Kloster Eberbach, Rheingau

August 7, 2012

The Rheingau wine region

Because of a flight delay we had a couple of hours on our hands with nothing to do. This provided us with an unexpected but welcome opportunity to visit the Rheingau wine region. So where to go and what to do?

Some years ago I had been to Eltville, one of the many small and pretty settlements with extensive wine culture and history. Last year in November I met a couple of professors from the famous wine institute in Geisenheim, Rheingau at the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine in Chiang Mai, which further nurtured my curiosity in the Rheingau wine region.

So I typed “Kloster Eberbach” into the navigation system of the hired car and off we went to this place near Eltville which I had always wanted to visit. We were looking for some mix of culture and wine. In no time we were cruising the country roads of the Rheingau.

Vineyards and farm buildings

The region on the right side of the Rhein river between Wiesbaden and Assmannshausen is like a Garden Eden of the modern world. The slopes of prime vineyard land descend gently towards the Rhein river. The land is very fertile and the climate very suitable for the production of first class wines, mainly Riesling.

The top of the mountain ridges of the southern Taunus are crowned with deep forests. Many of the villages and settlements are very beautiful. Every year millions of tourist flock to places like Ruedesheim, Geisenheim, Erbach and Eltville.

The Eberbach monastery

Our destination, the Eberbach Monastery, formerly a Cistercian Abbey, is a kind of museum today. We had a look at the old church, the cloister and the various rooms used by its monks from the 12th century until the French revolution and the secularization of church property under Napoleon.

Fortunately, the grape-growing and wine-making tradition of the monks has been preserved. Today the state of Hessia is the owner of the vineyards and winery “Kloster Eberbach”. The monastery offers a range of programs related to wine, special tastings for instance in the historic wine cellar, and has a “vinothek”, a kind of cellar door or wine shop.

The wine shop of Kloster Eberbach

The “vinothek” wine shop does not only offer the wines of Kloster Eberbach but also of vintners and wineries of the surrounding villages and terroirs. The shop was packed with buyers on this Sunday afternoon. I browsed through the various shelves with wines from different locations and of different quality categories. I tried to stick to a certain budget which did not allow for grand cru wines.

My selection

In the end I settled for three wines only, one Riesling and two Pinot Noir wines. The Riesling came from the most famous and oldest terroir called “Steinberg” (stone mountain) right behind the monastery. The Pinot Noir Spaetlese from Assmannshausen was a bit pricier (17.40 EURO). It should turn out to be the best Pinot Noir I drank while holidaying in good old Germany.

Address:
Kloster Eberbach Winery
65346 Eltville am Rhein
Tel.: +49-6723-6046-0
www.kloster-eberbach.de

PS: When I studied agricultural economics at Bonn University, my master thesis was (among others) also dealing with the farming activities of the Cistercian monasteries and how they influenced land markets. I had visited Himmerod Abbey, a Cistercian monastery near Trier, but had never visited the equally famous Eberbach Abbey.


Fine dining in Bangkok: Patara Restaurant revisited

March 15, 2012

My favourite Thai restaurant in Bangkok is Patara in Thonglor which offers exceptional fine Thai cuisine of greatest quality.

I have written about the place a few times, but it is always a very special occasion when the four of us, I mean my family, are heading to Patara for a family experience.

In 2009 Patara was awarded the title: the Best Restaurant in Thailand. We have taken some of our closest friends there to share this experience.

The interior of Patara restaurant

The other day, a Sunday, it was time again to patronize the place, and indulge in fine Thai cuisine. And look what we ordered. The starter platter is just a wonderful assortment of various delicious Thai dishes.

The starter platter

Another starter

Pork wrapped in bamboo leaves

Also the main dishes are fabulous. I love the steamed fish with herbs, but also the omelet Thai style, the greens and the steamed rice in four colours.

The steamed fish

Omelet Thai style

Morning glory greens

Steamed rice in four colours

I was pleasantly surprised to find a few Thai wines on the wine list. New latitude wines from Thailand are some of my favourite wines since I live here in Bangkok.

I choose the ‘2010 Colombard’ from Monsoon Valley Wines in Hua Hin. The winery has a German wine-maker, Kathrin Puff, who graduated from Geisenheim. I met her at the 3rd International Symposium of Tropical Wine in Chiangmai in November last year.

2010 Colombard from Monsoon Valley Wine

I usually do not like the grape variety. But here in Thailand Colombard makes incredible delicious single varietal wines. It is Monsoon Valley premium range brand.

The 2010 vintage won silver and bronze awards. It has a crisp acidity with complex aromas, and a nice finish. Needless to say the wine goes very well with Asian food. I was glad that I had selected it, and was reminded that I need to stock up on the wine myself.

The back label of the Colombard from Monsoon Valley

Dessert

And another sweet

Of course we had a coffee after the delicious meal and the desserts. Another highlight is that Patara offers to take you home in their Tuktuk, an open air three-wheeler, which is great fun for old and young.

Check it out. It is definitively worth it.

Address:
Patara Bangkok
375 Soi Thonglor 19 Sukhumvit 55,
Klongtonnua Vadhana, Bangkok 10110
Tel.: +66-0-2185 2960-1
Fax.: +66-0-2185 2962
www.patarathailand.com


A day at the wine symposium in Chiang Mai – some highlights

November 14, 2011

Well, as you know, I am here in Chiang Mai at the 3rd International Symposium on Tropical Wine to learn (foremost), to meet interesting people from the wine industry (and learn) and to enjoy myself (which is not hard in beautiful Chiang Mai).

In the following, I cannot (and do not intend to) present to my esteemed readers all what happened today. Instead, I choose a somewhat eclectic (maybe arbitrary) selection of bits and pieces, incidents, moments of glory which were stuck in my short-term memory and/or excerpts from my notes scribbled in haste on real paper during the symposium.

Let me start with the start. I was joined in my morning breakfast on the river front terrace of the hotel by Khun Visooth, CEO of GranMonte Family Vineyard. We had a pleasant chat and got to know each other a bit more. That was a very good beginning, indeed.

Tasteful flower arrangement for Tropical Wine 2011

The opening ceremony, although delayed by some time, was a ripper of an opening. Our Thai hosts did not disappoint us. The podium was richly and tastefully decorated with flower arrangements. Moreover, wine bottles and glasses on a wine barrel indicated the topic and theme of the event.

Wine and wine barrel

Even if the hearts of the members of the German delegation from Geisenheim sank for a moment when they spotted their “treasure”, a 1957 (in words: nineteen hundred fifty seven) dry Riesling wine from the Rheingau, which the Germans had presented to the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (RMUTL) as a special gift, on the beautifully decorated display, they kept their composure while wildly speculating what would happen to their beloved wine before the event started.

The treasure from Geisenheim (left, in the ice bucket)

We were to find out soonest. When representatives of the Thai host organizations pressed the “opening button” of the event on an i-pad, the sacred bottle rose from the bottom of the wine cooler it was placed in. Dramatic music accompanied the unexpected and meteoric rise.

A waiter made sure that the bottle was liberated from its cork in no time. Its golden shimmering liquid was poured into three large wine glasses which were presented to the organizers who toasted to the opening of the symposium.

The organizers opening the symposium

Goodness me, how I envied them. That they could taste the golden liquid of my preferred grape, a Riesling from the Rheingau, a wine only three years my junior, was just unbelievable.

I immediately plotted to use an unguarded moment after the ceremony to put my lips to one of these glasses and take a sip of the holy nectar. Wild thoughts darted through my brain.

The occasion did not arise. A waiter took care of the matter and brought the half-empty bottle and the three glasses to a safe place.

As an interlude, a traditional Thai dance troupe performed a welcome dance for us. Rose petals were gracefully spread around and dancers with fans and dressed in colourful costumes entertained the audience.

The professors from Geisenheim

All three keynotes were memorable. Prof. Hans-Reiner Schultz from Geisenheim presided over the session.

First Prof. Alain Carbonneau from Montpellier presented some of the challenges to grow vinus vinifera in the tropics.

The flying wine doctor, Dr. Richard Smart, was second and introduced us to the centrality of canopy management for tropical vineyards. This was my first encounter with Dr. Smart. So far I had only studied his famous articles and essays written in many wine industry journals.

Now here was the man in full flesh and blood. I was surprised about his creaky voice. But having been “conditioned” by my Australian wife, I am in no way a stranger to Australian accents in creaky voices. I loved his powerpoint presentation. I also learned that he has only recently relocated from Tasmania to Cornwall.

Dr. Richard Smart, the wine doctor

The third keynote was by Umberto Camargo from Brazil. For the first time in my life I learned about the wine industry of this coming economic giant and emerging power of the Latin world.

Over lunch I had the chance to meet a couple of wine writers and wine professionals which added to my general knowledge. And as you know from your own experience with conferences, the time after a big meal is the worst of the day. But I made it through.

Prof. Monika Christmann from Geisenheim spoke about the current climatic changes and their repercussions on the wine industry in Germany, among them the need to reduce alcohol levels in wine.

After the good overview of the Thai wine industry presented by Khun Prayut Piangbunta, the wine-maker of PB Valley Estate, I decided to retire to my room and let the many impressions sink in. I also wanted to write this blog entry in order to have a free evening.

Last slide of the presentation of Prof. Christmann

Hope you enjoyed the read. Please visit the websites of the organizers and the Thai Wine Association for more information about the event and the Thai wine industry in general.

To sum it up: this was a very rewarding day for an amateur like me.

Stay tuned to day two of the symposium. More news from the wine symposium in Chiang Mai is about to come.