Tempus Two Chardonnay 2010, Hunter Valley, Australia

October 21, 2012

2010 Tempus Two Chardonnay

The grapes for this wine are actually not coming from the Hunter valley but from the cool climate Adelaide Hills wine region. The wine is a modern product, harvested by machine, made in steel tanks and briefly kept in French oak barrels in order to get the spicy vanilla character.

The Tempus Two winery, founded by Lisa McGuigan, a member of the fourth generation dynasty of celebrated vintners, the McGuigans, is situated in the Hunter valley.

The cellar door, an ultra-modern building, is just outside Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales in the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges (a region with freezing cold winters). Fruit for the Tempus Two wines comes from many different vineyards wine regions all over Australia. The band was established in 1998 only.

Back label explaining what you taste

This mass produced wine, is something for easy, every-day drinking. Apart from the Chardonnay, the Varietal Range includes a Blanc de blanc, a Verdelho, a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot, a Cabernet Merlot and a Shiraz.

The two premium brands are called the Pewter Range, which comes in distinctive bottle shapes, and the Copper Range, with more modern-style wines.

Since we were on a modified Dukan diet ( we made concessions for the alcohol), we had it with fish, a mackerel, which is a strongly-flavoured and oily fish. The wine coped well with the strong fishy taste. The citrus flavours and the high acidity were a great complement to the food.

Mackerel

I would have eaten another portion of the fish, and certainly could have had a second bottle of wine. My verdict: highly recommended.

PS: In Thailand, Siam Winery is the agent of Tempus Two.


Barbecue at Ekkamai 10 – soft opening

June 11, 2011

Some of you might wonder when I would put the first pictures of our new place up. Well, here they are. In fact they are pictures of our first trial barbecue on our terrace for some trusted friends. The trial run was quite successful and calls for a repeat. Here are some pictures of the event.

First came the prawns

But I also did beef

I also roasted a big piece of pork but it went so fast that I had no chance to take a picture of it.

The chefs

I always drink a ot of beer while behind the grill. Charlotte does not drink (yet).

The little carnivores need to be fed first

Then came the adults

A very modest portion

The vegetables I prepared in a wok which I put on top of my Weber.

The girls had baked a cake: Frankfurter Kranz

As usual, nobody wanted to go home

Beautiful message to us by Giuseppe and Lucjia

As always when I do barbecues I have no time to take care of the pictures. I fact I did not take any of the many side dishes, the salads, the vegetables and the carbohydrates. But we had a jolly good time, that’s confirmed.

I could also not keep track of the wines consumed during the event. Everybody brought some bottles. I restrict myself to one white and one red (I found the empty bottles after everybody had left).

The ‘2009 Taylor’s Sauvignon Blanc’ from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia is a beautiful refreshing wine at a hot summers day. Since we have always “hot summers days” in the tropics it can be enjoyed year round in Bangkok. Hurrah.

The ‘2009 Rosso Conero’ by Fazi Battaglia is an inexpensive mass-produced red from Marche, Italy. It is a blend of Montepulciano (85%) and Sangiovese (15%) for easy drinking.

The wine company is already more than 60 years old and has about 280 ha under vines in the Marche wine region of Italy. In the meantime Fazi Battaglia has bought up smaller vineyards and wineries in Toscana, one is Fassati with 80 ha and the other Greto delle Fate with 11 ha under vines.


Top Australian Riesling wines

December 21, 2010

Riesling grape

I admit that as a German Riesling aficionado I have my problems with Australian Riesling wines. I try them again and again but, and to my great chagrin, I have not found what I am looking for.

Australian Riesling wines from the Adelaide Hills, the Clare Valley, the Eden Valley, Tasmania, Canberra District and from Great Southern in Western Australia enjoy a good reputation.

Also our own wine region, the Upper Goulburn Wine Region, produces some beautiful Riesling wines.

The September/October issue of the Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal summarised the tasting of 26 Australian Riesling wines. All of them were under crew caps! Impossible in my native Germany.

Only one of them came from Victoria (Paradigm Hill 2009 Riesling from the Mornington Peninsula). The price range was from A$ 22 to A$ 45 (16.75 to 34.2 EURO). The four top rates wines were:

– 2010 Jacob’s Creek “Steingarten” Riesling (it is German for “stone garden”), a tank sample, Barossa Valley, South Australia

– 2009 “The Florita” Riesling by Jim Barry Wines, Clare Valley, South Australia

– 2009 Premium Riesling by Helm Wines, Canberra District, New South Wales

– 2009 Riesling by Plantagenet Wines, Mount Barker, Western Australia

The magazine carried also a photo of the vineyard where the Jacob’s Creek “Steingarten” Riesling is produced. It reminded me of my home region along the Mosel and Saar river. Here every vine has a single “stick” and is “wrapped” around it with no wire between the posts, nothing.

The “Steingarten” vineyard is entirely worked by hand because of it’s steepness. Also this reminds me of the Mosel with its ultra-steep slopes. The stones are of red colour, though, whereas the Mosel has blue and grey slate.

And believe me these Australian wine producers are not modest. At the recent International Riesling Challenge in Canberra they gave the top wine the title: Best Riesling in the World. Can you imagine. Modesty used to be a virtue which must have jumped out of the window down under.

The trophy was given to a ‘2005 Pauletts Aged Release Polish Hill Riesling’ from Polish Hill in the Clare valley, South Australia by Paulett Wines.

I cannot even try this wine because it is sold out. My search continues. I keep you posted.


Who destroyed the Australian wine industry? …and the culprit is….

February 15, 2010

I have not been reading the Daily Wine News for a couple of days. After coming home last night, I browsed through the accumulated news. And, Eureka, I found for the first time someone who points his finger in the direction of the big corporate producers.

So far the tenor of most critics has been that there is just too much wine around (surplus of 20-40 million cases of wine each year) and that mostly greedy investors, money trusts and lifestyle (hobby) vintners, loaded with money made in construction or as medical doctors are the ones to blame. They are the ones who single handedly destroyed the wine sector; they produced the “wine lake”, and planted unsustainable hectares of new vineyards. The remedy was also clear: the small ones have to go. Instead wine production had better be left to the professionals (i.e. the corporates).

In comes Brian Croser, the founder and former owner of Adelaide Hills based Petaluma winery, with his view of the problem. He believes that the 2,000-odd Australian vintners are the originators of first-class Australian wine and have been the creators of the outstanding international image of their produce. The large companies, the corporates, have benefited from this positive image and “sailed on it”. However they mainly produce commodity wines of inferior quality which they dump on world markets, thereby destroying the reputation of fine Australian wines.

Whether this is true or not is certainly debatable. Everyone who extended their plantings in the hope of a larger marketshare is somehow to blame. However, finally we can hear another tune, not heard before and the public conversation has not only become more colourful but also more pluralistic, which is good for everyone.

If we have to pull out 40,000 ha of grape vines, they should come from various sources. If one of the four big companies would go and leave the sector, a lot could be gained for the remaining producers. Alternatively, small producers could pull out. What would be better for the country? this is a question not easily answered.

We will see small, medium as well as big companies leaving the industry. Many small family businesses will have their niche and will thrive regardless of the downturn of the sector. Others will close down, especially fruit producers who are at the end of the value chain (actually they are at the start of it). Also some of the investor and dividend driven schemes will come to an end. Vineyards and wineries will be hard to sell for some time to come. The big corporates will clean up their portfolios, they might de-invest in wine production and move into other segments of the beverage industry. Lower average profits in wine making will make other investments relatively more profitable. The wine sector will remain unattactive for young professionals for a while until the pendulum swings back, and the cycle of boom and bust will start all over again.

We at Two Hills Vineyard came too late to the party, and were caught out, so to say. I guess, we will go into hibernation and see what the prospects are in a couple of years time. I hope we can afford this strategy and that it will pay off some day when we can reduce costs and better market our produce. I remain optimistic and we will hang in there. Cheers to Two Hills wines!

Two Hills Vineyard, Glenburn


Friday again – ‘2003 Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz’

June 21, 2008

I was sick for a couple of days. There is a bad virus going around. I also seem to suffer from insomnia these days and its certainly not the European Soccer Championship which is causing the “insomnia”. My head spins in the night. There is so much preparation to do before we can leave for Bangkok.

But Friday night I felt a bit better and why not celebrate the end of the week with a beautiful glass of Australian red wine. I decided to open a bottle of ‘2003 Saw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz’ (www.shawandsmith.com) which retails at the Duty free Show at Jalan Fatmawati (Bumi Ayu) for about US$ 30, not cheap indeed.

Here are my tasting notes:

Deep purple red colour in the glass, the wine has vibrant nose of raspberries, black currant, jam and jelly aromas, it is first peppery-spicy is the mouth, as typical for a Shiraz, than displays an intense, creamy, fat and rich aroma of wood berries, it is well balanced and ends with a long and intense finish. The wine has 14% alcohol.

The grapes for this wine were grown in the warmer parts of the Adelaide Hills near Macclesfield. The wine was aged for 12 months in old and new French oak barriques.

PS: At this point in time the Adelaide Crows are leading the Brisbane Lions in the footy game.


Sunday Breakfast in Jakarta

April 27, 2008

My daughters have become true gourmets. They complained today that we did not have a proper breakfast and that they wanted something thrilling.

How about melon prosciutto (Parma ham)? Well, thats what we had at 10 in the morning. One could say it was a kind of brunch, ok.

Melon prosciutto and Sauvignon Blanc from Shaw and Smith

The Shaw and Smith ‘2007 Sauvignon Blanc’ from the Adelaide Hills (www.shawandsmith.com), we drank with it (retailing in Jakarta for US $ 20.10/bottle), was just how I like SB: crisp and clean, fresh and spicy, apricot, melon, grassy notes. The wine is unwooded and has 13% alcohol.

2007 was a rather warm and dry year in the Adelaide Hills. Late frosts affected quantities but overall the quality of the fruit was very good. Because of the higher than normal temperatures, the flavours of the Sauvignon Blancs were more in the tropical fruit and less in the herbaceous spectrum.

I wonder what else is to come today after such a brilliant start.


Chain of Ponds, Adelaide Hills, Australia

April 26, 2008

I found another treasure in our local duty free shop a Chain of Ponds ‘1999 Grave’s Gate Shiraz’, from McLaren Vale in South Australia. The homepage of Chain of Ponds (www.chainofponds.com.au), located in the Adelaide Hills, claims that they are “Australia’s “most highly awarded boutique vineyard”. After studying the page I have the feeling that for my taste, they are already much too big to qualify for such a label, but I am easy on that.

Of course their origins (in 1985) were small but they have grown over the years in a sizable business.
I just managed to get the bottle in the last year of the drinking time frame: best drinking 2003 to 2008, it says somewhere.

The wine background is given as follows:

Frost at the commencement of the 1999 growing season wiped out Chain of Ponds estate plantings of Shiraz, hence the sourcing of fruit from McLaren Vale for this wine.

In 2001 James Halliday gave a rating of 90 out of 100 point. The wine comes from the River Series, sold for A$ 18 per bottle. I payed US $ 18.20 for it, which seems to be quite reasonable. The wine could be described as follows:

<“Deep, bright red-purple; clean, fresh juicy/berry fruit on the bouquet is followed by luscious and sweet berry fruit on the palate. Neither the oak, nor the extract, nor the alcohol (13.5°) have been overdone”.

The winemaker is Neville Falkenberg. The 1999 wine must have been made by his predecessor since Neville has been with Chain of Ponds for only the last five years. The Adelaide Hills is a premier cool climate region of South Australia, only about a 20 minutes drive from the capital Adelaide. I love Adelaide not just because my wife originates from there, and recommend it for any visit to Australia. It’s a must, seriously.

Apart from this series, Chains of Ponds has a Premium Range segment. It also produces wines from Kangaroo Island grapes. Its Italian Varietals come from the Adelaide Hills (Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio). The low cost segment is called Novello Range (A$ 14/bottle). I have not been to the place but the homepage shows beautiful pictures. Another place to check out.