Winery review: Punt Road Wines – Yarra Valley, Victoria

February 4, 2012

Punt Road cellar door entry

We were on St Hubert’s Road on our way to Healesville when we passed Punt Road Winery and decided on the spot to drop in. Our main motivation was to buy some of the famous pear cider for Michael, my brother-in-law.

The back entrance to the tasting room

In all the many years we have come to the Yarra Valley, we had never made it to this well known winery. The estate with about 75 ha under vines (two vineyards, one planted in 1987 and the other in 2001) is owned and operated by the Napoleone family.

The senior wine-maker is Kate Goodman, one of the so called “young guns” of the Australian wine industry and much sought after judge for wine competitions.

The Punt Road vineyards are planted with the white varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Viognier and the reds Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

The cider stacks

From the outside we already spotted the boxes with the Napoleone Co. apple and pear cider piled up in a neat stack.

My heart jumped. Here it was, the golden liquid which stirs up so much emotions, and is considered one of the best ciders in the valley. Quality has its price, so a box of the stuff does not come cheap.

Having been raised in Trier at the Mosel river, I am very familiar with cider, which is called “Viez” in the local dialect. “Viez” is a mixture of fermented apples and pear juice coming from a very small kind of apples/pears (they are in-edible and very very sour/acidic).

The trees are grown along the rural roads. All the peasant in the region used to make their own cider, as a very refreshing drink for home consumption.

The garden

The premises are very lovely with wide open spaces, tables and chairs, picnic facilities and an area prepared for boule playing (pétanque).

The back porch

We had not time for a proper tasting. The man behind the counter was not very welcoming either. So we decided to try some of their bubbly and the Pinot Gris which we (my wife Margit and I) both liked.

I am not a fan of Pinot Gris but this one was just the right stuff for a hot summers day. We bought a bottle of each. Later we also tasted the Pinot Noir, but the 2010 vintage did not catch our fancy.

The two bottles we acquired at Punt Road Winery

Golden liquid: Punt Road Pinot Gris

I guess we will have to come back for a proper tasting. Punt Road is a good place to visit in the Yarra Valley.

Address:
Punt Road Wines
10 St Huberts Road – Coldstream
Victoria, Australia 3770
Tel.: +61 3 9739 0666
Fax: + 61 3 9739 0633
wine@puntroadwines.com.au
www.puntroadwines.com.au


Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley with Peking Duck

October 8, 2011

The beautiful “off-red” colour of a Pinot Noir

Well, I gave it almost away in the title of this blog entry.
Yes, it is a Pint Noir and yes, it comes from the Yarra Valley in Victoria.

But please answer me:

Mirror mirror on the wall which is my favourite wine of them all? ,

asks the wicked queen alias “the critical consumer of fine wines”?

Well, the answer is just below; on my wine cabinet so to speak.

Can you identify the producer?

I guess now you can.

2009 Bloody Hill Mayer Vineyard Pinot Noir

And yes, you are right, this is an awesome wine from the Yarra Valley, the eastern part of which has a truly cold climate. Timo Mayer is a great wine-maker. In his boutique vineyard near Healesville he produces outstanding fruit. His philosophy of minimum interference in wine-making does the rest and out of this comes a wonderful product of a vintners craftsmanship.

The bottle has DIAM cork, the real thing

It is just a shame that we cannot get this wine here in Bangkok.

In the UK, Ireland and in Germany you can order it.

By the way, right now Timo is on a sales tour in Europe. On September 28th he was special guest at the K&U Weinhalle, a wine merchant in Nuernberg. There is a nice story about Timo written by Martin Koesler.

Our Sunday lunch table with the Peking duck

PS: We made the Peking Duck ourselves. It was a beautiful feast on a warm tropical Sunday. Timo’s Pinot Noir is an ideal wine also with Asian food. The proof is in the eating and drinking. Trust me I know what I am talking about.

Which distributor in Asia is interested? Now is the time….


Restaurant review: The Grand Hotel in Healesville

February 26, 2011

The Grand Hotel in a painting in the hotel’s dining room

Lunching in the countryside is a wonderful thing. The picturesque country town of Healesville (population about 7,000 souls) is an ideal destination when holidaying in Victoria. Since my brother-in-law Michael and his wife Helen live there, we often loiter in its streets and seek out the hip and not so hip places of food and wine worship.

A nice place to have a rustic country lunch is the Grand Hotel, right in the middle of the town’s main street. The dining room is a quiet and comfortable place. There is also a bar to the left of the entrance. The staff is very friendly and the service is good.

The menu has a wide selection of dishes, even a Thai style beef salad. We went for the rural, home made type, sausages with potato mash and gravy and fish and chips. Others of our party had lamb chops or the roast of the day.

Sausages

Fish and chips

There was a wide selection of local and not so local wines. We went for a wine from a more distant place, Western Australia. The Valley of the Giants was on special promotion, so why not taste it.

We selected the ‘2010 Valley of the Giants crisp dry white’. Valley of the Giants is a wine-making venture sourcing its grapes from growers in Western Australia. Nothing special so to say, not a boutique vineyard or so, just some people who make “technically clean” wine.

The front label

But the wine matched the occasion. It was a rather hot summers day and a crisp white wine was just the right choice with our meals.

The back label

The Valley of the Giants is a wilderness region in Western Australia attracting many tourists who love nature. In the village of Denmark an ancient forest is to be found of giant tingle trees. One can go on a ‘tree-top-walk’, about 40 meters off the ground.

A happy diner

My suggestion: if you visit Healesville check out the many beautiful places including the wildlife sanctuary and after that have lunch at the Grand Hotel. It’s worth it.

Address:
The Grand Hotel
270 Maroonday Hwy,
Healesville VIC 3777
Tel.: =61-3-5962 4003


Summer wine: Rosé from Nolan Vineyard, Yarra Valley

January 27, 2011

2009 Nolan Pinot Rosé

Rosé is always a nice wine for the hot summers days. We had the chance to taste the ‘2009 Pinot Rosé‘ from Nolan Vineyard, near Badger Creek in Healesville, Yarra Valley.

John and Myrtle Nolan are passionate about their wines. With 2 ha under vines Nolan Vineyard is a so called boutique vineyard. The site at the bottom of the valley is very cold. The vineyard is non-irrigated.

Back label

The wine has a salamon-pink colour. It is a luscious wine with strawberry aromas and a hint of lemon and honey. It is a truly refreshing drink, enjoyed with or withour food.

Address:
Nolan Vineyard
217 Badger Creek Rd,
Healesville VIC 3777
Tel.: +61-3-5962 3435


Autumn in Victoria

April 27, 2010

Near Mt. St. Leonard, Toolangi road to Healesville

Most of the following pictures I took through the car window while driving from Glenburn to Healesville via Meyers Creek Road. Gum trees do not turn yellow in autumn as desidious trees do. But the combination in many gardens and park lands make a great composition of colours.

Gum treas near Castella

Mountain Ash trees in Toolangi

Mt. St Leonard from Healesville – peak to the left

Two Kukkaburra birds waiting for their feed at Michael’s home

I found the following short video clip on the internet. Please visit the place, it’s magic.


A Sunday at Bloody Hill

September 21, 2009

TimoM0

Great Yarra Valley views from the Mayer Vineyard (left to the dam)

On a beautiful Sunday in early August, we were in for a surprise visit to the Mayer’s. We bought some “nibblies” (Australian for cold meats, sausages, cheeses, condiments, etc.) and some wine in Healesville and drove up the steep drive to Bloody Hill on top of which their beautiful house (rammed earth) is situated. Alas, they were in and happy to welcome their unannounced intruders.

TimoM00

The vineyard at the crest of the hill is very neat

TimoM1

Some of the wines on “offer” (f.l.t.r.: a Silvaner from Franconia, Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, a Riesling from the Pfalz and a Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley)

We came at the right time. A shipment of Riesling wine (about 60 cases) which Timo had made on a visit to Germany last year had just arrived and was ready for tasting. Moreover, as a member of the South Pack, Timo was in the preparation of a wine tasting tour to three Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). The South Pack is a group of eight innovative young Australian wine-makers who have raised the bar for the selling of premium and super-premium wines in sluggish markets.

TimoM3

The German Brotzeit

A quick “Brotzeit” was thrown up and the wine tasting could start. We did not drink in any kind of order but rather according to gusto and enthusiasm. First cap of the rank was the German Riesling Timo had made, Dr. Mayer Riesling of which I have no picture which speaks for itself. This was not a time for tasting notes but for joy and nourishment of body and soul, for Australian and Swabian story telling and song.

TimoM2

Bloody Hill Pinot Noir

Timo is a native of a small hamlet, called “Grossheppach” (about 4,500 inhabitants), today part of the small town called Weinstadt (translated: wine city) in the Rems valley (the Rems is a small river), Wuerttemberg, about 15 km east of Stuttgart. As everything in Germany, Grossheppach has a long history.

Grossheppach

Coat of arms of Grossheppach showing the river Rems and four grapes on a vine

Furthermore, the village has a long tradition of vine cultivation and wine making. Timo comes from a family of small vintners (and farmers).

In 1279 a historical deed is the earliest written testament of the flourishing wine production in Grossheppach. Magister Rudolf, a local doctor, had bequeathed his house in Esslingen and three vineyards in Grossheppach to the Abbey of Bebenhausen which was witnessed by knight ‘Fridericus miles de Heggebach’.

Timo showed as a historical chronicle of Grossheppach with black and white photos which also depicted his family in the 18th and 19th century. Here we are, thousands of kilometres away from the old land and talking grape production, wine traditions and wine styles. To cut a long story short, Timo had made his first ever Riesling wine in Grossheppach and shipped it for sale to Australia.

It was not the time for tasting notes, I guess. We opened one bottle after the next. First the Riesling wines, then Chardonnay and finally Pinot Noir and Shiraz, all Mayer Vineyard wines and Timo Mayer creations.

TimoM6

Mayer and Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir and a traditional German wine label with the coat of arms of Grossheppach

The Mayer Vineyard is only a small operation (2.5 ha under vines). All wines are hand crafted and from a single vineyard. Timo believes that wine is made in the vineyard, therefore there is minimal interference. The reds are unfined and unfiltered. Timo makes wines with a difference, with great character and individuality. As he says “he wants to bring back the funk”, and funky these drops are. James Halliday, “the wine pope of Australia”, has awarded his highest rating, a 5 stars, to the Mayer Vineyard.

The Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir is one of the newest creations from the masters hands; a great wine, elegant, whole bunch fermented if I am not mistaken. Timo assumed that all of it would be sold during the South Pack promotion tour together with the Riesling. By now there should be nothing left, I guess.

Needless to say that the day extended to the night and ended with a pasta feast for 9 hungry mouths.

TimoM5

The pasta sauce in the making

TimoM4

TimoMM

The magician at work, this time in the kitchen and not in the wine cellar

We had a great time. The children played all afternoon. We walked the vineyard and Timo showed me where he shot a deer. Then we went to get some of that venison for us to take home. The “Brotzeit” led to dinner and then it was time to drive home to our own vineyard in Glenburn. Good news is that Timo is planning to make Riesling again in 2009 and maybe the following years.

For sales and enquiries contact:
timomayer@bigpond.com.au

The following wines are for sale:
Bloody Hill Chardonnay
Bloody Hill Pinot Noir
Big Betty Shiraz
Mayer Close Planted Pinot Noir (also as the Dr. Mayer Pinot Noir)


Wine shopping in Healesville, Yarra Valley

August 16, 2009

Barrique

For a long time I wanted to write about my wine shopping experience in Healesville, a charming tourist town in the Yarra Valley, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. One can find a jewel of a wine store in this rural retreat, called Barrique. I took the photo above Christmas last year.

Barrique2

This is the old shop front

When visiting Healesville again in July 2009, I was shocked to not see the above signpost in the old place. I was afraid that the global financial crises and the bush fires might have let to the closure of this little wine shop. Alas, it had only moved a block further along the main street into the city centre. I was so happy when I found it again.

Barrique3

The “new” Barrique, a block further up the main street

I could not resist the temptation. Previously, I had bought German wines from this shop. I dashed in to see what was on offer. The wines are beautifully displayed. There was so much out there. I could not stop browsing through the shelves.

Barrique5

The inside of Barrique

Barrique4

So many bottles

Barrique6

Wines from all over the world

Barrique7

The “German box” with selected Riesling wines from various German wine regions

The box above announces some of the best German Riesling producers from Mosel, and Nahe. I just love Riesling wines. In the end I picked up four bottles, one from the Pfalz, three from the Mosel. I will not tell you what they were today. More about the tastings of these wines later. Stay tuned to the Man from Mosel River.
Cheers


Restaurant Review: Giant Steps in Healesville, Victoria

February 5, 2009

A place which I love to visit whenever I can is Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander, a winery cum restaurant, bakery, cheese maker, coffee and sweats sellers as well as a fun offering place in the heart of Healesville, the picturesque little town in Victoria about an hours drive northeast of Melbourne.

Despite the huge hall with the public dining facilities, the wine tasting and other desks (to sell bread, sweats and so on), the place is quite cosy somehow. It’s a place for large family and other groups as well as for having a coffee or glass of wine by oneself. They have a German “kicker” game and other entertainment facilities. In the mornings you see many young mothers with their kids. Free wireless internet access is another bonus the place has to offer.

giant-steps0

The “hall” with tables and counters

It was of course packed with people in the pre-Christmas period when we came in. We went for lunch before heading home to the vineyard and decided on pizza. Ever since we have lived in Rome, Italy, we love thin pizza of the Roman type. My favourite pizza is the simplest one, a pizza margherita (that is it’s usual name) with just tomatoes and mozarella cheese and basilico.

giant-steps1

Pizza Margerita

The pizza served in Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander is quite nice, though not as thin as a Roman one.

giant-steps4

Tomatoes to be dried

giant-steps3

The pizza oven

Pairing pizza with wine is a tricky thing. The recent controversy of my fellow blogger Do Bianci with Dr. Vino is a case in point. I think Jeremy Parzen is mostly right. When we lived in Rome we had never pizza with wine. Beer was the usual drink. However, as with any food one can have wine with it. That applies also to pizza.

Frankly speaking, I drink whatever wine is offered with the pizza if in a friends home. In a restaurant my choice of wine depends on my mood. My mood told me wine, local wine.

giant-steps2

A sniff and a mouthful

I decided on a ‘2008 Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir’ which is not a complicated wine but rather young and fresh. As regards the pizza margherita there is a lot of cheese on it which might not go well with the high acidity of the Pinot since it destroys the “harmony”. However, the earthy character of the Pinot is what I think makes it somehow acceptable, at least to me.

On www.theworldwidewine.com there is a list which shows which grapes go with which pizza.

pizza-wine-pairings

The pizza-wine pairing suggestions

giant-steps5

Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir

The four of us we had a great time at Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander. I highly recommend to visit the place to any casual tourist. If in Healesville do as the Healesviller do!

Address:
Giant Steps Vignerons – Innocent Bystander Winery
336 Maroondah Hwy.
Healesville, Victoria 3777
Australia
Tel.: +61-(0)3-59626111

healesville-map1

A map


Welcome 2009

January 1, 2009

clouds2009

Clouds over the hills around Healesville with mount St. Leonard (1028 m) to the left

As customary, we spent Christmas and New Years Eve with Michael, my brother in law, and his lovely wife Helen in their cosy family home in Healesville, Victoria. Boy did we have a great time. The time went by just too fast for the six of us.

The year 2008 is gone and with it the anxiety, the joy, the disappointments, the chagrin and the happiness. We deplore the losses, and welcome the changes.

The past year brought great changes to our family. We moved from Jakarta/Indonesia to Bangkok/Thailand, experienced a new job, a new school, a new environment, a new culture to get acquainted with and it will take us some more time to adjust, to understand, to appreciate, and to feel at home.

For 2009 our expectations are high. Our ambitions at Two Hills Vineyard are to continue to produce first grade fruit for excellent wines. Despite the loss of about 50% of our Pinot Noir grapes due to a severe frost at the end of October, we are very optimistic about the coming vintage. The Sauvignon Blanc fruit look very good, and our Merlot is in a good condition. The Chadonnay vines, now one year old, prosper and we have very few losses.

alan-johns1

Tasting the 2008 Two Hills Merlot with Alan Johns, owner and winemaker of Yering Farm Wines

Our 2008 Merlot also showed promising first results. At Yering Farm, we tasted the young wine from various barrels. The wine was fruity, had good structure for a medium bodied wine, and the tannins were just right. We hope it will mature nicely so that we can present our customers with another excellent vintage of our flagship red wine from Two Hills Vineyard.

th2008new

Two Hills Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc (left) and Chardonnay (right)

Temperatures are low for this time of the year but we had some rains which helped to make everything looking very green. A little digging, however, shows that the soil is still very dry and that we urgently need more rains. The general drought has bot been broken as yet.

A new year means new opportunities. Also in 2009 grapes will be grown, wines will be made, and we will get ample material to apply our taste buds to. Sampling fine wines and enjoy them with good food, either within the family or with our friends, will be our prime pastime in the 12 months to come. Hope you can join us. Cheers and a happy New Year to you all.

PS: I write this new blog entry from our vineyard. Yes, we installed a broadband internet connection on the last day of 2008. From now on, I do not have to hurry to a wireless spot (35 km from here) or any other place with an internet connection. Blogging will take a new dimension. Hurray!


Back on the farm at last

December 16, 2008

You cannot imagine how good it feels to be back home on the farm in Glenburn, Victoria. This time of the year Two Hills Vineyard is at its best. The sky is blue, the sun is warm and the vineyard is “in full steam”.

And puffing along, I am enjoying rural life wholeheartedly. Rest assured I will taste some wonderful wines, have fun with my family and catch up with friends. There will be many memorable barbecues and lunches on the “lawn” on the farm. We will drink delicious wines and I will come back in 2009 well rested with a tank full of new energy.

The Man from Mosel River is also taking a break from blogging. I might go down to the “Innocent Bystander” in Healesville which has a wireless service and I might enter a post here and there but do not expect much.

I would like to thank all my blog visitors, readers and contributors for their interest in the affairs of the Man from Mosel River. I wish your and your families a relaxing Christmas season and a good start into the New Year. Have a glass of fine wine here and there. Cheers