have not visited the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard as yet but it is on my to-do list.

This Colombard wine is a blend made from Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Malaga Blanc grapes. It is light and fruity with some citrus aromas and fine acidity but has some residual sweetness which makes is well suited to accompany spicy dishes.

The 2012 vintage has won various bronze medals for instance at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition in 2012, and the FBAT Wine Challenge in 2012.

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Spicy prawn noodles


2007 Cascinotta Barbaresco by Angelo Negro

July 7, 2013

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The ‘2007 Cascinotta Barbaresco’ by Angelo Negro, Piedmont, Italy is a wonderful specimen of wine from this premium wine Producing region in Northern Italy. The Nebbiolo grapes display some sweetness which can also be sensed in this wine.

The tannins are strong but have already mellowed a little so that drinking it in 2013 is already a real pleasure. With age the tannins will be even softer, but…I could not wait for that.

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The colour is deep red; the cherry aromas with some vanilla and hint of rose-petals leave an impression on the palate. The medium bodied wine has a good structure and a long finish.

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We paired it with an open Mexican pie, a meat-bean dish which was prepared by my daughter Lucy. I usually add some chilli and the spicyness goes well with the residual sweetness of the Nebbiolo.

This is a lovely food and wine experience which I highly recommend.


Fine dining in China: Capital M in Beijing

June 20, 2013

Capital M Beijing

Captital M

Many of you know that Capital M is one of my favourite restaurants in Beijing, China. I try to dine there at least once every visit. On my last visit, I went with my friend Brian Wallace, the owner-director of Red Gate Gallery. We had ordered a table for dinner on a mild spring evening. We both needed a treat, and a treat it turned out to be.

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The wine list

I love the wine selection of Capital M, and decided on a wine from Sancerre. The ‘2008 Domaine Fouassier’ by Domaine Fouassier was a lovely Sauvignan Blanc. This was my first time that I tasted wine from this producer, and I should not regret it.

The Fouassier family is one of the oldest wine producing families in Sancerre. Today the estate covers about 56 ha, 80% planted to Sauvignon Blanc, 20% to Pint Noir.

This wine is aged in oak barrels where it remained on lees for about ten months. It displays the fine acidity, the aromas and complexity one expects from a wine from Sancerre. I loved the sound structure and the long finish.

The grapes come from old vines. The winery prides itself with its organic agricultural and bio-dynamic methods. It was a good choice and I have to look out for more wines from this producer.

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2008 Domaine Fouassier, Sancerre

I urgently needed some green stuff and started with a salad with some beetroots pieces. The wine was perfect for this food pairing.

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Beetroot salad

I am not someone who likes the fancy recipes. I like solid-rural, more agrarian and artisan food not the highly refined output from modern kitchens.  So my choice was red meat which did not exactly match my choice in wine. Since Brian did not feel like another bottle, I stayed with the Sancerre. But I am sure some of the reds from the wine list of Capital M would have been a lovely match.

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My beef fillet on potato mash

The beef was just awesome, what a great dish, what a great evening. If you want to spoil yourself, get going, book a table and enjoy a meal at Capital M. It’s worth it, trust me.

When we left and had said our good-byes, I went on a stroll on Tiananmen square which was completely deserted and void of people. I was rewarded with this view of the entrance of the forbidden city. A visit to Beijing can be quite delightful.

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It’s Riesling time

June 17, 2013

Selbach

2011 Selbach Riesling Classic

Recently, the supply with German Riesling wines in Bangkok has improved considerably. A fine specimen is the ‘2011 Selbach Riesling Classic’ by the Selbach Winery in Zeltingen, Mosel.

Selbach 1

The family enterprise has vineyards in Zeltingen, Wehlen, Graach and Bernkastel and is currently working 20 ha of vines, many of them in very steep locations along the Mosel river. 98% of the area is under Riesling, the rest is planted to Pinot Blanc. As is customary with many German wine producers, the Selbach Riesling assortment includes dry, semi-dry and sweet wines, plus late harvest and ice wine.

Selbach 2

In Bangkok only the classic dry Riesling variety from the Selbach winery is available (88 Parker Points). In order to get your hands on terroir specific and single vineyard wines you might have to identify a specific importer. Although ever since the new It’s Riesling initiative has started operating, one has a much better chance as a consumer to find more exotic Riesling wines of the highest quality.

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The Selbach Riesling Classic shows all the qualities of a good German Riesling. It is not bone dry, has a good acidity and citrus notes. Riesling is a perfect compliment with Asian cuisine, especially Thai and Chinese food. I paired it with the shrimps (in the picture above) and some spicy chicken (as in the picture below) and it worked very well.

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Chicken on my Weber grill