A spittoon

February 15, 2013


A spittoon at Weingut Karthäuserhof in Eitelsbach

When we had the open day at Weingut Karthäuserhof last August, I took this photo of a spittoon in the tasting room. I do not particularly like these receptacles but in serious wine tasting they are a necessity.

I will have to do more wine tastings to appreciate their usefulness, and wonder when this will happen.

Does anybody have other photos of spittoon for wine to share?

Have a good weekend.
Cheers (despite lent, I will have a few glasses of wine in the next weeks).

My new Wine Journal

January 3, 2013

My new journal

My daughter Lucy gave me the above new wine journal as a Christmas gift. Now I can again systematically record the wines I was tasting.

Often I displace my notes and when I want to write about a specific wine a frantic search stands at the beginning of a blog entry.

Alas, order has been restored. Now I only have to use the book for the intended purpose.

I am ready for the wines of 2013 it seems. Bring em on!

PB Valley Wine tasting at the Great Hornbill Bistro, Bangkok, Thailand

December 6, 2012


Friday last week I was invited to the presentation of the new vintage of PB Valley Khao Yai Winery and the tasting of the newly released wines. The event was conducted at the Great Hornbill Bistro which is PB Valley cellar door in Bangkok, one could say.


The place filled up quickly. I met old and new friends from the Thai wine industry, gastronomy, and journalism. There were also some wine bloggers like myself.

Khun Prayut

Khun Prayut, chief wine-maker of PB Valley

Khun Prayut started the event with a brief overview of PB Valley, it’s grape production and wine making. Lots of things have happened since the start in 1992, the first vintage in 1998 and the international recognition of PB Valleys contribution to the wine industry in South East Asia. In 2011 PB Valley was awarded the Asia Wine Pioneer Award in Singapore.

With a total area of 320 ha of which almost 50 ha are under grapes, PB Valley is not a small enterprise. About 10 ha are for table grapes, the rest is planted with wine grapes such as Shiraz, Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Dornfelder, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Durif and Petit Verdot.

The flagship wines are Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Tempranillo. Total production is about 65% red and 35% white, but demand is more on the red side, 80 to 20. Some of the residual white wine juice is distilled. To the “grappa” or “schnaps” some lichee juice is added which makes a beautiful “digestivo” called Licci Schnaps.


The capacity of the winery is about 450,000 liters. Total production comes to 100,000 to 150,000 bottles per year. The newest vintage is, with the exception of PIROM Supremacy Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, all under screw caps!

After that the wine tasting proper was about to start. Khun Joolpeera Saitrakul, wine-maker at PB Valley, introduced the three whites, one rose, and four red wines. He explained all the individual wines, how they were made and what their qualities were. I will come to this in a later blog entry.


Khun Prayut at our table

At this point suffice it so say that I loved all the wines, but especially the whites. I never thought much of Chenin Blanc before coming to the tropics and tasting tropical wines.

The reds grown in new latitude locations need more time to show their true potential, I think. But a glass of cold Chenin Blanc or a Rose from a winery in Thailand is not easy to beat. I loved the PIROM Chenin Blanc best with his passion-fruit aromas, and the fine acidity. The residual sugar is about 5 grams.


The four reds in the tasting

Of the four reds, each has its strong points. The PIROM Supremacy is out of my price range (2000 Thai bath/bottle), but delicious. The Sawasdee Shiraz is for easy drinking, the PB spicy Shiraz is good with a piece of red meat and the PB Tempranillo I suggest to have with a South American barbecue.

The team

The success team from PB Valley


Dr Piya Bhirombhakdi presenting gifts

I was a lucky draw winner of a bottle of PB Valley wine and took it from the hands of the famous Dr. Piya.

After that the buffet was opened, and we all indulged in the delicious food of the Great Hornbill Bistro. The evening continued with discussions about wine, food and everything. To sum it up, this was a great event, well prepared and executed by the very motivated staff of the Bistro and PB Valley.

My verdict: try some Thai wine next time you are in a restaurant in Bangkok. Ask for it, even if they don’t have it, make it known that you want to “taste the land”.

PS: I also learned why there is so little Thai wine on offer in the many wine bars in Bangkok. Importers of foreign wines give concessions to the wine bars, meaning they only have to pay for the wine after they have sold it. Thai wineries cannot afford this level of generosity.

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.

Wine tasting at the Lake House in Bangkok

March 7, 2010

The bottle of red by Domaine de Rapatel at Lake House

In the morning when we drove past Lake House on our way into town, we decided spontaneously that we should go there for dinner. Margit had seen a review about the place in the Bangkok Post. Of course we had to check the place out ourselves.

It was already dark when we arrived but the surroundings of the lake were very romantic. My camera, however, could not cope with the conditions. We choose a small table in the garden and had just ordered our food when an excited waitress came and invited us to a wine tasting. Surprise surprise, we thought, why not taste some wines.

In a small room in the main building, we met the winemaker, Gérard Eyraud, his daughter and grandson, and some more French people from the wine importer. We tasted four wines, three from Gérard, one from another producer from Southern France (Domaine Bouche Red, Cote du Rhone). I had nothing to write with, took no notes and also forgot completely to take a picture of the winemaker and his family.

The white from Domaine de Rapatel was a blend of Roussanne with Bourboulenc with a taste of apricots, one red was a blend of Grenache with Syrah and the third one was a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre (14.5% vol. alc.). The last one I know for sure, because we could not continue to drink the wine I had ordered earlier, after we had tasted these wonderful fruity wines made by Gérard. In the process we got to know Matt, one of the three co-owners of the restaurant, from Melbourne and established that his brother Dan is an old mate of my nephew Nik Meinhold. How small the world is.

Gérard and Christine Eyraud have about 15 ha under vines southwest of the city of Nîmes. Gérard sells most of his wine as Vin du Pays du Gard, the grand cru wines are labeled “Costières de Nîmes”, a wine region in the Carmargue, in the South of France. I have visited the city and its surroundings but had never tasted wines from there before. I loved the fruitiness which reminded me of Australian wines and not necessarily typical for French wines.

We had a jolly good evening. The tapas we had ordered were delicious, the wine was just superb. The staff was very friendly. We went home with the sincere intention to come back and taste some more wines. By the way the wine list of Lake House is quite extensive, and the prices are the best I have seen in Bangkok so far.
Needless to say that we ordered a couple of dozens of the wines the next morning by e-mail. More soon about these wines maybe with proper tasting notes.

PS: During the wine tasting we also learned that the house used to belong to Tiziano Terzani (14.09.1938 – 28.07.2004), an Italian journalist and writer, and a native of Florence. He stayed there for about two years. The house was called “the turtle house”. He also had lived in Beijing, China for a while where he was the correspondent for the German magazine Der Spiegel, until he was thrown out. I red his book “Behind the forbidden door: travels in unknown China” in 1986.

Lake House
18 Soi Prommitr, Sukhumvit 39
Bangkok, กรุงเทพมหานคร 10110, Thailand
+66-2-662 6349

On the nose

November 20, 2009

This is the most beautiful time in Bangkok. For about 6 to 8 weeks we will have very pleasant temperatures. Since I walk to the office, a luxury in Asia, this matters quite a bit. These days I can enjoy every step on my 20 minutes walk to work.

This walk is also a good training for the nose. Yes, you red right, the nose. You agree with me that the nose is a very important organ for any wine connoisseur. The first thing you do when tasting a wine is swirrling the wine. Your nose trys to catch the fragrances emitted by the liquid. Most of our noses need regular training. Well, let me come back to my walk to the office.

If I could only close my eyes when walking (too dangerous though) it would be even more striking. Taking the nose on a walk in Asia is quite an adventure, one might think. That’s true. However, my morning walk takes me along two busy Sois (Thai for street): Thonglor and Ekkamai and Soi 10 which connects the two.

The nose in action

This means that about 80% of the route is boring for my nose, just the fumes of the passing vehicles, some petrol notes maybe, mostly tar and lots of dust. In the evening I have started to wear a mask because it is just too tedious walking along the traffic jam. But that is very different in the mornings (I am an early bird). So the remaining 20% of the way are interesting; half of it pleasant, half of it not so pleasant.

First highlight is the Chinese chicken restaurant with two large pots on the gas stove full of chicken meat bubbling in the water with, I guess, “Sichuan spices”. Then I pass by walls and large gardens tucked behind them. During this time of the year not many plants are flowering but still my nose is on high alert sniffing for the scent of jasmin or other blossoms.

Just before I turn around the corner, I greet the “barbecue” man, roasting various types of meats, some on skewers, sausages, chicken wings and so on, on his mobile cart as breakfast for the passers-by. Here my nose catches notes of charcoal, burning fat and skin, the smell of freshly cooked meat.

Around the corner is the next highlight, the Chinese noodle shop, warm smells of steam engulf my olfactory organ, freshly hacked herbs add corriander fragrances. One lady sells fresh fruit and vegetables as well as freshly baked sweets for the casual wanderer. If my nose is lucky it can capture a fragrance of tropical notes and the aura of fresh bread.

But before I come to the the dim sum place, usually still closed when I pass by, though the trays under steam, I have to pass three locations where the garbage of night clubs and restaurants is kept on the pavement before it is collected in the morning. Here the nose finds aromas of decomposing organic matter which is a sweet-sour smell. This is sometimes a challenge.

The worst places are those where dogshit, many urbanites keep small dogs as pets, accumulates. The Thais being very tidy people sweep the walkways daily. As a consequence the danger to step into dogshit is not that big. However, the pungent and acrid smell of canine turds is another challenge for my nose. The odour is very strong even if the source of it has long disappeared from the scene.

The last stretch is lined with beauty salons (there are so many), which from time to time let a fargrance of lavender escape from the parlour. An executive “supercars” dealer, night clubs (zillions), bus stops and a computer laboratory complete the row of building I have to pass. Finally, comes the dim sum place but only on my way home will my nose be in the position to indulge in the aromas of the fine dumplings.

Nose training, I recommend it. From time to time close your eyes and trust your olfactory organ, and enjoy, as we say in Asia. Cheers folks. I am off to a drink, red wine, I suppose. Have a good weekend and a nice smell.

First Anniversary: Open Wine Consortium

March 3, 2009


The Open Wine Consortium is now one year old. Congratulations folks! On this innovative social network platform more than 3100 wine aficionados from all around the world, some of them from the wine industry (grape producers, vintners, wine-makers, as well as wine and food marketing people), some of them just passionate wine lovers and consumers, regularly meet and exchange ideas and information.

When I became a members, I honestly did not know what to do out there. And frankly speaking, I still do not grasp the full potential of this new way for social exchange. It also somehow conflicts with my writing and reading habits on the internet, and of course with my blogging work. I just do not have the time to do both.


There is even more out there in the virtual world. New things which I have not explored as yet. For instance there is a group called “Twitter Taste Live”. On this platform you can tweet your latest tasting notes. I will try it right now for the first time.

And? it worked, hurrah. Web 2.0 in full swing. Here is the proof.


I guess I will have to extend the hours of the day from 24 to 28, or something like it.
I suggest: try it out.