Back from paradise

August 13, 2013

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.


2007 Cascinotta Barbaresco by Angelo Negro

July 7, 2013

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

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.


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.

???????????????????????????????

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.

???????????????????????????????

Chicken on my Weber grill


Two Hills Vineyard aerial picture

June 12, 2013

Our vineyard

Source: Google maps when searching for Two Hills Vineyard

My children provided me with the above picture. Unfortunately I do not know where they got it from. Sorry for that.

The road on the right, is Two Hills road and the gum trees lining it. On the left side from the road one can see our two dams, the two vineyards (between the dams and right from the dam on the right). Also the shed can be identified. The white “lines” around the different blocks are from my slashing with the tractor. Also my windbreak can be seen (left line leading to the creek).

Looking at this shot, makes me terribly homesick.

Our next visit will be the highlight of the year for us.


Shopping for wine in Beijing – Cheers near People’s University

April 17, 2013

???????????????????????????????

Cheers at Renmin University

The other day, when I took a stroll from the Friendship Hotel in Beijing where I stayed during my recent visit, I came also across the Cheers wine shop at Renmin University (People’s University). I knew this shop from earlier visits, and was curious to know what it had on offer.

???????????????????????????????

I was surprised to find even a few wines from Germany: Two off-dry Riesling wines from my native Mosel and a Pinot Noir from the Pfalz.

???????????????????????????????

2011 Peter & Peter Pinot Noir by Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller

I had never before heard about the “Peter & Peter” brand but could not resist to buy and later try this wine. I did not regret it. After my return from a business dinner with lovely Chinese food but without table wine, I opened the Pinot Noir and enjoyed it as a night cap.

???????????????????????????????

Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller is a wine company in Zell, Mosel with about 300 employees and vineyards and wineries in the Mosel and Pfalz wine regions.

Jancis Robinson awarded this wine a 15 out of 20 points. The sales price varies. I found websites where you could order it for 8 to 10 EURO/bottle; in Canada it is available for about 19-20 C$.

Before taxes one can have it in Thailand for 356 Bath. But remember that the luxury tax in Thailand is considerable (400%).

For me it was great to enjoy this fine specimen of German wine so far away from my native land.


Gran Monte Harvest Festival 2013 – Guest House and hospitality

April 7, 2013

???????????????????????????????

My room key

This is the third and last of my Gran Monte Harvest Festival blog entries. I know that the festival was in February and now it is already April. However, visiting Gran Monte Vineyard is always a good choice regardless of the time of year.

???????????????????????????????

The view from the guest house

During the harvest festival I was very lucky to stay at the Gran Monte Guest House which is just in the middle of the Gran Monte vineyards with great views.

It is wonderful to wake up in the morning, hear the birds sing and step out of the room, a room with a view so to speak and be right in the middle of things.

???????????????????????????????

The wine education at Gran Monte also includes some harvesting of grapes, just a little for the feeling of it. Of course I also participated, took the secateurs and cut a couple of bunches, just for fun.

???????????????????????????????

Secateurs and a little basket

???????????????????????????????

Beautiful and healthy grapes

???????????????????????????????

Syrah grapes ready for harvest

???????????????????????????????

Anty Fung, project manager from Asian Palate in Hongkong

In my first blog entry I mentioned that I shared the bus with a couple from Hongkong. It turned out that Anty Fung was a very knowledgeable wine writer and wine promoter working at Asian Palates.

To educate Asian wine drinkers to grape wine is not an easy undertaking. Often the description of what you are going to experience when you drink a specific wine is completely intangible to non Europeans. The references are out of sync with Asian life experience so to say.

This means tasting notes have to be re-written so that Asian consumers can connect to the product. Anty is working in this exciting sector and it was a great pleasure to listen to her and her assessments.

Moreover, she was great fun.

???????????????????????????????

The awesome breakfast at Gran Monte

Finally let me tell you that the breakfast at Gran Monte Family Estate is just another marvel. Look at the picture above. Would you not love to have this kind of egg dish in the morning?

You can have it. Just go and check it out at Gran Monte guest house. Stay there for a weekend and experience the uniqueness of a Thai vineyard and winery with great food and fine wines. You are also going to meet a Thai family which is very passionate about wine, viticulture and the environment of the Asoke Valley.


Women in the wine industry

March 8, 2013

???????????????????????????????

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.


Wine from Thailand: GranMonte 2011 Heritage Syrah

February 27, 2013

???????????????????????????????

2011 Heritage Syrah by GranMonte Family Estate

My private situation is not conducive to blogging at all. And in fact I should take a complete break, I think at times. But then I just withdraw from my current world to escape into the illusions I have cultivated over the last weeks.

I needed to treat myself to something nice, and my choice was an obvious one, a ‘2011 GranMonte Heritage Syrah’ by GranMonte Estate in Khao Yai, Thailand.

I just love the dark red colour and the intense red berry aromas. The wine is elegant, and I very muchnenjoy the balance of tannins and spicy acidity. I did not give the wine a chance to improve with cellaring but might do this with one or two bottles at a later stage.

???????????????????????????????

Spear ribs and morning glory

My girls had cooked dinner, spear ribbs with morning glory. The ribbs were marinated in an Asian plum sauce, and caramelized glazing was just delicious. The contrast with the morning glories was stricking, and the white rice “glued” it all together.

What a lovely family dinner this was. Thai wine and food with an Asian heritage.


TerraMater – Sauvignon Blanc from Chile

February 18, 2013

???????????????????????????????

2011 TerraMater Sauvignon Blanc

It was a hot Sunday in Bangkok, and I was longing for a fresh and refreshing wine. I went on a wine shopping tour to our local Wine Connection shop in Thonglor, just a 15 minutes walk away from my home.

I browsed through the shelves and found a few white wines which matched my desire. One of them was a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, a ‘2011 TerraMater Premium Vineyard SB’.

This is a very solid wine, with pleasant aromas, lovely acidity and a reasonable finish. I also loved the golden colour of the wine. For a mass produced wine in this low price segment, this wine is value for money. I can only recommend it.

???????????????????????????????

2011 Sauvignon Blanc Premium Vinyard Wines by TerraMater

TerraMater is based on a family wine business going back to the 1930s. But in 1996 the three Canepa sisters (Gilda, Edda and Antonieta) reinvigorated their family enterprise through the construction of a new winery and the restructuring of their production portfolio.

The visit of the company website makes you anxious for the premium range of TerraMater wines, especially the Carmenere and other reds. I wonder if Wine Connection does import some of them to Thailand. TerraMater also produce olive oil and apples.

I was very pleased with my choice. Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favourite whites anyway, and the Terra Mater SB from Chile fully satisfied my wine drinkers desires.


2011 Goldtroepfchen GC – A Riesling from the Mosel

February 11, 2013

Kettern 1

After a couple of weeks without a Riesling from my beloved Mosel, I came across a bottle of ‘2011 Goldtroepfchen Gran Crue’ by Weingut Lothar Kettner in Piesport, Mosel.

I had no idea where the bottle came from. I must have bought it in Bangkok, I thought. But right when I opened it, I knew it was what I needed to celebrate the New Years eve of the Chinese Year of the Snake, the spring festival, as it is also called.

The golden colour is intriguing. The aromas are infatuating. Green apples and white stone fruit came to mind. A Riesling from the Mosel, a wine I adore. What wine would be better to prelude the New Year?

Kettern 2

Faith – Love – Hope is the motto of the family winery Weingut Lothar Kettern in Piesport, Mosel. This is represented by the three symbols in the logo of the winery: the cross, the heart and the anchor. The vintner tradition runs in the family for about 200 years. The son of Lothar, Philipp Kettern, also know as ‘the wine pirate’ is now running the estate.

Kettern 3

The Kettern family only grows Riesling grapes. Steep slopes, with cooler climate, are the preferred vineyard locations, so that vintage is late. Low yields, perfection regarding leave removal and environment friendly techniques are the key to success. The wines are hand crafted in the true sense of the word.

I will have to see that with my own eyes, next time I visit my beloved Mosel.