I cooked Sunday roast – 2006 Timo Mayer Cabernet, Yarra Valley, Australia

May 29, 2011

As you know I am not much of a cook. But today I cooked a traditional Sunday roast. I am so proud. I did it. Not that it was particularly difficult. Actually I just seasoned the meat, put it into the oven for 60 minutes, and voila there was a delicious meal.

This called for a special wine, and a special wine we had. I choose a ‘2006 Cabernet’ from the Mayer Vineyard, made by my old friend Timo Mayer in the Yarra Valley. Timo is one of the famous South Pack, a group of young and creative wine-makers in Victoria.

This is a beautiful wine, full of red berry flavour, a good structure and a long finish. The cherries on my palate were almost like the ones of a Merlot, but it is a straight Cabernet, amazing.

Great colour

The roast was just perfect with its pink colour. It was Thai beef of a very good quality. As were the other ingredients by the way. The girls made a Yorkshire pudding. Moreover we had broccoli and carrots as vegetables.

The roast

Delicious Sunday lunch

Great vegetables

From here it was downhill all the way. First came my favourite cigar, then came the port. I just love Sundays like this.

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Francis Coppola

February 24, 2009

Recently, my friend Holger from Berlin had given us a bottle of “Francis Coppola wine”. I had never tasted anything from this producer though I have read a couple of reviews on the net. Therefore, opening this bottle of Pinot Noir and enjoying it with a Sunday roast (chicken this time) promised to be an exciting experience.

The ‘2006 Francis Coppola, Diamond Series, Silver Label Pinot Noir’, originates from Monterey County, a cool climate wine region in central California. During an Agricultural Economist Conference in 1997 I had the opportunity to visit this wine region. It’s a marvellous place and I treasure my memories of tasting various delicious boutique vineyard wines.

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The ‘2006 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Diamond Collection Silver Label’

So tasting wine from this part of the world was exciting indeed. We do not drink very many wines from California so this wine extended our experience with USA-wines. Ratings of the 2006 vintage vary (87 or so points), but it is definitely not one of the best Californian Pinot Noirs. However, the price of US$ 20 in the USA indicates that there is quite a market out there for this “very drinkable” drop.

The medium-bodied wine showed plenty of fruit on the nose (cherries, raspberries), it felt silky in the mouth with some forest flavours, and displayed a nice finish. No bitterness could be detected as some tasters have reported earlier. To my taste buds the pairing of lemon chicken with Pinot Noir worked well.

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Port wine from Portugal helped us to digest the meal

What a pleasurable tropical afternoon on our terrace we had. The 38 degrees Celsius did not feel that hot but the dry-hot seasons has definitely started. After the meal I had a port wine. I always liked port. Our visit to Porto last summer re-enforced this passion.

With the port (10 years old), I smoked a cigar from Nicaragua, a hand made ‘Casa de CT Torres, Nicaragua, Hecho a mano’. The “smoke” was very pleasant, not to heavy; the tobacco was mild but distinct. I should buy more cigars from Nicaragua.

Cigars relax me and that is what I needed between two very busy work weeks, some relaxation. Also the bad news that we would not have a vintage this year at Two Hills Vineyard needed to be digested. Well, so is nature, unpredictable, unsteady, volatile, but marvellous.


Portugal – The sparkling wines of Lamego

February 19, 2009

The Douro wine region in Portugal is not only famous for its red and port wine production. There is also a place were a wonderful sparkling wine is produced. The picturesque town of Lamego, considered the birthplace of port wine, was the target of a Sunday afternoon drive last August along the upper Douro river. Lamego is well known for the only sparkling wine produced in this region. So off we went along the river through a wonderful summer’s landscape with blue sky and a very dry wind.

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Park, church and stairs in Lamego, Portugal

We drove up from Peso da Régua at the Douro where we had lunch and which is about 12 km from Lamego. We returned the same way except that we did not follow the Douro river on our way back but we took the highway through the mountains which was faster.

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A scenic spot with church in the city of Lamego

As with all places in Europe, their history has been shaped by many a people. Lamego has seen Roman masters and the Visigoths, it was battleground in the wars of the Moors and Christians. Historically Lamego is significant because it was here that the first king of Portugal, Alfonso Henriques, was declared king by noblemen in 1143. Today, Lamego has about 9000 residents in the city walls proper, and another 17,000 live in the surrounding villages and the countryside.

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There is not only ham but also local cheeses

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Local produce can be bought from small shops – can you see our bottles?

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We dashed in one of these small local shops before the afternoon closure to buy two bottles of the legendary sparkling wine of Lamego. We grabbed the last two bottles available without consideration for brand nor price, jumped into the car and went straight home because of the advanced time.

Later at home at Quinta do Gatao we chilled the bottles and I took the photos below.

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This is the first bottle

Our booty consisted of a dry red and a semi-dry white sparkling from Caves da Raposeira, located in Lamego. Both wines where very fruity. The red displayed red berry aromas, the white a more fruit salad type fragrance. We tasted them before we had dinner, just like that, as a apperitif so to say, just delicious at a hot summers day. Both wines come from Raposeira’s flagship brand called “Reserva”, their premium and super-premium segments are called “Super Reserva” and “Old Reserva” respectively. We will have to try those another time.

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This is the second bottle.

Our dash to Lamego was just too short. We have to come back and explore the Caves in the town proper. The wines we had secured, were very much to our liking. It’s a pity that we do not know where to get them here in Bangkok.

Address:
Caves da Raposeira
Lugar da Raposeira
Apartado 9
5101-909 Lamego, Portugal
Te.: (351)-254655003

mapoflamego


Portugal – Along the Douro river

November 8, 2008

One of our day trips from Quinta de Gatao, near Penafiel, was a day trip to see the famous Douro river valley. It was a Sunday morning when we set out, the sky was high and very blue, in short, a terrific day.

We took the rural roads not the highway and descended to the Douro river through a narrow valley on a winding road. It was a wonderful drive. I love driving through almost any rural landscape, then my heart opens up and I feel free. There is so much to see for an agricultural engineer like me: the forests and trees, the fields and the crops, animals, houses, agricultural machinery, irrigation and rivers and of course the peasants.

It was mesmerizing when very of a sudden the river cam into sight for the first time. Majestic it was, large and blue, and of course a cruise ship could be seen slowly making its way down to the city of Porto.

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A terrific landscape is the trademark of the region.

Vineyards are all over the place, to be found on narrow terraces, usually just a few rows. Farm houses are also scattered among them. Here and there an olive orchard can be spotted.

Around midday we decided to visit Peso da Régua, a small town and the centre of Port in the upper Douro valley. Our guide book pointed us to Quinta do Castelinho, a winery cum restaurant where we planned to have Sunday lunch.

Since we do not speak Portuguese it was not easy to find the place. Though it was listed in our travel guide, the description how to get there was rather nebulous. After a very friendly man showed us the way, we made a stupid wrong turn and ended up on the freeway into the opposite direction. The rest was easy, we “chucked a u-ie” (no idea what the orthography says about this expression), as we say in Australia, and soon drove right into the yard of the Quinta do Castelinho Winery.

It was a beautiful Sunday lunch; we ordered a kind of continental cuisine. The waiter was very friendly, the service terrific. We had a bottle of their white, still wines which matched the food perfectly. The wine was fresh, clean and crisp, not complicated but a straight forward, excellent table wine.

After lunch we were shown the winery. We watched a introductory film and wandered through the large storage facilities with huge tanks and barrels. The gift shop offered all kinds of local produce and other very attractive items.

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With our guide We walked through alleys of huge metal bins.

The wooden storage bins were also enormous.

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Some of the items on offer in the gift shop.

Only much later did we learn that Quinta do Castelinho is one of the largest producers of fortified wines in the Douro. The winery is owned by Saraiva family and managed by Manuel António Crúzio Saraiva, the son of the founder who had started the business in the 1960’s. Many of the vineyards are classified as “A”-grade, the best for the production of excellent fruit for fortified wines. This part of the Douro valley is the first ever demarcated wine region in the world. The Marquês de Pombal, prime minister of Portugal, ordered in 1757 that the borders of the valley be marked with solid granite markers. This demarcation coincided with the efforts of navigating the Douro river so that the wines could be shipped down to the port city of Porto.

We tasted also the above two fortified wines.

The Quinta do Castelinho Porto LBV 1997, Castelinho Vinhos (Portugal), left in the picture. The grapes used are: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Francesa

The wine has a dark, ruby red colour. The nose reveals intense and persistent aromas of black cherry, cherry jam, strawberry jam, blueberry and blackberry, some people detect the aroma of violets.
The wine is round in the mouth, well balanced and displays a beautiful finish. We have still one bottle here in Bangkok and treasure it which means that we treat it like medicine until we find a new source of supply.

The wine on the right hand side in the picture above is the Quinta do Castelinho Porto Tawny 10 Years, Castelinho Vinhos (Portugal). The grapes used are the same as the first wine.

The wine shows a deep orangey colour. The nose is rich and intense with aromas of black cherry jam, cherry jam, almond, licorice, cocoa, leather, dried fig and some vanilla. Also this wine is elegant and complex with soft tannins. The finish is also long. It was difficult to decide which one we preferred. Therefore we bought bottles of both of them.

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What a beautiful colour

And of course, we tasted some of their famous port wines. We bought a couple of bottle of different port wines as well as some bottles of the white wine we had for lunch which had appealed to us so much.

Because I was the driver, I had to limit my tastings but we left the Quinta do Castelinho wholly satisfied, very cheerful, well fed and with a lot of bottles in our possession.

Address:
Quinta do Castelinho Winery
Castelinho Vinhos S.A.
5054-909 Peso da Regua
Portugal

Tel: +351 254 320 100
FAX:+351 254 320 109
E-mail: castelinho@castelinho-vinhos.pt


Simple Eating: Local Inns in Portugal

August 19, 2008

Portugal is a country shaped by catholicism and any town and village is literally “littered” with churches, many of them in beautiful architecture. There is a lot of interesting things to be detected behind curtains and other visuals blocking the general view.

While looking for restaurants in Porto we were faced with the same camouflage but managed finally to find some small eating places, usually narrow, corridor-type cafes with a dining room in the back, which were extremely charming. One of them I would like to introduce to you. “Pirilampu” is its name and it is located in Rua Firmeza, the same street where our hotel – Hotel Menfis – was located.

The dining room of “Pirilampu” all in blue

The food on offer is simple, harty food, home cooking so to say, not expensive but very tasty and usually served in large portions. Rustique food as above is served usually with potatoes and rice.

Favourite wine in northern Portugal is Vinho Verde, the young, fizzy wine, characteristic for the Minho Region. ‘Muralhas’ is one of the more common Vinho Verde wines on offer in many restaurants and cafes in Porto.

After the meal, cafe is served and then: it’s “Port wine time”, mostly Tawny and Ruby in small eateries and bars and less often vintage port. Delicious, delicious.

Needless to say that the waiters (often the owners themselves) are usually very friendly and that most of the guests are regulars. The homely atmoshere makes you fell very welcome. Try it out if in Portugal.

Address:
Rest. Churr. Pirilampo
Rua Firmeza,
155-Porto