The weather in April in France has been quite cold and rainy and the small buds that started growing during the warm days in March have been suffering night time frost in some parts on France, notably in Champagne, Burgundy and in the Loire valley. How big the damage will be is uncertain but according to the reports, it does not look too bad. And the rain, although it can be a nuisance, is very welcome in some parts of the country. Guillaume Dugas, wine make at the Prieuré de Montézargues in Tavel, for instance, wants more of it. “It is too dry right now”, he says. “It will be a problem for the vines during the hot summer”.
But as always, one can not really know how the vintage will turn out until the grapes are harvested, and fermented, and that will not be soon.
It has been a very busy start of the year for us. Sometimes we say to ourselves “this winter we will catch up on everything” but no, that does not happen.
We have had a huge project with our forthcoming book, a book on wine and the environment – including organic wines, biodynamic, natural etc. But now it is finished and it should be going to the printer in good time. We expect to launch it in August.
Another big project has been the planning of our newest wine tour destination: South America. Next you we will organise a wine tour to Chile and Argentina. Very exciting! We have been to South America several times before but this is the first tour that we have on our travel program to that continent. A lot of people have already told us that they are interested so we have good hopes of filling it up soon. This tour will also be available on our English language wine tour program. The program will soon be available. But you can already pencil in February 4-19 if you want to come with us.
A not quite as big a project, but still time consuming, has been to work on our social media strategy. A big word for something that to a large extent has been about creating four new Facebook pages (plus some other things too). We hope that you “like” them. Read more in the Brief.
And then we have our “regular” job of course.
The regular job will soon take us to a big tasting of “amphora wines”. There is an increasing number of wine producers that experiment with making wine in amphorae and we will taste them. Even the maker (the clay man?) will be there and tell us about the secrets of the terracotta casks.
Upcoming is also the Grand Jury de Saint Bacchus where we will be in the judging or jury panel. Lots of Roussillon wines there. Doing “jury duty” in wine competitions is always interesting. This year we unfortunately missed out on participating in the Concours Mondial, on of the world’s biggest wine competitions, where we sometimes judge. It is a great exercise to learn humility to taste wines totally blind as you do at the Concours Mondial. Do you think it is obvious to tell a Bordeaux from a Rhone from a South African from an Argentinian? Well, perhaps occasionally… But that is part of the fun. You learn new things all the time.
On to the Brief.
But before that: it is high time to book your wine tour for this autumn! Bordeaux, Tuscany, Champagne… Book it now!
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them!
What’s on at BKWine Tours
“World’s Top Wine Tours” – Travel + Leisure Magazine, on TravelAndLeisure.com
2012 wine tour program
- Bordeaux 19-23 September
- Tuscany 10-14 October
- Champagne 14-18 November
2013 wine tour program
- Chile & Argentina, 4-19 February 2013
- South Africa, 1-11 March 2013
Details soon to be published.
For more information please contact us on email or on phone (we’re on French time), or go to our wine travel site on www.bkwinetours.com!
“Many thanks for a fantastic trip. You are so keen to make everything the best for your guests and you are so knowledgeable about wine. A pleasure to travel with you.”, W-A. More wine tour customer testimonials here.
We also make custom designed wine tours – on-demand tours for you and a group of friends, for your company (maybe to scout new winegrowers?), for a special event… We can combine winery visits and wine touring with other activities: gastronomic workshops, visit to an oyster farm, truffles hunting, cheese making, and more. More info on the custom designed and bespoke BKWine wine tours and travel here!
Wine tours in Finnish
We also do wine tours in Finnish. And in German, Norwegian, Spanish…
Do you want the latest news and updates on our wine travel activity? Subscribe here! (Second alternative BKWineTours.com)
From the World of Wine
Britt’s Wine of the Month: Gran Teran 2007, Coronica, Istria, Croatia (in magnum)
The family Coronica came from Friuli in Italy when Istria was still a part of Austria-Hungary. The 20 hectare plot around the winery is now meticulously looked after by Moreno Coronica. The vineyards are organic and he only needs to add some organic fertilizer to keep the soil porous. He grows only local grapes, the white malvazija and the red teran and he places great importance in getting a good freshness in the wines. Teran is a grape that can be a bit rough and this Gran Teran 2007 is a brilliant example of the advantage of allowing teran wines to age a few years in the bottle. Now it is smooth without having lost the structure and the fruit is still fresh. The wine has spent some time in oak and now feels very balanced.
Neusiedlersee DAC becomes the 8th DAC appellation in Austria
Neusiedlersee is the latest addition to the Austrian “appellations”, DAC. On March 28 the Austrian agriculture ministry approved the promotion of Neusiedlersee to DAC. The Neusiedlersee DAC can be used already from the 2011 vintage so we will soon see bottles appearing on the market. Interestingly, this will be a DAC that is focussed mainly on red wines made from the zweigelt grape variety. Neusiedlersee DAC covers 7649 hectares This makes for eight DACs in Austria. The other are:
- Leithaberg and
Read more on it here: A new appellation in Austria: Neusiedlersee DAC
Good restaurants in Porto – some suggestions
Porto is a wonderful city to visit, but it is not, in our experience always easy to find a good restaurant. We were very happy with DOP, that we wrote about recently (see in the menu “Recommendations – Restaurants” on BKWine Magazine). Since we go to Porto every once in a while for the Douro Valley wine tours that we organise we asked for help from our Facebook friends. They had plenty of good recommendations for Porto restaurants: 19 names came up. Everything from swanky seaside restaurants to very traditional Portuguese tavernas. So if you plan to go to Porto (perhaps on one of our wine tours?) then you should definitely take a look at the list of restaurant recommendations for Porto!
James Bond’s original favourite drink
We read in Drink Business that alcoholic beverages are a frequent ingredient in the James Bond movies. No big news. However, maybe you would think that martini is the most frequent drink, seeing how well established Bond’s shaken-not-stirred-martini is. That is wrong however. Drink Business has counted, both in the books and in the movies, and the result is that champagne is mentioned 35 times and martini only 22 times, according to The Drinks Business.
When we last visited Bordeaux, with one of our wine tours, we mad a quick stop at Lillet in Podensac in the Graves region. Lillet is a very tasty but not so well known aperitif which has been made here since 1872. It is made from white Bordeaux wine, different spices, herbs and oranges. And where does James Bond enter into the picture? Well, in the first book that Ian Fleming wrote, Casino Royale, published in 1953, Bond orders a cocktail that he later calls Vesper (after the leading female character in the book). The cocktail is made out of vodka, gin and Kina Lillet, the original name for Lillet, the amount of quinine has later been reduced. Even though Bond seems to enjoy his Vesper (the cocktail) very much it is never mentioned again, in any of the books. A pity for Lillet!
The movie Casino Royale from 2006 is however true to the book and Bond orders a Vesper, the ingredients explained very thoroughly to the bartender. I am sure you remember the scene with the card game. And if I remember correctly the villain wants one too. If you come to Bordeaux, do try a Lillet Blanc. And the next time you order a cocktail, why not a Vesper? If nothing else to see if your bartender is in the know.
One of 900 million? Like us on Facebook!
Are you one of the 900 million people on Facebook? Then it would be nice if you “liked” our new Facebook pages. We actually have four of them:
www.facebook.com/BKWineMagazine – where we write ”editorial” things, for example on articles and other things on BKWine Magazine, our editorial site.
www.facebook.com/BKWineTours – This is about our wine tours. If you are curious about what’s on or want to know more about what happens on our wine tours, then this is for you! (With a Swedish language sister page: www.facebook.com/BKWineVinresor)
http://www.facebook.com/BKWinePhotography – this is all about photography. A lot of wine pictures. For example, the “Today’s Wine Picture”, every day we manage it. Don’t miss the Today’s Wine Picture! And other things around photography, ours and others’.
So, it would really be nice of you to Like our pages! And we would love to hear what you think about our “cover pages”! Went a bit of work into those.
Europe’s big wine countries are getting smaller
Since 2008, France, Italy and Spain have pulled up vineyards and this has resulted in a European vineyard decrease of 4%, according to La Vigne. A total of 160 550 hectares of wine-growing land have been pulled up which means the initial goal of 175 000 hectares was almost achieved. Most of the land was in Spain. 94 000 hectares of wine land, which is 9% of the Spanish total area, has disappeared. Italy has reduced its area with 28 500 hectares and France with 22 638 hectares.
The reason for this EU initiative is to try to become more competitive on the world market by getting rid of unprofitable vineyards. In France, 70% of the pulled out vineyards was in Languedoc-Roussillon which means that 6% of the area in the Languedoc has disappeared, most of it belonging to cooperatives.
10 grape varieties – 9 red and one white – account for 79% of the stocks pulled up in France: carignan, grenache, merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, alicante bouschet, cinsault, gamay , cabernet franc and chardonnay, according to statistics from www.franceagrimer.fr.
BKWine reporters at large – more, much more on wine
Early this year we “recruited” a team of wine lovers to help us cover more and better what happens in the world of wine, and in particular in Scandinavia. The Scandinavian market is peculiar in that all media attention is focussed on the monthly launches at the Systembolaget monopoly. Very few media bother about much else. At the same time there are many wine maker’s dinners, trade tastings, importers launch events and other things. But since we are ourselves based in Paris we can not report on all that. Se we recruited a small group of wine enthusiasts to help us do it. We have already published some 15 articles by our “BKWine reporters”. A few (too few) of those are also available to you, our English speaking readers:
- Col d’Orcia – a winery in Montalcino, Tuscany
- The Meerlust range of wines, including Rubicon back to 1991
- Portuguese wines from Bacalhôa and Burgundies from Bichot
We would love to publish more of it in English but it is a huge job to translate them that we can not do. (And we would also love to cover more of similar things in other countries…) So for the moment this is, for you dear English language reader, just a short introduction to our new team of BKWine reporters and a declaration of intent from our side that we will work harder to get more diversity in the world of wine! (And not only on the Swedish monopoly market.)
Two new appellations in Touraine: Oisly och Chenonceaux
Two new appellations in the Loire Valley are born on May 1. They are located in Touraine, the large region in the beautiful part of the Loire where most of the big, famous Loire chateaux are located. Touraine already has a number of sub-appellations and now it has two more: Touraine Oisly and Touraine Chenonceaux.
Touraine Chenonceaux is close to the famous Chateau de Chenonceau, one of the Loire Valley’s most well known chateaux. It originates from the early 1500 and is spectacularly built on the River Cher, a tributary of the Loire. Many different women have left their mark on the chateau, particularly Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II and Catherine de Médicis, his wife.
Touraine Chenonceaux will be available in both white and red version. The white is to be made of sauvignon blanc alone and the red with Cabernet franc and malbec (regionally known as cot). Overall, this new appellation has a total of 35 hectares. Touraine Oisly is smaller, only 16 hectares and the only variety permitted is sauvignon blanc.
Is the soil in these new appellations totally unsuitable for chenin blanc, the real gem of the central Loire valley? But Sauvignon blanc is probably easier to sell though. Sad story.
Lafite Rothschild 50 % cheaper than last year. A bargain?
In early April journalists and wine merchants tasted the new vintage, the 2011, during one week in Bordeaux. This is called the primeur tastings. The wines are not ready to drink yet, of course, they still have at least a year and probably more to spend in oak barrels, but this is the Bordeaux way of doing things. Later in April or in May/June the chateaux will announce their prices for the vintage. Château Lafite-Rothschild was the first of the premier grand cru classé this year. A bottle of Lafite 2011 sells to negoce for 350 € excluding VAT. The price to end consumer is thought to be, according to Vitisphere.com, at least 420 €. 350 euros is 50 % less than the primeur price of Lafite 2010. But in view of the sky-rocketing prices of top Bordeaux wines in recent years it may perhaps not be such a bargain anyway.
A wine blog to visit: Svenssonsmakaren
Bear with me for just a little bit. I am not crazy. Svenssonsmakaren is a Swedish wine blog but I do recommend that you go there and take a look. It is not easy to make pictures of wine bottles or glasses (or food), especially not if you are at a wine tasting or dinner. You just have to visit a few wine blogs to see it. But one who really succeeds is Svenssonsmakaren, David Lindén. Every time I look at his blog posts I am impressed by his photos; they are different from most things you see on other (wine) blogs. To start with they are usually technically correct, which in itself is unusual (how many deal correctly with white balance?). But that is perhaps not the most important thing. More important is the feeling in the photo. Svenssonsmakaren’s pictures have composition, light (perhaps the most important element), feeling, context and detail, originality and a rather particular style.
In truth, I go there mainly for the pictures. I am not really very keen on reading tasting notes or reading about “what we drunk tonight” so I skip many such blogs. But even on this point Svenssonsmakaren manages quite well. Although I do not like grey text on a dark background. (Don’t like dark backgrounds at all actually.) But that of course is of less interest to you, dear English speaking reader. So suffice to say, Go and visit Svenssonsmakaren and look at his photos. How does he manage to so systematically make brilliant pictures…? As far as I know he is not at all a professional photographer. A blog to visit! Svenssonsmakaren.blogspot.se By the way, the name means approximately “Mr John Doe tastes”. (This is the first article in a planned series on things worth reading and looking at in the wine blogger world.)
Feudi di San Gregorio Ristorante, Campania | BKWine Pick
You may think that you have taken a wrong turn or lost your way before you arrive. The restaurant, and winery, is at the end of a long winding road on a hilltop. This is both a winery and a restaurant. One of the regions most impressive on both counts. The restaurant was given one star in the Michelin Red Guide in 2009. It is run by the chef Paolo Barrale who trained with Heinz Beck (three Michelin stars) who also collaborated in the creation of the restaurant.
The location is on a hill crest with a beautiful view over the landscape. To get there you follow the winding road up and up and up. And then, when you think you are lost, you find it. A gleaming modern building with just as modern a restaurant. The cuisine is impressive. It is a mix of modern and traditional everything prepared with attention to detail and top quality. You can have a classic bruschetta to start with, but redesigned in a modern fashion. Or classic cheese filled pasta, but deep-fried and crunchy to capture all the flavours; or crunchy pork belly with a silky dollop of mashed potatoes. Etc. All is delicious, elegant and top quality.
The kitchen is adjoining the dining room with and open view so that you can watch the eight cooks working. A word about the wines and the winery: millions must have gone into building this gleaming installation with the latest technology. It is one of the leading wineries in the region with a penchant for modern-style wines. All in all it is definitely worth the long drive up the hill.
Ristorante Feudi di San Gregorio, Località Cerza Grossa (near Avellino), 83050 Sorbo Serpico, ph 0825 98 66 83, www.feudi.it
Excellent South African wines from Teddy Hall in Stellenbosch
When we were on our South African wine tour in March we had the opportunity to meet with Teddy Hall. Again we should say. We have met before and have had several occasions to taste his wines. He makes some excellent wine and Britt has chosen Teddy for this month’s BKWine Pick:
“Chenin blanc is one of my favourite grapes and it is a grape that is grown, at least to any great extent, only in the central Loire Valley and in South Africa. In South Africa chenin wines are getting better and better. One person who knows how to make good wines with chenin is Teddy Hall in Stellenbosch.”
Read Britt’s complete article here: Teddy Hall, Stellenbosch, South Africa | BKWine Pick
Beginning of the end for the primeur sales? Chateau Latour quits
Talking about primeur wines (previous note on Lafite), Château Latour has announced its intention to stop selling its wines en primeur, that is to say, in spring following the harvest. Vintage 2011 will be the last vintage they sell in this manner. Instead they will sell their wines when they are ready to be drunk. For some time there have been speculations in the trade about what was going on at Latour. Rumours have had it that the volumes “released” from Chateau Latour have been suspiciously low and people have been wondering why. This is perhaps the answer. The chateau has been stockpiling its own wines in the cellar to be able to offer more of somewhat older vintages to the market. What impact this will have and if others will follow, remains to be seen.
Château Margaux in an experimental mood
More on Bordeaux. They have been doing some interesting experiments at Château Margaux reveals The Wine Sleuth, an interesting wine blog. At a tasting in London Paul Pontallier, director and wine maker at the chateau, talked about his experiments with organic and biodynamic wine growing on part of the estate. The participants tasted blind three wines, vinified in the same way but grown either conventionally, organically or biodynamically. The group’s preferences were evenly divided between the organic and biodynamic wine whereas the Wine Sleuth herself, Dnise Medrano, immediately fell for the biodynamic wine. Château Margaux is also experimenting with screw cap. Read more about it here and learn what a ”screwcapped” (as opposed to “corked”) wine is: WineSleuth.wordpress.com.
Restaurant Cinq-Mars, Paris | BKWine Pick
Le Cinq-Mars is a typical, friendly restaurant du quartier where people working in the offices all around come and have lunch and local residents have dinner. The obligatory rickety wooden chairs, wooden table, nice ISO wine tasting glasses (French restos are generally not very good at glasses), but with a touch of design and chic. We are, after all, in the posh 7 arrondisement. But it is far from pretentious, on the contrary: simple, friendly and good cooking. We had an excellent today’s special that was a pintade (guinea fowl) with luscious mashed potatoes and chanterelles mushrooms. Delicious. Main courses are between 15€ and 32€ (lightly grilled tuna, veal cutlet, sea bream with creamy spinach…). A well chosen selection of wines – not big but reasonable. And you can even drink the wine “on a string”; you drink as much as you want from the bottle and they measure “with a string” how much you’ve had and pay for that only. The other big benefit of the restaurant Cinq-Mars is its location: just behind the Musée d’Orsay but far from the tourist crowds at the front. Restaurant Cinq-Mars, 51 rue de Verneuil, Paris 7, ph 01 45 44 69 13, http://cinq-mars-restaurant.com/
Quality Beaujolais, Domaine des Terres Dorées | BKWine Pick
In the March Brief we said that Beaujolais needs promoting. And we would like to do our part. Because when a Beaujolais wine is of good quality it is really a very pleasant wine. One of our favourite producers in the area, Domaine des Terres Dorées, recently launched two wines at the Systembolaget in Sweden. If you are not living in Sweden you might be able to find the domaine in your wine shop or if you happen to be in the southern part of Beaujolais, very close to Lyon actually, which is where Jean-Paul-Brun, the owner, has his winery. He is in the village of Charnay-en-Beaujolais. Definitely a wine that we recommend that you try
Artist’s interpretation of Wine Personality of the Year
Britt had the honour to be named “Wine Personality of the Year” last year but the world’s biggest wine tasting association, the Munskankarna club. One of the things that The Profile is subject to is being depicted by the brilliant wine comics drawer Ulf Jansson (who has published a book with his works on Bengt Bouquet). Britt did not escape that. Ulf has a talent for exactly capturing the antics of wine lovers and wine nerds and I think he captured excellently the spirit of what Britt does. (I particularly like all the stickers on the bag!) We have not previously shown you the cartoon so here it is!
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This post is also available in: Swedish