BKWine Brief nr 107, July 2012
Five hectares is not much. But apparently that is the total planted acreage of the folle noire grape in France. The relative folle blanche is much more common. It is widely planted in the Cognac region. It is also grown in the Loire Valley under the name gros plant. But folle noire has just five hectares. Nevertheless it produces a delicious wine we discovered the other day. As often, we bought a mixed case of bottles from a wine merchant (Vinivert on the internet), much of it from to us unknown producers. One of the bottles was called Rackham (red wine of course as every Tintin lover knows) and it was made from folle noire. An exciting discovery. Quite light and fruity, even juicy, red berries, a little bit like Beaujolais but more body and less flowery aromatic. Delicious. Another bottle in the random selection, from the same producer (Laurent Cazottes), was a white made from mauzac rosé (but the wine was white). Mauzac (blanc) is relatively common in the south west but we had never heard of mauzac rosé. Exciting! The name of the wine was Adèle and it was superbly delicious. A steal for the price. (So don’t tell anyone!)
There is a club called The Century Club, if memory serves me right, where you can become a member once you have tasted one hundred different grape varieties. Not as hard as one might imagine actually.
There are a lot of exciting grape varieties that deserve more fame. Italy has almost made it a speciality with strange varieties and they even have a wine fair with unusual varieties there. France is a bit behind in this but more and more producers are starting to launch wines from unusual or traditional (but almost forgotten) grape varieties.
Unfortunately the appellation rules that we live with today is a big block for this development. Most appellation rules both in France and in Italy and in other countries force all wines into a common mould where only a small selection of grape varieties are permitted. That makes it difficult to make, and sell, a wine made from e.g. folle noire or mauzac rosé! But as long as the wine producers think that they will sell more with the appellation rules and as long as wine consumers don’t dare to try unknown wines, unknown districts, and unknown grape varieties we will have to live with the appellation straight-jackets or dictatorships! Perhaps someone should start a new rebel movement?: Free the wines! Down with the appellations! Now would be the moment to do it, just a few days after July 14, Bastille Day, when the French monarchy was overthrown…
Until then we will have to continue with the underground propaganda. To promote more unusual grape varieties and different wines! Plant more folle noire (just the name!), mauzac rosé and others!
So let me suggest:
- Start making a list with the different grape varieties that you have tried. I think you will qualify for The Century Club faster than you think!
- Send us your comments or write a comment on BKWine Magazine, once this text is online! Tell us about your discoveries!
Have a nice summer! (no irony intended)
Britt & Per
PS: Do you know someone who might be interested in our new wine tours to South Africa and to Chile-Argentina, or South Africa? Please let them know about our new programs!
PS 2: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief!
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!
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…
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From the World of Wine
Making wine in amphorae? Yes, definitely!
The amphora is back. The ancient way of making and storing wine in clay amphora, like the Greeks and the Romans did, is high fashion today. Although the number of amphorae users is quite low they are very much talked about and as they often belong to the natural wine movement they have received a lot of attention lately. And some of them deserve the attention they get. Read the full article here: Wine producers have started making wine in amphora. Again.
The burning issue again: sulphur
In our March Brief we wrote that the habit of burning sulphur inside oak barrels to disinfect them is in danger of being banned. Because sulphur tablets are classified as biocides you need an authorization to be allowed to sell them. And this authorization is expensive. Now things look a bit brighter, according to La Vigne. Wine professionals in France, Spain and Portugal have jointly come up with 400 000 euro and an application to the EU Commission in Brussels will now be submitted. Do we hear a collective sigh of relief from all barrel using producers? Read more www.lavigne-mag.fr
Wine events calendar
Finally we have it up and running again, our wine events calendar. In it you can find dates for wine fairs, wine tastings, and other types of wine events. You find our wine events calendar here. Send us an email if you have something that you want us to put on the calendar. We also have a calendar with an overview of all our wine tours that you can find here.
Britt’s Wine of the Month: Ares Blanc 2010 from Le Conte des Floris in Languedoc
Le Conte des Floris is a small, high quality estate in Languedoc, in the village of Caux, close to Pezenas. Daniel Le Conte des Floris is a relative newcomer to the business, he started his vineyard in 2000, but he is a quick learner. His wines are superb and here I would like to highlight one of his white wines made from the unusual grape variety carignan blanc. For Ares Blanc 2010 Daniel uses also a little marsanne and the wine is full bodied and fat without losing freshness. The aromas are exotic fruit and ripe apples; there is a hint of oxidation (Daniel is very much a non-interventionist) which only adds to the wine’s attractiveness. Price approx 13.50 euro.
On the travelog travel blog
You do read our travel blog, don’t you? You really should. With info around wine travel (not only our own) and other fun things.
- Fantastic Sicily – new wine travel destination!
- James Halliday’s Wine Companion on BKWine wine tours. James Halliday is probably Australia’s most famous wine writer. He has written several books and publishes a wine magazine, the Wine Companion. An Australian writes on wine tours to South America and South Africa organised by Swedes living in Paris… Only continent that is missing is Asia!
- Travel calendar with wine and food tours
You can even subscribe to the wine travel blog if you want. Good thing to do for the passionate traveller and wine drinker!
Au Nouveau Nez: an excellent Paris wine bar & shop with natural, organic and biodynamic wines
We made a very pleasant discovery in the 20th arrondissement in Paris the other day. It is a wine shop/wine bar called Au Nouveau Nez. You are greeted by Agnès, who runs the place, and you instantly feel at home. It is open as a wine shop all day and from 6 pm you can also have a glass of wine with charcuterie or cheese of very good quality. Lovely Saint Nectaire for instance.
Read the full article, including two videos with commentary by Britt: Au Nouveau Nez, “natural” wine shop / wine bar in Paris | BKWine Pick
Puglia is not only Primitivo but also many other excellent wines
“Apulia Best Wine” took place on June 12-17 in Apulia, or Puglia, with around 50 wine journalists from twenty different countries invited to taste the new vintages, the primeurs, of the wines made from the local grape varieties: negroamaro, primitivo, and nero di troia.
BKWine’s Åsa Johansson was there as one of the few Scandinavian tasters and reports on the event: Apulia an introduction: not only red wines but also rosé and white
Should ”planting rights” be abolished or not?
“Planting Rights” is an archaic system by which winegrowers are not allowed to plant new vines (extend their vineyards) unless they have “planting rights”. Without these “rights” nothing can be planted. It has been in place for many years in the big wine producing countries in Europe, to some extent as counterpart to the government subsidies to unsuccessful winemakers (who cannot sell their wines). Both those aspects of agricultural policy will be abolished according to what has been agreed by all countries in the EU. There is unfortunately a strong movement in some wine production circles to try and make the system with planting rights stay. We think that the system should be abolished, as has already been agreed. Here is why: Why the system of Planting Rights should be abolished
Wine marketing or luxury silliness: Penfolds’ The Ampoule
In marketing you can find a lot of very strange and curious ideas, not least in the wine sector since wine marketing is very restricted in most countries. But the latest idea from Penfolds must be high up on the list among the most silly things and most over the top ideas. Or have I become too sensitive? Penfolds has just launched something they call “The Ampoule”. It is a wine bottle, or perhaps a “glass ampoule”, filled with wine. The price for a bottle, an ampoule, is A$168 000 (around £100 000). Read our full commentary here: When marketing goes over the top and becomes grotesque: Penfolds’ “The Ampoule”
Concrete Chic – fermentations among the vat makers
More and more producers are rebuilding their cellars and are replacing stainless steel vats with concrete fermentation vats. And some of those who couldn’t afford to buy stainless steel vats and had to make do with their old concrete vats are quite happy today because they realize that concrete has a lot of advantages. Vitisphere writes about this new trend and the company DV Tec Vinicole that manufactures concrete fermentation tanks. I looked them up on their website and was amazed by the design of certain vats. See their vat catalogue and their site: www.dvtec-vinicole.com/
Yes, one really should drink more Portuguese wines!
As if one needed convincing! We made an interview some time back (quite some time) with Sarah Ahmed on why Portuguese wines are so interesting. She had a whole bunch of good arguments. Watch the entire video interview with Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective, here: 5 reasons why Portuguese wines are great with Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective | BKWine TV
One way to make sure that one does drink more Portuguese wines is to come on one of the wine tours to Portugal organised by BKWine.
Montecucco: a newish Tuscan region gains DOCG and starts to make its mark
When talking about the wines of Tuscany it is easy to forget that there are much more than the three big names, Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. That would be a mistake. There are many more exiting wines to discover in Tuscany. A (relative) newcomer among the Tuscan wine district is Montecucco in southern Tuscany.
BKWine’s Åsa Johansson reports from a trip to Montecucco in Tusccany in this article.
Britt’s Wine of the Month # 2 : Domaine des Granges de Mirabel 2010, Michel Chapoutier, Vin de Pays des Coteaux de l’Ardèche
This is a very pleasant viognier from well known Rhône Valley producer Michel Chapoutier. He is based in Tain l’Hermitage but for this wine he has moved over to the other side of the river Rhône, to the beautiful department of Ardèche. This is not your typical viognier. It is less aromatic, which is why I like it so much, but it still has nice flowers and apricots on the nose and a full, fat finish. 10 euro at our local Monoprix store.
A different kind of flight simulator: world’s first tractor simulation machine for canopy management!
The Maison des Vins de Sancerre has just created what is, as far as I know, the world’s first simulator for rognage, canopy management. As opposed to flight simulators, it is not, as I initially thought, meant to train professionals. Instead it is a fun way for anyone who visits the Maison des Vins de Sancerre to try out and test drive a vineyard tractor and get a taste of what it is to be a vigneron. I tested it recently when I was there. Watch the wild ride on video and read more: World première: “trim the vines with tractor” simulator
Château Franc-Mayne, Saint Emilion Grand Cru | BKWine Pick
This is a small and beautiful estate, situated very close to the pretty town of Saint Emilion. The wines here, made with merlot as the main grape variety, are classic Bordeaux wines that age beautifully for at least 12-15 years. We had a Franc Mayne 1995 for dinner the other day and it was delicious. Elegant and a bit light bodied. We found cedar wood on the nose, freshness in the fruit and a good tannin structure. A true Bordeaux in character.
Franc Mayne is on the lime stone plateau of Saint Emilion and as a few others of its neighbours it has a marvellous and quite unique cellar which used to be an old quarry. The chateau also has a small luxury hotel with beautiful rooms, all designed differently. You can even sleep in a tree house!
Will you also come to Turkey to taste wine in November?
The European Wine Bloggers Conference (apparently has changed name to The Digital Wine Communications Conference but is still EWBC for short) will take place in Izmir in Turkey in November. It is a fun event that brings together a wide variety of people who are closely or vaguely involved in communication around wine online, for example wine bloggers (but not only!). The conference is two days but you have the opportunity to also participate in pre- and post discovery trips (sponsored!) to various Turkish wine and culture regions. But I found it quite hard to get a grip on how best to plan my participation since I found the info around the conference, well, not very clear. So I made a more straight forward (I think) overview to help me, and to help you (!) if you are coming: European Wine Bloggers Conference in Izmir, Turkey. Are you as confused as I? Hope to see you there!
A Portuguese winery in Mendoza: Finca Flichman
Finca Flichman is one of the wine producers in Mendoza with active European involvement. Sogrape has continued to invest in the bodega since the acquisition in 1997 and focused on improving the quality of the wines. Britt tells the story and talks to the winemaker Luis Cabral de Almeida. Read her full (long) article here: Finca Flichman – a Portuguese in Mendoza
Curious to know more about Argentinean (and Chilean) wines? BKWine organises a wine tour to Chile and Argentina in February 2013 that will show you some of the best there is in South America. More info on BKWineTours.com.
Haslemere Wine Fest on 15 September
Apparently they have become pretty good at making wine in England these days. I haven’t had the opportunity to try any of the recent wines myself but if you are interested (I do hope you are!) then you can taste a wide range of wines from Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire on Saturday 15 September at the Haslemere Wine Fest. it will feature for example: Bluebell Vineyard, Breaky Bottom, Bolney Wine Estate, Danebury Vineyard, Davenport Vineyard, Fernhurst Estate, Henners, Jenkyn Place, Nutbourne Vineyards, Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Stopham Estate, Tinwood Estate, Upperton Vineyard, Wickham Estate. An occasion not to miss! More info and tickets (£10) here: http://www.wine-navigator.com/
Verona restaurant special
This month we propose to you a Verona restaurant special. Verona is a popular tourist destination, not least since it is the centre for the wine regions in Veneto: Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino, Gambellara, and the nowadays so popular and powerful amarone wines. Here is a selection of Verona restaurant, perhaps to try out next time you come on a wine tour with BKWine to Italy?
Pizzeria Du de Cope| BKWine Pick
It is very crowded, very busy. It is very likely that they will say “we’ll have a table for you in 20 minutes” and you will have (!) to go and have an aperitif somewhere. Unless you have booked a table of course. This is a simple corner pizzeria at its best. Even though it is over crowded the service is friendly and attentive. They serve great pizzas but also salads (caprese, mozzarella,…) and other uncomplicated dishes. The wine selection is OK; you’re not expecting miracles in a place like this. Guests are young, or family, or people who just want a good pizza. A busy, noisy, friendly, good pizza place! Located on a side street that is not easy to find between Piazza Bra and Piazza delle Erbe.
Pizzeria Du de Cope, Galleria Pellicciai 10, 37121 Verona, ph 045 59 55 62, http://www.pizzeriadudecope.it
Enoteca Zero 7, Verona restaurant | BKWine Pick
Enoteca Zero 7 is a small wine bar, café and wine shop. Will find it around the corner on a side street from Corso Porta Nuova just outside the Portoni della Bra. The perfect place to have a glass of wine before you walk into the old city for dinner, or just a quick espresso on your way. It is also a wine shop so the wine selection is substantial (but not necessarily by the glass). There have even won a Gambero Rosso prize for wine bars: “aperitivo dell’anno”! (They are affiliated with the restaurants Pizzeria Du de Cope, and Trattoria Al Capitan della Cittadella on the square just behind).
Enoteca Zero 7, Vicolo Ghiaia 2, Verona, ph 045 92 35 180, http://www.enotecazero7.it/
La Pigna Ristorante Osteria, Verona restaurant | BKWine Pick
La Pigna is a charming traditional style Italian restaurant, just a touch more towards elegant rather than rustic. It is on a street also called La Pigna (the pine cone) in the historic city centre towards the Duomo, a “safe” distance beyond Piazza delle Erbe to avoid the worst crowds. The cooking is typically Veronese. Starters can be charcuteries, a salad, or why not a mixed plate with a bit of everything, including two types of polenta (regional!) and Gorgonzola. You have pastas that are copious and delicious: with duck sauce, tomato and spicy sausage and other choices. Main courses (if you don’t limit yourself to starter and pasta…) are a selection of Veronese meat dishes. Starters are around 5-10 €, pastas 8-15€, main courses a bit more. They have a good wine list with wines from all over Italy, with a focus on Veneto wines of course. We have tried an excellent refosco from Friuli Venezia Giulia, very nice fresh fruit, very good value for 15€. La Pigna is very much a family affair with La Mama in the dining room and the son in charge of the wines. He is quite a wine fanatic so you risk getting caught in all sorts of wine discussions if you start talking wine…
La Pigna Ristorante Osteria, Via Pigna 4, 37121 Verona
Trattoria ai Piloti, Verona restaurant | BKWine Pick
Trattoria ai Piloti is a fish restaurant, which is not easy to find in Verona. It is on the corner of the San Zeno square (a charming square with an impressive church 10 minutes walk outside the old city centre). You can sit outside, either in front on the square or in the garden they have behind the restaurant, or in the dining room inside. The cuisine is quite straight forward with several different types of fish and seafood to choose from. Try their speciality, the fritto misto, that is a selection of different types of deep-fried fish, excellent if you like fried fish (only served for two), or tonno tagliata (tuna served in slices), lightly grilled tuna, polipo that is a whole (!) grilled octopus, half a crab, langoustines and much more. They also have various types of pasta of course, as well as a few token meat dishes. Fish is generally not cheap in Italy and hear you expect to pay between 18 and 25 euros for a main course. The wine list is decent, but not exceptional and reasonably priced.
Trattoria ai Piloti, Piazza San Zeno 24, 37123 Verona (San Zeno district), ph. +39 045 597348, http://www.aipiloti.it/
Osteria Le Vecete Ristorante, Verona restaurant | BKWine Pick
The restaurant Osteria le Vecete is an old-style classic Italian taverna. A touch rustic, a touch gastronomy, a touch friendly. A good mix. The restaurant is bang in the centre of Verona, between Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza Bra, but on a small side street that you will have to look for. It is a good thing that it is hidden on a small street behind the tourist sites. That’s perhaps why it has kept a genuine style and a quality cuisine. The atmosphere is a bit like an old restaurant in the country: dark wood interior, red and white chequered napkins, rickety wooden chairs, not much space between the tables, bustling. But that also makes it feel a bit like “real” Italy and not the tourist district in Verona. They claim it is the oldest osteria in Verona… The cuisine is traditional Veronese and a bit from all over Italy. You can have some simple sandwiches or classic pasta dishes or go for the meat stews and roasts. The restaurant also has a claim for fame for the wine list (“specialità enogastonomiche”) although we have not had the chance to explore that side enough to say. Two hundred wines to choose from in bottle and quite a few by the glass.
Ristorante Osteria Le Vecete, Specialità Enogastronomiche, Via Pellicciai 32a, 37121 Verona, 045 59 47 48, http://www.grupporialto.it/levecete.html
Ristorante Fratelli la Bufala, Verona | BKWine Pick
They have the tagline “pizzaioli emigranti” and they probably have a large emigrated family: It is actually a chain of restaurants that exists in more than 20 cities. We are not fans of chain restaurants – they tend to be impersonal – but this one we do recommend. We have only visited the Fratelli la Bufala restaurant in Verona and we have almost (see below) always been very satisfied. It is a “simple” pizzeria and meat restaurant. The “emigranti” part probably comes from that it originates from the south of Italy where they have the buffalos that give us the real mozzarella. We have almost always had pizza (and perhaps pasta) when at the Fratelli’s and it has always been excellent. Looking at people trying the meat dishes they seem very happy with it too. It is generally a young crowd eating in the restaurant. Mostly (see below) very friendly, helpful and relaxed service. Very friendly prices to. Simple, quick, easy-going. Wine choice that is OK for this level of a restaurant. Another big benefit: it is only a stone’s throw from the famous Romeo & Juliet balcony, further away on the same street, but a bit difficult to find, hidden in a small alley. Look for the sign on the sidewalk otherwise you will miss it. So it is far in atmosphere but not in distance from the tourist haunt restaurants on Piazza delle Erbe. [However, last time we were there the atmosphere was quite different: pizzas still good but staff not very friendly or attentive and the wine list was minuscule… Perhaps a temporary lapse? Give us your feedback if you go there.)
Fratelli la Bufala, Via Leoni, Verona, 045 800 1240, http://www.fratellilabufala.eu/
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