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

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A wine tasting at the airline lounge of Lufthansa

December 4, 2010

The two wines of my sample

The only consolation for an “economy-class-only-frequent-traveller” is the use of the airline lounges. Although Beijing does not offer wine, Shanghai does even if one has to drink the fermented grape juice from paper cups.

My favourite airline lounge is the Lufthansa Lounge at Berlin Tegel Airport, but the one in Frankfurt is also acceptable.

If time permits I usually conduct a private tasting. That’s what I did last time.

The white was a ‘2009 Hugl Gruener Veltliner’, very fresh, spicy and very pleasant. Weingut Hugl, a family-owned wine business, is located in Ketzelsdorf-Poysdorf, a part of Austria they call the northern “Weinviertel”. Martin Hugl and his wife Sylvia are young and enthusiastic vintners. About 70% of their production is Gruener Veltliner.

The red I tasted was a Rioja Barbaro, a bit oaky but still with lots of fruit and very round. Overall a pleasant experience and the highlight of my trip.


Germany: Asparagus season

May 26, 2009

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A spring delicacy in Germany

It is the asparagus season in Germany and I had the opportunity to indulge myself into quite a few “asparagus orgies”. Fresh white asparagus is so delicious. I like it with just some melted butter, a few potatoes, and maybe some fresh German ham.

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Tender asparagus tops

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Delicious potatoes

What wine do you drink with asparagus? Well, I had a simple Riesling from the Rheingau. But almost all white wines pair well with white asparagus. Germany is a Mecca for white wines. The recent edition of the “Weinwelt” (wine world) magazine identified four best buy whites to consume with asparagus. All were of different grape varieties (Vinho Verde, Silvaner, Sauvignon Blanc and Grüner Veltliner but no Riesling), and all can be purchased for under € 7.-, what a bargain. They were:

‘2008 Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde’ by Sogrape Vinhos, Portugal;

‘2008 Grüner Silvaner, dry’ by Weingut Manz, Rheinhessen;

‘2008 Tour de Pocé Sauvignon Blanc Réserve’ by Pierre Chainier, Touraine, France;

‘2008 Grüner Veltliner Hundschupfen, dry’ by Weingut Hagn, Mailberg, Austria.

I have not tried any of them as yet but reading the review brought tears to my eyes, my nose was hallucinating, and my taste buds seemed to feel the crispness of the wines.

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My “simple” Rheingau Riesling


Wine heaven – my visit to Berlin

May 16, 2009

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During my brief visit to Berlin, I tasted quite a few fine wines. I do not want to bore you with long stories. The following three wines are, according to my taste buds, highly commendable.

‘2007 Sauvignon Blanc Baron de Philippe de Rothschild, Languedoc-Roussillion, France

I do not know much about French wines, but this SB is just perfect. I loved it with the fresh asparagus dish. It had all the varietal character of an SB and a crispness which blew me away. Very dry with wonderful passion and kiwi fruit aromas with a formidable minerality.

‘2006 Merlot Weingut Leopold Aumann, Tribuswinkel-Thermenregion, Austria

Austrian wines are the vogue in Germany (highest increase in exports to Germany this year). This Merlot by Leopold Aumann was an excellent example of the high art of wine making by our Austrian neighbours. I could not get enough of it, soft and full blown fruitiness.

‘2007 Künstler Kirchenstück Dry Riesling’, Rheingau, Germany

“Kirchenstück” is one of the oldest (1271 !!!!) and best “terroirs” of the Rheingau. This young and very dry Riesling is a wine with great finesse, filigree and a wonderful lingering finish. I am sure it will ripen well in the bottle and in your cellar. If you can get hold of some bottles: buy, buy, buy.

Soon more about fine wines. Germany is just a Mecca for wine lovers (so are France and Austria).


Restaurants in Jakarta: Champa – Wine and Spirits Circle Dinner

June 11, 2008

Saturday night marked a rare occasion, because the Jakarta Wine and Spirits Circle had not organised a function for a while. Therefore, the invitation for a dinner cum wine tasting came just at the right time. We are members of the Circle since many years and cultivate some very fond memories of past wine tastings.

The event took place at the Champa restaurant, which provides Vietnamese and Indochinese food. The Champa opened its doors to the public in 2002 and possesses a warm and cosy atmosphere. I had already been to this restaurant with friends and business associates a couple of times and always liked the food.

The tables were a bit crowded by the glasses

The menue showed exciting features

‘Four temptations’, the entree ‘Goi Cuon Ca hoi, Goi Cuon Malay, kai Hoer Bai teay, Tom Ham Pho Mat’, freele translated, it reads as follows:

– Champa fresh spring rolls made of salmon
– Crispy minced chicken and crab meat martabak style
– Thai famous deep fried herb chicken in Pandean leaves
– Roasted Tiger Prawn and herb crust with cheese on salad

The main dish named ‘Bo Nuong Hed Hom ca Hoi Mojo’ consisted of grilled tender loin with mushroom cheese and stir fried Norwegian salmon with Mojo.

The dessert, called ‘Da Vanni’, was a crepes filed with Banana and cream, vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with nuts and chocolate.

How about the wine you might ask. Well, Alsatian and Austrian wines were on the agenda. we started with an aperitif, a ‘2004 Domaines Schlumberger Sylvaner’. Woh, an Alsation Sylvaner, Sylvaner being the grape of Franconia and its famous Bocksbeutel wines. It felt fresh and fizzy, a nice aperitif, I must say.

We faced seven glasses on our table, it felt a bit crowded in the limited space available. Three were for whites and four for red wines.

White wines

– 2004 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris
– 2004 Domaines Schlumberger Gewuerztraminer
– 2005 Leth Gruener Veltliner Kabinett

Red wines

– 2004 Leth St. Laurent Reserve
– 2004 Leth Linot Noir Classic
– 2006 Pfaffl Blauer Zweigelt
– 2003 Sepp Moser Blauburgunder Gebling

Let me say it from the outset: this was not an evening for scribbling down tasting notes. I was in a much too good a mood for that. I also do not know much about Alsatian and Austrian wines. But the evening confirmed one thing: one has to drink and taste a lot in oder to understand the intricacy of the various grape varieties and the wines. I promised myself to drink more wine from the two regions.

Domaines Schlumberger is a wine estate in Alsace. It was established in 1810 (these Europeans have awfully long traditions in wine making) and has 140 ha under vines, half of this area classified as “grand crus”. Schlumberger only vinifies his own grapes. Today, the sixth and the seventh generation of Schlumbergers run the estate. Much of the vineyards is organically farmed (60 ha organic and 30 ha biodynamic).

The Domaines Schlumberger Gewuerztraminer was semi-dry I would say but showed some very fine aromas and great balance. Also the Pinot Gris must have had some high residual sugar because I perceived it as almost sweet. Both wines went well with the Asian food. However, I liked the Sylvaner best. Unfortunately, I did not check the bottles to identify from which “terroir” the Schlumberger wines came from (there are 4 grand crus: Kitterle, Kessler, Saering and Spiegel) and the wine list is silent about their provenience. Maybe we drank only the “normal” wines (Les Princes Abbes) and not the ‘grand crus’.

The Sepp Moser Estate (www.sepp-moser.at) in Rohrendorf in the wine region of the Kremstal produces mainly white wines. The location Gebling has been used for vine cultivation since 1284 and is a steep south facing terraced vineyard. The Pinot Noir displayed the typical characteristics of the variety and the ‘terroir’ (hot days, coll nights during vintage time).

From the Pfaffl Wine Estate, located near Vienna in a region called “Weinviertel”, a Blauer Zweigelt was included in the tasting. Zweigelt is a red grape variety developed in Austria in 1922 and, of course, it bears the name of the developer (Fritz Zweigelt who should later became director of the Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterburg). Zweigelt is today the most widely grown red grape variety in Austria. Interesting is that the grape is also cultivated in the Niagara wine region of Ontario/Canada. The Pfaffl family cultivates about 30 ha of vineyards and goes back generations.

The Leth Estate is located in the village of Fels at the river of Wagram, Lower Austria and has about 40 ha under vines. The wine-plus website (www.wein-plus.com) awarded the winery three stars. The estate has practiced organic viticulture for decades and produces mainly white wines (70%). We were lucky to taste two reds from Franz Leth’s cellar.

In fact after all the tasting I settled in the end for the ‘2004 Leth St. Laurent Reserve’, which I liked best. It is a full bodied red with a fruity flavour and a mellow finish. The grape variety originates from France and belongs to the same family as Pinot Noir. St. Laurent (also called Pinot St. Laurent) is an aromatic dark red grape with aromas of forest berries and black cherries. Today it is mainly planted in Austria and the Czech Republic (and a small area in Palatinate and Rheinhessen in Germany).

When we left, and we were among the last guests, there was nothing left of this wine and many others. My resolution for the evening was to try more wines from these two wine regions.

Address:
The Champa
Jl. Wuaya 1/50
Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta 12170
Te.:+61-(021)-727-88668