2011 Asoke by Gran Monte Winery, Thailand

January 27, 2013

Asoke 1

2011 Asoke Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah by Gran Monte

As you can see from the two pictures above and below, the newest vintage of the flagship wine of Gran Monte Family Estate, had no label as yet when I tasted this wine a few days ago.

The 2011 Asoke, a blend of about 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah, is a ripper of a wine, maybe the best red, Thailand’s vineyards have to offer.

The previous vintage, the ‘2009 Asoke’ has won many medals, two gold, three silver and three bronze medals, at international wine shows in Europe and in Asia.

Asoke 2

What a beautiful colour

The 2011 vintage of the Asoke has so far won a bronze medal, but I am confident that this young wine has a great potential and will win more awards when it has settled and aged a little.

It has lots of dark fruit flavour, blackberry to me. The tannins are still a bit astringent but will mellow with time. As the previous vintage, I guess it has spent some time in new oak. It is a very pleasant wine, strong and powerful, the best red I had in a long time.

The wine-maker is Nikki Lohitnavy, the young and talented and already well known vintner of Gran Monte Estate. Nikki is getting better every vintage. In a few years time her wines will be collectors items, I guess.

Asoke pasta

We had the wine with a meal, of course. It was not red meat with which this wine would harmonize Extremely well. Instead it was a pasta cooked by my daugther Charlotte (our resident cook, my wife Margit, is absent for a while). She is a very good apprentice, and the pasta was superb.

Asoke cooks

Charlotte (left) and her twin sister Lucy

Needless to say that this simple meal with the excellent wine from Gran Monte, made a wonderful father and daughter event.

My suggestion to wine lovers in Thailand: secure a couple of bottles of this wine, put them down in a good wine fridge, and enjoy one after the other with or without food, at special and ordinary occasions, and when you want to show off. This is the thing.

The upcoming harvest festival at Gran Monte Estate, on February 2 and 3, will give you a unique opportunity to learn more about Gran Monte wines, the vineyards and the wine-maker. You should book now and/or visit Khao Yai at your own pleasure. It is worth it.

PS: While writing this on my terrace, I am drinking another one of the great Gran Monte wines, the 2012 Viognier, a beauty of a single vineyard, single variety wine.

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Beautiful Reds from the Pfalz at Weinsinnig, Trier

January 13, 2013

The other day (actually it was about a month ago during my last visit in Trier, Mosel), I had some fabulous reds at “Weinsinnig”, my favourite wine bar in Trier.

Both wines come from the Pfalz (Palatinate) wine region in Germany. Markus Schneider Estate is located in Ellerstadt, and Rings Estate in Freinsheim. Both estates are led by young and innovative vintners and wine-makers.

W sinnig Black Prince

2010 Black Print by Schneider

I have written about the wines of Markus Schneider before. ‘Schneider Ursprung’ is a wonderful cuveé (blend) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Portugieser.

The ‘2010 Black Print’ is a blend of St. Laurent, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Mitos and Cabernet Dorsa (hold your breath). The last two grape varieties are new crossings (hybrids) produced in Germany.

The wine was matured in small oak barrels. It has an almost black colour, as the name suggests. The fruit aromas are very concentrated, some plum and cassis but also blackberry. The tannins are already soft enough and well balanced. This is a yummy wine at a very reasonable price (around 12 Euro/bottle). But you have to be quick to pick up the remaining bottles.

Markus Schneider is not only very innovative as the composition of his blends are concerned but also the labelling of his wines is new and against German traditions. The Wine Guy has done a portrait of the winery which might be of interest to you.

W sinnig Rings

2011 Das kleine Kreuz by Rings Estate

Also the second wine I tasted at Weinsinnig was a red cuveé from the Pfalz. The ‘2011 Das kleine Kreuz’ by Rings Estate is a blend of Merlot, St. Laurent, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The brothers Andreas and Steffen Rings appeared 2007 on the German wine scene. That was the year that the Gault & Millau wine guide included the winery for the first time. Last year the brothers won the German red wine award.

This wine is just wonderful, awesome, fabulous. The density of the fruit, the well balanced acidity, the soft tannins and the long finish are all very striking. I could not believe it, my vintners soul cried more, more, more.

If we only could have these wines in Bangkok.

Address:
WEINSINNIG
Weinbar & Verkauf
Palaststraße 12
54290 Trier
Tel.: +49-651-979 01 56
info@weinsinnig.com
www.weinsinnig.com

Weingut Markus Schneider
Am Hohen Weg 1
67158 Ellerstadt
Tel.: +49(0)6237 – 7288
Fax: +49(0)6237 – 977230
info@black-print.net

Weingut Rings
Duerkheimer Hohl 21
67251 Freisenheim
Te.: +49-6353-2231
info@weingut-rings.de
http://www.weingut-rings.de
www.black-print.net


Home again celebration – 2008 Redmont, Markowitsch, Austria

August 12, 2011

Bangkok August 2011: rainy season but with splendid mornings

How nice to be back home again. This time “home” means our flat in Bangkok.

After about four weeks on the road which brought us, among others, to my home town Trier in Germany and Ontario in Canada, we are finally back in Thailand and our “normal life” can resume.

Needless to say, we had a great time. Not only visited we family and friends but we also had gone on often spontaneous short trips for instance to Metz the capital of Lorraine, France, and Echternach in Luxembourg where we explored local culture, food and wine (Auxerrois wines in Lorraine and Elbling in Luxembourg).

Our visit to Ontario, Canada was mainly aiming at seeing friends of old student times. Two of my best friends, Dominik Franken and Gerd Eilers, had migrated to Canada after they finished their masters degrees in agricultural economics. After more than 20 years, it was time to renew our friendship and catch up with each other. That’s what we did.

We also used the opportunity to learn more about the “wineland Canada” as well, especially two regions were in our focus: the Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County, a marvel of a new and coming, cool climate wine region just south of Kingston, Ontario.

I have collected many stories, pictures, tasting notes, leaflets and brochures of wineries and other places we visited which will keep me busy blogging.

This abundance of material will also nurture my curiosity to learn more about the wines we tasted and the wineries we visited and embark on more research.

Due to the erratic availability of internet connectivity I have neglected my blog. The good news is that the Man from Mosel River is back. Now I just need some free time and opportunity to bring my notes into shape and share with my esteemed readers our recent wine experience.

Postscript
Question: What did we do after we arrived after a 10 hours flight from Fankfurt?

Answer: Well, we had a pasta, “bucatini alla amatriciana”, and a wine from Carnuntum, Austria which I had picked up while in transit on Vienna Airport.

The ‘2008 Redmont’ by Markowitsch, a blend of Zweigelt (50%), Blaufraenkisch (15%), Cabernet (15%), Merlot (10%) and Syrah (10%), was an inexpensive wine which I had grabbed without much thought, turned out to have a mighty nose and great aromas, which caught me by surprise.

The wine is well balanced and full bodied. I really enjoyed it. The only thing I did not like was the slight bitter after-taste one could feel on the palate. But I plan to buy another one of Markowitsch’s wines when I am in Vienna next time.


Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon

May 15, 2011

The good news is that just across the street from the Center (ICLPST) where I teach in Taoyuan, there is a wine and spirits shop with a good selection of wines. Last night I bought a ‘2008 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon’ from Margaret River in Western Australia. Xanadu Wines is a well known first class producer.

This is a good wine, full of black currant and plum flavours; and despite the 14% alcohol, the wine is not overpowering but delicate and finely balanced. I paid 1.188 New Taiwan $ which is not cheap (about 29 EURO). The cellar door price is A$ 35.

I must say that I was still a bit disappointed. I had expected something better for that price level. Maybe I am spoiled from the Mosel where a top class Riesling can be bought from the winery for 18 to 25 EURO.

2008 Xanadu Cabernet Sauvignon

The back label, 14% alcohol


Alamos – Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina

May 11, 2011

2008 Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon

We had beautiful gnocchi for my farewell dinner at home before leaving for Taiwan again. On my way home from the office I dashed into a wine shop and bought a bottle of red. I selected a ‘2008 Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon’ from Mendoza, Argentina. I just wanted something else.

It turned out to be a good choice. The wine complemented the meal and harmonized well with the gnocchi in tomatoes. I loved the fine aroma of the wine, the long finish and the intense fruit flavours of red berries with some spicy notes.

Bodega Alamos produces a wide range of wines. The grapes are sourced from the Catena family vineyards in Mendoza located on high-altitude sites (3,000 to 5,000 feet). The chief wine-maker of Bodega Alamos is Felipe Stahlschmidt. I could not think of a more German name.

The price of the wine in Bangkok was, as are all wine prices, ludicrous (25 EURO/bottle). However, given the Catena family legacy regarding the production of the Malbec variety, I will try their Malbec wines next.


East meets West – 龙徽

March 26, 2011

Finally, we managed to have a dinner in our new home like in the good old days in Thonglor. All four of us sat on the terrace and enjoyed a family meal together.

The pasta (zucchini) below was just delicious.

I went through my wine fridge but could only produce a bottle of ‘2008 Cabernet Sauvignon’ by Beijing Dragon Seal Winery, China. It was given to me by the hotel manager during my last trip to Beijing.

A bottle of Dragon Seal red wine was one of our first wines when we moved to China in 1990. The winery has quite some history which goes back to 1910 and some French friars in Beijing who started to grow grapes and make wine. Ever since French viticulturists and oenologists have been associated with the brand. The modern Dragon Seal Winery was founded in 1987. Various white and red wines are produced today.

The grapes are grown in Huailai County (怀来县) in Hebei Province about 150 kilometers northwest of Beijing which has a semi-arid climate. The precipitation in this part of China is very low (below 400 mm per year). Mean temperatures range from -7.4 Celsius in January to about 24.4 Celsius in July. Humidity in August-September is between 60 and 70% only.

Product range – screen-shot from the Dragon Seal website

The flagship wines of Dragon Seal Winery are it’s Huailai Reserve, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Syrah (50%) which is matured for a year in French and American oak and it’s Cru de Huailai, a 100% Syrah made from grapes grown in Donghuayuan (东花园镇).

Does this not sound very exotic in your ears?

Well, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is a solid but overall ordinary wine (‘Landweinkatagoerie’). The enclosure consisted of a plastic “cork” (uuh). I was immediately suspicious. 2008 vintage (!), but was the bottle sealed properly?

Yes it was. The wine has only 12% alcohol. The colour was a beautiful dark red. But the taste was OK. It is a rather light wine with pleasant red fruit aromas. We did not regret opening the bottle, and it also matched the pasta somehow. I must try the two flagship wines mentioned above. They won medals at international wine shows. That’s my resolution from this wonderful family meal in Ekamai.


Restaurant review: Osteria Simon Boccanegra, Firenze, Italy

October 31, 2010

Ponte vecchio, Florence

For our first family visit to Florence my good friend Giuseppe Sepe had put together a selection of six “must do or must see if in Florence”.

These six locations were carefully marked on a little map Giuseppe had drawn for us. His suggestions did not disappoint. In fact we felt utterly privileged to have this little treasure map in our hands.

One of the suggestions was Osteria Simon Boccanegra. We went there for dinner. As instructed, we asked for Tommaso, a good friend of Giuseppe, who as Giuseppe said “would treat us like royalty” (which in fact he did – thank you Tommaso for this memorable evening).

There are actually (at least) three Boccanegras: the ristorante, the osteria and the pizzeria (there is an enoteca as well), all of which offer quite distinct and different menus to their customers. We were drawn by the allure of the food of rural Florence, manifesting itself in the Osteria Boccanegra menu.

Furthermore, Tommaso spoilt us from the outset with a couple of glasses of spumante (bubbly) first, and some selected delicacies later. Then we moved on to a selection of traditional Florentine “primi piatti”, dishes to get started with. They reflected the charm of a truly rustic Florence.

We had raw vegetables, some white bread with liver pate, and a selection of local cheeses with kumquat and other jams all of which were super delicious.

Raw vegetables

Liver on bread

Various cheeses with marmalades

After that we moves on to pasta. I ordered gnocchi al ragu, one of my favourites. Margit had papardelle with rabbit, and the girls chose spinach ravioli with ricotta cheese.

Spinich ravioli with ricotta

Papardelle with rabbit

Gnocchi al ragu

Then came the absolute highlight of the evening, the “bistecca Fiorentina”. Goodness me, we had almost no space left for more food but this beef was heavenly. Look at the picture of the steak below with its mouth watering faculties.

Bistecca Fiorentina

As regards the choice of wine, we were constrained or shall I say conditioned by a wine tasting with Giuseppe in Bangkok. He served us a bottle of Tignanello some time ago which we had not forgotten (how can you forget a Super Tuscan like this?). Of course Boccanegra listed Tignanello on their (extensive and very interesting) wine list.

So the choice was made quickly and a bottle of ‘2006 Tignanello’ by Villa Antinori was ordered.

The waitress opening the bottle

Wine decantered

2006 Tignanello by Antinori

Tignanello, bottle with the cork

I was amazed how skilful one could open such a bottle of wine. The cork would remain “encapsulated” so to say. The waitress decantered our Super Tuscan, and then we were ready. Great job. I have never seen such art elsewhere.

The wine is just beautiful, consisting of 85% Sangiovese, 10 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc grapes. Tignanello was the first Super Tuscan which was made that way. Traditionally all grapes are Sangiovese. No white grapes are used for the blend.

All the fruit is estate grown and comes from a vineyard also named Tignanello covering 47 ha. The vines grow on 350-400 meter altitude on limestone and red tuffaceous soil.

2006 was a great vintage, quality and quantity wise. After the normal fermentation, the wine is put in barriques where the malolactic fermentation takes place. After the blending the wine can age in oak barrels for about 12 months.

The wine is dark red with aromas of red fruit and berries. It has fine tannins and is elegant with a good structure and length. I just love the finish with is smooth and round like good chocolate. This was only my second bottle of Tignanello but the lust for more is lying in wait.

Tommaso with the Adam family

Occasionally we review our family holiday experience by rating the places we have visited. Boccanegra (the Osteria to be precise) came out on top of our Italy visit which did not come as a surprise. There was only one other restaurant which came close to it. But more about this another time.

If you visit Florence please feel free to use Giuseppe’s map. It is worth it to explore “his” Florence in 48 hours. And if you happen to bump into Tommaso, say hello to him. By the way, he loves Thailand, Bangkok and Thai cuisine.

Address:
Simon Boccanegra
Ristorante, Osteria, Pizzeria
Via Verdi 27/r and Via Ghibellina 124/r
50122 Firenze/Florence, Italy
Tel.: +39-55-2001090
Fax: +39-55-2263038
E-mail: boccanegra@boccanegra.com
www.boccanegra.com
Closed on Sundays!!!!