Tempus Two Chardonnay 2010, Hunter Valley, Australia

October 21, 2012

2010 Tempus Two Chardonnay

The grapes for this wine are actually not coming from the Hunter valley but from the cool climate Adelaide Hills wine region. The wine is a modern product, harvested by machine, made in steel tanks and briefly kept in French oak barrels in order to get the spicy vanilla character.

The Tempus Two winery, founded by Lisa McGuigan, a member of the fourth generation dynasty of celebrated vintners, the McGuigans, is situated in the Hunter valley.

The cellar door, an ultra-modern building, is just outside Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales in the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges (a region with freezing cold winters). Fruit for the Tempus Two wines comes from many different vineyards wine regions all over Australia. The band was established in 1998 only.

Back label explaining what you taste

This mass produced wine, is something for easy, every-day drinking. Apart from the Chardonnay, the Varietal Range includes a Blanc de blanc, a Verdelho, a Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot, a Cabernet Merlot and a Shiraz.

The two premium brands are called the Pewter Range, which comes in distinctive bottle shapes, and the Copper Range, with more modern-style wines.

Since we were on a modified Dukan diet ( we made concessions for the alcohol), we had it with fish, a mackerel, which is a strongly-flavoured and oily fish. The wine coped well with the strong fishy taste. The citrus flavours and the high acidity were a great complement to the food.

Mackerel

I would have eaten another portion of the fish, and certainly could have had a second bottle of wine. My verdict: highly recommended.

PS: In Thailand, Siam Winery is the agent of Tempus Two.

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2010 Steingarten Riesling by Jacob’s Creek

June 12, 2012

2010 Steingarten Riesling by Jacob’s Creek

The other day I picked up two bottles of Australian wine at Beijing International Airport. I was in transit and browsed through the duty free shops when I saw them. First I thought them a bit pricy, but then I decided to take two, one white, one red.

The white wine was a ‘2010 Steingarten Riesling’ by Jacob’s Creek. Some wine critics call this wine a ‘benchmark of Australian Riesling’.

Usually, I avoid buying Jacob’s Creek because my wife hates the brand. For her it stands for cheap mass-produced wine. During our time in Beijing in the early nineties there was only cheap Jacob’s Creek available in some selcted shops. Ever since she does not like the producer.

However, I had heard about “Steingarten”, maybe one of the best Riesling terroirs in Australia. And because I am still searching for my favourite Australian Riesling, I thought to give it a try. The original Steingarten vineyard is located at Trial Hill in the Eden Valley, South Australia.

“Steingarten” is German and means “garden full of stones”, but in the case of Jacob’s Creek its a brand name. The wine is “cool climate” and the grapes come from selected locations at higher altitudes of the Barossa Valley.

The bottle had even an individual number (I bought bottle number 22947); and it was low in alcohol (12.5 %). I paid about 25 EURO for it which is not cheap. In my native Mosel valley there is plenty of first class Riesling around for such a price.

The wine was not bad. It had the normal Riesling aromas (lime, citrus and green apple in this case), a solid structure, fine acidity and a good finish. However, I must be spoiled by the German kind of this wine so that also this one did not trigger my enthusiasm.

Needless to say, the search for an Australian Riesling which satisfies me is going on.

The bigger disappointment was to come: the food.

Of course we had the wine with food. Shakespearean cuisine was the go, which is a rather sweet affair with lots fo figs and raisin. Every individual dish tasted interesting. But we made a basic mistake: the various dishes did not harmonize at all with each other. I will just show some pictures and spare you the details of the dishes.

Here is what we had:

The fish

The raisins

Raisin-onion dish

Other veggies

…and the fish with jam


A simple dinner on the farm with Inigo Shiraz

December 29, 2011

After a very enjoyable trip to Port Melbourne where we visited our friends Phillip and Julia who live in a former church (a very interesting dwelling), we returned to the farm and spend a quiet evening at home overlooking the vineyard and the paddocks.

Since we were spoiled with good food the whole day, we decided on a simple “German dinner” meaning cold dishes only. Some Australian cheese, cold cuts, olives, a salad and an avocado together with a German bread would do for the two of us.

Our dinner table

2008 Inigo Shiraz

From under the sink, my secret stash of fine wines, I produced a bottle of ‘2008 Inigo Shiraz’ by Sevenhill Cellars in the Clare Valley in South Australia.

The bottle was left from last years special order which we got through our friend Neville Rowe, who used to work there as marketing manager.

The ‘2008 Inigo Shiraz’ is an old fashioned red, beautifully round and full of flavours, with a lot of alcohol, in short an “umpf” wine, a wine with character. The grapes come from old vines (very old ones) and display black cherries and other dark fruit aromas. The tannins are smooth and has the spicy character we so much love in Shiraz. The finish is long and memorable.

Well, when I work in the vineyard, I inevitably think of the Bible and the many stories about vineyards in the biblical age. In fact many vineyards and wineries in my home town Trier and along the Mosel valley would not exist without “clerical” support.

The Jesuits of Sevenhill Cellars in the Clare Valley know how to make wonderful wines.

My tip: try some wines from Sevenhill Cellars. You won’t regret it.


Restaurant review: Capital M, Beijing

October 22, 2011

City gate and Tian an men square seen from Capital M, Beijing

When in Beijing I try to visit at least two places, both my favourite destinations: Red Gate Gallery run by my old friend Brian Wallace and Capital M is a wonderful eatery located right next to the South gate of Tian an men square with a splendid terrace with a great view,. The former I visit to immerse my senses in modern Chinese art, the latter to indulge in good food and enjoy fine wines.

Both places you should visit if in Beijing.

Part of the terrace at Capital M

The menu

A picture of parts of the wine list

I was with a dear friend of mine, and we were ready for lunch after a walk around Tian an men square. We made our way to Capital M. One has a great view from the terrace. It was a sunny autumn day, just the right temperature to sit on the terrace and have lunch.

I did not feel “meaty” and ordered some greens as a starter and a seafood pasta as a main. Needless to say, the food was most delicious. Awesome, especially after days of “only” Chinese food (I do not complain, Beijing has wonderful eateries with great Chinese food), I am craving for something else.

Salad and veggies

Seafood pasta

I was delighted to find a ‘2010 Sauvignan Blanc’ by Shaw and Smith from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.

2010 Sauvignon Blanc by Shaw and Smith

Shaw and Smith are one of the best producers of Sauvignon Blanc in Australia. The wine is bone dry. Aromas of grapefruit and lime came to my nose with some floral notes as well. It is crisp and clean. This medium bodied wine has a great balance, good acidity and a long finish.

And after lunch, a coffee

We had a very enjoyable lunch at Capital M. The service was, as always, perfect. This is value for money and if you happen to be in Beijing just check it out yourself.

Address:
Capital M
3/F, No.2 Qianmen Pedestrian Street
(just south of Tian’anmen Square)
Beijing 100051 China
中国北京市前门步行街2号3层
邮编 100051
Tel (86 -10) 6702-2727
Fax (86-10) 6702-3737


Restaurant Review: Capital M, Beijing, China

June 7, 2011

I am reading “Justice for hedgehogs” by Ronald Dworkin at the moment. The book makes the point that one of our cardinal interests, ambitions and responsibilities is to make our lives good lives.

“We must find the value of living – the meaning of life – in living well”, says Dworking. He also states that dignity and self-respect are “indispensable conditions of living well”.

So what does that mean if you are sitting in Beijing, China at a beautiful Sunday morning with time on your hands? Well get up early and go to the National Museum to see the German sponsored exhibition “The enlightenment”, a unique show of a selection of art pieces from that era of our history which mattered so much for the freedom of the individual and rationality.

After that it’s downhill all the way. More of Dworking’s good life is to come. After fine art, one needs fine food and drink.

I suggest you stroll down to the South end of the Tian-an-men Square and have lunch at Capital M, one of my favourite restaurants in Beijing.

Capital M in Beijing, view from the terrace

One has a wonderful view from the restaurant. It is located at the third floor of a newly reconstructed building, a kind of replica so to speak, of an older house. Capital M has a wonderful terrace with a grand view of the square.

I got there much too early; the kitchen was still closed. The kind waiter offered me a table at the window, and I ordered a glass of house white, a Sauvignon Blanc by the South Australian family winery Angoves. Newspapers were brought to me and I indulged in the pleasure of reading in quiet. I was the only customer at that early hour.

Tasteful crockery for morning tea

I was still full from breakfast and unsure if I should lunch at Capital M. Then I though of Dworkin and my responsibility towards the good life in dignity and decided to move to the table the kind waiter had reserved for me. in the meantime the first guests had arrived, casually dressed most of them. In this relaxing atmosphere, I felt at ease.

I read through the menu and decided on a two course meal. My choice of entrée was white asparagus which is just in season in Beijing. What a good choice that was. The asparagus was firm and succulent, it melted in my mouth.

I also had another glass of the house wine, the SB by the Angove Family winery.

Asparagus with a poached egg on top and olive oil

For my main course, a white snapper on a bed of vegetables, I selected a ‘2008 Dry Riesling’ by Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, in Wachenheim, Palatinate in South-West Germany. Riesling is one of my favourite white. Although just one of their starting wines, this Riesling was exactly what I needed, a beautiful accomplishment with my meal.

2008 Dr. Buerklin-Wolf dry Riesling shows an intense colour

The main course was so jummy, I could not believe it. I took it bite by bite, slowly exposing my taste buds to the food. I wanted it to last as long as possible. The veggie selection interspersed with flower petals and a nut mix, was just amazing, awesome stuff.

The main course

Unfortunately, the battery of my camera did not last and gave up her service right in the middle of my meal so that I cannot show you more pictures from the restaurant, the view and the people.

The service at Capital M is exceptional, hard to find in China this kind of concern for the customer. Prices are also decent. I paid for three glasses of wine and a two course meal 42 EURO, which is not bad.

Apart from the Forbidden City and the Great Wall lunch or dinner at Capital M in Beijing is a must if you visit China.

Address:
Capital M Beijing
3/F, No.2 Qianmen Pedestrian Street
(just south of Tian’anmen Square)
Beijing 100051 China
中国北京市前门步行街2号3层
邮编 100051
Tel: +86-10- 6702-2727
Fax: +86-10- 6702-3737


Sunday roast – lemon chicken

April 4, 2011

Chicken is not my favourite meat. Therefore, I have really high quality standards when a chicken dish is brought before me.

Well, in comes the classic cookery book “Sunday Roast – the complete guide to cooking and carving” by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott.

Their suggestion for a lemon chicken on page 100 is just a treat.

It is a traditional Greek recipe and you need the following ingredients (4 serves):

– 1.3 kg whole chicken
– 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– salt and freshly grounded black pepper
– 1 large onion, finely sliced
– 3 carrots sliced
– 1 celery stick
– 6 sprigs of basils
– 2 lemons
– 300 ml of hot water

And what do you do with all this?

Well, heat the olive oil in a casserole and brown the seasoned chicken. Cook the onion slightly until it is transparent. Then add all the vegetables and the basil for a few minutes. Put the chicken back into the casserole atop the vegetables and pour the juice of the two lemons over the chicken. Cut the rind of the lemon in small stripes and sprinkle it over the chicken. Then you add the water and cook for about one hour.

And ‘simsalabim’, magic is done: serve.

Doesn’t it look great: Lemon chicken the Greek way

The asparagus with tomatoes

We had some boiled baby potatoes with it and a side dish of fresh asparagus with tomatoes. All in all super delicious. I could not believe it. The meat was not dried out at all, it was moist and very tender. Chicken can be very tasty. It just needs to be prepared the right way.

A great dish and a great Sunday lunch

Unfortunately, we did not have a Greek wine (no retsina or a nice red from the Greek islands). Therefore a bottle of ‘2009 Yellow Label Merlot’ by Wolf Blass, South Australia had to do the trick.

Beautiful colour

This Merlot is an industrial wine, well made, something for every day. I did not have anything else at hand, and did not want to plunder my already diminished treasures.

The front label of the Wolf Blass Merlot

I just love a straight Merlot. The Yellow Label Merlot is medium bodied with all the characteristics of the grape variety.

It matched the chicken very well, because it was not overpowering and not as fruity as for instance our own Merlot is (lots of cherry in the 2004 vintage).

13.5% alcohol

PS: I love this old fashioned book by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott.


Four Buckets – Sevenhill Cellars, Clare Valley

January 28, 2011

2007 Four Buckets Shiraz, Touriga, Grenache

On a cools summers’ night, red wine is my wine of choice. We had bought half a dozen of reds offered by Sevenhill Cellars through the Family and Friends Wine scheme (we had bought white wines too).

The stylish 2007 blend of Shiraz, Touriga and Grenache called “Four Buckets” is a very nice wine. It goes with and without food. We had it after dinner to enrich our evening when we were sitting in front of our shed enjoying the sunset.

Dark red colour

The blend is rich and luscious. Lots of red berries, full bodied with a good structure and a long finish. We loved the wine. It made our evening. Look out for it. You might download the order form from the internet and send it to the winery.