Cherry-picking in the Domaine range

Domaine Wines is a leading Swedish wine importer. They recently presented their range to the specialised press. BKWine Magazine’s reporter Tobias Karlsson reports on the best finds.

If you have not been tasting and drinking wine in for quite a while then a tasting of a wine importer’s range is maybe something that does not sound familiar. Is there any other product range than what is available in the state-owned monopoly shops Systembolaget?

Three ways to sell wine in Sweden

The Swedish wine world is much more complicated than that. Systembolaget do not go around the world to find the best wine and then sell them it at fantastic prices to us consumers. Instead, Systembolaget decide what they want (in their annual product plan). Different wine importers, big and small, then present their products to Systembolaget and, if selected, they end up on a shelf near you. That is to say, it is the importers who find the producers and who bring the wines to Sweden.

If the wine is not selected by Systembolaget, then there is still a chance for the importer to sell it: via the so-called “on-order range”. These wines are not at the central Systembolaget warehouse, but are managed entirely by the wine importers. If a customer orders the wine in a Systembolaget shop it is only then sent from the wine importer to Systembolaget.

Importers may also sell directly to restaurants. Many importers have a “restaurant list” or restaurant range. (Editor’s note: In some cases, even individuals can buy from restaurant range, through a “private import” through Systembolaget; a strange wording since the wines are already in Sweden, at the importer’s.)

Systembolaget shop in Helsingborg

Systembolaget shop in Helsingborg, copyright BKWine Photography

The bottom line is that there are three different categories of wine that an importer deals with, the standard list of what is available in the monopoly shops Systembolaget, the on-order list for the wines that can be ordered by consumers through Systembolaget, and the restaurant list for wines sold directly to restaurants.

Domaine Wines is one of Sweden’s many wine importers and they recently had a range tasting where they showed off all their producers. Here’s a review of some of the wines that I found most interesting.

The most interesting red wines:

Rodney Strong

This wine producer is based in Sonoma near the charming town of Healdsburg. The vineyard was started by a dancer called Rod Strong some 50 years ago. Rod later sold the winery and for some time his vineyard belonged to Guinness. A relaunch began in 1989 when Tom Klein bought the vineyard and since then it is again family owned. Domaine has two of their wines in their range.

The first is the 2013 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon.

This is a wine with a lot of black currant and oak initially. The oak is more towards the French style and there is no excessive vanilla tones. The wine has a good balance and length. Truly a bargain for ~16 euro (all price indications are based on Swedish retail prices).

Rodney Strong Label

Rodney Strong Label, copyright Ulf Bengtsson

The second wine is the 2012 Symmetry Reserve Meritage, Alexander Valley.

Meritage is a name used in the US to signify that it is a Bordeaux blend. The grapes were picked in the Alexander Valley and the wine is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, but also contains the other four Bordeaux grapes in smaller portions. The wine opens up with lots of black currant. There are some darker tones that goes towards both blackberries and some more animals characters, such as leather. Despite all fruits the wine feels cool to be an American wine, not jammy and with a long and elegant finish. ~50 euro.

Petite Sirah, a hidden grape

Lodi is a town in the San Joaquin Valley in California that is known for its intense and heavy zinfandel wines. This is something they are very proud of, and every year they organize zinfest where you have an opportunity to taste the new vintage. Another grape that is much grown in Lodi, but unusual on the market, is Petite Sirah. This is a very interesting grape that gives wines with very dark tones and very intense color. When you spin the glass the wine becomes almost like a coat of purple that stick to the sides. One of the few Petite Sirah wine sold in Sweden are from Foppiano and was available for tasting.

2011 Foppiano Estate Petite Sirah

This is a wine with dark colour, typical for the grape. The aroma is very intense and includes dark berries such as blackberries and black currants. The wine also has a lot more animal notes and some tar. The acidity is quite high and the same goes for the tannins. This makes that the wine keeps together well even though it’s very full-bodied. ~18 euro.

Foppiano label

Foppiano label, copyright Ulf Bengtsson

Good wines and good prices from the Rhone

Wines from the southern Rhone Valley are often very keenly priced and the 2013 Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne by André Berthet Rayne is a real bargain wine. Filled with dark ripe fruit, balanced tannins and a long pleasant aftertaste. ~11 euor.

In a more expensive category there is the 2012 Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas. This was a really fun wine that will be in the temporary range at Systembolaget (editor’s note: wines available in limited quantities for a limited time). The wine has a dark colour and this is also reflected in the flavour that is filled with dark berries. One almost gets the feeling that the fruit is a little sun-dried. Despite the fairly warm fruit, the wine is very dry and tight with good tannins. ~27 euro.

From the same producer came two other interesting wines from the Northern Rhone Valley:

2013 Château de Saint Cosme Crozes Hermitage: The nose starts with white pepper and a lot of berries. It is not so full-bodied, but feels lighter and more elegant than their Gigondas. The acidity and tannins are balanced and provide a long pleasant finish. ~22 euro.

2012 Château de Saint Cosme Côte Rôtie: This wine is considerably more complex. The first thing that strikes me is the white pepper and some stables or barn-yard tones. The attack is strong and has a lot of dark berries, blackberries. This is followed by a long and well balanced taste. A very good wine. ~45 euro.

Chateau Saint Cosme, Gigondas

Chateau Saint Cosme, Gigondas, copyright BKWine Photography

White pearls

The most interesting white wines:

2013 Weingut Johannishof Charta Riesling Rheingau: A very nice Riesling with a lot of mineral and some flint. Yellow apples are the most dominant character. ~16 euro.

2013 Weingut Liebfrauenstift Trocken Riesling Rheinhessen: The wine has a fairly light Riesling nose with green as well as some yellow apples. Very fine acidity and long aftertaste. ~15 euro.

2014 Domaine A. Cailbourdin Pouilly Fumé “Les Cris”: The wine starts with a lot of flint and gooseberry. Clear sauvignon blanc nose without being too big. Well balanced with very fine acidity. ~15 euro.

Note: The wines mentioned can be found in Systembolaget’s range, the importer’s on-order (ordered through Systembolaget), or in the restaurant range. More information:

Tobias Karlsson writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers.

Chateau Saint Cosme, Gigondas

Chateau Saint Cosme, Gigondas, copyright BKWine Photography

This post is also available in: Swedish

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