Another year gone bye

August 23, 2008

Because of our move to Bangkok, Friday was a busy day. Packers everywhere, the house is like a nest of wasps, it seemed. Not easy under such conditions to find some peace of mind, but I did.

Another year had gone bye. My daughters had woken me early in the morning to wish me happy birthday. More well-wishers would come to join them over the day. My birthday dinner consisted of a ‘Risotto ai Funghi Porcini’, hm, that was beautiful as we say in Australia. I have loved risotto ever since we lived in Rome, Italy. And ‘funghi porcini’ is just the best “profumo” you can imagine.

What a wonderful ruby red colour the Shiraz from Hanging Rock has.
Risotto ai Funghi Porcini

Unfortunately, we did not have an Italian wine to go with it. Since my wine cellar is almost empty, I had not much choice. There were only three bottles of Australian wine, all red, left,

a ‘2004 Two Hills Merlot’ (reserved for the last evening in our house),

a ‘2001 D’Arenberg Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon’ from McLaren Vale (I had paid US$ 40 for this bottle) and

a ‘2004 Hanging Rock Cambrian Rise Shiraz’ from Heathcote.

The two whites I have reserved are for lunch on Saturday and Sunday:

a ‘2005 Kitzinger Hofrat, Silvaner dry’ from Bernhard Voelker, Kitzingen in Franconia

and

a ‘2003 Saar Riesling’ from Van Volxem Estate in Wiltingen, Saar.

The tasting room of Van Volxem Estate in Wiltingen, Saar (picture taken in July this year)

I chose the ‘2004 Hanging Rock Shiraz’. The bottle was given to me by Andrew at the cellar door when we went on a wine tasting in August last year. If you visit the region of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, you have to see this vineyard and taste its award-winning wines (see also my blog entry from 09. September 2007).

Hanging Rock has also a vineyard in the Heathcote wine region, Central Victoria where its award-winning Shiraz wines are grown which enjoy an enormous demand from consumers in China.

The Hanging Rock winery in the Macedon Ranges. In the back you can see the rock. The photo was taken in August 2007.

The wine is a blend from several vineyards near the Mt. Carmel range. It is beautiful, has a ruby red colour, and very intense plum and cherry aromas; it is very fruity, has immense depth, a good structure and actually everything you want from a Shiraz from the Heathcote wine region with its hot summers. The Cambrian soils of the Heathcote region are the key to the fame of its Shiraz wines.

Isn’t the ruby red colour of the Shiraz of Hanging Rock wonderful?

Pity the wine did not match the food (my mistake). The ‘funghi porcini’ were too delicate and subtle and the wine just overpowered the fragrance of the earthy mushrooms. We did not care this time, enjoyed the tropical garden view and the sweet heat of a dry-season evening. One last time. I wonder where I will celebrate my next birthday. Over these thoughts I blew the smoke of a Partagas cigar which was given to me by my friends Liz and Walter in Jakarta. Delicious!


Red Wine Obsession in China

April 25, 2008

Recently when I was on a stop over in Singapore, I bought some portwine at one of the DSF duty free shops in the airport. The woman behind the counter was very friendly and we chatted along. I asked her which wines were her best sellers. She answered that they were grand cru wines from Bordeaux up 1000 S$ per bottle and that they were a much sought after commodity by tourist from Mainland China.

So it came as no surprise when I read the recent news about a sale of 27 bottles of French red wine by an anonymous Beijing based billionaire for the record price of about US$ 500.000 by the London based Antique Wine Company. The wines were various vintages of reds from Romanee Conti in Burgundy. According to the Antique Wine Company it was not bought for investment but to be drank. This sale is lauded for it’s indication that wine tastes in China are becoming more complex. The time of simply buying Bordeaux wines seems to be over. The broadening of wine education and appreciation is a good thing also for Australian wine producers. The recent large sale of Shiraz wines by Hanging Rock Winery is a good example for that.

A wine bar in a hotel in Beijing

During a recent trip to China I learned that red wine can be drank in new, “innovative” ways some might call it. Next time you are in China order “Red wine set menue” and you will be served with a good bottle of red Bordeaux wine, a large glass with ice and two cans of Sprite. You mix it together and you are right.

Many wine drinkers heart may sink at the prospects of being invited by a Chinese friend to this type of “blending” red wine. If the cheap mass wines are being mercerized by this technique that might be a good thing. For boutique wine producers like myself it is a rather shocking prospect that my elegant Two Hills Merlot could be treated that way.

“Gan bei” (cheers) as the Chinese say.