At the winemakers home – Timo Mayer, Yarra Valley

April 30, 2010

Timo Mayer and his Mayer Vineyard are well known among the wine fraternity in Australia, Germany and the UK. Timo is wine maker at Gembrook Hills and he has his own vineyard in the Yarra Valley. The Mayer Vineyard is what is called a boutique vineyard. Timo is also member of The South Pack, a group of innovative and independent winemakers in Victoria.

We know each other since many years. In fact Timo made the second vintage of our Two Hills Sauvignon Blanc (2002), which won a bronze medal at the Singapore Wine Show. Since many years our two families have been together, usually for skiing on Mount Buller, eating and drinking, either at our vineyard in Glenburn or at Timo and Ronda’s place, the Mayer Vineyard.

Also this time Timo and Ronda invited us for a gourmet dinner after an afternoon of ice skating and a visit of the Victoria market in Melbourne. The latter program was only attended by our two daughters; the old folks were only in for the eating and drinking part. Needless to say, Timo is not just an excellent wine maker but also an excellent cook.

Timo Mayer in the kitchen

My pictures of the event were somehow heavily affected by the enthusiasm of our re-union, and maybe, maybe, the alcohol of the many wines we tasted. Anyway, I do not have excellent pictures to show you. The longer the evening went on, the more terrible my pictures became. Bear with me. It was a great evening.

But let us start with the food. Out of this fine piece of tuna below, Timo made a delicious sashimi (second picture below). After that we ha another entrée, garlic prawns. The fist main dish was mussels with chorizo sausage chunks followed by some fish (white-head for the kids, and tuna). We were not in the position to eat another main course, although there was beef and various other meats waiting for us. What a wonderful feast that was. Delicious stuff.

Tuna

Sashimi Timo style

Garlic prawns

Mussles with chorizo sausages and herbs

The wines we tasted before, during and after the meal were:

• 2006 Vintage Yarra Burn Sparkling, Yarra Valley

• 2009 Bloody Hill Chardonnay, Mayer Vineyard, Yarra Valley

• 2008 Bloody Hill Rose, Mayer Vineyard, Yarra Valley

• Grande Signature de Rapatel, Roussanne-Bourboulenc, by Gérard Eyraud, France

• 2008 Bloody Hill Pinot Noir, Mayer Vineyard (and we had the 2009 vintage as cleanskin)

• 2008 Les Griottes, Beaujolais, by Pierre-Marie Chermente, France

• 2007 Syrah, Domaine des Rapatel, Gérard Eyraud, France

• 2006 Big Betty Shiraz, Mayer Vineyard, Yarra Valley

• 1996 Cornas, by Thierry Allemand, France

I did not take tasting notes, this was a social event and not a formal wine tasting. Below you will find photos of some the bottles. The two bottles from Domaine de Rapatel are not represented. You can find reviews in my earlier blog entries.

Vintage Yarra Burn Sparkling

This Yarra Burn is a wonderful cool climate sparkling wine, a classical blend of Pinot Noir (58%), Chardonnay (35%) and Pinot Meunier (7%), from the Yarra Valley. The price is about A$ 22/bottle, great price-value relationship.

2009 Bloody Hill Chardonnay, Mayer Vineyard

Just released, this young white wine from the Mayer Vineyard, although low in alcohol, is an easy drinking but very fine and delicate specimen of a modern Yarra Valley Chardonnay. It has funk, is zesty and very harmonious.

2008 Bloody Hill Rose, Mayer Vineyard

Great wine for hot days and not so hot days. We compared the Bloody Hill Rose with the Grand Signature de Rapatel and found to our amazement that both wines, despite being of such different origins, go well with the garlic prawns.

2008 Les Griottes, Beaujolais, France

Ha, this fine wine from Beaujolais by Marcel Lapierre of Domaine du Vissoux, is just a very seductive drink. Made of Gamay grapes it represents the traditional style of a truly grand Beaujolais. It is not as fruity (among them strawberry) as the “nouveau” wines but has the structure and depth we treasure so much. The carbonic maceration gives it some banana flavours. It is low in alcohol but rich in flavour. Get a bottle of it, if you can. The wine is young and you can enjoy it for some time to come.

The 1996 Cornas by Thiery Allemand

This wine is very powerful and just amazing. Thierry Allemand, the son of a factory worker and not blessed with a family history of wine making, is producing two blends, Les Chaillots and Reynard both from Cornas. The wines are made from low yielding, old vines. Thierry is one of the “wine gods”, the masters and spin doctors, producing “cult” wines. It has the “burned rubber” taste which needs some time to get used to in the beginning.

The Shiraz pannel

From left to right, we drank the Syrah by Domaine de Rapatel, 2008 and 2009 Big Betty Shiraz by the Mayer Vineyard and the 1996 Cornas by Thierry Allemand. Whereas the Domaine de Rapatel Syrah is “raisin” wine, made from very ripe fruit, heavy and full of fruit flavour, the Mayer wines try to be less of that style.

Timo sees the Cornas as a benchmark for his own Shiraz wines. Both Big Betty Shiraz vintages follow the traditional wine making of Burgundy. The Cornas has the “burnt rubber” taste, which is rejected by many wine lovers and seen by some as a fault (which is nonsense). It is also full of stalks and tannins on the palate resulting from the whole bunch fermented grapes. The range of different tastes, just from one grape variety, is amazing. I ended loving the Thierry Allemand style wines best.

The morning after a successful battle with delicious wines

The evening ended with coffee and water. We stayed over. It was just a wonderful evening, a great re-union and the sharing of experiences. We had to get up the next morning fairly early because Lucy and Charlotte were going horse riding. Getting up was not the slightest problem, we were still enchanted by the magical evening. Thanks folks.

PS: The Bloody Hill Pinot Noir wines I have not mentioned above but will do so in a separate entry.


Food and wine pairing

March 31, 2010

Beautiful scrimps in garlic and olive oil

In the hot weather of March and April big meals are not very attractive. Alas, Thailand has a lot of choice in seafood and lighter dishes are the go. Some rice with tofu and green vegetables and plenty of scrimps are the right stuff for a light meal. The question is which wine to drink with it?

A simple “Chinese set” meal

There is a lot of choice actually. As far as white wines are concerned one could choose a Chenin Blanc from Gran Monte, Thailand, for instance. Or one could have a Pinot Grigio from Italy or Germany. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are other possible choices.

If the dish is spicy, and the above one was, the ‘Grande Signature de Rapatel’ by Gérard Eyraud, France, a blend of Roussanne and Bourboulenc, is a great choice. The wine is oily and thick and full of apricot flavour. It balances the spicyness of the food in a wonderful way. I never thought that a Roussanne could be such a good complement to Asian food. My tip of the day: try it.

PS: You can get bottles of this wine in Bangkok from Lake House and Comte de Sibour.


Gérard Eyraud – Domaine de Rapatel

March 17, 2010

My newest treasure

When I got home the other day from a week long business trip, the two boxes of wine by Gérard Eyraud were already waiting for me.

I told you that we had attended a wine tasting at Lake House and that we just loved the wines presented to us by Gérard.

Grand Signature de Rapatel – the Roussanne – Bourboulenc blend.

The Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre blend

The Syrah – vine de table/table wine

More about these wines later, maybe even some tasting notes. Stay tuned.


Wine tasting at the Lake House in Bangkok

March 7, 2010

The bottle of red by Domaine de Rapatel at Lake House

In the morning when we drove past Lake House on our way into town, we decided spontaneously that we should go there for dinner. Margit had seen a review about the place in the Bangkok Post. Of course we had to check the place out ourselves.

It was already dark when we arrived but the surroundings of the lake were very romantic. My camera, however, could not cope with the conditions. We choose a small table in the garden and had just ordered our food when an excited waitress came and invited us to a wine tasting. Surprise surprise, we thought, why not taste some wines.

In a small room in the main building, we met the winemaker, Gérard Eyraud, his daughter and grandson, and some more French people from the wine importer. We tasted four wines, three from Gérard, one from another producer from Southern France (Domaine Bouche Red, Cote du Rhone). I had nothing to write with, took no notes and also forgot completely to take a picture of the winemaker and his family.

The white from Domaine de Rapatel was a blend of Roussanne with Bourboulenc with a taste of apricots, one red was a blend of Grenache with Syrah and the third one was a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre (14.5% vol. alc.). The last one I know for sure, because we could not continue to drink the wine I had ordered earlier, after we had tasted these wonderful fruity wines made by Gérard. In the process we got to know Matt, one of the three co-owners of the restaurant, from Melbourne and established that his brother Dan is an old mate of my nephew Nik Meinhold. How small the world is.

Gérard and Christine Eyraud have about 15 ha under vines southwest of the city of Nîmes. Gérard sells most of his wine as Vin du Pays du Gard, the grand cru wines are labeled “Costières de Nîmes”, a wine region in the Carmargue, in the South of France. I have visited the city and its surroundings but had never tasted wines from there before. I loved the fruitiness which reminded me of Australian wines and not necessarily typical for French wines.

We had a jolly good evening. The tapas we had ordered were delicious, the wine was just superb. The staff was very friendly. We went home with the sincere intention to come back and taste some more wines. By the way the wine list of Lake House is quite extensive, and the prices are the best I have seen in Bangkok so far.
Needless to say that we ordered a couple of dozens of the wines the next morning by e-mail. More soon about these wines maybe with proper tasting notes.

PS: During the wine tasting we also learned that the house used to belong to Tiziano Terzani (14.09.1938 – 28.07.2004), an Italian journalist and writer, and a native of Florence. He stayed there for about two years. The house was called “the turtle house”. He also had lived in Beijing, China for a while where he was the correspondent for the German magazine Der Spiegel, until he was thrown out. I red his book “Behind the forbidden door: travels in unknown China” in 1986.

Address:
Lake House
http://www.lakehousebkk.com
18 Soi Prommitr, Sukhumvit 39
Bangkok, กรุงเทพมหานคร 10110, Thailand
+66-2-662 6349