There are a lot of different things we would like to write about: why vintages no longer matter that much (or matter differently), why the classification systems are uninteresting, why the system with planting rights is only protectionist silliness, which our top new discoveries are in the Languedoc region, which are our favourites among the Paris wine bars etc. But that won’t happen right now!
This time of year is travel time!
We get home just in time to change bags on Mondays and Tuesdays. It is peak season in the wine travel business! Over the last few weeks we have been in Bordeaux, Loire, Bourgogne, Campania, Champagne, the Languedoc, Chablis, Veneto, Piemonte and probably a few that I have missed out. And soon it is time to go again, to the Douro Valley.
So again, this BKWine Brief will be a bit compressed. But you will still find a few things worth reading we hope!
And on top of the travelling we have to put the final touches on the manuscript for our upcoming book, out early next year, that will be about organic wines.
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief!
What’s on at BKWine Tours
“World’s Best Wine Tours” – Travel + Leisure Magazine, on TravelAndLeisure.com
2012 program 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!
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
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.
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? Subscibe here! (Second alternative BKWineTours.com)
From the World of Wine
Åsa’s Wine of the Month: Refosco 2008, Gianni Macor
We had this wine for lunch after a long walk in beautiful autumn sunshine. The food was a hearty Tuscan meat stew and the Refosco from Gianni Macor was a perfect match. The bottle was empty much too fast. Refosco is a red grape variety that is one of the autochthonous (original) grape varieties in Friuli Venezia Giulia in northern Italy.
The Gianni Macor winery makes a refosco that is intensely deep ruby red. In the mouth there is a lot of fresh fruit but avoiding going over-board to land in jamminess. The acidity is distinct which gives a good balance and keeps the wine quite refreshing in spite of that it is packed with flavours and colour. Alcohol is 13.5%. Definitely a wine to recommend. Price is around 10 euro.
Canitna Macor Gianni, via Collevillano 1, 33040 Faedis, Udine, +39 0432 728686
BKWine in the press
We have had quite a good autumn in terms of press coverage. We have been mentioned in several newspapers and magazines: In Aftonbladet, the biggest Swedish evening paper: “A weekend in Champagne”. In Svenska Dagbladet, the second biggest morning paper: “Wine tourism making progress”. And in Solo Italia, a new glossy magazine dedicated to Italy in an article on our wine and food tours to Italy. We say thank you very much!
What do the wine consumers think about the wine, asks DoILikeIt
Wine producers usually know very little about what the wine consumers think about their wines. That was at least the opinion of three veteran drinks people in the UK. So they decided to launch a new type of market research business called DoILikeIt (terribly difficult to type). According to what they say, they want to do market research differently, which makes the initiative interesting. Their focus is to work with people in real situations like in a shop, in a café or at home, and not in focus groups. They also work extensively with online pools and online communities.
One can sign up on their site to participate in their research, which can actually be quite interesting. (And if you are in the UK you might even be sent a bottle of wine and asked your opinion.) The three people being DoILikeIt are Robert Joseph, a veteran wine writer, Hazel Murphy who spearheaded Australia’s wine export in the 80s and 90s and event organiser Judy Kendrick. You can sign up to their list on their site: www.doilikeit.com
Wine tastings and wine shop in Paris
Legrand Filles & Fils is one of the many very interesting wine shops you can find in Paris. It is definitely worth a visit if you are looking for some interesting bottles to carry home. In addition they have a wine bar and serves lunch if you are hungry. They regularly hold tastings and have a series they call “Tuesday wine tastings”. Recently they published the autumn program that includes for example Chateau Pontet Canet, Champagne Tarlant and several other interesting tastings. Read more about their program here: Wine tastings at Cave Legrand wine shop in Paris
AOC, Bar à vin, restaurant in Avignon | BKWine Pick
Sometimes you find really good places – restaurants or other – in really poor locations. AOC Bar à Vin is one of those. Hidden in a very narrow alley, almost behind the rubbish bins, between two busy shopping streets at day time, but almost abandoned at night. Nevertheless, this is a very good wine address in Avignon. It is a really, really simple wine bar, but in its way very nice.
They have a good, albeit not enormous, selection of wines and about a dozen by the glass of each colour. It is also a wine shop so you pick what you want from the shop and they add a small corkage.
They have a minuscule kitchen behind the bar where they can produce surprisingly delicious food: charcuteries and cheese, cote de boeuf, sardines in a tin (a classic), salads, duck’s breast with mashed potatoes…
They do have some quirks: you are not allowed to eat outside (only drink), it is often very crowded, and sometimes it is difficult to get the attention of the staff when they are busy.
But if you are looking for good wine and a wine bar / restaurant that is as simple as they get, this is the place to go. And it is just a few minutes walk from the Place de l’Horloge towards Place de Pie. (They have open a second restaurant in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon on Place Victor Basch, but we have not been there.)
AOC, vins, boissons, assiettes, 5 rue Trémoulet, 84000 Avignon, 04 90 25 21 04
The big wine fair ViniSud on February 20-22, 2012
The focus of the Vinisud wine fair is the wines and wine regions around the Mediterranean. The show takes place in Montpellier in the south of France so the French wine producers are of course well represented. But many producers from the other countries in the Mediterranean basin are also there. Many of the exhibitors are smaller producers, more so than on the bigger, more international wine shows. This makes Vinisud particularly interesting for those who are looking for small producers of character-full wines. To put in your agenda: Vinisud in Montpellier 20-22 February 2012, www.vinisud.com
Grand Cru and Bordeaux wine from California? Easier than from the Languedoc!
From what it seems the silly initiative to create Languedoc Grand Crus have failed. In California things are much simpler. You just put Grand Cru on the label and voilà, you are a Grand Cru. At least, that is what Bob Davids has done at his Sea Smoke vineyards in Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County in California, according to what Dr Vino writes on his blog. On the new labels on the Sea Smoke wine bottles you can read “California Grand Cru”. Apparently there is no agreement between the UE and the USA to protect that term. Read more and see the label on Dr Vino’s blog: Sea Smoke declares own vineyards “Grand Cru” on the label.
It is just as easy and simple to elegantly produce a Bordeaux wine in California: At the Saint Francis Winery and vineyards in Santa Rosa they make a Sonoma County Claret from cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petite (sic) verdot and malbec (as pointed out by The Sediment Blog). “Claret” is the traditional English word for red wine from Bordeaux. You can get a bottle for only $19.95. Read more and see the bottle here: Sonoma County Claret
(And on the Languedoc Grand Cru: We have written about this previously but a comment may be to the point. We are certainly among the first to agree that there are some great and outstanding wines made in the Languedoc today. We have even written a book about the wines from the Languedoc. But the proposed system of Grand Cru and Grand Vin was so silly and ill-conceived that it is fortunate that it has now apparently been ditched.)
Wine bars in Copenhagen
It has been quite a while since we were in Copenhagen, and even longer since we were at a wine bar in the Danish capital. One who is a more frequent patron there is Magnus Ericsson, news chief at the daily paper Helsingborgs Dagblad, thus located just across the water in Sweden. He is also an enthusiastic wine blogger (mostly in Swedish on Uppkorkat) and tweet (as @ericssonmagnus, sometimes in English). He has had a series of blog articles on Copenhagen wine bars. We have, of course, not tried them but trust his judgement on it so here is his selection of wine bars in Copenhagen:
Many of the wine bars are also wine shops.
Do you have any personal favourites that you would like to add to the list?
Constellation Brands buys Ruffino in Chianti
Constellation Brands is one of the world’s biggest wine producers. Ruffino is one of the biggest producers of wine in Tuscany with its core in Chianti. Constellation recently bought 50.1% of Ruffino. The price tag was 50 million euro (plus taking over debts of around 55 million euro). Constellation already owned 49.9% of Ruffino and thus becomes sole owner of the Tuscan wine producer. Ruffino has 130 employees and makes 15 million bottles of wine per year. They no doubt have quite a few hectares vineyards in Tuscany. Read more: vitisphere.com
Wine bars and wine restaurants in Paris, a selection by Finare Vinare
Finare Vinare is an anonymous Swedish wine blogger (the name means Finer Wines in English). Evidently he was recently in Paris to explore some of the wine bars and wine restaurants. We are familiar with several of the addresses he mentions and can only agree that it is address worth exploring if you happen to come to Paris. Here are the night haunts on his list:
- Autour d’Un Verre, typical restaurant for locals, reasonable prices, “natural” wines… Autour d’un Verre, 21 rue de Trévise, 75009 Paris, 01 48 24 43 74
- Vivant – Tiny, not cheap, fantastic decoration, good food, Vivant, 43 rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010 Paris, 01 42 46 43 55, www.morethanorganic.com
- La Coupole, one of the big “classics” of Paris brasseries, art nouveau decoration, and actually quite good food, shellfish counter (!), 102 Bd du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris, 01 43 20 14 20, www.lacoupole-paris.com
- Bistroy les Papilles, good food in classic bistro style place, lots of tourists (good press coverage internationally), but for once perhaps one can take it, BistroY Les Papilles, 30 rue Gay Lussac 75005 Paris, 01 43 25 20 79, www.lespapillesparis.fr
- Le Verre Volé, tiny restaurant and wine shop, very Parisian, crowded, simple, friendly, close to Place de la République, Le Verre Volé, 67 rue de Lancry, 75010 Paris, 01 48 03 17 34, www.leverrevole.fr
Which are your favourites that we should add to the list?
“Honey, I bought a vineyard!”
Not everyone has 50 million euros to spend on a vineyard (see other item). One of the most cost efficient districts in which to buy a vineyard is the Languedoc in the south of France. Although they make some outstanding wines there today the land prices are often moderate. And weather is nice! Anders Åberg is a Swede that, we guess, didn’t have 50 million euros so he decided to buy a vineyard in the Languedoc: Domaine la Rabidote.
Before he was bitten by the wine bug he was a film producer and film maker so it was probably a natural thing for him to do to make a film about his wine adventure. In the film he tells the story from the start, how he had the idea, to the finish, when he is struggling to make wine in is not-yet-own cellar. Fascinating story. Watch it here: Honey, I just bought a vineyard!
Millesime Bio – the organic wine fair
Millésime Bio is a wine fair that is entirely dedicated to organic wines. All exhibitors must be certified organic (or in conversion). In addition, all producers are allocated exactly the same space: everyone has a table to present their wines, so in a sense it is an uncommonly “democratic” wine show without any big and impressive stands. Many of the wine producers are also very interesting and you will find many exciting wines here. Most of the exhibitors come from France, of course, but there are quite a few from other countries too. Definitely worth a visit! The next edition will take place on 23-25 January 2012 in Montpellier. www.millesime-bio.com
Gaillac gets vendange tardive
Vendange tardive is a designation that means that the grapes are harvested later than the normal harvest – that is actually the literal translation of the word. It is perhaps not something that one often thinks about but it can actually only be used for wines from the Alsace in northern France and Jurançon on the border to Spain. The exclusive late harvest club has now a new member: From the 2012 vintage AOC Gaillac is also allowed to use the Vendanges Tardives designation.
Gaillac is a wine district in the south of France with some 2500 hectares of vineyards. They make both red wine, dry white, sweet white, and rosé wines. But presumably it is only the sweet whites that can be labelled VT. Read more: vitisphere.com
11 new Masters of Wine (MW)
Master of Wine is a title that you can win after having gone through a lengthy education and training and having passed a gruelling examination. But it is a title that carries a lot of prestige in the wine world. In the latest round of examinations eleven candidates managed to gain the title which brings the number of MWs up to 300. It is of course quite an Anglo-Saxon thing this with MW (the Institute of Masters of Wine being very British) which also shows if you look at the origin of the new MWs:
- Michele Anderson MW (Australian living in USA)
- Christy Canterbury MW (USA national and resident)
- Sam Caporn MW (UK national and resident)
- Mary Gorman-McAdams MW (Irish living in USA)
- Andy Howard MW (UK national and resident)
- Emma Jenkins MW (New Zealand national and resident)
- Richard Kershaw MW (British living in South Africa)
- Paul Liversedge MW (British living in Switzerland)
- Caro Maurer MW (German national and resident)
- Mai Tanaka MW (Japanese living in UK)
- Clem Yates MW (UK national and resident)
We say a very big congratulations to all the new Masters of Wine!
More info: www.mastersofwine.org
Le Wine Bar, Bordeaux | BKWine Pick
Bordeaux has not been very well equipped with ambitious wine bars but it seems to be changing. Le Wine Bar Bordeaux opened a couple of years ago and was probably one of the first in a new wave of wine bars that is starting to make this elegant city better on that front. Le Wine Bar is very small and very simple, but very well stocked with wine. You will find it on a corner on a winding street not far from Place Saint Pierre in the Old Town. They only have a handful of table and the bar but it is usually possible to find a space. It certainly does not make a claim of being a restaurant.
The wine list is impressive, both with Bordeaux and other regions, even (!) foreign wines. You can find reasonably priced wines from less exalted appellations to very exclusive wines (Ornellaia, Mouton, Yquem…). They do have a few wines by the glass, often interesting but the selection could be a bit broader.
On the food side the ambitions are more modest. Each day they have some hot dish prepared in their minuscule kitchen. But it might be a better idea to choose from some of the small, cold dishes they have, cheese, charcuteries, marinated vegetables, dried or smoked ducks breast, foie gras and other things that fit the season.
Le Wine Bar is run by two wine fanatics, as one can tell. It is a good address if you are looking for an interesting wine experience in a relaxed and very informal atmosphere – the place to go if you are not too hungry in the evening but want something good to drink, or want to just share a bottle with a few friends.
Le Wine Bar Bordeaux, 19 rue des Bhutiers, Quartier St Pierre, Bordeaux, 06 78 21 08 65 or 05 56 48 56 99, www.lewinebar-bordeaux.com.
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