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.

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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.

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Winery review – Black Prince Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario

August 18, 2011

The Black Prince Winery in Picton

The Black Prince Winery was the first winery we visited after our arrival in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario. We came by car on road number 33 from Kingston crossing by ferry to the “island” respectively the peninsula. The ferry ride was somehow a bit romantic and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

The tourist information office in the picturesque town of Picton was our aim. Quickly we found our bed and breakfast accommodation called “Saraswati” which doubles as a cancer and naturopathic care centre. The two guys in this office were extremely helpful.

After we had dropped off our stuff at Saraswati, we had some free time on our fingertips. We used it for a quick winery visit before dinner. The only winery in Picton is the Black Prince.

The vineyards were planted in 2000 and the winery opened in 2003. At that time only two other vineyards were operational in Prince Edward County.

Cellar door entry to the Black Prince

“Total terroir, local grapes, local barrels, local wine located in the heart of beautiful Prince Edward County”, is the motto of this winery.

Where does the name come from?

The search for an appropriate name lead the owners to research the “Edwardians”. One of them was the Black Prince. He was the eldest son of Edward III, and became a legend in his own lifetime. “He was one of the most successful commanders during the 100 years war and a model of chivalry and courtesy”, says the winery’s website. Since he also ruled over parts of Aquitaine, which included Bordeaux, his connection to wine was obvious and he qualified as name giver.

Lots of wine is displayed in the tasting room

We tasted two flights (three wines) of whites and one of reds. The whites included a 2010 Vidal, a 2007 Gewuerztraminer, 2008 Chardonnay, and a Pinot Gris. The reds were a Baco Nero, a 2009 Cabernet Franc, and a 2009 Merlot.

We liked the Merlot best. It had very nice aromas of cherries, was fruity, and medium bodied. The previous vintage of the Merlot was an award winner. At 17.75 C$ is seemed modestly priced for Canada.

We bought the Vidal, a frost resistant hybrid variety widely planted to produce ‘Icewines’ in Canada, the Gewuerztraminer and the Cabernet Franc as well as a bottle of Merlot. More about the Vidal another time.

Because the staff in the tasting room was so friendly we bought a few bottles. We had a great chat with the lady behind the counter and were very enchanted when we left the place. This was a great start to our Prince Edward County wine tasting tour.

I highly recommend visiting the Black Prince.

Address:
The Black Prince Winery
13370 Loyalist Parkway,
Highway #33,
Picton, Ontario
Canada K0K 2T0
Tel: +1-613-476-4888
Fax: +1-613-476-0075
Toll Free: 1-866-470-9463
www.blackprincewinery.com


Sweet breakfast

January 31, 2010

Yummy waffles with strawberries

Our daughters Lucy and Charlotte surprised us today with waffles for breakfast. They had to try out the new waffle machine which we acquired yesterday. The sweet waffles cried out for a wine. Well, why not, I thought, starting this Sunday in style.

2008 Hardy’s Riesling Gewuerztraminer’, medium dry

We had this bottle of ‘2008 Hardy’s Riesling Gewuerztraminer’ (11.5% vol. alcohol.), an unusual blend for my taste buds, left over from last night. With the sweet breakfast it went much better than with the spicy bean soup. The strong lemon aroma of the wine is quite nice but its also oily like petrol (or good Alsatian and Australian Riesling). However, medium dry is “too sweet” for me somehow.

Great colour in the glass

I asked myself why one would blend these two varieties which stand on their own perfectly well? I rather enjoy them as single varieties, I must say. I only know of Australian blends of these two grape varieties.
If the purpose of a blend made of different grape varieties is to add more complexity to the flavour and texture of a wine, I am not sure if the Hardy winemakers succeeded.

But as Shakespeare has Hamlet say:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.
(Hamlet Act 1, Scene 5, 159–167)


Hosting the vintner – with Timo Mayer at Patara in Bangkok

November 3, 2009

I admit, we take all our friends traveling through Bangkok to our favorite Thai restaurant if time permits. Patara is Thailand’s best restaurant and was awarded the corresponding prize for this achievement in 2009. We just love to dine there.

When Timo Mayer and his two daughters came through Bangkok we were pleased to have them for a couple of days and show them around. The Mayers’ came from Germany where Timo was helping with some wine-making in his native village near Stuttgart. He was also selling some of his Australian wine in various places (London for instance).

He was loaded with different bottles of very unique wines some of which we tasted together at various occasions. But one evening was reserved for fine Thai cuisine. Patara sent his tucktuck taxi service to pick us up from our home in Thonglor.

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The colorful entrees

We decided that we would order the food and Timo would choose the wine. As always we started with the three colorful delicacies shown above. Somehow I had problems taking clear and crisps shots of the food that evening. But you can look up earlier posts in this blog where you can find some more photos of the various Patara signature dishes.

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Happy diners

Timo selected the ‘2007 “Hugel” Riesling’ the classic wine from Hugel & Fils from Alsace. Jean Hugel, the senior vintner and wine-maker of this pioneer family of wine-making in Alsace was a legend and had passed away only in June this year.

I had never tasted their wines before and was very excited about the choice. Hugel and Fils maintain not only a very informative website but also an entertaining blog. I had visited Riquewihr, the picturesque Alsatian village where the winery is located many years ago (actually decades ago).

As a high-school student I had visited Alsace and its villages with my school and tasted my first Gewuerztraminer ever. A couple of years later I had seen a play at my “alma mater”: the Bonn University music and arts festival telling the story of the Alsace in three languages. After that my fascination with Alsace was complete. I had the chance to visit several times but mainly the north of the region. Our favorite destination was a restaurant, Au Cheval Blanc near Wissembourg but this is another story.

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The ‘2007 Hugel Riesling’

The ‘2007 “Hugel” Riesling’ is a very fine wine, young and vibrant. 2007 was a good vintage because the grapes had the opportunity to ripen for the longest time ever and therefore the grapes were very healthy. As a consequence the wines show great elegance and balance. The wine is fruity with mineral notes, a typical Alsatian Riesling with the characteristic petrol note. I love Riesling with Thai food.

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After we “demolished” the food

Our evening was great fun. The culinary delights of Thailand are just “breathtaking” for the palate. I can only highly recommend the restaurant. I love the atmosphere and the professional and friendly service.

We talked a lot about Timo’s German visit, his impressions, the adventures and, of course, wine. But when friends from afar visit, time flies. That’s how it was. Hours shrink to seconds and in a blimp of the eye it’s gone.

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


Family meals and the emptying of my wine “cellar”

July 4, 2008

Our last 60 days in Jakarta have started. Soon we will be moving to Bangkok. We try to enjoy every day. Apart from sorting out things, we are spending our time at home with family meals and drinks.

A delicious seafood pasta

I do not have a large supply of fine wines left but some of the bottles I have kept for special occasions. So what did we drink over the last couple of days? Here is a quick run-down:

‘2002 Léon Baur Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Pfersigberg’, alc. 13.5 % Vol.
We drank it before lunch as an aperitif. This is an aromatic wine, very generous in its flavours. It comes from a limestone “terroir” and is the gem of the Léon Baur collection. Low yields make great wines. It’s rather high in alcohol and has 15.2 g/l in sugar. A very enjoyable Gewürztraminer typical for this grape variety (www.leon-baur.com)

‘2003 Wiltinger Gottesfuss, Riesling Kabinett Feinherb, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt’ , alc. 11 % Vol.
As you know, I love wine from the Saar River, and Wiltingen is one of the major location to produce first class Riesling wines. “Feinherb” is the German word for semi-dry. “Gottesfuss” is one of the best locations in Wiltingen, a very steep, stony slate ground which produces a fine, acidic, and balanced wine. Normally I prefer dry Rieslings but with a spicy Asian meal, the semi-dry version does very well. (www.kesselstatt.com)



‘2005 Hollick Coonawarra Reserve Chardonnay’,
alc. 13.5% Vol.
We had it with a seafood pasta. What a delicious Chardy this was. Although cellaring for up to 7 years is recommended, the bottle did not last that long. It displayed aromas of white peach, had crisp acidity and balanced creamy overtones. Though the wine was matured in French oak for 10 month, it was not “over-wooded”. Beautiful (www.hollick.com).

‘1999 Mildara Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon’, alc. 13.5% Vol.
The Mildara brand belongs to the Fosters Group (www.fosters.com). Liz and Walter brought it with them and we had it with all kinds of cheeses, salamis, coleslaw, salads and all kinds of “nibblies”. Despite its age, it displayed all the freshness of a typical Coonawarra wine. The colour was a deep purple. The intense aromas ranged from cassis, to dark berries and plum with hints of mint and herbs. The 18 months in oak have given the wine great depth and bony tannins, mellowed by age. The wine had an excellent structure. It was well aged.

‘2004 Knappstein Clare Valley Enterprise Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon’, alc. 14.5% Vol.
The bottle retailed for US$ 26.50 at the Jakarta duty free store in Jalan Fatmawati. I had it reserved for a special evening. the wines is Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at its best. Wonderful creamy, cassis, blackberry and mulberry flavours. A big Australian wine, full and complex but heavy which lingers on long after you swallowed the last drop. The fruit is grown on the “terra rossa” soils. Low yields guarantee the quality of the fruit. 2005 was an excellent year with a long ripening season. We had it after a meal just for enjoyment. This is a great wine indeed. (www.knappsteinwines.com.au)

The farewell dinner with our Australian friends (Brett, Janie, John and Dhanya) last night was a delight. We drank some very good wines. I only mention them in passing. Hope you don’t mind. We started with a pre-dinner drink, a ‘2006 Vasse Felix, classic dry white’ from Margaret River, Western Australia. The entreés we washed down with a ‘2007 Yarra Burn Sauvignon Blanc Semillon’ from the Yarra Valley, Victoria. We switched to red before the main course (a pasta bolognese), first to a ‘2004 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot’ and then a ‘2003 Vasse Felix, classic dry red’. Three Margaret River wines stood against the cool climate SB form the Yarra Valley. It was a wonderful evening. No sadness was to find only the joy of being together and having a good time. I love this Australian attitude to life.