The little French thing with Spanish wine

May 29, 2012

9.69 EURO worth of food and wine

When I arrived yesterday morning here in Brussels I found myself caught out. It was a public holiday (Pentecost Monday) and everything seemed to be closed.

It was a beautiful sunny and warm day and I walked around a bit and explored the area around the hotel. Lots of tourist were doing the same thing. Fortunately, I found an open Carrefour express so that I could buy some groceries.

I was reminded of my glorious day as a student, and in reminiscing about the past, I bought some cheese, bread and red wine. Today, I know of course that red wine is not necessarily the best accompaniment with cheese. But I bought it nonetheless.

Normally, I always pack my Swiss army wife but this time I had left it behind in Bangkok. I knew this while browsing through the supermarket shelf with all the many wine bottles.

And that was the main reason why I settled for the bottle of Tempranillo: it had a screw cap, whereas most other bottles had a cork enclosure. I only paid 5.99 EURO for it which is cheap considering wine prices in Thailand.

2010 Tempranillo – REALCE by Union Campesina Iniestense

By sheer coincidence, I had found a treasure. This wine comes from the relatively new and unknown wine region of Manchuela which is located in the larger La Mancha wine region.

So it’s a Don Quixote wine, one could say.

One of the Spanish indigenous grape varieties grown in Manchuela is Bobal, a red grape, which comes originally from Valencia and is the third most planted variety in Spain (after Airén and Tempranillo).

If you want to learn more about the wines from Manchuela have a look at the video clip by Simon Woods.

Manchuela got its appellation status only in 2000. Of course vintners have grown grapes there since Roman times.

I was very happy.

It has intense red berry aromas, beautifully structured tannins, great resilience and character just like the old Don Quixote. I sipped along after I had finished my frugal peasant meal.

When I saw that the wine was made by a wine cooperative, the Union Campesina Intestense, I thought I have to find out more. Today the vintners cooperative has more than 1200 members and about 7,000 ha under vines. So this is a big undertaking.

The Tempranillo I had bought is one of their simpler wines. The reserva wines they produce cost more than 30.- EURO. Most of their wines are around 10 EURO/bottle.


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


Vineyards of Thailand Part 3: PB Valley Khao Yai Winery

February 25, 2010

Wine tastings at PB Valley

PB Valley is the largest of the Khao Yai vineyards and wineries. It’s total production is about 600,000 bottles a year. It is also the oldest vineyard in the region. It was started in 1989 on a large plot of land. It took a couple of years to identify the most suitable grape varieties for the climate.

PB Valley wines have won a number of international wine awards (mostly at AWC in Vienna). Apart from vineyard and winery, it also has a restaurant, the Great Hornbill with about 200+ seats, and holiday accommodation. I like their reserve Shiraz and Tempranillo wines best.

Unfortunately, we had no time for a winery tour or any organised tasting. We just dashed to the cellar door and bought a couple of bottles. As in other wineries, the product range includes all kinds- of non-wine products from health care, cosmetics to nutrition.

The entrance to the sales room

The cellar door

Wide product range

If you visit Bangkok, rent a car with driver for the day and visit the wineries and vineyards of PB Valley and Gran Monte. This gives you a perfect start for the exploration of new latitude wines. The area is beautiful and the national park offers some unique experiences of Thailand.

If you have no time, visit their sales offices in Bangkok and stock up on their wines.


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

Address:
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 : info@khaoyaiwinery.com
www.khaoyaiwinery.com


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.


Rioja in Taiwan

October 22, 2009

Beronia

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.

Beronia1

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.


“To die for”: Argentinian wine

September 5, 2009

Last night we went out for a drink with friends. “To die for” was our aim, a fashionable hang-out place with the mildly decadent décor of sofa beds (divans) in the back yard in Thonglor, Bangkok. I chose a bottle of red from Argentina, a ‘2004 Trumpeter Reserve’ by Rutini Wines.

Rutini

What a pleasant surprise this wine was. Full-bodied, succulent with a good finish. Great drop from the new world. The wine is a blend of Tempranillo and Malbec to equal parts and the rest (about 30%) is Cabernet Sauvignon, a well rounded affair. 35 Euro in a restaurant in Bangkok is an OK price, I think.

We relaxed on the divan and watched the young fashionable Thais socializing. What a great end to a busy working week. Cheers folks


Berlin in March

March 20, 2009

germanflag

The German flag in front of the parliamentary building

It was our family day, but I was far away from the family in Bangkok. My program in Berlin with my Thai visitors ended late. It was a cold night. I walked around the block in circles and found this Italian place, called “Vapiano”. It was a quite fashionable place as the pictures below show. They used a kind of debit card system as we have it in Bangkok. Red was the dominant colour.

rioja1

An olive tree in the middle of the place

rioja2

Red chandeliers

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And a red light on the table

rioja0

Rioja wine

I asked the bar tender what wine she would recommend. She poured me a glass of ‘2003 Baron de Ley Reserva Rioja’. I do no know much about Spanish wine, so I was grateful for the recommendation.

I loved the wine. It was luscious and heavy, full of red fruit flavours, with beautiful length on the palate. What a beautiful Tempranillo.

I also enjoyed the atmosphere of the place, the friendliness of the staff and promised to come back for some more Rioja wine. If you are in Berlin, check out the place, that’s my recommendation.

Restaurant:
VAPIANO
Mittelstr. 51-52
10117 BerlinTel.: +49-30-50154100

Baron de Ley
Rioja
2003 Reserva
13.5 %
www.barondeley.com


Restaurant Review: Libertine in Melbourne

January 22, 2009

libertine

During the four weeks in Glenburn, Victoria I made it to the big city (= Melbourne) only once. My friend Tony Arthur had organised a lunch with Joe and Helen and myself at “Libertine”, a French restaurant in North Melbourne.

When Tony mentioned the name of the place we were supposed to meet in town over the phone, I was already enthralled. For a liberal like me, “libertine” augured well, promising freedom of French provenance.

libertine1

The restaurant is tucked away between various other entrances and not easily glimpsed. I came in my pick-up truck from the countryside and had to circle the place.

The dining area downstairs is rather small but I understand they have more facilities upstairs. When I arrived at 12:30 sharp, my friends had already assembled. Most tables were still empty but that would change very quickly. The place was packed just a little later.

Tony, Helen and Joe had been travelling together in France. As a native of Trier, Mosel, just a few kilometres from France I am not exactly a stranger to French culture and cuisine and consider myself a “francophile”.

We started with aperitifs. I was introduced to a Floc de Gascogne. Based on a XVI century local recipe, this is a fortified sweet wine, a blend so to say, between fresh grape juice (2/3) and Armagnac (1/3). It is kept for about 10 months in the cellar. The aromas it displays are almond, jasmine, roses and honey. The alcohol content of the drink varies between 16 and 18%.

Also the second aperitif, a Pommeau de Normandie was a “mistelle”, in this case a mixture of apple juice with Calvados. It’s usually aged in oak barrels for about 30 months and contains 17% alcohol. The drink displays aromas of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch flavours.

libertine2

The Pommeau de Normandie

libertine3

The Floc de Gascogne

The next two photos introduce the diners. A happy lot they were. We had not met for more than a year. It was easy to lure me down to town from my farm upcountry in the Upper Goulburn to meet up and dwell on the happenings of the past months.

libertine5

Tony and Joe

libertine41

Helen and me

libertine6

My steak

We all ordered the set menue were you have a couple of choices. I opted for the fresh onion soup, followed by a steak. The dessert I choose was a “tarte de pomme”, all very delicious. The service was relaxed but very attentive; the food of an excellent quality and taste for a very reasonable price.

We were also advised on the wines. We went with the house wine, all from bottles, a Roundstone Cabernet Merlot from the Yarra Valley. Helen had a Lis Neris Bianco from Italy. The blokes followed up with a glass of Tempranillo but by that time we were beyond producers and other wine information. I just did not record any of it any more because we were deep in philosophical conversation about love, life and the universe.

libertine7

The dessert

We had a coffee at the end, bid each other farewell and scattered in all direction with the sincere promise to repeat this as soon as possible but latest at our next visit in Australia.

The Libertine is a great restaurant. If you visit Melbourne you should schedule a meal either lunch or dinner with your friends in this atmospheric little place.

Address:
Libertine
500 Victoria Stret
North Melbourne 3051
Melbourne, Victoria
Australia
Tel.:+61-3-93295228
http://www.libertinedining.com.au