Winstub: S’Thomas Stuebel, Strasbourg, Alsace

January 19, 2015

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Canal in Strasbourg

Strasbourg in autumn is very picturesque, and a great place to visit. I was lucky that I had to attend a conference and therefore had the chance to be there for a few days last year in early November.

I love this city and the wine region surrounding it: Alsace is one of my favourite French wine region. I especially love their whites, among them Riesling, Gewuerztraminer and Pinot Blanc and the Pinot Noir.

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S’Thomas Stuebel

Since I was a day early for the event, I used the Sunday afternoon for a stroll to explore the town. I had visited before. Actually my first visit was when I attended high school (or as we call it Gymnasium). Since I was in the “French branch” of my school, we went quite frequently to various places in France. We stayed at a youth hostel. Our teacher made us try some of the local wines. It was here in Strasbourg that I tasted my first Gewuerztraminer.

I was eager to visit one of the famous wine bars. Unfortunately, the S’Thomas Stuebel was closed on Sundays. I promised to come back another day. Which I did.

Winstub

The name plate at the entrance promised a truly indigenous dining experience. Something earthy, something traditional, something authentic with special dishes from the region and local wines.

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The guest chamber of the wine bar

I was not to be disappointed when I cam back a few days later on the last day of my Strasbourg visit. Together with a colleague, we intended to explore the culinary delights of the Alsace wine region. We longed for simple, peasant type of food and nothing fancy.

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A white wine served in an earthen flagon

Since my friend does not drink alcohol, a bottle was out of the question. Therefore, I ordered a 1/2 ltr. which was served in an earthen flagon. I selected a local Pinot Blanc.

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The assorted Alsatian dishes

As you can see from the photo above, we went for very basic, nutritious and hearty local food. The potatoes with ham were wonderful. The cottage cheese with garlic and onions was creamy and rich. The salads contained all the garden greens typical for the season.

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Crème brûlé

I am not a big fan of deserts, but the crème brûlé on the menue I was not willing to miss out on. I did not regret my choice. A fruit schnaps was used to make the crème brûlé, make it burn.
When we left, the taproom was filled with local diners. If you should visit Strasbourg you should not miss the S’Thomas Stuebel. Have dinner there and enjoy the local cuisine and the excellent selection of Alsatian wines.


Back from paradise

August 13, 2013

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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.

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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.


Fine dining in China: Capital M in Beijing

June 20, 2013

Capital M Beijing

Captital M

Many of you know that Capital M is one of my favourite restaurants in Beijing, China. I try to dine there at least once every visit. On my last visit, I went with my friend Brian Wallace, the owner-director of Red Gate Gallery. We had ordered a table for dinner on a mild spring evening. We both needed a treat, and a treat it turned out to be.

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The wine list

I love the wine selection of Capital M, and decided on a wine from Sancerre. The ‘2008 Domaine Fouassier’ by Domaine Fouassier was a lovely Sauvignan Blanc. This was my first time that I tasted wine from this producer, and I should not regret it.

The Fouassier family is one of the oldest wine producing families in Sancerre. Today the estate covers about 56 ha, 80% planted to Sauvignon Blanc, 20% to Pint Noir.

This wine is aged in oak barrels where it remained on lees for about ten months. It displays the fine acidity, the aromas and complexity one expects from a wine from Sancerre. I loved the sound structure and the long finish.

The grapes come from old vines. The winery prides itself with its organic agricultural and bio-dynamic methods. It was a good choice and I have to look out for more wines from this producer.

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2008 Domaine Fouassier, Sancerre

I urgently needed some green stuff and started with a salad with some beetroots pieces. The wine was perfect for this food pairing.

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Beetroot salad

I am not someone who likes the fancy recipes. I like solid-rural, more agrarian and artisan food not the highly refined output from modern kitchens.  So my choice was red meat which did not exactly match my choice in wine. Since Brian did not feel like another bottle, I stayed with the Sancerre. But I am sure some of the reds from the wine list of Capital M would have been a lovely match.

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My beef fillet on potato mash

The beef was just awesome, what a great dish, what a great evening. If you want to spoil yourself, get going, book a table and enjoy a meal at Capital M. It’s worth it, trust me.

When we left and had said our good-byes, I went on a stroll on Tiananmen square which was completely deserted and void of people. I was rewarded with this view of the entrance of the forbidden city. A visit to Beijing can be quite delightful.

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Terroir Moselle – A marketing initiative for wine from the Mosel

December 27, 2012

The Mosel

Steep vineyards along the Mosel river

When I visited my home town Trier recently, I came across an article in the local newspaper about the joint marketing efforts of vintners of the Mosel river.

With the help of government (in this case the European Union), producers from three countries – France, Luxembourg and Germany – have united their efforts to promote their produce: wine from the Mosel river.

Terroir Moselle is the name of the undertaking. The project shall benefit about 4,000 vintners across the borders of the three countries. It includes about 229 villages and hamlets along the river Mosel which are involved in grape and wine production.

The project was started in 2010 for a duration of three years. About 20 associations, institutes and other bodies from the three countries had initiated it after preparatory work in 2009.

The total area under vines along the Mosel is about 10,500 ha, 180 ha of which in the Lorraine, France; 1,350 ha in Luxembourg, and the remainder in Germany (Saar 110 ha and Mosel 8,880 ha).

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The Moselle

“River, terroir, grape production and wine making” are the unifying features of the project. Producers in the three countries face similar challenges. Many are small family units with insufficient “muscle” to raise awareness for their products: high quality wines from the Mosel river, in highly competitive markets.

Unfortunately, the website does not give an account of the achievements and the impact of the joint undertaking. The newspaper article mentioned ‘joint tasting across borders’ and ‘presentations in international wine shows’ as examples.

The members of “Terroir Moselle” have now to come up with a plan to sustain activities after the end of the funding period (December 2013). The total amount of EU support for the three years is 250,000 EURO.

I wish them well.


Wine from France: 2011 Carignan Vieilles Vignes by De Chansac, France

December 5, 2012

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Beautiful colour of the Carignan Old Vines by De Chansac

The other day I bought some wine at wine connection in Bangkok. On special was some wine from France. Frankly speaking I do not buy much French wine these days.

Today, I opened one of the bottles, a ‘2011 Carignan Old Vines’ by De Chansac Winery in l’Herault, a French wine region.

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2011 Carignan Old Vines by De Chansac

The wine is made from 40 years old Carignan vines. The grape variety, originating from Aragon in Spain, is usually used in blends (in the wines from Rioja for instance) as a colouring component. It’s average yield is very high (11 t/acre).

Varietal wines are the exception rather than the rule. I assume that 40 year old vines have much lower yields and therefore it is worth making a varietal wine such as this one by De Chansac.

The wine has a dark red, almost purple colour. The alcohol content is 12.5% only. The dominant aroma is blackberry. The wine is full bodied, fruity, round, soft, almost velvety.

And did you see in the picture above? Even the French come around to screw caps these days. I was so surprised.

Of course we had the wine with some food. The pasta (below) was delicious and the wine went very well with the intensive aromas of the all amatriciana. I buy this wine again.

Matriciana

All Amatriciana


Sparkle sparkling Crémant de Loire !

August 16, 2012


Crémant de Loire

When visiting in Germany lots of reunions with family and friends await us, usually accompanied by some sort of joyous celebration; and summer is as good as it gets if it comes to sparkling wine.


Crémant de Loire

The other day in Bottrop we had a ‘Crémant de Loire Marquis de Beaucel Brut’ which is available at the discounter Aldi. In fact some good wines are carried by this food chain. For less than 6 EURO you can have a bottle of Crémant de Loire, which makes a refreshing and reinvigorating drink.

The wine is made from Chenin Blanc grapes sourced from the Loire Valley in France. This valley is hiding many great discoveries as regards wine. My last visit was when I was still a student and toured France with my friend Ulrich. I guess I should go again and explore this wonderful part of France.

Here in Thailand Chenin Blanc is also produced as one of the white varieties which grow well in the tropical climate.


PB Valley Chenin Blanc 2010 – Wines from Thailand

June 16, 2012

2010 PB Valley Chenin Blanc

One of my favourite Thai wines is the ‘2010 PB Valley Chenin Blanc’ by PB Valley Khao Yai Winery in Khao Yai, Thailand. This wine was awarded a Bronze medal by Decanter earlier this year.

It has a good acidity and a nice freshness. The tropical fruit flavours are refined and not overpowering. It is amazing that this grape variety from the Loire Valley in France is growing so well here in the tropics.

Fish and veggie salad

We had it with a white fish and a salad made from various vegetables. The wine was a perfect complement.

Look out for this wine. It’s very good value for your money. You can buy it here in Bangkok at the Great Hornbill Bistro in Soi Sukhumvit 39.