White wine from Bulgaria

November 30, 2014

Rumor has it that Bulgaria’s red wines are much better than it’s whites. That might be true. However, this does not mean that Bulgaria does not produce good white wines.

In my search for excellence, I have come across a number of very good white wines, three of which I will present to you today.

The first wine is a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon by Terra Tangra. The wine is under a glass enclosure which signals to me: this wine was worth to be enclosed by the most expensive stopper.

Terra Tangra is located in the South Sakar mountains, a hot region. According to the DiVino Guide from 2014, the estate has about 400 ha under vines.

If the grapes for this blend come indeed from a rather warm wine region, the more I am amazed by this wine.

It has all the quality traits inherent in such a blend. The acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc is mitigated by the Semillon. It reminds me of similar blends from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Australia.

This is one of my favourite wines, very good with seafood but also just on its own, a great wine.

Terra Tangra

2013 Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon by Terra Tangra

The second wine I want to present to you is another Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon blend, this time by Midalidare Estate located in Eastern Thrace, another wine region famous for its red wines.

The region has very fertile soils, and is famous for its orchards and vegetable production. Eastern Thrace has a long history of wine making.

In recent years also the white wines from the region have improved in quality. Midalidare Estate has about 160 ha under vines.

I don’t know what to make of the “single vineyard” (Mogilovo vineyard) indication on the bottle. However, I like the zesty taste and the exuberance of the wine.

Midalidare

Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon, Mogilovo Single Vineyard by Midalidare

The third wine is something quite different. I would not have thought that I find a wine made from Traminer grapes so appealing.

This one is the big exception. The DiVino wine guide awards him 88 Parker points! It is clean and crisp, a wonderful sensation on the palate.

The top of the Traminer bottle is covered in “white wax”, again a sign for me that the producer thought the wine good enough for an expensive enclosure.

Angelus Estate is also located in Eastern Thrace. Their first vintage was in 2009. The flagship wine is a 92 point red, called “Stallion”.

Alexander Kanev, the wine maker impressed the wine fraternity with the outstanding quality of his wines. Also this winery is not small by German standards. It has about 110 ha under vines.

Traminer

Traminer by Angelus Estate

Stay tuned to more news from Bulagaria. I hope to visit some of the wineries (maybe in spring) and show you photos of their environment and the vineyards.


Restaurant review: Starfish in Beijing, China

March 28, 2014

A restaurant I like to patronize in Beijing is Starfish, just across the street from the Australian and Canadian embassies.

A few weeks back, on a beautiful Sunday morning, I had lunch there again, a lunch which did not disappoint me.

Starfish

Starfish menu and Coriole info

I was quite surprised to find an add on my table ecouraging the diner to order a wine from Australia. In this case it was from Coriole, a winey in South Australia which I had visited some years ago. I love Coriole wines. The place belomgs to the “must see” category if you travel in this part of Australia. However, the price was a bit on the high side (more than 300 Yuan RMB).

Starfish F

My fish dish

I ordered a white fish dish. The portion looked small, but was perfectly able to fill my stomach, and satify my taste buds.

I ordered a bottle of the house wine, a wine from Chile. Because of a free trade agreement between China and Chile, the bottle costs about half what the Coriole wine was priced.

Starfish W

Long Country, Sauvignon Blanc from Chile

The Sauvignon Blanc from Santa Carolina, one of the largest wine producers in Chile, is of course an “industrial wine”.

Nonetheless, it shows an aromatic nose with hints of lemon and tangerine. On the palate, there’s the characteristic grass hints and some citrus. It’s dry and light and matched my choice of a fish dish perfectly.

The restaurant was rather empty at themtime of the day I visited. As always the service was very attentive and professional. At Starfish you get quality for your money.

Check it our yourself when in Beijing.


Fine dining in China: Capital M in Beijing

June 20, 2013

Capital M Beijing

Captital M

Many of you know that Capital M is one of my favourite restaurants in Beijing, China. I try to dine there at least once every visit. On my last visit, I went with my friend Brian Wallace, the owner-director of Red Gate Gallery. We had ordered a table for dinner on a mild spring evening. We both needed a treat, and a treat it turned out to be.

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The wine list

I love the wine selection of Capital M, and decided on a wine from Sancerre. The ‘2008 Domaine Fouassier’ by Domaine Fouassier was a lovely Sauvignan Blanc. This was my first time that I tasted wine from this producer, and I should not regret it.

The Fouassier family is one of the oldest wine producing families in Sancerre. Today the estate covers about 56 ha, 80% planted to Sauvignon Blanc, 20% to Pint Noir.

This wine is aged in oak barrels where it remained on lees for about ten months. It displays the fine acidity, the aromas and complexity one expects from a wine from Sancerre. I loved the sound structure and the long finish.

The grapes come from old vines. The winery prides itself with its organic agricultural and bio-dynamic methods. It was a good choice and I have to look out for more wines from this producer.

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2008 Domaine Fouassier, Sancerre

I urgently needed some green stuff and started with a salad with some beetroots pieces. The wine was perfect for this food pairing.

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Beetroot salad

I am not someone who likes the fancy recipes. I like solid-rural, more agrarian and artisan food not the highly refined output from modern kitchens.  So my choice was red meat which did not exactly match my choice in wine. Since Brian did not feel like another bottle, I stayed with the Sancerre. But I am sure some of the reds from the wine list of Capital M would have been a lovely match.

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My beef fillet on potato mash

The beef was just awesome, what a great dish, what a great evening. If you want to spoil yourself, get going, book a table and enjoy a meal at Capital M. It’s worth it, trust me.

When we left and had said our good-byes, I went on a stroll on Tiananmen square which was completely deserted and void of people. I was rewarded with this view of the entrance of the forbidden city. A visit to Beijing can be quite delightful.

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TerraMater – Sauvignon Blanc from Chile

February 18, 2013

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2011 TerraMater Sauvignon Blanc

It was a hot Sunday in Bangkok, and I was longing for a fresh and refreshing wine. I went on a wine shopping tour to our local Wine Connection shop in Thonglor, just a 15 minutes walk away from my home.

I browsed through the shelves and found a few white wines which matched my desire. One of them was a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, a ‘2011 TerraMater Premium Vineyard SB’.

This is a very solid wine, with pleasant aromas, lovely acidity and a reasonable finish. I also loved the golden colour of the wine. For a mass produced wine in this low price segment, this wine is value for money. I can only recommend it.

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2011 Sauvignon Blanc Premium Vinyard Wines by TerraMater

TerraMater is based on a family wine business going back to the 1930s. But in 1996 the three Canepa sisters (Gilda, Edda and Antonieta) reinvigorated their family enterprise through the construction of a new winery and the restructuring of their production portfolio.

The visit of the company website makes you anxious for the premium range of TerraMater wines, especially the Carmenere and other reds. I wonder if Wine Connection does import some of them to Thailand. TerraMater also produce olive oil and apples.

I was very pleased with my choice. Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favourite whites anyway, and the Terra Mater SB from Chile fully satisfied my wine drinkers desires.


2011 Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc

January 31, 2013

Nothing is more refreshing at a hot summers day than a light lunch with a young and zesty wine, right?

We did just that the other day. The food consisted of a white fish (snapper in our case) in a spicy sauce, mixed vegetables and steamed rice.

Delicious.

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A summer’s lunch

Asian food can be paired with a variety of different wines. My choice of the day was a ‘2011 Sauvignon Blanc’ by Deakin Estate, Australia.

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2011 Sauvignon Blanc by Deakin Estate

This is “value for money” wine here in Thailand, “pedestrian” so to say but solid and exactly what one would expect from a young and fresh Australian Sauvignon Blanc. Therefore I recommend it.


Light lunch on a hot summers day

October 30, 2012

Our table on the terrace

As you know there is not really a summer in the tropics. We have different seasons than temperate climates. However, when the rainy season has come to an end, days are getting hotter, and the meal I am going to describe is exactly for such days.

We had a beetroot salad with some cured salmon and a self-made sauce based on yoghurt. For carbs, we offered a selection of bagels. Look at the photos below. Doesn’t the food look delicious?

Beetroot salad

Salmon

And here the ensemble on the plate

Bagels from the supermarket

I would agree that bagels from a proper bakery would be superior to the ones shown above. But hold it. Remember we live in Bangkok!

Since it was a weekday, no special wine was pulled from my wine fridge. Instead I opened a bottle of a mass produced Sauvignon Blanc by Tahuna from the Marlborough wine region in New Zealand.

I was a bit worried at first, since the vintage was 2009 but the wine was in a perfect condition. It showed all the characteristics of a solid but inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc, and satisfied our needs for a glass of wine with our light lunch on a perfect summers’ day. Cheers

2009 Tahuna Sauvignon Blanc


“Great food, crap wine”!

October 9, 2012

Delicious seafood soup

When a little boy, my Australian nephew Nick, had written in a guest book “great place, crap food”. I was reminded of this great line the other day when we tried to enjoy a wonderful Jamie Oliver seafood dish with a mass produced, cheap industrial wine. We adapted this seafood soup from Los Angeles to accommodate Thai conditions.

Yellow tail SB from Australia and New Zealand

We knew what we were in for. I was not surprised that this wine by yellow tail was of low quality. The Shiraz from the same series, I would call “very drinkable”. The Sauvignon Blanc is also “drinkable”, however, I would omit the word “very”. Anyway.

But a good thing happened nonetheless, and that was the big surprise for me. Because of the high quality of the food, the wine was, shall I say “augmented” beyond belief. It became quite drinkable.

Yellow tail Sauvignon Blanc

The bottle does not carry a production or vintage year. The blend is an Australian & New Zealand one, with grapes coming from both places. I do not know if the producer is doing himself a favour with this kind of wine. The fact that it is on the market is proof that there is demand, and therefore there should be supply.

After all, it was my choice to have this wine with the seafood soup.

Cheers