Country inns in Germany: Forsthaus Altenhof, Trier

September 10, 2012

The city of Trier – photo taken from Kockelsberg

During the month of July, we spend some glorious days in my home town Trier. On a splendid Sunday, wen went to have brunch with music at a country inn called Altenhof, at the edge of the forest surrounding the city.

A leisurly walk through a lovely forest (mainly sweet chestnut trees) of about one or one and a half hours will get you there.

Signpost in the forest

So what is the place like, you might ask? Well, it is a former forester’s lodge cum country inn, which was built in 1874 on the site of an old farm going back to 1406.

Country inn – Forthaus Altenhof

In my youth the place was a popular destination for family outings to enjoy a drink or two in the company of family and friends.

We went there for a breakfast brunch with music. The duo Wollmann and Brauner was playing blues and jazz.

We got there quite early, and the garden of the Altenhof was still empty. But it should fill up fast. Many families made the pilgrimage and brought their young children as well as their old parents along. In the early afternoon, it was difficult to find an empty table.

Wollmann and Brauner Duo

We were craving for some blues our most favourite music, reminiscing about lovely live music events in Yarra Glen and Healesville, Victoria. The two musicians did not disappoint us. They played among others some of the classic songs from Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton; so just the right stuff. It was great music and we had great fun.

Viez – local apple & pear cider

One of the specialities is the apple and pear cider called Viez in the local German dialect. I love it. It is usually very dry (one could say sour), and so it should be.

Riesling by Weingut Linden

My wife preferred the Rieslnig wine on offer by Weingut Linden, Mosel. The ‘2010 Riesling Spaetlese dry’ is a very solid wine, and displays the wonderful character of the Mosel terroir and climate.

Riesling Spaetlese

We also had food, hearty German delicacies. Unfortunately, I have no photo of the various dishes we consumed from morning to afternoon. But rest assured you get value for money. These were the best prices offered to me while I was in Germany.

It was such a pleasant day. The ambience was just wonderful. Everybody was relaxed. Because of the spatious surroundings, children could play ball, horse rider could tether their horses, people could walk around etc. If you have the time and opportunity visit this extraordinary place.

Forsthaus Altenhof
Aacher Weg 86
D-54293 Trier

Family dinner – Little Yering Cabernet Sauvignon

May 13, 2011

To find a wine for every day which goes with many different dishes, nothing fancy, just for a family meal, can be challenging. To my great surprise, Yering Station Winery from Yarra Glen in the Yarra Valley in Victoria produces just that kind of stuff with its “Little Yering” brand. Moreover, here in Bangkok you can get a bottle of Yering wine for a decent price.

Established in 1838 Yering Station was Victoria’s first vineyard. That’s a awful long tradition in an Australian context. I like the place, the winery and the cellar door as well as the restaurant. Despite the fact that the vineyards are mostly planted on flat lands, one has a good view from the terrace.

2008 Little Yering Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz

The ‘2008 Little Yering Cabernet Shiraz’ is a blend of the two red grape varieties, an Australian classic so to say. It cost about 18 A$ if bought at the cellar door. In Bangkok you can have it from Villa Market for about 560 Bath, about 13 Euro.

The wine is aged in mainly old oak casks after it has undergone a malolactic fermentation. The vines are of medium age (7-11 years). I like the intense taste of red berries and the spiciness provided by the Shiraz grapes.

Dark red colour

We had ‘malanzane alla parmigiana’ for dinner. The photo below does not do justice to this delicious Italian dish.

Melanzane alla parmigiana

Music at the Yarra Glen Grand Hotel

February 27, 2011

The Yarra Glen Grand Hotel

One of the great things in the Australian countryside is the many occasions live music can be enjoyed. From blues to country and western to blue grass and hilly billy as well as jazz and rock, all music styles are on offer.

The last Sunday before my departure I had the chance to listen to Broderick Smith, an icon figure in Australian music and well known for his involvement with the Dingoes, a country rock band from the 1970s. He played together with a guitar player in the Yarra Glen Grand Hotel.

The music was great and I had to buy a CD from Broderick. The atmosphere in the pub was good too. Friends drifted in an out. I missed Australia already before I even left it behind. I love these Sunday afternoons with live music at the pub.

Broderick Smith and his mate

Sauvignon Blanc by Alan Johns, Yering Farm Wines

February 23, 2011

Our girls had played touch rugby the whole day and were very hungry when they came home. It was a wonderful mild tropical day, with sunshine and blue sky. Why not have a Spanish meal: Paella came to mind.

Paella in the pot

Paella on the plate

We had just the right wine to go with the spicy and robust Spanish dish. From our Christmas holidays on the farm in Glenburn we had brought with us a bottle of ‘2010 Sauvignon Blanc’ from the Run Rabbit Run series of Yering Farm.

2010 Sauvignon Blanc by Yering Farm Wines

Alan Johns the ower-wine maker of Yering Farm is also making our own wines (Two Hills Merlot). In 2010 Alan bought our Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and these grapes went into the ‘2010 Sauvignon Blanc’ of the Run Rabbit Run series. So we were quasi drinking our won stuff. I do not know what other grapes went into this vintage but I am very proud that Alan made such a good wine with it.

The back label

The Sauvignon Blanc is just the way I like it, fresh, young, zesty, full of flavour with fibrant acids and a good finish. I wish I would have access to this wine here in Bangkok. I urge you to try it if you can.

Yering Farm Wines
St Huberts Rd
Victoria 3770 Australia
Tel.: +61 3 9739 0461
Fax: +61 3 9739 0467


A Sunday in April: Music at the Yarra Glen Hotel

April 28, 2010

The Yarra Glen Hotel

Sunday live music is one of the highlights in the Yarra Valley. We used the opportunity twice listening to music at the Yarra Glen Hotel. On April 11, it was the Detonators who entertained us.

The Detonators at the Yarra Glen Hotel

It’s something for young and old, and Sunday afternoon is just the right time. I just love it. Needless to say that you can taste local wines from the Yarra Valley.

The good life on the farm

April 22, 2010

We have hearty good food when on the farm in Glenburn. The beautiful autumn weather allowed us to sit outside and enjoy pasta dishes, meats, salads and other rural food in the mid-day sun. And we all love Italian cuisine.

Zucchini pasta

Insalata caprese

We also have wine with the food. Often we just open a bottle of Two Hills Merlot. But more often than not, we are tasting wines made by our friends in the wine industry. The cucchini pasta we had for instance with a bottle of 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Steve Sadlier’s vineyard, Nenagh Park, in Yarra Glen.

It has no label as yet, what Australians call “clean skins”, but it’s a ripper of a wine, not in the New Zealand style but rather the one of Sancerre, France. Epicurus would give an arm and a leg to be with us, for sure.

Steve’s Sauvignon Blanc

Backyard vintner

April 20, 2010

Pips Paddock, Springvale, Yarra Glen

The current overproduction of wine grapes is a great worry for many of the small, medium as well as large producers. Especially for fruit growers the outlook is bleak. Nobody wants to buy your grapes if the slightest deviation from “perfect” is detectable. They just walk away from you and let you sit on the fruit. It’s a buyers market.

However, there are options. One is to make your own wine. Not much equipment is required and space is usually available, even if it is on the back porch of the house.

The new stainless steel tanks on the back porch

My friend Gayle Jewson from Springvale, Yarra Glen did exactly that. The grapes were hand picked and sorted, pressed, destemmed and dumped in new stainless steel vats for fermentation.

When we arrived I tasted the “brew” for the first time. Two weeks later I had a second tasting opportunity. What a difference two weeks can make? Amazing. I think Gayle’s Pinot Noir is on the right track and her Chardonnay is just lovely. Lock out for Pips Paddock Pinot and Chardonnay this year. There is only very limited supply. Visit Gayle on her farm and/or order by phone.

Tasting if fun

The backyard vintner in action

Restaurant Review: Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company in Yarra Glen

April 19, 2010

Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company in Yarra Glen

Where to go for lunch on a Sunday in the Yarra Valley? Ample choice it seems. But many of our choices turned out to be fully booked, to be precise the wineries cum restaurant were. So why not going to a beer place? Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company in Yarra Glen came to mind. They had seats available (online booking available!!) and off we went.

A beer tasting paddle

We started with a beer tasting. For this purpose a “tasting paddle” is available with six different beers. As a German I was pleased to find some German style beers such as the ‘Hargreaves Hill Hefeweizen’ and the ‘Hargreaves Hill Kellerbier’. But the paddle also includes classic English (Hargreaves Hill ESB, Hargreaves Hill Stout and and Hargreaves Hill Pale Ale) and Belgium style beers (Hargreaves Hill Abbey Dubbel). I liked the ‘Kellerbier’ best.

The beer tasting notes

The various aromas and tastes are neatly described on the beer tasting menu. Amazing what you can taste in a beer. I just loved the experience. This was a good start to a Sunday lunch, I thought.

The food was equally good. Below you find pictures of what we ordered. Needless to say all the dishes were delicious. The service was excellent. I loved the salmon on the bed of herbs and veggies.

The seafood pasta

Some side dishes

Slow cooked pork belly

My salmon dish

The desserts were equally delicious.

Simon Walkenhorst, the “brew master” and one of the co-owners

At the end of the meal I went over to the bar and asked one of the owners, Simon Walkenhorst, the micro brewer, if I could take a photo for my blog to which he kindly agreed.

From my friend Steve Sadlier I learned later that the brewery had burned down in last years February bushfire and that Simon and his partner Beth had lost their house and all their possessions. Now the beer is brewed in Lylidale. The quality of the “hops drink” has certainly not suffered. We had a great time at the Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company.

The good news for the wine aficionados is that Simon offers a fine selection of local wines. Among them the fine wines of boutique vintner Timo Mayer and the Mayer Vineyard of the Yarra Valley. I am a fan of the vintner and his wines . Try them if you can.

Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company
25 Bell St
Yarra Glen VIC 3775, Australia

The last sip – a Delatite Riesling

April 18, 2010

Leaving Two Hills Vineyard in Glenburn is always a sad affair. The evening before departure we bid farewell to our old friend Steve and our family, Michael and Helen. On Sunday morning we said good bye to our neighbours, Hillary and Ken. Then we drove to Yarra Glen where we left the car at Gayle’s farm. We had a morning tea, moved the luggage into her car and off we went to Melbourne Airport. Gayle dropped us there and we did the usual stuff.

Fortunately, there was a nice bar called “Plonk”, right next to gate No. 4 from which we were to depart for Bangkok. We went through their wine list and chose a wine from our wine region (the Upper Goulburn Wine Region), a ‘2008 Delatite Riesling’. What a delight this wine was, fresh and fruity with citrus and passion-fruit aromas, a good structure and a long finish. The waiter was particularly charming. Here we said our final good bye. Reminiscing about the past is an old man’s vice, but the memories we took with us are treasures of a very special kind.

Sunday live music at the Yarra Glen Hotel

April 14, 2010

Live music schedule at the Yarra Glen Hotel

We just love live music. Many places in the Australian countryside offer such occasions. The Yarra Glen Hotel is one of them. This time it was the Leslie Avril Band which stepped in because the Chorlie Owen Band could not make it. When we arrived they played a country piece which did not go well with us. But we were rewarded for our patience. The Leslie Avril Band could also play blues, rock and many other music styles. I loved the violinist, she was just great. It was a very pleasant Sunday afternoon.

The Leslie Avril Band

The Leslie Avril Band in jazz mood

In the glasses

PS: I needed to cleanse my palate and drank beer.