Chinese wine at Starfish restaurant in Beijing

April 15, 2013

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Starfish entrance

While in Beijing the other day, I was invited for a meal at Starfish Restaurant opposite the Canadian Embassy. I had been there before but my last visit was some time ago.

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The restaurant

It is a very pleasant place with good service and good food. I ordered one variation of the menu of the day. This usually comes with a glass of wine.

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Chinese 1421 Chardonnay

When I later asked the waitress what wine it was, I was surprised to learn that she had served me a Chinese ‘2010 Silver Chardonnay’ from 1421 Wines.

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Silver Chardonnay from 1421 Wines

This Chardonnay is a very decent wine and I was pleasantly surprised (see tasting notes). I also love it when food is served with locally grown wine and not some foreign stuff.

In Thailand for instance is it very difficult to have a local wine accompanying the meal. In most places only international wines are on offer. There are some exception from this rule, some of which you can find on my blog.

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Champagne at Easter – Carte Blanche from Bauget-Jouette

April 2, 2013

Bauget Jouette

Easter was looming and I had not had any real champagne for a long long time, therefore I decided to get a bottle of bubbly from France. I went to the Wine Connection shop in Thonglor and came out with a bottle of Carte Blanche – Bauget-Jouette from Épernay, Champagne in France.

This is a very fine specimen of bubbly wine from Champagne, France. I loved the small bubbles (12% alcohol), and the intensive yellow fruit aromas. Apricots and apples come to mind. The 60% Chardonnay grapes in the blend are tangible (30% are Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir).

Maison Bauget-Jouette is one of the oldest ‘champagne houses’ in France (1822). The family owned and operated business produces about 150,000 bottles per year on 15 ha of vineyards. This makes it one of the smaller and lesser known champagne producers. The good news is that its products are available here in Asia. Wine Connection in Bangkok sells it for about 2,000 Bath per bottle.

According to the German champagne platform www.champagner-portal.de (which carries about 61 champagne producers, big and small), Bauet-Jouette in Épernay is worth visiting. The winery has a historic cellar from the 17th century which is located 27 meter below the surface. Today the fifth generation of the Bauget family, Stephan and Nicolas, is operating the estate.

My verdict: I will buy this champagne again. Next opportunity is the graduation of my twin daughters from Patana International School in Bangkok in May. I will wait outside the school with a bottle of Carte Blanche in a wine cooler and the necessary accessories and we will celebrate their new won freedom.


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.


Resfreshing bubbly produced by Di Giorgio Family Wines

March 9, 2012

Di Giorgio sparkling

One of the many refreshing bubblies we tasted during our Christmas holidays in Glenburn, was this bottle of Di Giorgio sparkling, a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. I had bought it in our local supermarket in Yea.

The bottle of sprakling on our kitchen table

Di Giorgio Family Wines is a family business celebrating in March its 10 anniversary. Some of the vineyards are located in Lucindale district of the limestone coast near Coonawarra, South Australia.

Stefano Di Giorgio migrated from Italy to Australia in 1952; with his wife Rita, he has four children. Apart from viticulture, the family holds interest in cattle, sheep, wool production and horticulture.

In 1989 the first vineyards were planted in Lucindale. Today, about 126 ha are under vines, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shirz, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are produced.

The holdings in Coonawarra covers almost 228 ha under vines. Apart from the varieties above, they also include some Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo.

From 1998 onwards the Di Giorgio’s decided to move from fruit growing to wine-making, and in 2002 they established their own winery. The enterprise is not small. I wish to congratulate them to their anniversary and wish them well for the future.

The sparkling Pinot Noir (85%) Chardonnay (15%) is a very fresh and refreshing wine. I loved the strawberry aromas and the spicyness. It is not completely dry but carries some hints of sweetness. The soft creaminess is lovely and gives it a very “homely” character.


Winery review: Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley – Winery of the year 2012

January 22, 2012

Oakridge Winery

When we are on vacation in Australia, we are always trying to visit some of the many wineries in our vicinity. From Glenburn the Yarra Valley is just a “stone’s throw” away so to say; a 30 to 40 minutes drive will drop you at the doorsteps of most of the famous Yarra Valley wineries.

However, when it comes to the execution of our plans, we more often than not fail. The Christmas holidays in 2011 were no exception. But at the last minute, we dashed along the Maroondah highway to buy a couple of bottles of wine we could take back to Bangkok.

The Oakridge Winery was our destination. We knew through the grapevine that Oakridge had won the prestigious “winery of the year award 2012”. Moreover, the critics also praised the 2010 Chardonnay 864 of the Lusatia Park Vineyard.

The newly invented “twilight cellar door”, open until dark, made the visit possible, because it was already 18 h (most wineries close at 17 h) when we got there. We rocked up at the vineyard where a function took place but did not miss the “tent” with the mobile cellar door.

Well managed vineyards surround the winery

Oakridge has become an icon in the Yarra Valley. Since 1978 the family-owned winery produces premium and award winning wines on about 10 ha of land. Since 2002 David Bicknell is the chief wine-maker at Oakridge.

The winery and lots of green space around it

The Yarra Valley is considered to be a cool climate region. Its wines are often compared to the wines of Bordeaux, Cotes d’Or and the Northern Rhone.

Especially the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay wines of Oakridge are very remarkable, but also some of the other wines win top awards for instance the 864 Syrah (gold in 2011). From the Oakridge website you can find out more about the awards and the awards performance of the Oakridge wines.

The new crop on the vines

The twilight cellar door with the very friendly staff

Oakridge’s premium brand is the 864 series. Unfortunately, the Chardonnay we intended to buy was not available at the twilight cellar door that day. We were pressed for time but tasted another one of their premium wines, the ‘2010 Oakridge Lieu-dit Chardonnay’ from the Duck’s Lane vineyard. Delicious.

According to the Age & Sydney Morning Herald 2012 Good wine Guide, this Chardonnay has 95 Parker points. As you know, I am not phased by the various point systems. I either like a wine or I don’t regardless of the points

By the way, it is scientifically proven that wine judges cannot replicate consistently the same rating in replicated test series. And ever since I red Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking fast and slow” I know the reasons which are neatly explained by “prospect theory”.

Anyway, we bought a bottle of this gorgeous drop. She was one of only four in our luggage to make the way to Bangkok. I will tell you how this ‘2010 Oakridge Lieu-dit Chardonnay’ tasted when I open this treasure. For now it is safely stored in my wine fridge. Stay tuned.

Brochures and wines at the twilight cellar door

The other sure think is that we need to come back to Oakridge for a proper tasting. You are cordially invited to join us.

Address:
OAKRIDGE WINES PTY LTD
864 Maroondah Highway,
Coldstream, Victoria 3770 Australia
Tel.: +61 3 9738 9900
www.oakridgewines.com.au


Winery review – Closson Chase Vineyards, Prince Edward County, Ontario

September 23, 2011

I know that not that many people visit my blog entries on Canada, its wineries and wines. However, that may be, I am going to continue to introduce some of the places we have visited during our summer vacation. I have two reasons for this:

1. because I believe that Canadian wine is worth to take note of (tasting and drinking!), and
2. because I am convinced that in the next couple of years some of the Canadian wines will hit international wine markets and might be more readily available to consumers outside the Americas.

The Man from the Mosel in front of the famous Closson Chase entrance

The evening before we visited Closson Chase Vineyards, we had a glass of its 2009 Chardonnay which tasted strange, very strange. In hindsight I think it was off.

However, in some of the brochures collected from the Picton tourist office I had read a story about Deborah Paskus, the iconoclast viticulturist and celebrated wine-maker of Closson Chase, which led me to believe that we have to go and see the place with our own eyes.

Closson Chase was established in 1999. It produces exclusively the Burgundy varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, some from its own vineyards, some from leased properties nearby.

We visited Closson Chase on the 2nd of August, a beautiful summers day. The cellar door is located in Hillier on the Western side of Prince Edward County.

Closson Chase has about 30 acres under vines. The soils are
limestone rich. The low yields and the French inspired vinification and barreling are responsible for the superior quality of its wines.

In 2009, Jancis Robinson, the guru of the international wine circuit, called Closson Chase Vineyards one of the two finest producers in Ontario.

The historic barn

The cellar door and tasting room is housed in a century old barn which has been restored. The day we visited an exhibition of moden art was shown on the premises.

The back side to the entry where the garden is located

The garden where we tasted the wines

The tasting at Closson Chase Vineyards is pricy in comparison with other place on Prince Edward County. For a tasting of three wines one had to pay 12 C$ (uff!!!). We drank two glasses of unoaked Chardonnay, and one glass of Pinot Noir.

The garden ist just wonderful located on the back side of the old barn. We sat their completely satisfied. The wines were stunningly good. We bought a bottle of Chardonnay and one Pinot Noir to take home to Bangkok. Only one bottle “survived” the journey. More about the Pinot Noir when we have it with a meal.

Closson Chase is a must visit if you are in Ontario.

A Closson Chase vineyard

Old vines with grapes

Address:
Closson Chase Vineyards
629 Closson Road, Hillier, Ontario K0K 2J0
Tel: +1-613-399-1418
Fax: +1-613-399-1618
E-mail info@clossonchase.com
www.clossonchase.com


Wines of Ontario – 2007 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay, Ontario

August 25, 2011

One of the best Chardonnays I drank while touring Ontario, Canada was the ‘2007 Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay’. I bought it in a bottle shop in Ottawa, a very interesting capital city, where we had a great time.

Le Clos Jordanne is a kind of joint venture between the old and the new world wine industries, a partnership between Vincor Canada (a Constellation company) and the Boisset family of Burgundy. 130 acres under vines is not a small investment either. Only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are produced.

The village reserve Chardonnay is a cuvée of organically produced fruit from three vineyard locations. I liked its zest, the fine acids, its creaminess, the good structure and the long finish. Boy did we enjoy this elegant drink with our seafood pasta.

At our last day in Ontario we visited the Niagara falls and passed Le Clos Jordanne but had no time left to drop in and taste some more of their wines because we had to get to the airport in Toronto. What a shame. We’ll do it next time.