Women in the wine industry

March 8, 2013

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Lucy and Charlotte Adam

Today is international women’s day. It is a very special day especially since exactly 25 years ago I have met my wife Margit for the first time (in an Italian language class in Rome). So we are celebrating today, and I will tell you what wine we will drink at this special occasion.

But before I come to this, let me also say that the next generation is getting ready. My two daughters Lucy and Charlotte are in the middle of their preparations for the IB examinations. They have big plans. Both want to study at Melbourne University.

At this, I admit, very preliminary point, both will have some connection with the land and country, it seems. Lucy intends to do an oenology course (but she will study politics), and Charlotte wants to get involved into environmental science for sustainable agriculture. If they stay course, we might welcome two new vintners at Two Hills Vineyard.

This is of course the future calling, but the two have not disappointed at no time.

By the way, my role has also been defined in advance: farm hand, is my destination.

OK back to the present. What will we be drinking tonight? Can you guess?

It will be a ‘2012 Maximin Grünhäuser Riesling trocken’ by Schlosskellerei Maximin Grünhaus C. von Schubert in Mertesdorf, Ruwer. I have written an entry of the earlier vintage of this wonderful wine from my beloved Mosel river.

PS: Thanks to another “Man from the Mosel”, my friend Thomas Weber, I am in the possession of the above bottle. Thank you Thomas for carrying this treasure more than 10,000 miles to the other end of the earth.


Lunch at the University Cafe in Melbourne

March 6, 2011

University Cafe on a glass of wine

According to the Trip Advisor website visited today, the University Cafe in Melbourne is ranked 665 of 2,131 restaurants in the second largest metropolis of Australia.

When on the farm and vineyard in Glenburn we rarely come to town. This was an exceptional day.

We had visited Melbourne University to inform ourselves about the place since both our daughters, Lucy and Charlotte, intend to enrol their after they have finished their IB in Bangkok. The university people were very friendly and we had an appointment for lunch in Carlton with some very old friends.

Without further ado we jumped into the University Cafe, an eatery right in middle of Lygon street in the heart of Carlton. Before even considering food, we ordered a bottle of crisp Riesling from Delatite Winery, located near Mansfield in the Upper Goulburn Wine Region.

Ah, wine from Upper Goulburn, our wine region. Our own little vineyard is located at the most southern tip of this new wine region of Victoria. Delatite Winery, near Mansfield, planted in 1968 is one of the oldest vineyards there.

Delatite is committed to organic practices in the vineyard and winery. The winery was established in 1982 by Robert and Vivienne Ritchie. Today, their son David is running the family business. Delatite is famous for its aromatic wines. Their Riesling has won many international and national awards. The ‘2009 Delatite Riesling’ was a natural choice.

2009 Delatite Riesling

The wine went beautifully with the food, mostly fish and other seafood dishes. The crisp apple and citrus aromas with its finely balanced acids is a great refreshment during a warm summers day. Frankly speaking, I think the Delatite Riesling is the best Riesling the Upper Goulburn has to offer.

Mixed side salad

Ruccola with parmesan

Seafood risotto

Delicious mussels

Seafood pasta

The happy diners: Joe Mauch, Anthony Arthur, Charlotte, Lucy, Rainer and Margit Adam

Overall, the service was good, the quality of the food decent, and the atmosphere despite the lunchtime crowed, to our liking. It was good to meet up with friends and relax.

Address:
The University Cafe
255 Lygon Street | Carlton,
Melbourne 3053, Australia
Te.: +61-03-9347 0328


Jamie Oliver in Marysville, Victoria

March 12, 2010

I am ready for bed here in Siem Reap in Cambodia. Before hitting the hay, I checked the internet for a last time and what did I find? The celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in Marysville. Can you imagine?

The Worlds Longest Lunch was held in this small town, in the Northeast of Melbourne, savaged by the bushfires in February 2009. The event is part of the Melbourne Food and Wine festival.

Have a look at the little video depicting the star cook addressing the participants, many of them victims of the ferocious fires which destroyed so many lives.

I would have loved to be there.


Melbourne’s water supply

September 10, 2009

When I read in the Age that Melbourne is planning to take 10 billion litres (which covers the city consumption for about 10 days only) from the Thompson River to make up for the shortfall which cannot be covered from the Yarra River, I was not impressed. The Labour government is desperate.

The interview of Tim Holding, the Victorian Water Minister, which Plug the Pipe has on its website is revealing. The North-South pipeline is completed ahead of schedule but there is no water. The conclusion I draw from it is, the Minister should change jobs before it is too late. The state’s water policy is a mess.

The cartoon below (from Plug the Pipe) summarises the situation. Whereever Melbourne turns to these days for water: there is none. There is hope though: elections are around the corner (2010).

Cartoon N-S Pipelineweb


Restaurant review: Libertine, Melbourne

August 30, 2009

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The town

When on vacation on the farm (Two Hills Vineyard), we hardly visit the big town, i.e. Melbourne, just about an hour and a half south of Glenburn. This time the girls needed new passports and therefore also new visa, and Margit also needed to get one. Therefore we had to collect the items but planned to combine it with meeting old friends over a pleasurable lunch in town. The Thai consulate people are the friendliest on earth and were very helpful. We were in a joyous mood. The girls took zillions of pictures from the car: when country folks visit town!

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After our business was completed we made our way to North Melbourne. Libertine, the French restaurant, where I had indulged in wonderful French cuisine earlier this year, was our object of desire. It is easy to find. Just drive along Victoria Street until you reach the house number 500. If you get to Errol Street you have just passed it. Find a parking and walk.

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The diners (Helen, Tony, Lucy, Charlotte, me, Margit and Joe)

We arrived ahead of time and took a stroll through the neighbourhood with its many restaurants and small local shops. Margit insisted on buying some cigars for me. Good ones are hard to find in the country side.

Our friends – Tony, Helen and Joe – had already assembled when we finally made it to Libertine. What a great reunion over an excellent meal and some good wine awaited us here.

I like the Libertine menu since it allows you to combine your preferences. It was a bit hard for the girls, though. We usually have Italian and Asian food at home, and therefore most of the dishes on offer were rather very unusual; “raffine” as the French might say, more elaborate might describe it as well.

Libertine had joined the recent campaign for the promotion of Victorian agricultural product: “Put Victoria on your table”. All the ingredients for the various dishes cam from the state of Victoria. As a person believing in free trade and global markets, this type of promotion is not my favourite one.

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I find that Libertine’s two- and three course-meals are moderately priced. If you dine out in the Yarra Valley, for instance, you have to fork out much more for a comparable meal than here in the middle of town.

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The great surprise was that there was no French wine coming with the meal (all ingredients Victorian of course so how could there be French wine?). Instead, the wines came from the Yarra Valley. We were delighted to see two Yering Farm Wines, the ‘2008 Run Rabbit Run Sauvignon Blanc’ and the ‘2004 Foxtrot Cabernet’ made by Alan Johns, who coincidentally also makes our Two Hills wines. Both wines were a good choice for this kind of cuisine. The SB was fruity and crisp, the Cabernet round and well balanced.

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Some of us had the Port Arlington mussels…

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…followed by the “Marmite Dieppoise” with Port Phillip Bay scallops.

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Others choose the beef which came from Gippsland (apologies for the bad photo above).

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Joe went a la carte and ordered the hare. Libertine is famous for the quality of its game.

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The girls ordered a la carte as well and went for assorted fish.

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For the ones of us who did not have to drive, the Yering Farm Wines, were like a dessert. But we had some sweets afterwards just that I did not take any photos. The time was running faster than usual (that’s how it is with good friends and good food). We enjoyed the atmosphere, the warm hospitality and the friendly staff at Libertine as long as we could but finally had to part company and say good bye to our friends.

Until we meet again, maybe at Libertine (very likely indeed). In a rather joyous mood we returned to the vineyard in Glenburn.

The casual visitor to Melbourne, however, should not waste time searching for a good place to eat excellent food. Just go to Libertine, and you’ll be right mate.

Address:
Libertine‎
500 Victoria St, North Melbourne VIC 3051, Australia‎ – (03) 9329 5228‎
Rated 4.1 out of 5.0 16 reviews


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.

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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.

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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.

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The inside of Barrique

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So many bottles

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Wines from all over the world

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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


The North-South Pipeline III: No water!

April 22, 2009

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I was not surprised when I read on The Age today that the North-South pipeline would fall short as regards the volume of water it would bring to Melbourne in its first years. The article spoke of “dramatically less water”, in total about 160 billion litres less than originally predicted. Per year this amounts to 10 billion litres instead of the 75 billion carrying capacity. Consequently, the pipeline will not alleviate water shortages in Melbourne.

We the local rural people said that from the beginning. One of the consequences is that water prices for consumers will also rise (between 70- to 80 %). So will the costs per unit of water transported. I was always of the opinion that the projected costs of A $ 600 million could never be met anyway. Wait until the final figures are released, I assume it will be around 1 billion plus. This is what the Melbournians will have to shoulder in addition to the rising water costs. After the devastating bush fires in exactly the same region, the rural areas are unable to contribute to taxes and public finances anyway.

The Victorian Government is still refusing to reveal its exact pipe flow projections for the years 2011 and 2012. Tim Holding, the Water Minister, was hiding from The Age. Well, latest at the next election he has to come out and face the music. That’s the time when we are going to punish the Brumby Government for its arrogance and aloofness. But it’s no pleasure to be right in this case. The damage cannot be undone. We should erect a memorial to Brumby and its people.

Useful link: Plug the pipe


Restaurant Review: Libertine in Melbourne

January 22, 2009

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During the four weeks in Glenburn, Victoria I made it to the big city (= Melbourne) only once. My friend Tony Arthur had organised a lunch with Joe and Helen and myself at “Libertine”, a French restaurant in North Melbourne.

When Tony mentioned the name of the place we were supposed to meet in town over the phone, I was already enthralled. For a liberal like me, “libertine” augured well, promising freedom of French provenance.

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The restaurant is tucked away between various other entrances and not easily glimpsed. I came in my pick-up truck from the countryside and had to circle the place.

The dining area downstairs is rather small but I understand they have more facilities upstairs. When I arrived at 12:30 sharp, my friends had already assembled. Most tables were still empty but that would change very quickly. The place was packed just a little later.

Tony, Helen and Joe had been travelling together in France. As a native of Trier, Mosel, just a few kilometres from France I am not exactly a stranger to French culture and cuisine and consider myself a “francophile”.

We started with aperitifs. I was introduced to a Floc de Gascogne. Based on a XVI century local recipe, this is a fortified sweet wine, a blend so to say, between fresh grape juice (2/3) and Armagnac (1/3). It is kept for about 10 months in the cellar. The aromas it displays are almond, jasmine, roses and honey. The alcohol content of the drink varies between 16 and 18%.

Also the second aperitif, a Pommeau de Normandie was a “mistelle”, in this case a mixture of apple juice with Calvados. It’s usually aged in oak barrels for about 30 months and contains 17% alcohol. The drink displays aromas of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavours.

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The Pommeau de Normandie

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The Floc de Gascogne

The next two photos introduce the diners. A happy lot they were. We had not met for more than a year. It was easy to lure me down to town from my farm upcountry in the Upper Goulburn to meet up and dwell on the happenings of the past months.

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Tony and Joe

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Helen and me

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My steak

We all ordered the set menue were you have a couple of choices. I opted for the fresh onion soup, followed by a steak. The dessert I choose was a “tarte de pomme”, all very delicious. The service was relaxed but very attentive; the food of an excellent quality and taste for a very reasonable price.

We were also advised on the wines. We went with the house wine, all from bottles, a Roundstone Cabernet Merlot from the Yarra Valley. Helen had a Lis Neris Bianco from Italy. The blokes followed up with a glass of Tempranillo but by that time we were beyond producers and other wine information. I just did not record any of it any more because we were deep in philosophical conversation about love, life and the universe.

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The dessert

We had a coffee at the end, bid each other farewell and scattered in all direction with the sincere promise to repeat this as soon as possible but latest at our next visit in Australia.

The Libertine is a great restaurant. If you visit Melbourne you should schedule a meal either lunch or dinner with your friends in this atmospheric little place.

Address:
Libertine
500 Victoria Stret
North Melbourne 3051
Melbourne, Victoria
Australia
Tel.:+61-3-93295228
http://www.libertinedining.com.au


The North-South Pipeline II: Liberal democracy at its worst

October 26, 2008

I am writing this piece from the city of Taoyuan on the beautiful island of Taiwan where I teach a course on “good governance in land administration”. Good governance is more likely to happen in a liberal democracy, but, it not always does. The desperate efforts of the Victorian government pushing the North-South-Pipeline project is a case in point. Components of good governance are transparency and participation, both of which are non-existent in the case of the pipeline project.

That politicians treat voters with contempt, is nothing new in emerging (young), transitional democracies. But that this can also happen in a well established and more or less functional system is quite remarkable. The current Victorian state government is a great show case for arrogance of the ones who govern vis-a-vis the governed. In its election manifesto before the 2006 election the Labour party claimed that they would not take water from the north of the divide if elected. Making and keeping promises is of course an entirely different matter. Democratic institutions and governing mechanisms guaranteeing, that the strong cannot push the weak around at will, seem to be out of order.

Many political analysts think that the government has deliberately misled the Victorian public in justifying the pipeline project (http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2008/10/01/11821_opinion-news.html and www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2008/10/07/13471_opinion-news.html).

That the labour governments does not give a damn for rural populations is nothing new. Their voters are mainly sitting in the metropolitan area of Melbourne. However, the way the Victorian government pushed its ambitious North-South Pipeline project through is worth analysing. Here, you can witness an ecological disaster in the making. If the 21st century has more of this to offer to us in rural Australia, one of the backbones of the Australian rural economy will go down the gurgler in the years to come. The rural-urban divide is widening these days.

A similar pipeline project for the rural towns of Ballarat and Bendigo (The Goldfields superpipe) incurring huge costs to the taxpayers has miserably failed. The simple truth is: “where there is no water, there is nothing to be taken” and therefore the pipeline remains mainly dry.

Moreover, private property rights are not well protected these days, it seems. The so called “public interest” overrules private rights and dispossess many. That’s also so in the pipeline case. At the end of September some of our neighbours (Deb McLeish and Deb Bertalli) protesting the “invasion” of their lands by pipeline workers were taken into custody by police. If the state would react like this vis-a-vis those gamblers (CEO’s, bank and fund managers, traders, speculators, at Lehman Brothers or AIG, etc.) who destroyed billions of wealth in the recent financial crisis, our jails would be full. But they all walk free, enjoying even bailouts paid for by the little guys and their taxes.

Grass roots initiatives such as “Plug the Pipe” have organised widespread protests but to no avail. The government’s slogan “Our water, our future” does not include rural residents, it seems. But rural Victorians cannot even say, “our water, Melbourne’s future”, because there is no water in the rural hinterland of Victoria. Lake Eildon is at 23% of its capacity and allocations are just 4%. Water restrictions in many rural settlements (97 rural towns and cities) and are on stage 4 and this not just since yesterday (since 2002). The city is thirsty. This year Melbourne consumes more water than all the Goulburn farmers use for irrigating their crops.

An article carried by The Age website today, discussed the findings of a confusing state government-commissioned report (by the Sydney based Institute of Sustainable Futures) which comes to the conclusion that Melbourne does not need any new water-saving schemes in the future because of the abundance of water sources. I wonder how that will happen?

Eildon reservoir dry like a bone

I came across an interesting website when participating in an e-democracy forum the other day. As a wonderful example of participatory democracy the city of Melbourne was praised. On www.futuremelbourne.com.au you can inform yourself about the vision the government has for the years to come. You can also participate in writing the plan of the town if you enter the wiki link. There are videos, maps, an e-village, and other things, state of the art, as far as modern participatory democracy is concerned, so you might think.

If the same method would have been applied when the North-South Pipeline project was in the making, the results might have been different. Instead secrecy, intrigue and deceit were the tools used by the Victorian government. Participatory democracy is only for those the government cares for but not us rural folks, that’s clear.

What does Melbourne want to become in 2010 according to the website?

A City for People
A Prosperous City
An Eco City
A Connected City
A Knowledge City
A Bold & Inspirational City

The same cannot be said about the rural areas surrounding the metropolitan area. They will be dried out so that Melbourne has sufficient water to become, let it slowly roll over your tongue, an “eco-city”.

Whow, that blows me away, really. It’s not easy to not turn into a cynic. I guess the Victorian government’s decision-makers should have sat in my classes on good governance here in Taoyuan. Though, I doubt it would have helped.


From North to South

September 28, 2008

Pinot Noir grapes at the Ahr.

It’s vintage time in my native Germany. Reports I am reading about the harvest conditions seem to indicate that everything is going well. Also my German wine blogger colleagues seem to be content.

Down under in Victoria, we have springtime. Spring is usually Victoria’s wettest season. However, weather reports indicate that this September will be one with the lowest precipitation in history of Victoria.

Melbourne recorded only 16 mm of rain in September, the lowest since recording began in 1855. The long-term average is about 59 mm. Also average day temperature was well above the long-term average (19 instaed of 17 degrees celsius) which make September 2008 the warmest September since 2001. The same trend could be observed regarding night temperatures.

Reservoirs around the state are at a record low as well. That’s no good news for vintners and grape growers.

I wonder how full our two dams at Two Hills Vineyard are. So far we had always had sufficient water to bridge the 4-6 weeks of high summer. Last year we had hoped that the draught would be finally broken. That seems not to be the case.

But as always, we hope for a good harvest.

Lake Eildon low on water (only 23% of capacity, 09/2008)