All good things must come to an end

January 28, 2014

THV family

Margit, Helen, Michael, Lucy and Charlotte

After six weeks on the farm the time has come to go back to Bangkok. All good things (bad ones too) must come to an end, and the last days on the farm are always the most difficult ones. The brain tends to wonder off and indulges in the planning of activities which need to be done after the return to the job. At the same time last minutes projects await to be completed on the farm and in the vineyard. It is always the same anxiety which descends on the unprepared but well informed holiday maker.

As always it is very educative to spend such a long and uninterrupted time in Glenburn. The learning is amazing, and this on many different levels. Time and place attain a different meaning, and the observation of nature enriches the mind. The nights at the vineyard are dark when there is no moon, The milkyway looks stunning and the quiet is amazing. No street noise, nothing, things we are used from our life ini Bangkok where the city never sleeps.

While I was reading a historic account of the Crimean war from 1853-56, written by Orlando Figes, I was also browsing through a book about the history of Yea (by Harvey Blanks), the charming country town just 35 km north of Glenburn, which I have in our bookshelf. I found out that Yea, formerly known as Muddy Creek, was named after Colonel Lacy Walter Gilew Yea, an English officer who took part in the battles of Alama and Inkerman, and who lost his life during the siege of Sebastopol on June 18, 1855. After that, Melbourne street names such as Alama, Inkerman and Balaklava gained a new meaning. Who would have thought that innocuous things such as the name of a country town in central Victoria and a war fought more than 150 years ago in a very different part of the world could be connected?

Living on the farm right in the middle of an ancient Australian landscape also connects you to arts. In this case the Australian pastoral landscape paintingS. We visited the TarraWarra Estate to see the current art exhibition and have a bite at the restaurant of the TarraWarra Winery. Surprise surprise, a show by Russell Drysdale was on display, whose modernists pastoral landscapes connects the interracial histories of Australia.

The highlight on the culinary front were certainly the meal we had at the TerraWarra restaurant. I also liked the Viognier-Marsanne-Rousanne blend, an excellent white for hot summers days. Moreover, a visit to Rocky Passes Estate which is located between Seymour and Yea, gave us the opportunity to reconnect with Candy and Vitto, the charming owners. Candy prepared delicious tapas for us, and the award winning 2010 Rocky Passes Shiraz is just a ripper of a wine. Vitto does not only make delicious wines (with 90 plus Parker points) but also exquisite furniture. A visit is highly recommended.

I also discovered the Fratelli wines who make a very nice Riesling from grapes grown in the Upper Goulburn region of Central Victoria. Timo Mayer has a new Pinot Noir made from grapes grown in the Yarra Valley on granite soil. The current release is the first vintage and promises to become another star at the “Pinot Noir heaven”, if you know what I mean.

A week of sweltering heat above 40 Celsius taught us the importance of a fire plan (which we did not have but have now) and the positive effect our 12 mega liter irrigation dam can have for suffering humans. Every two hours we jumped in to cool down during those hot days. We survived a second heat wave with temperatures in the high 30ies. The hot weeks were interrupted by very cool days with even cooler nights. That might be one of the reasons why our own wines last so long. The fine and firm acids of our grapes allow for the Merlot wines to age so well. We tasted the 2004, 2006 and 2008 vintages and found that the 2004 Two Hills Merlot did still hold its freshness. Also the fruit (red cherries mainly) was still vivid. The younger vintages were less elegant and showed rather “umpf wine” characteristics.

THV Merlot 2004

2004 Two Hills Merlot

Our vineyard is still in a “mothball state”, meaning we are keeping the vines alive but do not produce fruit. Nonetheless, together with my twin daughters, I attacked the blackberries whose roots we tried to dig out. We did the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir blocks, and left the other two (Merlot and SB) for my next visit. Various repairs of the cottage and the shed were completed. We also cleared fallen branches and other wood from the paddocks. All in all, the property looks very nice and well kept. I can leave it behind with a laughing eye, as we say in German. The other one will, as always when leaving Two Hills, filled with tears. Cheers

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Back on the farm

December 29, 2013

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After two years of absence we finally returned to our small farm in Glenburn, Victoria. All of us, the whole family, was exited and nerveous at the same time. What would the place look like? What to expect? Would it look devastated, neglected and run down?

Well, it was all rather normal. Our neighbour Victor had cut the grass to make hay and to feed his cows. The grass in the paddocks was green and fresh. The vineyard was in good condition as well given the dire circumstances of the mothballing regime. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir looked very good; only the old vines of the Sauvignon Blanc seemed to suffer a bit.

It took me two days to clean the cottage. I still have to do the windows. After a round of repairs the water taps were functioning again properly, and the hot water system was ready for action.

THV Cottage

The Melbourne weather with four seasons in a day, is a stark contrast to what we are used to in the tropics. So far we had sweltering days with hot northerly winds and temperatures in the 40 Celsius. But the nights remained cool. The heat was followed by cool changes and more often than not one needed a sweater and warm clothes.

Our two dams are full to the brim, so are our two water tanks. The spring was very wet. The trees around the cottage have benefited from the abundance of water. Especially the young gum trees have grown quite a bit. But also the deciduous trees from Europe are doing well, especially my oaks.

The morning walks are a delight. I usually bump into two families of kangaroos. The long grass makes it easy for them to hide. The birds are noisy and plentiful. Water birds splash in the irrigation dam. The creek at the end of the property is running and full of water. The vegetation is lush though some of the beautiful gums trees near the creek have died. After the bush fire of 2009 many of the old trees have not survived but young growth is everywhere.

THV Brotzeit

On the wine front I discovered that our old vintages are still drinkable. Two Hills Merlot 2004, 2006 and 2008 are all holding up. The 2006 vintage is rather an “umpf” wine. The 2004 is not as elegant as it was but nonetheless we are enjoying drinking it.

The New discovery is the Fratelli vineyard and winery. Their 2012 Riesling is superb. The fruit comes from a vineyard near Mansfield, the old Upper Goulburn wine region.

We have more than a month ahead. More bliss on the farm to come. Stay tuned.


Beautiful Reds from the Pfalz at Weinsinnig, Trier

January 13, 2013

The other day (actually it was about a month ago during my last visit in Trier, Mosel), I had some fabulous reds at “Weinsinnig”, my favourite wine bar in Trier.

Both wines come from the Pfalz (Palatinate) wine region in Germany. Markus Schneider Estate is located in Ellerstadt, and Rings Estate in Freinsheim. Both estates are led by young and innovative vintners and wine-makers.

W sinnig Black Prince

2010 Black Print by Schneider

I have written about the wines of Markus Schneider before. ‘Schneider Ursprung’ is a wonderful cuveé (blend) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Portugieser.

The ‘2010 Black Print’ is a blend of St. Laurent, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Mitos and Cabernet Dorsa (hold your breath). The last two grape varieties are new crossings (hybrids) produced in Germany.

The wine was matured in small oak barrels. It has an almost black colour, as the name suggests. The fruit aromas are very concentrated, some plum and cassis but also blackberry. The tannins are already soft enough and well balanced. This is a yummy wine at a very reasonable price (around 12 Euro/bottle). But you have to be quick to pick up the remaining bottles.

Markus Schneider is not only very innovative as the composition of his blends are concerned but also the labelling of his wines is new and against German traditions. The Wine Guy has done a portrait of the winery which might be of interest to you.

W sinnig Rings

2011 Das kleine Kreuz by Rings Estate

Also the second wine I tasted at Weinsinnig was a red cuveé from the Pfalz. The ‘2011 Das kleine Kreuz’ by Rings Estate is a blend of Merlot, St. Laurent, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The brothers Andreas and Steffen Rings appeared 2007 on the German wine scene. That was the year that the Gault & Millau wine guide included the winery for the first time. Last year the brothers won the German red wine award.

This wine is just wonderful, awesome, fabulous. The density of the fruit, the well balanced acidity, the soft tannins and the long finish are all very striking. I could not believe it, my vintners soul cried more, more, more.

If we only could have these wines in Bangkok.

Address:
WEINSINNIG
Weinbar & Verkauf
Palaststraße 12
54290 Trier
Tel.: +49-651-979 01 56
info@weinsinnig.com
www.weinsinnig.com

Weingut Markus Schneider
Am Hohen Weg 1
67158 Ellerstadt
Tel.: +49(0)6237 – 7288
Fax: +49(0)6237 – 977230
info@black-print.net

Weingut Rings
Duerkheimer Hohl 21
67251 Freisenheim
Te.: +49-6353-2231
info@weingut-rings.de
http://www.weingut-rings.de
www.black-print.net


Merlot revival – Robertson Winery, South Africa

November 4, 2012

2010 Merlot by Robertson Winery

Recently I have been reading a lot about the revival and/or comeback of Merlot. I am not sure if this is real. It might be only applicable to California and not the “rest” of the wine world.

As a Merlot grape grower myself, I would welcome it if the variety would receive more attention again. But my own Merlot is very very fruity, full of cherry flavours which might put some wine drinkers off because it can be quite overpowering.

However that may be. Today I bought a bottle of ‘2010 Merlot’ by the Robertson Winery in South Africa. At 14% alcohol it was quite a big wine. Medium bodied and well balanced, it represented a perfect example of what Merlot can do.

The back label

The plum aromas went very well with the steak, we had it with. I was barbecuing on the terrace and the aged beef, just with some garlic gloves, some rosemary and salt and pepper, was juicy and tasteful. This was a good choice of wine though I did not know the winery, and just took my chances.

Beautiful piece of beef

Come and see me in Bangkok. I will cook for you.

Cheers


Summer wine – Merlot Rosé from the Mosel River

August 31, 2012

The sun in a glass of rosé

When we arrived in germany the temperatures were not excactly summer like. However, that changed over the course of the four weeks. Luckily there is plenty of “summer wine” available, young wines with low alcohol levels which excite the palate also of the non-wine drinker.

Nothing is better fitting a barbecue than a nice and clean rosé wine. My friend Josef’s main house wine producer is the winery of Rudolf Hoffmann in Detzem, Mosel. This is partly because vintner Hoffmann has leased some of his vineyards from the Arnoldi family, and my friend Josef is married to an Arnoldi girl. Both love to drink wines made from the vineyards which were once cultived by the parents and grand-parents.

Lovely Merlot Rosé by Rudolf Hoffmann, Detzem

And here we are with a ‘2010 Esprit Merlot Rosé’ by Rudolf Hoffmann from Detzem, Mosel. This is exactly how you want a rosé to be. The Merlot’s fruitiness is here a bonus as well as the alcohol of only 11%. I suggest: drink more of this type of Mosel wine.

If German summers would just be a bit warmer…..

Address:
Weingut Rudolf Hoffmann
Neustraße 19
54340 Detzem, Germany
Tel.: +49-173 3573982
www.weingut-hoffmann.de


Roast venison in Trier with a Merlot from Two Hills Vineyard

September 30, 2011

Whenever I visit my family in Trier, they spoil me with super delicious food, mostly game dishes. Heinz is a passionate hunter and he reserves only the best meat for me. This time young roast venison was on the agenda = my plate. I tell you, it was awesome.

The young roast venison

Venison with vegetables and egg noodles

2001 Merlot from Two Hills Vineyard

I washed the venison down with a ‘2001 Two Hills Merlot’, which is still a drinkable wine. The softness of the Merlot tannins went well with the savoury taste of the young game.


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