Wine from Thailand: GranMonte 2011 Heritage Syrah

February 27, 2013

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2011 Heritage Syrah by GranMonte Family Estate

My private situation is not conducive to blogging at all. And in fact I should take a complete break, I think at times. But then I just withdraw from my current world to escape into the illusions I have cultivated over the last weeks.

I needed to treat myself to something nice, and my choice was an obvious one, a ‘2011 GranMonte Heritage Syrah’ by GranMonte Estate in Khao Yai, Thailand.

I just love the dark red colour and the intense red berry aromas. The wine is elegant, and I very muchnenjoy the balance of tannins and spicy acidity. I did not give the wine a chance to improve with cellaring but might do this with one or two bottles at a later stage.

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Spear ribs and morning glory

My girls had cooked dinner, spear ribbs with morning glory. The ribbs were marinated in an Asian plum sauce, and caramelized glazing was just delicious. The contrast with the morning glories was stricking, and the white rice “glued” it all together.

What a lovely family dinner this was. Thai wine and food with an Asian heritage.


2011 Asoke by Gran Monte Winery, Thailand

January 27, 2013

Asoke 1

2011 Asoke Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah by Gran Monte

As you can see from the two pictures above and below, the newest vintage of the flagship wine of Gran Monte Family Estate, had no label as yet when I tasted this wine a few days ago.

The 2011 Asoke, a blend of about 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah, is a ripper of a wine, maybe the best red, Thailand’s vineyards have to offer.

The previous vintage, the ‘2009 Asoke’ has won many medals, two gold, three silver and three bronze medals, at international wine shows in Europe and in Asia.

Asoke 2

What a beautiful colour

The 2011 vintage of the Asoke has so far won a bronze medal, but I am confident that this young wine has a great potential and will win more awards when it has settled and aged a little.

It has lots of dark fruit flavour, blackberry to me. The tannins are still a bit astringent but will mellow with time. As the previous vintage, I guess it has spent some time in new oak. It is a very pleasant wine, strong and powerful, the best red I had in a long time.

The wine-maker is Nikki Lohitnavy, the young and talented and already well known vintner of Gran Monte Estate. Nikki is getting better every vintage. In a few years time her wines will be collectors items, I guess.

Asoke pasta

We had the wine with a meal, of course. It was not red meat with which this wine would harmonize Extremely well. Instead it was a pasta cooked by my daugther Charlotte (our resident cook, my wife Margit, is absent for a while). She is a very good apprentice, and the pasta was superb.

Asoke cooks

Charlotte (left) and her twin sister Lucy

Needless to say that this simple meal with the excellent wine from Gran Monte, made a wonderful father and daughter event.

My suggestion to wine lovers in Thailand: secure a couple of bottles of this wine, put them down in a good wine fridge, and enjoy one after the other with or without food, at special and ordinary occasions, and when you want to show off. This is the thing.

The upcoming harvest festival at Gran Monte Estate, on February 2 and 3, will give you a unique opportunity to learn more about Gran Monte wines, the vineyards and the wine-maker. You should book now and/or visit Khao Yai at your own pleasure. It is worth it.

PS: While writing this on my terrace, I am drinking another one of the great Gran Monte wines, the 2012 Viognier, a beauty of a single vineyard, single variety wine.


Beautiful Reds from the Pfalz at Weinsinnig, Trier

January 13, 2013

The other day (actually it was about a month ago during my last visit in Trier, Mosel), I had some fabulous reds at “Weinsinnig”, my favourite wine bar in Trier.

Both wines come from the Pfalz (Palatinate) wine region in Germany. Markus Schneider Estate is located in Ellerstadt, and Rings Estate in Freinsheim. Both estates are led by young and innovative vintners and wine-makers.

W sinnig Black Prince

2010 Black Print by Schneider

I have written about the wines of Markus Schneider before. ‘Schneider Ursprung’ is a wonderful cuveé (blend) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Portugieser.

The ‘2010 Black Print’ is a blend of St. Laurent, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Mitos and Cabernet Dorsa (hold your breath). The last two grape varieties are new crossings (hybrids) produced in Germany.

The wine was matured in small oak barrels. It has an almost black colour, as the name suggests. The fruit aromas are very concentrated, some plum and cassis but also blackberry. The tannins are already soft enough and well balanced. This is a yummy wine at a very reasonable price (around 12 Euro/bottle). But you have to be quick to pick up the remaining bottles.

Markus Schneider is not only very innovative as the composition of his blends are concerned but also the labelling of his wines is new and against German traditions. The Wine Guy has done a portrait of the winery which might be of interest to you.

W sinnig Rings

2011 Das kleine Kreuz by Rings Estate

Also the second wine I tasted at Weinsinnig was a red cuveé from the Pfalz. The ‘2011 Das kleine Kreuz’ by Rings Estate is a blend of Merlot, St. Laurent, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The brothers Andreas and Steffen Rings appeared 2007 on the German wine scene. That was the year that the Gault & Millau wine guide included the winery for the first time. Last year the brothers won the German red wine award.

This wine is just wonderful, awesome, fabulous. The density of the fruit, the well balanced acidity, the soft tannins and the long finish are all very striking. I could not believe it, my vintners soul cried more, more, more.

If we only could have these wines in Bangkok.

Address:
WEINSINNIG
Weinbar & Verkauf
Palaststraße 12
54290 Trier
Tel.: +49-651-979 01 56
info@weinsinnig.com
www.weinsinnig.com

Weingut Markus Schneider
Am Hohen Weg 1
67158 Ellerstadt
Tel.: +49(0)6237 – 7288
Fax: +49(0)6237 – 977230
info@black-print.net

Weingut Rings
Duerkheimer Hohl 21
67251 Freisenheim
Te.: +49-6353-2231
info@weingut-rings.de
http://www.weingut-rings.de
www.black-print.net


Food and wine pairing: Gran Monte 2012 Sakuna Rosé with a spiecy seafood pasta

January 4, 2013

Spicy seafood pasta

Delicious spicy seafood pasta

I love pasta, especially spicy pasta. And what is very refreshing in a tropical climate? A seafood pasta. That would be my answer to the question, what to eat?. All kinds of fresh garden salads can be consumed with such pasta. All of this is easy to make, a quick kitchen, so to speak, and, needless to say: it’s all delicious

The question, what wine to drink with this meal, I answer with a counter question: have you tried a rosé from Thailand? Have you heard about Gran Monte Sakuna rosé?

If not, then it is high time that you familiarize yourself with new latitude wines in general and Thai grape wines in particular.

Sakuna 2012 one

2012 Sakuna rosé by Gran Monte Estate

This wine, made by wine-maker Nikki Lohitnavy of Gran Monte Estate, has the most amazing colour, you can imagine. Lollypop, lollies and bonbons come to mind. The colour entices you to learn more about this wine.

It is made of 100% Syrah grapes, strictly following traditional rosé-making methods and rules. The strawberry aromas are fresh and crisp. This off-dry wine and it’s discreet and subtle sweetness are the perfect accompaniment to a hot and spicy dish, either of a Thai or a non-Thai descent.

We had the above spicy seafood pasta for lunch, and it turned out that the selected wine was a perfect match. This young wine, which was already awarded a silver and a bronze medal at international wine shows, is the just perfect for hot days and with spicy food.

Sakuna 2012 two

What a beautiful colour

PS: The new Gran Monte wine collection of the 2012 vintage will be released soon.


Boxing day with wine from Canada: 2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah

December 28, 2012

Marynissen Syrah

2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah

We had Canadian friends over for boxing day lunch. They had come from Beijing (where they now live and work) and were on holidays in the kingdom. It was a wonderful opportunity for a reunion, and we made the most of it.

I had prepared various meets on my barbecue (on my Weber, also from Canada): large chunks of beef and pork skewers. It was easy to select the wine.

The bottle of ‘2007 Marynissen Estates Syrah’ from Marynissen Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario was just the right stuff.

I had only this one bottle which was hand carried all the way from Ontario, then stored in my mothers house in Trier for a while, until I had space in my suitcase to carry it to Bangkok.

In short: this was a true rarity.

Marynissen Syrah 2

2007 Syrah by Marynissen Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake

When we visited Canada two years ago, we had also visited some wineries in Prince Edward County as well as near the Niagara falls. Marynissen Estates was one of the latter.

You can look up my archives of the Man from Mosel River where you will find reviews of Del Gatto Estates Winery, Closson Chase Vineyards, Huff Estate and The Grange of Prince Edward County Estates. My glands go berserk when these names come over my tongue.

Marynissen Syrah 3

The back label

2007 was a ripper of a vintage in Ontario with little rain and many dry and sunny days.

I do not know if I could taste all what is written up here on the back label. The wine is definitely a Rhone style wine. The colour is a very dark and beautiful deep red.

It stinks when you catch the first whiff with your nose. Burned tire aromas come to mind. But when you got used to that, it is the most beautiful drop of red you can imagine. Smooth and full, intensive dark fruit. I wish more wines were made that way.

My experience is that you cannot get Canadian wines outside Canada. The only exception is ice wine which is offered in duty free shops in airports, mostly from Inniskillin Wines.

But if you happen to know where to get Canadian wines in Thailand, please let me know.

The wine regions of Canada are certainly worth a visit.

Address:
Marynissen Estates
1209 Concession 1
RR#6,
Niagara-on-the-Lake
Ontario, Canada L0S 1J0
Tel: +1-905-468-7270
Fax: +1-905-468-5784
info@marynissen.com
www.marynissen.com


Grand Khaan in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia

May 25, 2012

Grand Khaan front with the terrace

My favourite watering whole in Ulaan Baatar is the Grand Khaan Irish Pub. I love the place where half of the city seems to congregate. The end of May has chilly nights (still with minus temperatures) but glorious days with up to 25-28 Celsius.

It was exactly such a day, almost summer for the Mongolians. Many men were already in short sleeves and the women in summer dresses. I love to watch the stylish young Mongols dressed up for a Friday night out.

The days are already long, and the work to put up the structure for the summer tent in the parking lot in front of the pub was in full swing when I got there.

Busy at work

I was by myself and was seated at a small table inside. I felt a bit chilly, I admit. Coming from the tropics does not help. Many customers sat outside. I could not bring myself to that.

My beef burger

I was craving for a burger and a Chinggis beer which I ordered after a short glance at the menu. Boy I was hungry. The burger was big and solid with Mongolian beef. The side salad is more decoration, but the fries are good.

Ghinggis beer

I cannot bring myself to have a glass of wine with a burger. The Chinggis beer was just right to quench my thirst.

A pub is not a place for fine wines. However, I decided to ordered a glass of red as dessert so to say. There were quite a few wines on the menu. I settled for a French Syrah.

I will not reveal what it was. I choose one of the priciest ones though. It was what we call in Australia an “umpf” wine, big and heavy with lots of alcohol. I guess that’s what pub goers expect from a red.

I had a great time watching the coming and going of the people. Friday night is a busy time. I “cleared my brain”, the pub acted as a cleansing ale so to speak after a busy and eventful week here in Ulaan Baatar. It was my last evening and I am sad to leave. I just love Mongolia and its people.

I highly recommend to visit the place. It’s great fun.


Best Syrah in 2011 – 2008 Cornas by Thierry Allemand, Cornas, Northern Rhone

March 12, 2012

Human memory is anything but perfect. In fact it is one of the most fallible of human organs there is. In hindsight we clear out memories we do not like any more. We add and subtract from it, we construct stories which never happened in the first place; we make sense where there was none before. Our memory seems to possess an independent creativity that bears only a passing resemblance to actual events.

That’s why wine geeks keep tasting notes, isn’t it? But even if we do, aren’t we deceiving ourselves, mixing up things, are influenced by the circumstances, the sympathy we have for the people we tasted the wine with, the location and the situation when we finally write it down as in a blog entry?

We humans like a narrative. We love to connect the dots even if there is little connectivity, no correlation not to speak of causation in the first place.

Please join me while reminiscing about the past year. What was the best Syrah I drank in 2011?

Well, this is not an easy task. 365 days of wine-drinking gone bye, need to be scrutinised. Pages of tasting notes need to be mastered. I’ll make it short for you

Please allow me to take you to my “winner”. It’s a wine by Thierry Allemand from Cornas village, a small wine region in the Northern Rhone, northwest of Valence, the charming small French town at the Rhone river.

I guess you have heard about the vintener and wine-maker Thierry Allemand.

The best piece on the internet about Thierry Allemand, I found on http://www.wineterroir.com. Thierry Allemand is one of my favourite French wine-makers.

Here you can indulge yourself, see the man, learn about his vision, his vineyards and his wines.

The first Cornas by Thierry Allemand which was served to me was by my good friend Timo Mayer at his home in the Yarra Valley. It was the 1996 Syrah Reynard cuvee from Cornas. The wine tasted like burned rubber which is sometimes labelled as a fault. But I liked this funky wine. It was wonderful complex and full in the mouth, with thr right spicyness. One feels like in paradise while the wine slowly winds it way down the throat.

Timo Mayer presented me with the 2008 vintage of this wine (last Christmas while at his house). It is difficult to describe this awasome drop. In comparison with the 1996 vintage, I would call this wine “domesticated”.

It is not wild as the 1996 vintage. It caters to the more mainstream taste, of what Syrah should taste like. I was not disappointed, not at all. However, I prefer the funkyness of the older vintage.

How can I get access to this wine in Bangkok? Does anybody have an idea?


Shanks of lamb and GranMonte 2010 Heritage Syrah Viognier

February 22, 2012

Sunday meals are important in our family.The highlight of the last weekend was the lamb below cooked according to a recipe from Jamie Oliver which was a bit altered to accommodate the availability of ingredients.

The lamb was cooked for three hours and served on mashed potatoes. The full recipe can be found here.

Instead of Guinness we used Coopers Ale, an Australian beer. Instead of raisins we used figs. Moreover, we braised very thinly cut celery and mixed it into the potato mash. Finally, we dropped the mint leaves from the recipe as well.

As veggies, green asparagus with mushrooms were offered. Needless to say, that the meal was super super delicious. The meat melted in the mouth. The bed of mashed potatoes gave a remarkable tilt to the dish.

The side dish

Here is the complete meal on the plate

As wine, I selected the ‘2010 Hertiage Syrah Viognier’ by GranMonte Vineyard in Khao Yai, the Asoke Valley, Thailand. GranMonte is producing excellent wines. We had visited the winery recently and participated in the annual harvest festival. I will write more about this event in another blog entry.

In a temperate climate I would have chosen a wine with a higher alcohol level, but in the tropics 12% is just fine. The Viognier gives it the acidity necessary to make this blend an ideal accompaniment for red meats such a lamb.

Isn’t this a wonderful colour

The bottle

GranMonte wines can be sourced from various places in Bangkok. The cellar door price of the Heritage Syrah Viognier is about 880 THB. If you are in Bangkok, please visit the Asoke valley and its wineries.

My tip of the day: drink more wines from Thailand.


Home again celebration – 2008 Redmont, Markowitsch, Austria

August 12, 2011

Bangkok August 2011: rainy season but with splendid mornings

How nice to be back home again. This time “home” means our flat in Bangkok.

After about four weeks on the road which brought us, among others, to my home town Trier in Germany and Ontario in Canada, we are finally back in Thailand and our “normal life” can resume.

Needless to say, we had a great time. Not only visited we family and friends but we also had gone on often spontaneous short trips for instance to Metz the capital of Lorraine, France, and Echternach in Luxembourg where we explored local culture, food and wine (Auxerrois wines in Lorraine and Elbling in Luxembourg).

Our visit to Ontario, Canada was mainly aiming at seeing friends of old student times. Two of my best friends, Dominik Franken and Gerd Eilers, had migrated to Canada after they finished their masters degrees in agricultural economics. After more than 20 years, it was time to renew our friendship and catch up with each other. That’s what we did.

We also used the opportunity to learn more about the “wineland Canada” as well, especially two regions were in our focus: the Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County, a marvel of a new and coming, cool climate wine region just south of Kingston, Ontario.

I have collected many stories, pictures, tasting notes, leaflets and brochures of wineries and other places we visited which will keep me busy blogging.

This abundance of material will also nurture my curiosity to learn more about the wines we tasted and the wineries we visited and embark on more research.

Due to the erratic availability of internet connectivity I have neglected my blog. The good news is that the Man from Mosel River is back. Now I just need some free time and opportunity to bring my notes into shape and share with my esteemed readers our recent wine experience.

Postscript
Question: What did we do after we arrived after a 10 hours flight from Fankfurt?

Answer: Well, we had a pasta, “bucatini alla amatriciana”, and a wine from Carnuntum, Austria which I had picked up while in transit on Vienna Airport.

The ‘2008 Redmont’ by Markowitsch, a blend of Zweigelt (50%), Blaufraenkisch (15%), Cabernet (15%), Merlot (10%) and Syrah (10%), was an inexpensive wine which I had grabbed without much thought, turned out to have a mighty nose and great aromas, which caught me by surprise.

The wine is well balanced and full bodied. I really enjoyed it. The only thing I did not like was the slight bitter after-taste one could feel on the palate. But I plan to buy another one of Markowitsch’s wines when I am in Vienna next time.


East meets West – 龙徽

March 26, 2011

Finally, we managed to have a dinner in our new home like in the good old days in Thonglor. All four of us sat on the terrace and enjoyed a family meal together.

The pasta (zucchini) below was just delicious.

I went through my wine fridge but could only produce a bottle of ‘2008 Cabernet Sauvignon’ by Beijing Dragon Seal Winery, China. It was given to me by the hotel manager during my last trip to Beijing.

A bottle of Dragon Seal red wine was one of our first wines when we moved to China in 1990. The winery has quite some history which goes back to 1910 and some French friars in Beijing who started to grow grapes and make wine. Ever since French viticulturists and oenologists have been associated with the brand. The modern Dragon Seal Winery was founded in 1987. Various white and red wines are produced today.

The grapes are grown in Huailai County (怀来县) in Hebei Province about 150 kilometers northwest of Beijing which has a semi-arid climate. The precipitation in this part of China is very low (below 400 mm per year). Mean temperatures range from -7.4 Celsius in January to about 24.4 Celsius in July. Humidity in August-September is between 60 and 70% only.

Product range – screen-shot from the Dragon Seal website

The flagship wines of Dragon Seal Winery are it’s Huailai Reserve, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%) and Syrah (50%) which is matured for a year in French and American oak and it’s Cru de Huailai, a 100% Syrah made from grapes grown in Donghuayuan (东花园镇).

Does this not sound very exotic in your ears?

Well, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is a solid but overall ordinary wine (‘Landweinkatagoerie’). The enclosure consisted of a plastic “cork” (uuh). I was immediately suspicious. 2008 vintage (!), but was the bottle sealed properly?

Yes it was. The wine has only 12% alcohol. The colour was a beautiful dark red. But the taste was OK. It is a rather light wine with pleasant red fruit aromas. We did not regret opening the bottle, and it also matched the pasta somehow. I must try the two flagship wines mentioned above. They won medals at international wine shows. That’s my resolution from this wonderful family meal in Ekamai.