Germany – wine heaven

August 31, 2014

After about two months in Germany, we move on to our new posting in Sofia, Bulgaria. It has been an exciting time. We enjoyed the climate, the greenness, the clean air and foremost: wonderful wines.

Coming from Bangkok, one is used to a 400% luxury tax on wine, which makes the heavenly drop very, very expensive. I used to say: a 5€ bottle of German Riesling wine, a solid but basic version of it, goes for 25-30 € equivalent in Thailand.

This has a devastating effect on my finances if not carefully targeted. Well, you might argue, there is wine produced by Thai vintners in Thailand itself. Are these wines not cheaper? The answer is “no”, because domestically produced wines are also subject to the luxury tax in the kingdom.

Germany, in comparison, is wine heaven. One can consume a wine from one of the primary producers for a pittance. Say 12 – 16 € for a Riesling from one of the top producers from Mosel, Saar, Pfalz and Rheingau.

It was no surprise that I dived into it, like a fish. I tried many different wines, from Germany and many European countries. I found out that there is lots of good quality wine in the market. But, apart from the famous VPD wineries, it is hard to find the really good stuff to drink, meaning a lot of tasting is required.

Concluding I might say that the two months in Germany was not sufficient time to find my favourite “every day wines”. I console myself with the fact that in my next destination, Bulgaria, there are many excellent wines to discover. Bulgaria is a wine region I know almost nothing about, which is a good start.

Stay tuned to my next entry.

Upper Goulburn Wines Shine

January 3, 2009

In the summer edition of the ‘Upper Goulburn Food and Wine Cultural News’ newsletter also the wines from this rather new wine region (our wine region!) are mentioned.

One of the “popes” of the wine industry, James Halliday, has included wines from the Upper Goulburn Wine Region in his 2009 edition of the Wine Companion.

The following summary rates some of the regions wines:

2006 Barwite Upper Goulburn Riesling (87)

2006 Buller View Cabernet/Shiraz/Merlot (88 )

2006 Cheviot Bridge Yea Valley Shiraz (94)

2006 Delatite Polly Sparkling Gewuerztraminer (88 )

2006 Growlers Gully Shiraz (90)

2005 Jean Paul’s Vineyard Shiraz (94)
2005 Jean Paul’s Bold Colonial Red Cab/Sav (88 )

2005 Kinloch Wines Mary Friend (90)
2007 Kinloch Sauvignon Blanc (87)

2005 Lost Valley Thousand Hills Shiraz (89)
2007 Lost Valley Cortese (88 )

2004 Mount Cathedral Reserve Merlot (94)
2005 Mount Cathedral Reserve Merlot (90)
2005 Mount Cathedral Chardonnay (89)

2006 Mount Samaria Tempranillo (88 )

2006 Murrindindi Don’t tell your Dad Shiraz (89)
2006 Murrindindi Chardonnay (88 )
2005 Murrindindi Family Reserve Cabernet (88 )

2005 Myrtlevale Vineyard Cab/Sav (88 )

2006 Rubicon Lorna’s Vintage Chardonnay (88 )

2006 Sedona Estate Yea Valley Shiraz (90)

2005 Snobs Creek VSP Shiraz (89)
2006 Snobs Creek Dolcetto Syrah (88 )
2005 Snobs Creek Wooded Chardonnay (87)

2005 Tallarook Chardonnay (92)
2005 Tallarook Marsanne (90)
2006 Tallarook Rousanne (90)

The rating demonstrates once again that the wines from the Upper Goulburn Wine Region are of superior quality. Amzing is also the wide range of varieties and wine styles. It’s a pity that our wines were not included in the tasting. But we have been slack with wine marketing in Australia during the last 12 months.

While celebrating Christmas we tried for the first time a wine from Will de Castella, a ‘2006 Jean Paul’s Vineyard Shiraz’ (the following vintage of the above ’94 point wine’). What a fabulous wine this was. Intensive aromas of plum and blackberry filled our mouths. Our only regret was that we had only one bottle. I bought the wine in the Yea Supermarket (about 20 A$).



PS: By the way, our wine growers association has upgraded its website. Please check it out, its much better than before:

Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery

October 8, 2008

In December 2007 I wrote about the Niagara Wine region in Ontario, Canada. Lorie from “Lorie loves wines” named some of her favourite wineries in this region (thanks Lorie). One of them was Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery.

According to Lorie, Henry of Pelham make the best hybrid wines, Baco Noir in Niagara. They also make a great Gewurztraminer. Daniel Speck, one of the proprietors of Henry of Pelham Family Estate, wrote to us and introduced some of his wines.

When I surfed on youtube the other day, I found a video clip about the winery. In fact it seems that many wineries in the Niagara wine region put videos about their vineyards and wineries on to the net. Without having been to the place, I can now check it out (which I did) and when I will visit Ontario next time, I might go and taste their wines. Have a look. You will find many more video clips about Henry of Pelham on the net.

To be or not to be – a wine blogger !

September 30, 2008

I am a wine blogger since almost two years and I have seen and visited many blogs on wine and food, wine tastings, viticulture and wine-making. Some of these blogs I frequent often, others, only from time to time. It is always informative and I learned many things about the wine industry and how people think and feel about wine.

The romantics view of wine blogging: A glass of White Porto from Quinta do Castelinho in the Douro wine region, Portugal

Last night was another one of those nights when I could not sleep and so I started to surf the internet’s wine websites and blogs. I was reminded what a terrific world is out there. Goodness me, how interesting this is. I could not stop looking around. Amazing what I found. The wine and food bloggers come in many types, colours, shapes, characters, personalities, professions, etc.

Some are


and others are


some are

expert connoisseurs

others are

wild enthusiasts

some are

profit oriented businesses and wine journalists

others, however, are

enthusiastic hobby writers

some are

cellar door and wine distributors

others are

private individuals and consumers

some of them are

sophisticated, polished urbane wine freaks

others are

rural folks (like me), vintners and wine makers

some write

all alone (like me)


work in teams and thereby share the burden to produce content and attempt to avoid boredom.

Some do it for money, most do it to have fun. It goes without saying that some, while doing it for money, have fun as well.

The reality of the modern blogger.

Let me share with you some of my findings and conclusions.

First, I felt pretty small and amateurish, technically as well as subject matter wise. There are so many knowledgeable people out there, amazing.

My own blog which I tend with loving care since January 2007 is a rather simple affair. Out there in cyberspace there are sites with podcasts, with videos, with music, with slide shows, presentations, breathtaking links and so on. Exciting stuff.

I have only stories and some pictures.

Second, the world of wine bloggers is pretty dynamic. Moreover, they seems to lead interesting lives.

Third, wine bloggers network quite a bit. Last year I followed the German wine bloggers workshop at an important wine expo (I forgot which one).

At the end of August the European Wine Blogger Conference ( was held in Spain (in Logrono!).

The American blogger community will follow suit in October in Sonoma County in California ( The participants list is very impressive. What a large community there is.

German wine bloggers conduct regularly the so called “wine rally”, American wine bloggers have a format called “Wine Blogging Wednesday”. Both formats are used to share interesting stories about a given wine theme and publish them in a co-ordinated way. The Americans have even established a website for the purpose (

As with music and films wine bloggers are rated in “top” …. something. For instance the top 100 and other lists of top bloggers, either rated by links and/or traffic or after voting by users.

I found such a list from June this year. And can you imagine the top 100 is lead by a German wine blogger (Dr. Achim Becker of Wineterminator). The second blogger gets almost only a third of the top one’s votes. Wine Library TV (Gary Vaynerchuk) ranks only in 5th position. No. 6 is another German (Mario Scheuermann and his Planet Bordeaux) who ranks in 10th position with another blog (drink tank).

I suggest you explore this cyberworld yourself. And do not forget to visit wineries and vineyards from time to time. the real stuff.

Wine all over the place – a glimpse at Berlin wine shops

September 19, 2008

The wine industry receives confusing signals these days. In Germany and the EU the ban of advertisement for alcohol and alcoholic drinks is in the making. In some media the devastating effects of such regulations are already being discussed. There were also voices in favour of a ban supporting the current regulatory trend which attempts to further restrict our basic human freedoms and violating our rights.

After the bad news, the good one: In recent news the advent of wine distribution through Amazon was hinted at. The start of wine marketing through such a potent internet channel could not be a more distant twin of the current ascetic (fun and joy hating) trend described above, first hitting smokers and now (maybe) the wine lovers. However, history suggests that human freedoms can be curtailed for a short while only. Ultimately we will break free from such patronizing behaviour of the state, because we are all voters and tax payers and as we say in German, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ (Wo ein Wille ist, da ist ein Weg).

I bring you good news from Berlin. The other day I strolled through the streets near Nollendorf Platz, and discovered to my great surprise a rather large number of wine shops in a rather small area. I randomly took pictures which I present to you below.

Most of the wine shops are specialised, usually carrying wines from one or more regions or a selection of countries. Above a Rioja specialist, below a shop selling mainly French wines.

Some shops try to offer a wider selection, despite being “small”.

Others, as above in Goltz street, offer broad choices.

I even found an Australian wine shop with remarkable decoration.

Others offer Italian wines combined with other shopping and relaxation capabilities.

‘European and overseas wines’, is what the writing says; wow that’s amobitious.

But there are not only very specialised wine shops to be found but also very specialised restaurants. I do not refer to the Habibi Falafel, the Iranian, the Italian, the Turkish, Indian and Spanish restaurants. I found two eating places which were quite special. Many years ago I have dined in a Tibetan restaurant once in Kathmandu. Never before I have seen a Massai restaurant, even when I travelled through Tanzania and Kenia, there were no such eatery in sight. Berlin got it all.

What would you eat in a Buddha House? Answer: Tibetan, Napali and Thai cuisine. Bon appetit.

My tip: visit Berlin, it is such a fabulous place to explore and to discover.

Restaurants in Jakarta: Champa – Wine and Spirits Circle Dinner

June 11, 2008

Saturday night marked a rare occasion, because the Jakarta Wine and Spirits Circle had not organised a function for a while. Therefore, the invitation for a dinner cum wine tasting came just at the right time. We are members of the Circle since many years and cultivate some very fond memories of past wine tastings.

The event took place at the Champa restaurant, which provides Vietnamese and Indochinese food. The Champa opened its doors to the public in 2002 and possesses a warm and cosy atmosphere. I had already been to this restaurant with friends and business associates a couple of times and always liked the food.

The tables were a bit crowded by the glasses

The menue showed exciting features

‘Four temptations’, the entree ‘Goi Cuon Ca hoi, Goi Cuon Malay, kai Hoer Bai teay, Tom Ham Pho Mat’, freele translated, it reads as follows:

– Champa fresh spring rolls made of salmon
– Crispy minced chicken and crab meat martabak style
– Thai famous deep fried herb chicken in Pandean leaves
– Roasted Tiger Prawn and herb crust with cheese on salad

The main dish named ‘Bo Nuong Hed Hom ca Hoi Mojo’ consisted of grilled tender loin with mushroom cheese and stir fried Norwegian salmon with Mojo.

The dessert, called ‘Da Vanni’, was a crepes filed with Banana and cream, vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with nuts and chocolate.

How about the wine you might ask. Well, Alsatian and Austrian wines were on the agenda. we started with an aperitif, a ‘2004 Domaines Schlumberger Sylvaner’. Woh, an Alsation Sylvaner, Sylvaner being the grape of Franconia and its famous Bocksbeutel wines. It felt fresh and fizzy, a nice aperitif, I must say.

We faced seven glasses on our table, it felt a bit crowded in the limited space available. Three were for whites and four for red wines.

White wines

– 2004 Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris
– 2004 Domaines Schlumberger Gewuerztraminer
– 2005 Leth Gruener Veltliner Kabinett

Red wines

– 2004 Leth St. Laurent Reserve
– 2004 Leth Linot Noir Classic
– 2006 Pfaffl Blauer Zweigelt
– 2003 Sepp Moser Blauburgunder Gebling

Let me say it from the outset: this was not an evening for scribbling down tasting notes. I was in a much too good a mood for that. I also do not know much about Alsatian and Austrian wines. But the evening confirmed one thing: one has to drink and taste a lot in oder to understand the intricacy of the various grape varieties and the wines. I promised myself to drink more wine from the two regions.

Domaines Schlumberger is a wine estate in Alsace. It was established in 1810 (these Europeans have awfully long traditions in wine making) and has 140 ha under vines, half of this area classified as “grand crus”. Schlumberger only vinifies his own grapes. Today, the sixth and the seventh generation of Schlumbergers run the estate. Much of the vineyards is organically farmed (60 ha organic and 30 ha biodynamic).

The Domaines Schlumberger Gewuerztraminer was semi-dry I would say but showed some very fine aromas and great balance. Also the Pinot Gris must have had some high residual sugar because I perceived it as almost sweet. Both wines went well with the Asian food. However, I liked the Sylvaner best. Unfortunately, I did not check the bottles to identify from which “terroir” the Schlumberger wines came from (there are 4 grand crus: Kitterle, Kessler, Saering and Spiegel) and the wine list is silent about their provenience. Maybe we drank only the “normal” wines (Les Princes Abbes) and not the ‘grand crus’.

The Sepp Moser Estate ( in Rohrendorf in the wine region of the Kremstal produces mainly white wines. The location Gebling has been used for vine cultivation since 1284 and is a steep south facing terraced vineyard. The Pinot Noir displayed the typical characteristics of the variety and the ‘terroir’ (hot days, coll nights during vintage time).

From the Pfaffl Wine Estate, located near Vienna in a region called “Weinviertel”, a Blauer Zweigelt was included in the tasting. Zweigelt is a red grape variety developed in Austria in 1922 and, of course, it bears the name of the developer (Fritz Zweigelt who should later became director of the Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterburg). Zweigelt is today the most widely grown red grape variety in Austria. Interesting is that the grape is also cultivated in the Niagara wine region of Ontario/Canada. The Pfaffl family cultivates about 30 ha of vineyards and goes back generations.

The Leth Estate is located in the village of Fels at the river of Wagram, Lower Austria and has about 40 ha under vines. The wine-plus website ( awarded the winery three stars. The estate has practiced organic viticulture for decades and produces mainly white wines (70%). We were lucky to taste two reds from Franz Leth’s cellar.

In fact after all the tasting I settled in the end for the ‘2004 Leth St. Laurent Reserve’, which I liked best. It is a full bodied red with a fruity flavour and a mellow finish. The grape variety originates from France and belongs to the same family as Pinot Noir. St. Laurent (also called Pinot St. Laurent) is an aromatic dark red grape with aromas of forest berries and black cherries. Today it is mainly planted in Austria and the Czech Republic (and a small area in Palatinate and Rheinhessen in Germany).

When we left, and we were among the last guests, there was nothing left of this wine and many others. My resolution for the evening was to try more wines from these two wine regions.

The Champa
Jl. Wuaya 1/50
Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta 12170

Dr. Loosen, I presume

May 11, 2008

Last night we went to dinner with our dear old friends Liz and Walter. After nibblies (as we say in Australia) at their home we proceeded to Cork and Screw, the very hip and extremely trendy restaurant in Jakarta.

The food was excellent as always. We had an Australian Shiraz with the meals and moved on to dessert. Three of us had crème brûlé; Liz had some kind of chocolate dessert. There were only three wines to choose from, two “half bottles” and a Riesling Spätlese and can you imagine from where? The Mosel!.

And what was it? I could not believe my eyes, a ‘2006 Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese’ for only about 33 €. We needed to have this wine. What a bargain. Usually one cannot get any Mosel wine here in Jakarta. I could have kissed the people from Cork and Screw and Vin +, the wine shop associated to the restaurant.

The empty bottle ‘2006 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese’, Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel, Mosel

I must admit that though I come from the Mosel, I have never had a bottle of Dr. Loosen’s wine ( He is such a famous vintner, sitting on all kinds of wine juries, all over the world. It had to come to that. I tasted his wine in Jakarta, a couple of thousand miles from home. The major German Riesling portal ( lists him as the top vintner of their top 10 wineries.

“Wehlener Sonnenuhr” is one of the prime terroirs (about 65 ha) on the Mosel, all on steep slopes. A sundial is to be found right among the vines and that gave the location its name.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr (source:

The wine has only 8% alcohol and was the perfect match with our dessert. Of course we drank it too young, but we had no choice, waiting was just not feasible. The wine displays and expressive nose, shows apple, lemon, almonds and nuts. The acids were well balanced and the full sweetness gives it a round and lingering finish. We all loved the wine.

When the waiter wanted to clear the table I told him my story: that I was from Trier, Mosel , not far away from where this wine came from and that I wanted to take the empty bottle home. “Tidak apa apa”, the kind man said, meaning “no worries” in Australian, and he gave me a Cork and Screw bag to carry the bottle.

How wonderful. If you happen to be in Jakarta one of these days, have a meal there; it’s certainly worth it: great place, great service, great food, great wines.

Back home again

March 15, 2008

Two weeks is a long time. My return to Jakarta had to be celebrated. We cracked a very special bottle. Last year at the Alexandra Food and Wine Show, Tim and Caroline Miller from the Henke Winery gave a bottle of ‘1997 Shiraz Cabernet’ to us when we all swapped bottles after the show.

I had brought it with me to Jakarta. We opened it and needless to say, it was delicious. Just the right wine for coming home. It’s a 84-16 blend. The wine is made in open fermenters in a mix of traditional and modern technology. Then it matures in American oak puncheons and is cellared for a couple of years before release. Henke wines are made in an old traditional Victorian style not easy to find these days.

The ‘1997 Shiraz Cabernet’ is a full bodied wine with an intense fruit character. One can almost taste that the cropping level is low and the wine is made from old vines.

Henke was the first vineyard and winery established in the Upper Goulburn Wine Region ( Its Shiraz and Cabernet vines were planted at Yarck on the lower slopes of the Black Ranges (at about 230 meter elevation) between 1968 and 1970. The first vintage was made by the founder, Herb Henke, in 1974. Unfortunately, Henke has no webpage, you have to make appointments by phone. It’s worth visiting them. Tim and Caroline Miller are lovely people and produce stunning wines. The countryside at Yarck is also lovely and only about 1 1/2 hours away from Melbourne.


The Henke Winery
175 Henke’s Lane
Yarck, Victoria 3719
Ph.: 03-57976277

9. Wine Rally – Wines for every day

March 8, 2008


Sorry folks, but this time it does not work. I cannot avoid to write pro domo. The wine I drink every day, is our own. I have to add that this only applies if we are in Glenburn, Victoria. In the past we had once the opportunity to import our own wine for private consumption in Jakarta. But ever since, due to the vagaries of importing into Indonesia, we were not in the position to establish Two Hills as a ‘house wine’ for everyday consumption.

At Two Hills Vineyard we have so far made two varietal (single vineyard) wines from our grapes:

– a single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (2000, 2001 and 2002 vintage) and
– a single vineyard Merlot (2001, 2004 and 2006 vintage)

Thomas Weber ( wrote the following tasting notes for the ‘2002 Sauvignon Blanc’:

“Dezent hellgruener Farbton, Holunder- und vor allem Stachelbeerenaromen vor einm rauchig minieralischen Hintergrund. Kraftvolle lebendige Saeure und ein langer fruchtiger Abgang.”

In English this might read as follows:

“Subtly light green hue, elderberry and especially gooseberry aromas before a smoky mineral background. Powerful lively acids and a long fruity finish.”

And the ‘2004 Merlot’ was described by Thomas as follows:

“Der blutrote Wein duftet aus einem eleganten ausdrucksvollen Koerper vielschichtig nach reifen Waldbeeren. Eine angenehme Saeure vor fein ausbalancierten kraeftigen Tanninen fuehrt zu einem langanhaltenden Finish.”

which translates into:

“From an elegant complex expressive body the dark red wine shows aromas of mature berries. Pleasant acidity before finely balanced tannins, leads to a long-lasting finish.”

Well, thats what Thomas wrote for a blind wine tasting in Trier last year. Since I drink it every day (unfortunately, when I’m in Australia only), usually with a meal (lunch or dinner), I lost the ability to describe the wine anyway.


This is were we drink most of our wine. On the space at the entrance, I hesitate to call it terrace, of our little house cum vineyard shed. Apart from drinking Two Hills wines, we drink our friends wines. Usually, we swap cases of 12 bottles. We swap with Gayle Jewson and Steve Sadlier.

Gayle has a small vineyard in front of her house in the Yarra Valley, in fact just a couple of acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Pinot is a “cleanskin” (Gayle has no label as yet) and it is called ‘Pip’s Paddock Pinot Noir’, a wine which can only be bought directly from Gayle.

The other house wine, we consume, is from Steve. His vineyard is called Nenagh Park. He is mainly a contract grower (about 9 ha under vines) for Yering Station and other well known wineries in the Yarra Valley. Steve’s Chardonnay is to die for, so is his Pinot Noir. He sells his wines (cleanskins) without label to friends and through a private network. Watch out for Nenagh Park in the future.

Visit us, and I will serve you all these wines. Promise.