Bodega Berberana – Wine from Rioja

December 12, 2010

Pasta ai funghi porcini

A pasta ai funghi porcini needs a strong wine as accompaniment. Therefore I selected a ‘2003 Carta de Oro Crianza Rioja’ by Bodega Berberana, one of the oldest Rioja wine producers.

The ‘2003 Carta de Oro Rioja’ by Berberana

I believe it is high time that the 2003 vintage is consumed. The wine’s colour is already changing from dark red to the brick brown. But it has still the strength, the flavour and the body which makes this Rioja wine so superb. This blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Grenache is just the perfect wine for a “heavy” pasta. It is velvety and smooth with a long finish, a complex wine for every day drinking. Just honest and good stuff.

The back label of the Berberana Rioja

The colour is slowly changing

A wine tasting at the airline lounge of Lufthansa

December 4, 2010

The two wines of my sample

The only consolation for an “economy-class-only-frequent-traveller” is the use of the airline lounges. Although Beijing does not offer wine, Shanghai does even if one has to drink the fermented grape juice from paper cups.

My favourite airline lounge is the Lufthansa Lounge at Berlin Tegel Airport, but the one in Frankfurt is also acceptable.

If time permits I usually conduct a private tasting. That’s what I did last time.

The white was a ‘2009 Hugl Gruener Veltliner’, very fresh, spicy and very pleasant. Weingut Hugl, a family-owned wine business, is located in Ketzelsdorf-Poysdorf, a part of Austria they call the northern “Weinviertel”. Martin Hugl and his wife Sylvia are young and enthusiastic vintners. About 70% of their production is Gruener Veltliner.

The red I tasted was a Rioja Barbaro, a bit oaky but still with lots of fruit and very round. Overall a pleasant experience and the highlight of my trip.

A new beginning – pasta alla Margit with new latitude wine from PB Valley, Khao Yai

January 3, 2010

Well, it was the first day of 2010 and we wondered what type of pasta we should have for tea (Australian for dinner). We intended to try a bottle of the Tempranillo we had bought a couple of days earlier at PB Valley Winery in the Khao Yai Region, Thailand.

The ‘2007 PB Valley Tempranillo’

What type of pasta would go with this wine, was the question. Margit searched the internet and found the website of Fiona Beckett called Matching Food and Wine. She could not find anything suitable for what we had in mind. The website is still under construction anyway and does not yet contain inputs on every topic. However there was a button saying, “if you want to know anything please contact me” and this is exactly what Margit did. Within an hour we had a reply from Fiona. How amazing.

Fiona suggested a pasta with the spicy Spanish ‘chorizo’ sausage, originating in Extremadura, which we accidentally had in our fridge. It was made by our local Thai German butcher (TGM standing for “Thai German Metzger”). We also had the needed red peppers, onions and tomatoes. The result was a wonderful pasta which went very well with the wine. God bless you Fiona. This was a great suggestion. It made for an awesome dinner. I highly recommend visiting Fiona’s site. There is so much to learn about food and wine pairing.

The chorizo pasta

The wine, a ‘2007 Pirom Tempranillo’ from PB Valley was just ideal with the food just as Fiona had predicted. The intensity of the red berry fruit is very nice, no oak which could “taint” the natural flavours (the wine is aged in stainless steel “). They go for low yields at PB Valley to produce this wine. Thai wine has come a long way but many of the new latitude wines are of a quality which can easily match wines from temperate regions. The awards and medals won at international wine shows are witness of this development.

What a beautiful colour the Tempranillo has

พีบี วัลเล่ย์ เขาใหญ่
102 หมู่ 5 ต.พญาเย็น อ.ปากช่อง
จ.นครราชสีมา 30320 ประเทศไทย
โทร: +66 (0) 3622 6415 – 16
แฟ็กซ์: +66 (0) 3622 6417

PB Valley Khao Yai Winery
102 Moo 5, Phaya Yen, Pak Chong,
Nakorn Ratchasima 30320, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 3622 6415 – 16
Fax: +66 (0) 3622 6417
E-mail :

Bodegas Muriel Reserva, Rioja

November 30, 2009

2001 Bodegas Muriel Reserva, Rioja

I do not buy a lot of wine from Spain, main reason being that I do not know enough about Spanish wines. But the other day I made an exception and bout a bottle of ‘2001 Muriel Reserva’ from Rioja, Spain. Made of Tempranillo grapes, this wines is just wonderful, rich and full, lot’s of red forest fruit, silky and smooth the tannins.

As you can see from the picture below, the colour of the wine is already like a brick. Reserva wines by Muriel are aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels and three years in the bottle. It was a great pleasure to drink this wine. I need to learn more about the wine region of Rioja and its wines. We had the wine with dinner, of course.

The colour of the Rioja

Muriel is located in the heart of the Rioja region in the small town of Elciego, next to the river Mayor, east of the E-804 from Zaragoza to Bilbao. When in 1973 on our final study tour before concluding “Gymnasium” (high school), I passed the area on my way from Burgos to San Sebastian not knowing anything about the famous wine region (not that I would know much more today).

Muriel also makes a white wine, from Viura grapes, the website said. Honestly, I have never heard of the Viura grape, what an ignoramus I am. There is so much to learn out there. Life is just beautiful.

Tio Pepe – Fine sherry

November 22, 2009

Palomino Fino

We had a sherry, but not any sherry: I bought a bottle of Tio Pepe, in my local supermarket, one of the best and most popular sherries. I was a true find. The Palomino Fino is made from the Palomino grape variety, one of the most important for the production of sherry. Fino is the driest of the traditional sherries and also the palest in colour, as you can see from the photo below.

Tio Pepe

Sherry is one of the underrated wines of today. When we visited Madrid two summers ago, we ended up in the sherry bar of town, “La Venencia”, an icon and heaven for the sherry lover. This somehow has triggered our re-discovery of sherry and ever since sitting on the rustic table in this bar, I just love this type of fortified wine. Tio Pepe’s Palomino Fino is wonderful with food. We had it with antipasti, olives and bruschette. What a joy. It’s not cheap in Thailand (we paid about Thai Bath 1,600 which is 32 EURO!) but I could not resist.

Rioja in Taiwan

October 22, 2009


After teaching a full day I am usually exhausted and somehow empty. the best way to spend the evening is with a glass of wine. Jim and I, we marched into the wine shop just across the ICLPST in Taoyuan and shopped for some wine.

I choose a ‘2006 Tempranillo Beronia Rioja’ from Spain. What a nice wine this was; an “umpf” wine, as we call it in Australia. Dark red in colour, full of wild fruit, plum, and berry flavours, this wine is of a more traditional character, heavy and intense, but with balanced acidity and spicy notes from the oak it is matured in, and good mid-palate weight.


We had no wine glasses but drank it from large, thick tea glasses. That’s the reason why I have no picture to show the beautiful colour of the wine. The ‘2006 Tempranillo Beronia Rioja’ sells for about US $ 13 in the USA, we got it for the equivalent of about US $ 21 in Taoyuan, not bad for such a wine.

Restaurant Review: La Vaca Veronica – fine dining in Madrid

November 2, 2008

Madrid is a wonderful place to visit. We were very lucky and had a great time in the capital city of Spain. We used the four days we had to the utmost to explore the amazing town. Foremost, we wanted to visit the museums such as the Prado and the Reina Sofia (we did not make it to the Thyssen museum). But it’s not just art and culture. The people of Madrid are amazingly friendly. It just blows you away. It started with the guy picking us up from the airport. He did not speak a word of English, and he also did not know where to bring us to. Alas, the modern world has mobile phones on hand (what did we do before we had them?). He made a call to the apartment renting agency and the rest was smooth driving. We communicated with hands and gestures, also the Spanish phrasebook helped somehow. It was a marvellous start of our four nights in Madrid.

Needless to say, we also explored the restaurant scene. First we checked out some of the many (many many many) tapas bars. On our last evening, however, we decided to have a different type of dinner. On our endless walks we had passed La Vaca Veronica before. After some appetisers in a famous Sherry bar, we leisurely strolled towards the narrow lane where La Vaca Veronica is located.

The restaurant opened only at 21h which we did not know. We were surrounded by other, patiently waiting, guests outside. My daughters passed the time by jumping from the roadside pillars barring cars from parking on the side walk. But luck was on our side. We got a table without a reservation. The restaurant owner was around and helped us along.

The dining room

What did we order? Well, mainly Italian type cuisine as you can see from the pictures below. We somehow all lounged for a pasta. The food was delicious. The colourful interior contributes to a very friendly atmosphere. We enjoyed it thoroughly and had a jolly good time. After all, it was our last evening after some very busy and eventful days.

If I am not mistaken, we ordered the house wine. I lost my tasting notes, sorry folks. But there is so much good wine in Spain that you cannot go wrong.

The landlady behind her desk.

Here is our recommendation: 5 stars out of five.

The decisions was democratically derived at. We go with the principle: one person, one vote. If you can, visit Madrid, and if you are hungry go to La Vaca Veronica for a meal, it’s worth it.

La Vaca Veronica
Abrimos los Domingos
Moratin, 38
28014 Madrid
Te.: 914297827

The next big thing: Sherry

August 18, 2008

One of the hottest tips if you want to enjoy Sherry, the fortified wine originating from Jerez, Spain in Madrid is “La Venencia” in Calle Echegaray 7, Madrid. Sherry (and water) is the only drink on offer.

In the bar “La Venencia” in Madrid

The bar man writes your order with chalk down at the wooden counter and later calculates your bill there as well. The Sherry is taken from big wooden vats, filled into bottles and served in Sherry glasses. Green olives and other snacks are complimentary.

The place has a great atmosphere with all the patina (on the wall paper and all other furnishings) we expect from a place of character and great character “La Venencia” has. Sherry is not an old ladies drink! The bar was full of people from all walks of life and all ages, mostly male I might add.

We tasted the whole repertoire. Needless to say, all the sherries offered were delicious. One can forget completely that other wines could be enjoyable drinks. I had the feeling that only Sherry would matter to me in the future.

Beautiful Sherry

You will find all colors, from the Fino – pale, fruity, the Manzanilla – blue straw, grass taste, the Amontillado – dark caramel coloured, with a toffee aroma, the Oloroso -darkest colour, light brown, smelling like pralines.

“La Venencia” is such a great place. We did not want to leave but we finally succumbed to our stomachs and left to find a place for dinner.

Heaven must be a place where they serve Sherry, that’s for sure. My resolution included to drink more Sherry in the future.

If you visit Madrid, a visit to the La Venentia is a must, otherwise you have not been there.

La Venencia
Calle Echegaray 7
28014 Centro Modarid
Tel.: 914297313
Opening hours daily 19:30 -1:30 h