Champagne at Easter – Carte Blanche from Bauget-Jouette

April 2, 2013

Bauget Jouette

Easter was looming and I had not had any real champagne for a long long time, therefore I decided to get a bottle of bubbly from France. I went to the Wine Connection shop in Thonglor and came out with a bottle of Carte Blanche – Bauget-Jouette from Épernay, Champagne in France.

This is a very fine specimen of bubbly wine from Champagne, France. I loved the small bubbles (12% alcohol), and the intensive yellow fruit aromas. Apricots and apples come to mind. The 60% Chardonnay grapes in the blend are tangible (30% are Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir).

Maison Bauget-Jouette is one of the oldest ‘champagne houses’ in France (1822). The family owned and operated business produces about 150,000 bottles per year on 15 ha of vineyards. This makes it one of the smaller and lesser known champagne producers. The good news is that its products are available here in Asia. Wine Connection in Bangkok sells it for about 2,000 Bath per bottle.

According to the German champagne platform www.champagner-portal.de (which carries about 61 champagne producers, big and small), Bauet-Jouette in Épernay is worth visiting. The winery has a historic cellar from the 17th century which is located 27 meter below the surface. Today the fifth generation of the Bauget family, Stephan and Nicolas, is operating the estate.

My verdict: I will buy this champagne again. Next opportunity is the graduation of my twin daughters from Patana International School in Bangkok in May. I will wait outside the school with a bottle of Carte Blanche in a wine cooler and the necessary accessories and we will celebrate their new won freedom.

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Restaurant review: Weintor, Palatinate, Germany

May 12, 2012

My parents in front of the German “Weintor”

My parents came to see me when I was in Karlsruhe for a business meeting a couple of weeks ago. They took me for a drive around the southern Pfalz region, which is a major wine producing area in Germany.

It was a beautiful day in spring with mild temperatures and fast moving clouds. After a short rain, the sun came out for a while.

We ended up at a small village called Schweigen-Rechtenbach to have a look at the German “Weintor”, literally translated as the “German wine gate”.

It was built in 1936 and marks the starts of the German wine route which ends in about 85 km further north in a village called Bockenheim.

The terrace

We planned to have lunch in the restaurant at the “Weintor”. The large terrace was very inviting but it was still too cold to sit outside.

The foyer

The stone building looks very traditional from the outside. However, the foyer of the restaurant has a kind of post-modern funky look, “retro” one could also call it.

The entrance to the restaurant

The inside of the restaurant

We sat near the fire place. The staff was very friendly, and convinced us to get started with a sparkling Pinot Meunier, or in German “Schwarzriesling”.

Sparkling Schwarzriesling – Pinot Meunier

This was followed by “greetings from the cook”: a delicious pate, which was just the right starter. It wetted our appetite.

Courtesy of the cook

I could not resist and ordered the house Riesling, a dry wine from the Pfalz region.

Dry Riesling from the Pfalz

My main dish was a trout with almonds, with potatoes and salad. Just wonderfully delicious. It was the right hearty meal which made me forget my jet-lag. I had arrived the very same morning from Bangkok and needed some stimulation to stay awake. That’s why I could not resist the ice cream either.

Trout with almonds

Dessert

Espresso

We had a jolly good time. The food was delicious, the staff extremely friendly, the spring outside inspiring and the company just great. I could not imagine a better welcome to Germany.

On our way out, I noticed the table with the informations about wine events and other local festivities. It was a pity that I could not stay a couple of days longer. The wine route through the Pfalz/Palatinate has so much to offer.

Address:
Deutsches Weintor Restaurant
Weinstraße 4
D-76889 Schweigen-Rechtenbach
T +49 (0) 6342 – 922 788 8
F +49 (0) 6342 – 922 788 9
www.weintor.de/restaurant.html


Rural life – fishing in the dam

April 10, 2010

It took me a while to resume blogging. I did not keep my promise to post at least a photo a day. I am sorry about that. My first week of holidays on the farm was very eventful and I had a lot of things to do. But today it is raining and I have some time on my hands. Work can wait.

Yesterday was one of these beautiful autumn days. We decided to go fishing in the dam. Some years ago we had stocked the smaller dam with some silver perch. We took the fishing rods, got some scrubworms and off we went to check out if the cormorants left some fish for us humans.

To cut a long story short, Lucy was the first to catch a silver perch,then came Charlotte and finally Helen, all with their first ever fish. The fourth fish was thrown back into the water. Three beautiful fish should suffice for a hearty country meal. Later Margit pan-fried the perch with a few local herbs and butter. It looked beautiful, but came up a little bit muddy. This was possibly because of the rain and yabby activity. We threw in a couple of yabby nets, which should provide us with a nice lunch in a few days.

Lucy with her first ever fish

The silver perch

Lucy searching for a suitable worm

Charlotte and her first fish

Another silver perch – Lucy, Helen, Charlotte and Michael

Food and local wine at the dam

Of course, we tasted a lot of local wines. I chose a bottle of ‘2003 Kinloch Estate Pinot Meunier’ and a bottle of ‘2004 Two Hills Merlot’. I love the Pinot Meunier Malcolm Kinloch makes. A bottle of our own wine

The fishing party

Beautiful silver perch

Ready to be eaten

Needless to say that we had a wine with the fish. I selected a ‘2009 Sauvignon Blanc cleanskin’ from Steve Sadlier, our friend and vintner. which he had given to me the day before. That was a wonderful choice. The Loire style Sauvignon Blanc from the Yarra Valley complemented the flavour of the white fish perfectly.


Australia day 2010

January 26, 2010

I started the day with a lemington, a sponge cake and one of the two Australian national desserts (the other one is Pavlowa). It’s Australia’s national day again.

On 26 January 1788 the so called first fleet landed at Sydney Cove and today Australians are commemorating this event. Also we did celebrate, though muted. It was a normal school day for the children and a normal working day for the parents.

Morton Premium Brut

But we cracked a bottle of sparkling tonight which we had with the celery risotto. The sparkling came from New Zealand, which was given to us by our former neighbors Alain and Keiko. It was a ‘Morton Premium Brut’ (Methode Traditionnelle, no vintage), made of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, a blend from Hawkes Bay and Marlborough grapes. It’s a very creamy bubbly with buttery yeast aromas, easy to drink (12% Vol.). The wines won a couple of silver medals in 2008, 2007 and 2006. It also gained some recognition in a few wine buyers guides (for instance Michael Coopers Buyers Guide).

Celery risotto

It was an enjoyable family meal, an evening like many others for us here in Bangkok. But we raised the glass and toasted to our beloved “island down under”. Cheers


Jewels of the Upper Goulburn Wine Region Part I

October 25, 2008

Today, I want to start a new series and introduce to you some wine and grape producers from our wine growers association, the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association. I plan to feature three to four wineries and vineyards at the time. The selection is random. I will start with the wineries with open cellar doors. Of the 30 odd members of our association, about 9 belong to this category. Another 12 are vineyards which also produce some wine under their labels but conduct wine tastings only by appointment. All the others are fruit producers only and do not sell wines commercially.

The first cohort of wineries to be presented consists of Kinloch Wines, Rees Miller Estate and, a small boutique winery, called Rocky Passes Estate. I want to be honest with you. I have tasted wines made by Malcolm Kinloch (Kinloch Wines) and David Miller (Rees Miller Estate) but not the ones made by Victor Oles (Rocky Passes Estate). I have visited the two former wineries (and I know Malcolm and David) but not the latter.

But this is no impediment to write about all three of them. Anyway, we are going to visit Australia for Christmas and we might take this opportunity to get to know the Rocky Passes people.

I am starting with Kinloch Wines. Malcolm and Susan Kinloch have established a wonderful wine business. The vineyard is located in the Booroolite Valley, about 15 minutes by car from Mansfield (almost next to another famous winery of our region: Delatite Winery).

This year at the Federation Sq Showcase Series the Kinlochs were rewarded two gold medals, one for their “2004 Mary Friend Cabernets-Merlot Blend” and another for their “2006 Don Kinloch Sparkling white”. Moreover, the “Mary Friend” red was judged the Overall Best Red Blend in its class at the Award presentation for the Victorian Wine Awards.

2008 was a most unusual year in the Upper Goulburn. Kinloch Wines harvested a record 34 tons of fruit of outstanding quality. From the 2008 vintage three wines have been released so far (cellar door prices in brackets):
-Unwooded Chardonnay (A$ 18)
-Sauvignon Blanc, and (A$ 22)
-a first rosè (A$ 18) made from Pinot Meunier grapes.

I have tasted earlier vintages of the two white wines and they are delicious. When we visited Kinloch Wines in winter, one could see Mount Buller in a not so distant distance, all in white with a beautiful snow cap.

How to find them:
Kinloch Wines
In the Booroolite Valley, the cellar door is warm and friendly and offers gourmet luncheon platters on weekends and public holidays.
Address: 221 Wairere Rd, Boorolite – 15 minutes from Mansfield
Open: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm daily
Tel: 5777 3447
Email: info@kinlochwines.com.au
Web: www.kinlochwines.com.au
Contact: Susan and Malcolm Kinloch

Rees Miller Estate is the next winery in my cohort. Located near Yea – about 15 minutes drive on the highway to Alexandra/Mansfield – Sylke Rees and David Miller own and operate a fully certified biodynamic vineyard and winery. Today about 7 ha are under vines, the farm has a total of about 64 ha. Sylke and David are both very much committed to the protection of the environment, and the organic production of food. They intend to produce pure products for consumption in a way that supports the land and its people.

We got to know Sylke and David when our wine stall was just adjacent to theirs at the 2007 Alexandra Food and Wine Expo. David conducted a very interesting wine tasting, actually my first wine tasting at such an event, and Sylke sold the wines. When we visited their cellar door some time later, they were both on Christmas holidays. To my great surprise Rees Miller wines were available at our duty free wine store in Jakarta, and we did not have to suffer any shortages of their beautiful reds.

How to find them:
Rees Miller Estate
Fully certified biodynamic vineyard situated on the Goulburn Valley Highway, just east of Yea.
Address: 5355 Goulburn Valley Highway, Yea
Open: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm daily
Tel: 5797 2101
Email: info@reesmiller.com
Web: www.reesmiller.com
Contact: David Miller or Sylke Rees

The last vineyard in this first cohort of Upper Goulburn wineries with cellar doors is Rocky Passes Estate, a small boutique vineyard of about 6 acres (5 acres Shiraz and 1 acre Viognier) located in Whiteheads Creek, near Seymour. I only know their one-page website and their listing in our membership directory. Rocky Passes Estate is another vineyard dedicated to organic grape growing and wine making (there are quite a few in our region). Cropping levels are kept low (about 2 tonnes per acre). The cellar door was opened in 2006. The wines can be ordered by mail, phone or e-mail.

How to find them:
Rocky Passes Estate
Situated at the southern end of the Strathbogie Ranges, the wines are made using organic practices and biodynamic preparations.
Address: 1590 Highlands Rd,
Whiteheads Creek, Seymour
Open: Sundays 11.00 am to 4.00pm or by appointment
Tel: 5796 9366
Email: rockypasses@activ8.net.au
Web: www.rockypassesestate.com.au
Contact: Victor Oles or Candy Westney

I hope I could stimulate your curiosity. The Upper Goulburn Wine Region is a rural place with real people who love what they are doing, have passion for their wines and commitment to the environment.