It seems that the wine world have been caught up a new insane craze or hysteria.
This thing with “natural wines” Every wine magazine, wine journalist, wine blogger etc is writing about “natural wines”, either praising it as the only true wine or ridiculing it as a sham. Much that is written is interesting and much is misguided or confused. But we have had enough! Enough of this! We refuse to write about natural wines! At least in this issue of The Brief.
So let us instead move on to delicious wines, exciting wine regions, and other fun things. We have recently returned from our second wine tour (arranged by us for wine lovers) to South Africa. This year we had changed the planning a bit: changed the itinerary, added a few more visits, moved the dates to earlier to avoid the bike race in Cape Town, added a few new districts etc. And it was a spectacularly successful trip. Many exciting producers, excellent wines & food, and a fabulous weather. Even better than the first time we did it! And next year we will do it again, in March. let us know if you are interested! Here are some of our photos from the South Africa wine regions.
We have also just returned from a trip to Sweden. The first thing we needed to do was meet with our publisher, since we are in the very final stages of our new book. We discussed what to do for cover and other important “details”. We will soon talk more about it here, but we can already mention that it is about organic wines, and other similar concepts, and about wine and the environment in general.
While in Stockholm we went to a wine “tweetup”. Have never been to a tweetup before (it is a real live physical meeting with people you have “met” on Twitter). Someone said it was a bit like going on a blind internet date. I would not know about that though. It was definitely great fun with many a good wine at what is probably the city’s best wine bar (19 Glas), isn’t it? Read more about wine and Twitter here: Wine Tweeting, how to get started on Wine Twitter
We also met our reporter team when we were in Stockholm, also at 19 Glas (quite nice as an editorial office!). But more on that, and them, in a future Brief.
Tomorrow we are off again, but not so far, just a week-end hop to Brussels to see some friends. This poor couple has a wine cellar that is bursting at the seams and we have been called in to help. The instructions in the invitation read “we need to empty our wine cellar a bit, can you help? We will give you the keys to the cellar and you pick whatever you want”. Oh my, they don’t know what is coming! Some oldies and goodies, for sure.
Take a look at our wine tour program for the autumn, see below. Or contact us if you are interested in a custom designed wine tour.
Britt & Per
PS: 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 9-13 May
- Bordeaux 19-23 September
- Tuscany 10-14 October
- Champagne 14-18 November
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!
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? Subscribe here! (Second alternative BKWineTours.com)
From the World of Wine
Like us on Facebook
Facebook can be a fun and easy way to keep in contact with old (and new!) friends and to get informed about what’s going on. We at BKWine have recently changed fundamentally how we work with Facebook. Before, we had one single page with everything in a big jumble (that was actually Per’s personal page). Now we have split it up on four pages, a bit better organised.
We would be very glad if you LIKEed us on Facebook! Here are our new pages:
Go visit the pages an LIKE us 🙂 Thank you!
We have also kept our “old” personal pages:
Åsa’s Wine of the Month: GD Vajra, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2009
The wine producer G D Vajra was one of the most memorable visits on one of our recent wine tours to Piemonte. Very friendly and charming people, beautiful site, and very good wines. Their wines are well know for their aging potential. One of their “entry level” wines is the Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.
The one I tasted recently was a 2009. Ruby red with lots of aromas and good complexity with notes of red berries (lingonberries in particular). It has a warm structure, soft but also fresh and in the end “balanced” is a very good description. In the finish it has hints of balsamic vinegar. It goes well with meat, pasta with meat sauces, both game or beef, or food with creamy sauces. Or a nicely aged cheese. And if you would like to try an elegant Barolo G D Vajra is a good choice. Price for the Langhe nebbiolo ~ 12.50€. www.gdvajra.it
Vinosus, a wine show in Norway 22-23 april
Vinosus is a wine show organised by three Norwegian wine importers: Vinarius, Vinum and PlusVini. It takes place in Oslo on April 22 and 23. The fair includes some 30 wine producers, many of whom will be there in person, for example: Badia a Coltibuono, Balland Chapuis, Ricasoli, Bret Brothers, Domaine de l’Hortus, Domaine Weinbach, Weingut Fred Loimer and many more. More info on www.vinosus.no
New internet wine shop targets Sweden
It is now possible for internet shops to sell directly to consumers (see other story). The latest addition is an eshop specialised in wines from Portugal and Spain (on must assume): Iberian Wine Club. They launch slowly with shipping scheduled only at certain pre-defined dated. The selection is still very, very limited with wines only from Portugal and so far none from Spain, but hopefully it will grow over time as the business expands. This can perhaps be an interesting way for Iberian wine producers to explore the Swedish market, outside the Systembolaget monopoly. More info www.iberianwineclub.com
We recently published a survey of which internet sites there are that sell directly to Swedish consumers, with home delivery. That article also outlines the regulations for selling wine directly to Swedish consumers: The list of “Swedish” internet wine shops
Mesdames-Messieurs Restaurant, Montpellier | BKWine Pick
The focus of Mesdames-Messieurs is clearly on the wine. And on organic – and similar – wines in particular. They call themselves “bar à vin dînatoire”, essentially a wine bar with something to eat too, and that is a fair description. It is not quite a fully fledged restaurant. The wine selection, which is clearly the most important part of the place, is very focused on the Languedoc and you can find many good producers on their list, and also some unknown, worth discovering! We have tried for example Domaine Terrasse d’Elise, cuvée Pradel, which is a 100% cinsault, Vin de Pays de l’Hérault – a rare thing to find a pure cinsaut wine. Food is uncomplicated and straight forward, well made but don’t expect any thing sophisticated. Definitely an address to go to to explore the wine selection and then also have something to eat from the decent but limited restaurant menu. Do ask them for advice in choosing the wines, since it is likely that there are many that you are not familiar with. You find Mesdames Messieurs on a small street behind the Préfecture, not far from the indoor food market.
Mesdames Messieurs, bar à vin dînatoire, 5 rue Girone, 34000 Montpellier, 04 67 63 49 53, www.mesdamesmessieurs.com
Some good wines from Meerlust in South Africa, back to Rubicon 1991
Meerlust is an old and very established wine producer in South Africa. They also have a long history of supplying wines to the Swedish market. Their importer, Tryffelsvinet, recently organised a tasting of several of their wines led by Eddie turner from the winery. Peter Modin reports on the tasting that included wines back to 1991: The Meerlust range of wines, including Rubicon back to 1991, A tasting with wines from the famous South African winery
Are low-alcohol wines a silly idea?
There is quite a lot of discussion about low-alcohol wines these days. Not least about how one can reduce the alcohol contents of a wine with different techniques (there are several). The idea is of course that the alcohol in the wine is (at least partially) bad and reducing the level is therefore good.
But is this a good idea? Not necessarily argues Britt in this article. And she also explains how it is done: Low alcohol wines are good or bad? Less is not always more when it comes to alcohol in wine.
We taste Portuguese wines from Bacalhôa and Burgundies from Bichot
At a recent trade tasting with two producers in Sweden we had the occasion to taste through part of the range from the Portuguese wine producer Bacalhoa and the Burgundy négociant winemaker Bichot. It was a tasting in five rounds that alternated the Portuguese with the Burgundies. Peter Modin reports on the best wines in the tasting: Portuguese wines from Bacalhôa and Burgundies from Bichot
DOP, Rui Paula, restaurant Porto | BKWine Pick
One of the best meals we have had in Portugal was here at DOP in Porto. It is in the old city centre in the Palácio das Artes near the old Stock Exchange (Bolsa). The decoration is modern and elegant, almost minimalist. Stylish rather than cosy. And so is the food, plus that it is very good. It is, at least partly, based on traditional Portuguese cooking (e.g. the traditional sandwich with spicy sausage, steak and cheese that you can have as a starter – prepared modern-style and served with a delicious bouillon sauce). Sometime style goes a bit over the top, as the marinated salmon cube served as amuse bouche that served on a skewer mounted on a special skewer stand… But generally it keeps on the right side of style and taste.
We tried for example the grilled dorade with a truffles risotto and a “bar” (seabass / wolfish) and lobster served with black squid spaghetti, coteau mussels (razor clams) and lobster bouillon sauce. Delicious! Starters will set you off 7-10 euro and main courses are 20-27 euro. DOC Rui Paula also has some set menus to choose from. All very affordable for the quality you get.
The wine list is of the same quality, extensive and starting from a very reasonable price level going up to whatever you want. We tried an unusual 100% gouveio white Douro wine that was delicious. Staff is very friendly and attentive, service is swift, sometimes even too quick. We have referred several friends there and heard only positive words back. A pleasure to find a restaurant in Portugal that we were unreservedly impressed by. (In many other cases Portugal needs to put a little more effort on the food side.) DOP is definitely an address to put in your little black book. Rui Paula also runs a restaurant in the Douro Valley, close to Pinhao, called DOC. We will certainly try it if we have an occasion.
DOP, Rui Paula, Palácio das Artes, Largo de Sao Domingos 18, 4050-545 Porto, ph 22 20 14 313, www.ruipaula.com
The grape gamay needs to be promoted. That is the opinion of Inter Beaujolais, which, according to www.thedrinksbusiness.com, now encourages the producers to mention the name of the grape on the back label. Gamay is not found in many other places (a little bit in the Loire Valley, in Switzerland and a few other places) and in Beaujolais it also gets a specific character that it does not get anywhere else. Inter Beaujolais also want the ten Beaujolais Cru villages to mention the name Beaujolais on the label. There are many consumers that do not associate Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent and Fleurie with Beaujolais. Which is perhaps a pity. Simple Beaujolais could benefit from the prestige that surrounds many of Cru wines. And a third measure that Inter Beaujolais would recommend their growers, it is to keep an inventory of the better wines in order to sell older vintages. Few know that wines such as Brouilly, Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent have a good ageing potential. Actually, after 8-10 years they develop flavours reminiscent of their prestigious northern neighbour.
Beaujolais has had some problems with bad press in recent years and now works hard to improve its reputation. Three excellent vintages in a row and a steady reduction of the amount of Beaujolais Nouveau will probably help. And also, I think, the increase of the number of ambitious and interesting producers.
Favourable and not so favourable heat
We read on www.vitisphere.com that the European Union has published figures concerning the EU wine production in 2011. Total volume produced within the union in 2011 was 165 million hectolitres (an increase by 1.5 % from 2010).
39 % of the production is wine with the highest classification (Appellation d’Origine Protegée, Denominazione di Origine Protetta etc.).
The five biggest wine countries by volume within the EU in 2011 are:
- France, ~50 million hectolitres
- Italy, ~42 million hectolitres
- Spain, ~39 million hectolitres
- Germany, ~10 million hectolitres
- Portugal, ~5 million hectolitres
Germany increased its volume from 2010 by 36 % thanks to warm summer temperatures. In Italy and Portugal, on the other hand, high temperatures and a lack of water meant a considerable loss of volume. France increased its production by 10.7 %.
The rest of the world together produces approximately 100 million hectolitres.
All time high for Bordeaux export
Le Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux , CIVB, has recently published the 2011 export figures for Bordeaux. And the figures are impressive and actually the highest ever. 2.16 million hectolitres of Bordeaux were exported during 2011, an increase from 2010 by 22% . The value of the export has also increased, by 30%, to 1.97 billion euro. The explanations for these record high figures are the increasing demand from Asia and the recovery of the European economies. The EU countries account for 45 % of the export (in volume).
A selection of delicious wines from Rickety Bridge in South Africa
Those of you who drink South African wines regularly have probably noticed that the quality of the wines have increased dramatically in recent years. This is often due to hard work in the vineyards by young, ambitious winemakers and their will to experiment with different techniques.
An example of this is Wynand Grobler, winemaker at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek. In addition to his diploma from the Stellenbosch Wine University, he has also worked at some of the best estates in South Africa, Rust en Vrede and Ernie Els. His wines are very structured with good acidity and tannins. Britt has tasted a number of his wines and explains more about the winery: South African quality wines from Rickety Bridge
What’s in a (wine’s) name…
I have always thought that a complicated name on the wine label made the bottle harder to sell. But maybe it’s just the opposite. On www.lavigne-mag.fr we read that a Canadian study shows that wine drinkers are more attracted to strange names that are difficult to pronounce than to ordinary names. The complicated names are associated with wines that are rare and more valuable.
I am a little sceptical to the result of the study. On the other hand, nowadays you seldom need to pronounce the name of the wine you are buying. You just pick in from the shelve in the self-service store. But considering the names that some winemakers give to their wines you would think that they have all read the Canadian report!
Will a centuries old tradition in winemaking disappear?
To disinfect oak barrels by burning sulphur inside is a century old tradition. Now the procedure could become illegal. According to the EU rules sulphur tablets is classified as biocides, which means that they must have obtained an authorization to be allowed on the market. And to get this authorization you must submit an application for evaluation. Such an evaluation can cost you between 200 000 and 500 000 euro. Quite a lot of money for an inexpensive product. And none of the manufacturers want to pay.
The EU has already postponed the decision concerning sulphur tablets several times. The current deadline is June this year. If no application has been submitted by then, the procedure risk being banned. According to www.lavigne-mag.fr the French Union for oenologists (l’Union des œnologues de France) has now asked its members to contribute money. Different coopers will also help with money and it is hoped that FranceAgriMer (a governmental agency for agriculture) will contribute with 50 000 euro. All EU countries are concerned, so perhaps it should not be impossible to raise the money needed? If the producers really believe that burning sulphur is indispensable.
Red wine turns iron into a superconductor
Japanese scientists have discovered that red wine can turn certain iron compounds into superconductors, according to PopSci.com. A superconductor can transport electricity without any significant electrical resistance which for instance means that it can be transported indefinitely without losses. The Japanese researchers discovered that certain liquids contributed to the superconductive properties and decided to try with wine. (Why wine? Who knows!) They tried different types of wine and concluded that Beaujolais, made from gamay, was best. All wines they tested were better than other liquids: beer, sake, and shochu. It turned out that it was the tartaric acid that contributed to the superconductivity. But wine was still better than a plain solution with tartaric acid. Which practical implications this may have in the future remains to be seen. Perhaps it can be interpreted as a sign of Japanese scientists’ great imagination, or excess of free time? Read more www.popsci.com (Thank you Dag H)
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This post is also available in: Swedish