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News from BKWine
BKWine offers you two possibilities to go wine travelling this autumn:
| Wine Tour to Bordeaux, October 5-9, 2011
For a wine lover a trip to Bordeaux is a must! In Bordeaux you find world famous châteaux and world famous wines but also a lot of new exciting initiatives (less famous but maybe more important for the future of Bordeaux!) and young enthusiastic wine makers.
On this trip we will visit both some big, famous Grand Cru Classé-châteaux and smaller ones that are less known, but very quality conscious. More info on our wine tour to Bordeaux here!
| Burgundy wine tour – exclusive, elusive, enchanting, October 19-23, 2011,
Some of the most unique wines in the world – reds and white – come from Burgundy. A well made red Burgundy, made from the elusive pinot noir, is a wine of elegance, hardly found anywhere else. You find them in the Côte d’Or, the golden slope, the heart of Burgundy. More info on our Burgundy wine tour here!
For more information please contact us on email or on phone (we’re on French time). Visit our video channel http://www.youtube.com/bkwine to meet some of the producers we visit.
What do people think about a wine tour with BKWine?
That is of course a question that we think is very important. We want it to be a wonderful and memorable experience for everyone. Here are some of the comments we’ve had from customers this season:
|“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
|”Thank you for a wonderful trip to Umbria and southern Tuscany. Wonderful in many ways – our initial ideas for the trip on food and wine in Umbria and Tuscany – and discovering sagrantino and sangiovese – were more than fulfilled”, I & P in Umbria and Tuscany
|“After last year’s fantastic trip to Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy our expectations were set very high. But this trip to Bordeaux was even better than we had hoped for. What lunches! What dinners we had! And what wonderful and personal wineries and chateaux we visited. We hope to come back on a new tour with BKWine!” A-M & S in Bordeaux
|”You surpassed all the expectations that we had on the tour before we came. The organisation was without a glitch and the tastings was far beyond any similar things we’ve been to previously. It whet our appetite and we already look forward to our next tour!”, B & T in the Rhône Valley|
Custom wine tours
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. We’ve done tours for wine clubs, for sommelier educations, for corporate events, for wine importers, for wine course study groups… just to mention a few.
You’ll get a tour designed exactly according to your requirements and tastes, made by one of the most experienced wine people in the business. We personally visit some 200 wineries and taste thousands of wines every year; we write on wine for various wine magazines (we had more than 30 articles published last year); in 2007 we published a ground breaking book on the wine of the Languedoc and in 2009 we published a book on vine growing and wine making – unique in its kind. And we have organised hundreds of wine tours over the years.
Wine tours in Finnish
More info on the Finnish wine tours here: Viinimatkoja Recommendations
A selection of what we have tried, tasted or visited recently. □ Producers
High Constantia, South Africa
At High Constantia winemaker David van Niekerk makes an exceptional Cap Classic (sparkling wines made by the traditional method) that gets at least three years of ageing on its lees (sur latte). The grapes grow up in the mountains where the climate is fairly cool. Whole bunches are pressed and he gets 400 liters out of 1000 kilos of grapes. The wine is a Brut Zero, no dosage is added.
David has 14.5 hectares in total and makes also very interesting red wines. He likes to experiment. He looks for balance in the wines and he works hard to avoid harsh tannins. In order to emphasize the fruit, he is experimenting with unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon, which is unusual when it comes to high-quality cabernet. The region of Constantia is known for its Sauvignon Blanc and David’s Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Nova Zonnestraat, with its lovely citrus flavors is a good example. In addition to MCC (Méthode Cape Classic), Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, David also makes interesting Viognier and Cabernet Franc.
Mas de Soleilla, La Clape, Languedoc-
Soleilla means sun in Occitan, the ancient language langue d’oc. Mas de Soleilla is beautifully situated, close to the sea, in the region of La Clape in Languedoc, not far from Narbonne. The climate is hot and dry, the soil very chalky and stony. The wines, which are both red and white, are generally of good quality. There are a total of 24 estates here in La Clape and all of them can find traces on their properties that go back to Roman times, “says owner and winemaker Peter Wildbolz at Mas de Soleilla.
Mas de Soleilla was created in 2002 by Peter and his wife Christa Derungs, both from Switzerland. Peter worked at the time already as a wine maker. When he found an isolated vineyard of 8 hectares in the middle of the garrigue in the La Clape area, he knew he wanted it. 2002 was the first vintage and now the surface has increased to 22 hectares.
The white wine in La Clape is made of a minimum of 50% of the unusual grape Bourboulenc. There are only 500 hectares world-wide of this grape and 300 of them are here in La Clape. Mas de Soleilla Sphinx Blanc is made with Bourboulenc and 30% Roussanne. It has a lovely aroma of flowers, apricot and a little honey and the oak is well balanced.
For the red wines Peter uses Syrah, Grenache and a little Mourvèdre. I particularly like Mas de Soleilla Les Chailles, a fresh, fruity wine with no oak ageing. Grenache dominates and the aroma of black berries, spices such as mint and rosemary and the good structure makes it a superb wine to combine with Mediterranean food. Mas de Soleilla Les Bartelles has been 15 months in oak barrels and here the Syrah grape is very evident on the nose. A complex, high class wine. Clot de l’Amandier is a blend of syrah and grenache. Full-bodied, with pleasant spicy aromas and with a good balance. A wine to be enjoyed with lamb, duck or game, says Peter.
Read about more recommended producers on the site: Favourite Producers
News from the Wine World
Italy world’s largest wine exporter, followed by Spain and France
According to the latest statistics from the OIV Italy is the world’s largest wine exporter. 20.6 Mhl went to the international wine market in 2010, an increase with 7% from 2009. The second biggest exporter is Spain with 16.9 Mhl, up 15%. France is in third place in the wine export league with 13.5 Mhl on export, which is an increase with 7%, just like Italy.Vineyard area in Austria
Austria has around 46,000 hectares of vineyards. That is roughly one third of Bordeaux (and some). There are four main regions: Burgenland, Niederösterriech, Steiermark and Wien. Niederösterriech is by far the biggest region with 60% of the total. Here are the details for all the wine districts in Austria:
Wine Growing Region: Surface in ha, % share
- Südburgenland: 498, 1.08%
- Mittelburgenland:2,117, 4.61%
- Neusiedlersee-Hügelland: 3,576, 7.79%
- Neusiedlersee: 7,649, 16.66%
Burgenland: 13,840.00, 30.15%
- Traisental: 790, 1.72%
- Carnuntum: 910, 1.98%
- Wachau: 1,350, 2.94%
- Thermenregion: 2,196, 4.78%
- Kremstal: 2,243, 4.89%
- Wagram: 2,451, 5.34%
- Kamptal: 3,802, 8.28%
- Weinviertel: 13,356, 29.10%
- so. NÖ: 30, 0.07%
Niederösterreich: 27,128, 59.10%
- Süd-Oststeiermark: 1,400, 3.05%
- Südsteiermark: 2,340, 5.10%
- Weststeiermark: 500, 1.09%
Steiermark: 4,240, 9.24%
- Wien: 612, 1.33%
Wien: 612, 1.33%
Interesting interviews with top chateaux in Bordeaux
I’m not quite sure why they have done it but it is a very ambitious effort. The Swedish wine importer Hjo Grosshandel has published a dozen video interviews with a handful of the great and glorious chateau in Bordeaux. The interviews were done (it seems) at the primeur tastings earlier this year, and the main theme is the 2010 vintage. They have managed to get a quiet moment with the heads of each chateau and the result is exceptionally interesting (and ambitions) compared to much of what you see on wine online. Well done! You can see all the videos on Hjo Grosshandel’s YouTube channel. (And, yes, they are in English!). These are the chateaux they cover:
- Château Pontet-Canet
- Domaine de Courteillac
- Château Margaux
- Château Pichon Longueville comtesse de Lalande
- Château Cheval Blanc & Château d´Yquem
- Château Mouton Rothschild
- Château Beychevelle
- Château Picque-Caillou
- Château Cos d´Estournel
- Château Pétrus
- Château Pichon-Baron
- Ets. Jean-Pierre Moueix
Well-crafted writing online on wine: Born Digital Wine Awards
The Born Digital Wine Awards is a “competition” for writers, and video producers, professional or not, on the internet. The first edition of the BDWA has just been completed and the winners were announced a few days ago. Congratulations!
- Best Wine Tourism Feature: Wink Lorch Wine Days Out in the French Alps
- Best Editorial Wine Writing; Tim Atkin Towards a New Chile (Part 1)
- Best Winery Self-Produced Content: Randall Grahm On a Mission: The Germ of an Idea
- Best Investigative Wine Piece: Richard Ross Phylloxera– the English connection
- Best Wine Themed Video: Jay Selman (Directed by Mark Ryan) The Scent of Black
(We too participated in the BDWA, in the category Best Investigative Wine Piece, with an article called “VinNet: An exciting new news site about wine?” (translated by BDWA from Swedish). We were shortlisted but did not win…)
Why not participate yourself if you write about wine?
Vine planting rights: a return to protectionism?
A few years back all EU countries agreed to a reform of the agricultural policies concerning the wine sector. One element was to abolish the existing system with planting rights, that decrees that a grower has to ask for strictly controlled planting rights from the authorities. One consequence is e.g. that a successful producer cannot expand his production, unless he can get some strictly limited planting rights. Earlier this year the AREV (an organisation that often is against progress and liberalisation in agricultural reforms) started a campaign to change the agreement to abolish the planting rights. They have managed to get the French minister of agriculture to support their view (France doesn’t exactly have a history of supporting an open market for agriculture) as well as nine out of 26 countries, according to Vitisphere.
To keep the system with planting rights would be, as far as we can see, primarily a way for the established producers to get protection from new competitors and from more dynamic producers. It would certainly be a step against a market economy and liberalisation – badly needed in the wine sector. And it would hardly benefit the consumer who can expect wine prices to be kept higher.
At La Vigne they have published a few interviews with a few advocates of the planting rights, but they don’t make us much wiser. At least it is apparent that their primary concern is not the wine consumer, or increasing the competitiveness among wine producers. Rather a question of keeping competition out.
- Interview with Catherine Vautrin who has written a report on planting rights, that is certainly confusing (or totally confused), since she seems to mistake planting rights for the AOC geographical delimitations.
We certainly hope that the EU sticks with its agreement to abolish the planting rights and make the wine sector more open to competition, thus paving the way for a healthier wine industry with better conditions for the growers as well as for the consumers. Instead of a return to protectionism.
Wines for the summer barbecue parties!
This time of the year food and wine magazines are full of suggestions as to which wines to choose for the outdoor summer parties. So why not also here in BKWine Brief! We love barbecue parties ourselves.
It is not really difficult to choose a barbecue wine. You pick something you like, not too fancy or expensive, and there you are. However, let us look at it a little more in depth.
What is different when you have an outdoor party compared to when you eat in your dining room or in the kitchen? Well, to start with, you are outside. Which means that any wine you choose will have a lot of competition from Mother Nature (smells of flowers etc). There will be a lot of olfactory sensations around you, not least the smell from the barbecue itself (oh, isn’t that the most lovely of all smells?). So, pick a wine with a lot of taste, but not, as I said earlier, a too expensive or too complex wine. Not so old either, because the wind might blow away the more subtle fragrance of an old wine. So, something tasty, fruity, young and fresh. However – and this is important – you need a wine with structure and tannins if you are barbecuing meat. Meat needs tannins. So don’t buy too cheap, these wines are most of the time too mellow and soft to go well with grilled meat. The new generation Languedoc or southern Rhône Valley wines is one suggestion. In the price range between 6 and 12 euro they are very good value for money.
If it is very warm outside, do not forget to cool the wines! Drinking red wines at 28 degrees C is not a big hit so be prepared with wine coolers and lots of ice. (And don’t forget to put a lot of water and then some ice in the ice bucket!)
For the outdoor party serving lighter dishes (a buffet for instance, with salads and charcuterie) you would probably choose a lighter red wine. We still want a good acidity but less tannin. I would choose a red Loire wine (Chinon, Bourgueil or a Saumur-Champigny) or a Beaujolais. These will give you a good acidity, plenty of fruit and a fairly light body. But don’t forget to cool them down to 12-14 degrees. If you prefer a white don’t pick a wine that is too aromatic as it is supposed to go well with a lot of different dishes. A Gruner Veltliner from Austria would taste great, or an Italian Soave or a white Bordeaux, or something from southern France or southern Italy…
We wish you a happy outdoor season!
Wine and sex: don’t be fooled by pouting lips. You may be fined.
The Swedish monopoly retailer Systembolaget has cancelled sales of a wine brand called Wacky Chicks whose label is covered with pouting lips or lipstick prints, according to www.wownews.se. The monopolist considers the label to be in violation of current marketing regulations: “The combination of pouting lips and the name gives the impression, in our opinion, that alcohol consumption raises the physical or mental capabilities, contributes to social or sexual success or solves problems such as loneliness or boredom”, they say in a letter to the importer Vinovativa. Even the trade appointed supervisor Gun Neuman agrees with the decision by Systembolaget, according to wownews.se. But is this not verging on the ridiculous? Wine cannot be sold to people under 20 and adults would perhaps be able to understand that pouting lips or lipstick on a wine label and a funny name will not lead to more sexual conquests.
Or what do you think?
The world market in wine in pocket format
Global Wine Markets, 1961 to 2009: A Statistical Compendium is the name of a recently published book on the international trade in wine, published by The Wine Economics Research Centre at the University of Adelaide. It is filled with all sorts of statistics on the global wine market. You can buy the printed book for a modest AU$ 35, or you can download it in electronic format for free! No doubt a treasure trove of statistical information. More info here: www.adelaide.edu.au (Thank you to Mike Veseth, The Wine Economist for the tip)
Filtration of wine, a short introduction
Almost all wines (counted in volume) are filtered in one way or another. There are a few wine producers who do not filter their wines. There are also wine enthusiasts who are convinced that unfiltered wines are better. that may be a very questionable truth. It probably depends very much on the wine and the filtering technology. There are many different ways and techniques for filtering wine – each one has its own characteristics, advantages and drawbacks. Tom Fiorina is an American living in the south of France and he has embarked on an ambitious wine making training program. He recently did the filtering course at this program and as a result he has written a blog post on his blog, The Vine Route: Wine-filtering technology up-close. A good introduction for the curious.
If only everyone used screw caps! Or not.
“Why don’t you use screw cap?” is a question that winemakers are often asked when people come and visit (especially if the visitors are Swedish! All Swedes – and many Britons – seem convinced of the screw caps superiority). Twenty years ago virtually all wine was sealed with natural cork and screw cap was only used for the worst plonk. Then things changed because the quality of natural declined, but have now substantially recovered. But on some markets consumers are convinced “screw cap is better”. Unfortunately it is not so simple. There are advantages and drawbacks with both natural cork and screw cap and it would be nice to have some more nuance in the debate about closures. One who has clearly chosen sides is Jonathan Healy who has written a book on the wines from the south of France, and writes a blog. ”The oddly bright (allegedly “drinkable”) bottles [sealed with screwcap] bring to mind images of inert laboratory specimens in formaldehyde” is one of his comments in his blog article The screwcap revolution 10 (or 11) years on. It is indeed a post worth reading with an alternative (yes, that’s where we are today!) view on closures.
Even though it’s primarily for a Swedish audience we can’t help mentioning it here: We recently wrote an article on Italy, an introduction to the wines and the food of Italy. the article was commissioned by “Bolaget” that is the magazine of the Swedish monopoly retailer.
It also happens to be Sweden’s biggest wine magazine with almost 1 million copies printed (it’s distributed free in the shops). Our article is the main feature in the magazine; Britt wrote the text and Per did the photography, even for the cover. Nice!
You can read the article online here: Bella Italia (Google Translation), or Bella Italia (Swedish original), and you can see the whole magazine in pdf format here. But it looks much nicer in print! So if you happen to be in Sweden, do go to one of the Systembolaget shops and pick up a copy!
Some talk about wine travel on the internet
We have been happy to see our wine tours mentioned a few times on the internet recently. Very nice! And of course we want to let you know what’s happening. Here is one:
- Travel Weekly: Paris operator with a nose for wine tours!
Please let us know if you have seen anything else!
Quick facts on Bordeaux
Some interesting statistics from CIVB on wine growing and wine production in Bordeaux:
- 117,500 hectares of vineyard land
- 60 appellations (AOCs)
- 5.7 million hl made in 2009 (4.8 in 2008, 5.7 in 2007)
- 14.5 ha = average size of a vineyard holding
- 89% of the vineyards are planted with red grapes
- 11% of the acreage is planted with white grapes
- The most planted red grape varieties: merlot 63%, cabernet sauvignon 25%, cabernet franc 11%, other 1%
- The most planted white grape varieties: : sémillon 53%, sauvignon blanc (including gris) 38%, muscadelle 6%, other 3%
- 8650 wine growers
- 300 négociant
- 93 wine brokers
- 4.96 million hectolitres of wine sold in 2009
- 3.37 billion euros, the value of the sales
Biodynamic management training!?
Biodynamic winemaking is a subject that elicits very diverging views (and that is often misunderstood). Some wine commentators (and winemakers) are totally convinced that the sometimes strange principles work, while others seem to approach the issue as a crusade with an enemy (“the non-scientific biodynamists”) that must be crushed.
Now there is a new twist to be discussed: management training built on biodynamic principles. Mas Zenitude in the Languedoc offers courses in “biodynamics and management”. In today’s competitive environment how can you think thoroughly, be creative and motivate your management team? “Maybe the best strategy is to get a biodynamic and holistic view rather than a helicopter view” they suggest.
An added bonus is that the training is mixed with walks in the vineyards and wine tastings. (And the owner happens to be a Swede who has settled as winemaker in the Languedoc.) More on management training and biodynamics here.
The world’s best syrah wines
It is, of course, not necessarily the world’s best syrah wines. Just like in any competition you can only win if you participate, and in “The World’s Best Syrah Wines” many of the most famous syrah wines were absent. But it is still interesting to see who the winners are. It shows a surprising diversity of where the wines are made. 383 wines participated and 34 gold medals were awarded to wines from the following countries:
- South Africa, 6 medals
- Argentina, 1
- Australia, 7
- Bulgaria, 2
- Chile 2
- Spain, 1
- France, 7 (phew!)
- Greece, 1
- Italy, 2
- Portugal 1
- Switzerland (!), 4
You can find the full results with all the names here: www.syrah-du-monde.com
Top ten up-and-coming wine regions
AskMen.com has made a list of the top ten of the up-and-coming wine regions, regions that are worth to get to know better. (Last month we wrote about their top-10 of wine travel destinations.) Try a bottle from each and you will discover something new, they suggest. Here is the list:
8. Galicia, Spain
6. South Africa
2. South and South Wes France
Undeniably a list with a North American perspective but we still agree with much of what they say!
What do you think? What wine district would you put at the top of the list of “undiscovered gems” in the wine world?
Wine tourism conference on Sardinia with BKWine
“The European forum for wine roads and for local economic development” is the long name of a conference on wine tourism, or oenotoursim as they say in France. It will be attended by a number of wine producers, politicians, travel industry people and others who are interested in wine and tourism. The conference is organised every year in different Italian cities and this year it takes place in Cagliari on Sardinia on June 10. It is organised by the Italian tourism ministry, Citta del Vino and some other organisations. I guess not many of our readers will have the possibility to participate but we wanted to mention it all the same since BKWine is one of the invited international speakers. Our allotted subject is how to make tourists interested in a travel destination by using various communications means. Wow! That sounds interesting. I’d like to listen to that… More info (use Google Translate if you don’t read Italian): terredelvino.org
Burgundy is kind of magic
“This particular day we were in the heart of Burgundy, in the Côte d’Or. This is a magical place. It is hard to explain, but I have always been fascinated by this region and its wines. I love to go to Burgundy on my own wine tours. Maybe it’s because I get the chance to taste all these lovely wines, often very hard to find in the shops. Because when it comes to good Burgundy wines, especially red ones, you have to know where to look. And the best way to discover the wines from Burgundy is to go there.
It is not a big region but you have a huge number of different producers. Some of them are good and some of them are bad, or at least uninteresting. Pinot noir is a grape that demands attention and care. Not everybody is capable of making good wines from it. Chardonnay is easier to work with but in Burgundy a chardonnay is not just any chardonnay.”
Read the full article Burgundy is Kind of Magic on the Travelog on BKWineTours.com!
And if you want to experience travelling in Burgundy wine country yourself, take a look at our Burgundy wine tour this autumn!
PS: Do you want to keep updated with news from the Travelog? Subscribe to it with RSS! Just click the link on the page.
Istria, Croatia: terrific wine travel possibilities
“Plenty of people have found good reasons to travel in both Croatia and Slovenia – think unspoiled Adriatic coastlines, well-preserved Roman sites, medieval hilltop villages, rugged alpine scenery and wild mountain walks. Now there’s another reason to add to these: both offer terrific wine travel possibilities” writes Sue Style on WineTravelGuides.
Sue writes about her experiences travelling in Istria and tasting the Croatian wines and food on Wine Travel Guides. She talks about some of her favourite wine producers and all the different local products she has tasted. For example, the white grape variety malvasia, that is different from the malvasia found elsewhere. Here it is called, with reason, malvasia istriana. It makes fantastic, aromatic (but not over-powering), full-bodied white wines on the Istrian peninsula.
This post is also available in: Swedish