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Delicious wines from Handpicked Wines’ range

Handpicked Wines’ tasting of their range has for several years been one of the more fun events to end summer and a good start to the fall. This year the tasting was held at the company’s own premises on Bondegatan on Söder in Stockholm. Already in the courtyard, we were met with bubbles and food that could be combined when and how you wanted. Nice idea.

The bubble review showed three interesting wines:

A Swedish sparkling apple wine from Bedstekilde in Skåne, made from 100% Belle de Booskop apples, Bedstekilde 1006 Brut. Good mousse, pure fresh taste with some sweetness and good length.

Equally good, but more accessible on the market (specifically, at the Swedish monopoly) is Bedstekilde Natur, Brut Nature (249 SEK) (Ed. note: All prices are in SEK, Swedish krona, at the Swedish monopoly Systembolaget. Divide by ~10 and you will get euros), also this with 100% Belle de Booskop. This is a robust apple that provides body, structure and good acidity in the wine. Interesting acquaintance; Swedish wine culture in the making.

Champagne Jacquinot & Fils Blanc de Blancs (SEK 375) with sharp acidity and good length, perfect for the seafood buffet. Jacquinot was for me a new nice acquaintance. From the same producer, there was a Blanc de Noir (375 SEK) with a little more dosage.

Bottles in pupitres in the cellars of Champagne Paul Dethune

Bottles in pupitres in a Champagne cellar, copyright BKWine Photography

Once inside, nicely cool in the increasing summer heat, the wines were arranged by country in alphabetical order, which made things easy to find.

A few selections that I liked:

Château Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet made from 100% piquepoul (SEK 129, organic). Like a fresh breeze from the Mediterranean with hints of citrus, almond and minerality. A good alternative to a muscadet for the mussels. The vineyard is located in the heart of the Languedoc near the town of Pézenas where wine has been grown since ancient times.

In Maury, near Perpignan on the Spanish border, we find Clos des Vins d’Amour which sounds like a kind of love declaration, perhaps to the black slate soil (schist) of the same type as on the other side of the border in Priorat. Like there, the dominant grape is grenache but is complemented by syrah and carignan. Clos des vins d’Amour 1 + 1 = 3 2015 (SEK 169) is a fine example of this with a dominant warmth from the grenache and freshness and structure from syrah and carignan. No rule, however, without exception and Clos des Vins d´Amour Carignan en Famille 2017 (SEK 139) felt like a very affordable single grape variety wine with good structure and freshness of red berries.

Vineyards in Vallee de l'Agly in Roussillon

Vineyards in Vallee de l’Agly in Roussillon, copyright BKWine Photography

It’s always fun when news from the Loire show up, as I think the area is grossly under-represented in Sweden, mainly at the monopoly. Available for tasting, there was a bunch of wines from winemaker Bernard Fouquet at Domaine des Aubuisières in Vouvray, known for its chalky soil and for its chenin blanc. Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Cuvée Silex 2018 (SEK 162) can illustrate a well-made grape-typical chenin blanc wine from the Loire with good acidity, generous fruit and lovely minerality. Perfect for an oven-cooked salmon or chicken with lemon sauce.

Also worth noting is that Vouvray is a district that does not require the producer to write crémant de loire on its sparkling wines made by traditional method. Vouvray is enough. Try sparkling vouvray as an alternative to a champagne!

Speaking of the Loire and thus Muscadet, I cannot stop being impressed by Chemin des Prières Muscadet Sèvre 2018 (SEK 159, organic) as an unusually flavourful muscadet wine, which thus has a wider use (with food) than what is usual for this type of wine.

If you then go to Italy and its southern part and want to try wines made from the old Greek grape aglianico, then there was the very nice Gricos Aglianico del Vulture (SEK 139) as a good and affordable introduction to this grape. Good aglianico wines can be found mainly in Campania and Basilica, from where this wine comes. The better wines from here are often called the barolo of southern Italy and they are still very affordable. The most well-known producer is probably Mastroberardino, who has long championed wines from old (Greek) grapes.

Among many good wines from Piedmont, I would like to highlight Pietro Cassina Lessona Pidrin 2014 (SEK 249) which actually appealed to me even more than Bruna Grimaldis Barolo Badarina 2015 (SEK 355)

From Portugal, there was, as before, a large selection from Sandra Tavares da Silva’s various wines from both Wine & Soul and Quinta da Chocapalha, all of which are worthy of a place in a good wine cellar. But a new producer from Alentejo, Herdade do Mouchâo, impressed with a very affordable food wine Herdade do Mouchâo Dom Rafael 2017 (SEK 119) made from 4 of the many local Portuguese grapes. Herdade do Mouchâo Ponte das Canas 2014 from the same producer (187 SEK) showed greater depth and length with another set of local grapes plus some shiraz.

The Azores archipelago is very much linked to Portugal, and the green grape arinto dos açores is well worth a try. Crisp acidity, aromatic and of good length. Azores Wine Company Arinto dos Açores sur Lies 2017 (SEK 329) is a fine representative of a well-made wine from this grape. The variety should not be confused with arinto in Portugal, which is a completely different grape! It works best in a very hot area, which the Azores is not.

Being on volcanic islands, the jump to the Canary Islands is logical and the producer Llanos Negros had a wine made of 100% malvasia and a cuvée on, among others, malvasia, Llanos Negros Los Tabaqueros Blanco 2016 (SEK 324) with a great nose and lots of flavours.

Llanos Negros has about 11 ha on the small island of La Palma, half the size of Öland. The island is covered by volcanic ash and the vineyards are at altitudes of 300-400 m on the south-western slopes with an inclination of about 10%. Manual work is obligatory because of the inclination and that the island is designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

From the Spanish mainland and from Priorato, a delicious wine caught my attention, made from 100% grenache blanc, La Conreria d’Scala-Dei, Les Brugueres Blanc 2017 (SEK 199)

The black schist llicorella soil in Priorato

The black schist llicorella soil in Priorato, copyright BKWine Photography

A good introduction to red garnacha wines was found in Altavins Viticultors, Jorn Nou 2018 (SEK 119) from the Terra Alta district.

Otherwise, it is tempranillo that is mostly found in the classic districts and from Ribera del Duero there was Bodegas Felix Callejo, Majuelos de Callejo 2015 from 100% tempranillo (SEK 349) which had a lot of everything, on the nose, fruit and tannins and a long aftertaste. Need a few years in the cellar, but decanted and properly aerated it is enjoyable now.

After S (Spain) comes T as in Germany (in Swedish: Tyskland…) which was quite well represented not least on the red side where Julia Bertram’s (Ahr) spätburgunder wines make a good showing against newcomers such as Benedikt Baltes in Franken whose Benedikt Baltes Klingenberg Buntsandstein Spätburgunder 2014 (195 SEK) is a good example of Germany newfound strength in pinot noir. This wine is attractively medium-bodied, some sweet fruit, but good texture and aftertaste.

The United States was also well represented, first and foremost through Charles Smith of the state of Washington with no less than 16 wines, of which 13 in the importers’ special order range (available through the monopoly Systembolaget). Prices between SEK 119 and SEK 895. Consistently well-made and delicious.

From Oregon and the well-known producer Sokol Blosser there was Sokol Blosser Estate Willamette Valley 2015 Pinot Noir (SEK 219 in the restaurant range), well-made pinot noir in Oregon style, good acidity, pure fruit with red berries, some herbs, and a pleasant aftertaste. Perfect for a goose dinner or Thanksgiving.

However, another pinot noir wine, from Birichino in the Santa Cruz Mountains, surpasses many a pinot noir from both old and new world: Birichino Pinot Noir Lilo Vineyard 2013 (SEK 350) is worth every penny.

Birichino also makes a Rhône blend from carignan, grenache and mourvèdre, Birichino Scylla 2017 (SEK 199) that compares well with the originals.

Last, but not least, and as a nice finish out in the courtyard with lunch, it was time to try an Englishman, Wiston Estate Brut Cuvée 2009 (SEK 399) made with the traditional method with a second fermentation in bottle and aged for six years on the lees! Tasty, balanced, and enjoyable both as an aperitif and with light food.

More and more is happening in England, but with Brexit looming there is a risk that wine prices will be even higher and then the competitive situation can become more difficult…

Carl-Erik Kanne is a long time wine enthusiast and fervent wine taster. He reports from wine tastings and wine events in Stockholm for BKWine Magazine.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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