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BKWine Brief nr 105, May 2012

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitSelling wine is not easy. Some (regions/producers) think it will be easier if they get their own appellation, as we mentioned in the last Brief: two new appellations in the Loire Valley that no one knows and that hardly will be significantly different from the existing appellations in the region.

Others believe in different kinds of word magic. The absolutely irresistibly named appellation Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire has disappeared and been replaced by Coteaux Bourguignons, intended to be an “introduction appellation” for new consumers to discover Burgundy wines. That it is virtually impossible to spell correctly for anyone who is not French and that it will include wines that are completely atypical for “traditional” Burgundy apparently does not matter.

But on the other hand, who does not hesitate when spelling Franschhoek or Boekenhoutskloof? And they sell well on the international market.

The ones who currently are most successful in selling their wines are perhaps those who have taken branding the farthest and turned it into a pure game of branding and brand management, pretty much like luxury goods, like perfumes for example that sell purely on brand recognition and image marketing.

Take for example Champagne. It is probably less than one percent of the champagne consumers who really care about the intensely white chalk soil, about the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs or Côte de Sézanne. Yet it is probably the wine region that has had the most steady market progress of all, across the world, over the last few decades. Is that because the wines they make are so much better than other or is it because the success they have had with branding and marketing?

Or take Bordeaux. Not all Bordeaux, but the top chateaux of the Grand Cru Classés. The small and less famous Bordeaux producers are generally struggling but the most exclusive properties seem sometimes to be able to ask any price they want for their wines. It is even so that a fundamental part of the classification here is that it has nothing to do with the terroir, the vineyard or the wine. It is the chateau, the name of the chateau that is classified, not the wine or the vineyard. Perhaps rightly so? The people who buy Lafite, Latour, Haut-Brion, Lynch-Bages etc do it probably not because it is made from 76% of cabernet or has grown on a well-drain clay and limestone soil but because the bottle carries the name they want on the front of the label. Quite simple the right brand?

But not everyone is as successful as that in building brands so they have to try different methods.

We can see that quite clearly and quite often. The wine producer that have a talent or just a little enthusiasm for marketing and selling their wines are more successful. Those who think “I make my wine and then someone surely will come and buy it” have a harder time (in particular if the follow-up is “and if no one buys there should surely be some minimum price guarantee for what I produce in the agricultural policy”). We visit some 300 wineries every year on the 30-something wine tours that we organise so we have seen all types.

Another good “trick” to be successful (although not a guarantee) is to make wines that taste better than what one would expect at the price asked. That’s something we like! And that we will tell you about in BKWine Magazine as soon as we can.

One more thing that the winemaker can do is participate in wine fairs and wine events that take place around the world and meet the wine consumer. We often write about such events in the Brief. If you are a consumer then we encourage you to go to such events and give the producers your support! You might even make some interesting new discoveries!

New and exciting discoveries is also what we home that you do when you come on our wine tours! Wine tours too need marketing, just like the wines! So here is a short promotion of the tours. We hope that it will grab your attention and that it will tempt you to come on one of our tours!

Very urgent (!!!) to register for:

  • Bordeaux

Urgent to sign up for:

  • Tuscany

Not so urgent, but still, do it now!:

  • Champagne

And then we have the big travel news: we are launching a new tour destination: Chile and Argentina, scheduled for February next year. It will be a very special wine tour. More info below.

We can also tell you, although it is not yet official, that we will launch a South Africa wine tour, scheduled for March, soon. Check back soon if you are interested!
Britt & Per

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them!

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What’s on at BKWine Tours

“World’s Top Wine Tours” – Travel + Leisure Magazine, on TravelAndLeisure.com

2012 wine tour program

  • Bordeaux 19-23 September
  • Tuscany 10-14 October
  • Champagne 14-18 November

2013 wine tour program

  • Chile & Argentina, 4-19 February 2013
  • South Africa, 1-11 March 2013

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!

“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. More wine tour customer testimonials here.

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. More info on the custom designed and bespoke BKWine wine tours and travel here!

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

Brolettino from Ca’ de Frati | Åsa’s Wine of the Month

fruitOn the wine tour we recently did in Veneto in northern Italy we visited several different wine regions around Verona. We tasted red wines in Valpolicella, with amarone prominently featured, whites in Soave and in the not so famous neighbouring district Gambellara where they also make wine from the garganega grape. We also managed a detour to Bardolino to visit Le Fraghe. One of the evenings we went for dinner (at Da Ugo) we happened to find an excellent white wine that we did not know, called Brolettino made by Ca’ de Frati. The wine comes from the Lugana region that is at the southern tip of the Garda Lake. It is actually located in Lombardy. The grape variety is local, called turbiana. The wine was quite round and full bodied with a warm structure, aromas of tropical fruit like pineapple and mango. But what was most remarkable was the very refreshing acidity that shone like a flood light a dark night. It has been aged in wood for ten months and has 13% alcohol. Goes perfectly with fish, pastas with vegetables, and also to chicken or veal. Very good value at around 15 euro. www.cadeifrati.it.

New wine tour to Chile and Argentina: BKWine launches South America destination

argentina wineryBKWine has just launched a new wine tour destination: Chile and Argentina. It is a spectacular wine tour that will show you some of the very best that these two top South American countries have to offer in wine and food. the tour starts in Buenos Aires, continues to Mendoza. Then we move to Chile and all its wine as well as Valparaiso and Santiago.

The tour includes a stunning drive across the Andes along some of the most spectacular mountain sceneries there is. There will be many wine tastings and winery visits and showcasing of the South American food, but the tour also includes city sight seeing, an intimate tango evening, a visit to an estancia and many other things.

Read more about this exceptional wine tour to Chile and Argentina here!

Harbour House Restaurant, Kalk Bay Harbour, South Africa | BKWine Pick

boats on the oceanThe Harbour House Restaurant in Kalk Bay has a fabulous location in the harbour with its feet in the water. One is glad that the windows are closed otherwise one would be completely soaked. Worth a visit both for the view and for the food. Much fish, of course, delivered fresh from the fishing boats that are moored just outside the restaurant. The food is well prepared and reasonably priced. A good stop if you are making an excursion towards Cape Point from Cape Town or if you are exploring the Constantia wineries.

Harbour Hose Restaurant, Kalk Bay, Constantia, South Africa, ph 021 788 4133, http://www.harbourhouse.co.za/harbourhouse

Watch the video.

We usually make a stop here on our wine tours to South Africa. The next is scheduled for March if you are interested in joining us!

Cape Wine – wine show in South Africa

Cape Wine is to be held in the Cape Town Convention Centre from 25 to 27 September 2012. This is a trade event “with loads of fun built in”, according to the organisers. There will be over 300 wineries exhibiting. The intention is to showcase what is going on in the South African wine regions. Running alongside Cape Wine in the same venue, at the same time is Vindaba, a South African wine tourism show. For more info: www.capewine2012.co.za and www.vindaba.com

Perhaps not quite the world’s best syrah but no doubt good wines

syrah vinesSyrah du Monde is a wine competition for wines made from the syrah grapes. No prize for guessing. As with all competitions, you can only win if you decide to take part in the competition so one should perhaps not take the part of “World’s Best” too literally. On the other hand, the wines that win medals are surely both excellent and interesting. They have managed to get good notes from the judges in the competition with is certainly impressive. More information on  http://www.syrah-du-monde.com. Here is the top-ten list that actually contains 14 wines:

  • Hartenberg The Stork Shiraz 2008, Hartenberg Farm, South Africa
  • Gatt Shiraz – Barossa Valley 2010, Gatt Wines, Australia
  • Luberon Grand Deffand 2009, Château la Verrerie, France
  • Côtes de Provence – Habillage “Noir et Or” 2006, Château La Tour de l’Évêque, France
  • El Olivar Alta Syrah 2009, Viu Manent y Cia, Chile
  • Hermitage Cuvée Emilie 2010, Desmeure / Domaine des Remizieres, France
  • Crozes-Hermitage Immanence 2009, Cave des Clairmonts, France
  • Alentejano – Homenagem a Hans Christian Andersen 2009, Cortes de Cima, Portugal
  • Saronsberg Shiraz 2010, Saronsberg Cellar, South Africa
  • Costières de Nîmes Les Marquises 2009, Lamargue, France
  • Rust en Vrede Shiraz 2009, Rust en Vrede, South Africa
  • Anthropology Shiraz 2010, Cumulus Wines, Australia
  • Tamaya Winemaker’s Gran Reserva Syrah 2010, Vina Casa Tamaya del Limari, Chile
  • Saint Joseph Esprit de Granit 2010, Cave de Tain l’Hermitage, France

We taste wines back to 1970 from one of the most famous Provence estates

chateau vignelaureA vineyard in Provence that also traces its roots to Bordeaux recently organised a tasting with wines back to 1970: Chateau Vignelaure in Coteaux d’Aix en Provence.

Here the first cabernet sauvignon was planted in the mid-1960s. And this grape is the hallmark of the estate. We have met the owners, the Danish/Swedish couple Mette och Bengt Sundstrom at an event that they stage in Paris. We talked about the wines, the history and the most recent developments.

Read more in our producer profile and tasting report on chateau Vignelaure.

Men shop for wine – with some difficulty

wine shop and a manIn France, women buy the food and men the wine. Of course, with some generalization, but in La Vigne, we read of a survey conducted by the company SymphonyIRI showing that 55% of wine buyers in supermarkets are men. But the men do not buy food as often as they buy wine. Only 25% of food shopping is made by the men.

Other things that came up in the survey is that customers spend more time in the wine section of the store then in other sections and they read the wine label more carefully than other food labels. In addition, customers feel more insecure buying wines. Customers are seldom knowledgeable about wine, says the survey, but are very reluctant to admit it, especially the men. They are afraid of making bad purchases and to be seen as incompetent by their dinner guests.

The study also shows that wine buyers come to the shop with a clear idea of what food they are going to have with the wine. Maybe something for wine producers to consider when writing their labels.

Tenuta Regaleali – in the middle of Sicily

winemaking team at regalealiIt is a dramatic, mountainous landscape. In the distance the sheep is grazing quietly and olive and almond trees mix beautifully with the vines. We are standing together with Laura Orsi, oenologist and winemaker, looking out over the big estate of Tenuta Regaleali. “Here at Regaleali we are 550 meters above sea level,” says Laura. “Our vineyards begin at 350 meters and go up to 800 meters which gives freshness and acidity to our white wines and good aging potential to the red wines.”

Tenuta Regaleali is run by the Tasca d’Almerita family and is something of a quality reference for Sicily. They were pioneers for quality wine on the island.  Rosso del Conte, their superb flagship wine, was first made in the early 1970s, and made people discover the quality of the indigenous grape nero d’avola. Many other wines worth looking for is made, for instance the Rosé Spumante made of pinot nero and the white wines from the Sicilian grapes inzolia, catarrato and grillo. Read more in our wine producer profile on Tenuta Regaleali, Tasca d’Almerita

Osteria dell’Arco, Alba restaurant | BKWine Pick

trufflesThe Osteria dell’Arco restaurant is actually on the main square in Alba, the Piazza Savona, but it is hidden at the end of a court yard. You can try a range of Piemontese specialities: the carne cruda all’Albese of course (the raw minced beef made from choice meat cuts), tajarin al burro e salvia o sugo di salciccia (thin tagliatelle-like egg pasta with sage, sausage and butter sauce), coniglio grigio di carmagnole all’Arneis (made with a local type of grey rabbit), and a panna cotta to finish – just as an example of their talents. The atmosphere is of a simple but elegant trattoria with a lot of local customers and quick and friendly staff. Prices are moderate: around 10€ for primi piatti (pasta) and 13€ to 15€ for a main course. (There is a sister-restaurant in Bra called Osteria Boccondivino but we have not been there.)

Osteria dell’Arco, Piazza Savona 5, 12051 Alba, ph 0173 36 39 74, http://www.osteriadellarco.it

Perhaps this is a restaurant that you will want to try if you come on one of the BKWine wine tours to Piedmont! Take a look at our wine tour programs.

Wine and spirits sales liberalised! – In Texas…

statue on the facade of systembolaget hqIt is easy to believe that the USA is the pinnacle of market economies. In the alcohol sector that could not be farther from the truth. The rules around selling alcohol vary much from state to state and even within states. In Texas each county can set its own rules. Last week 13 votes approved new rules liberalising fully or partially alcohol sales in 11 counties. All ballot initiatives were towards a more liberal regulation and all proposals were approved.

46 counties have completely liberalised sales (“wet” counties) of alcohol and in 22 counties it is completely forbidden (“dry” counties). There are 186 “damp” counties. Since 2004 some 420 ballots for full or partial liberalisation have been approved while two counties have banned all sales. All according to Shanken News Daily. We certainly hope that the ”wave” of liberalisation continues across the world – both for alcohol sales and in production rules and appellation legislations.

Natural cork without cork taint

diam corkWe heard about the Diam closure for the first time for about five years ago. We attended a tasting with some Champagne producers who all had tried a natural cork called Mytik, which is Diams counterpart for sparkling wines. Recently we read in Vitisphere that the company Diam Bouchage now accounts for 5% of the world market for wine bottle closures continues to increase.

The great advantage with Diam is that it more or less guarantees the producers that he will not have any cork tainted wines. Diam is made with natural cork but it undergoes a patented process called the Diamond process, which effectively kills the TCA. The method involves treating the cork with supercritical carbon dioxide. The cork is first grinded into flour and then treated. The crumbs are then pressed together to a cork stopper that is available in different lengths (38-48 mm), depending on the type of wine it will be used for. Diam is an option for those producers who do not want to risk cork taint but wants to close their wine bottles with natural cork. The downside is that you can easily see that Diam/Mytik is an agglomerated cork. Chances are even that you think it is a synthetic cork. But if you see Diam printed on it, you know it is not.

Diam Bouchage has its head quarters in the town of Ceret in Roussillon and actually use some cork from local cork trees in Roussillon.

Paul et Kopa Restaurant, Marseille | BKWine Pick

road to marseilleThere are plenty of restaurants around the old harbour in Marseilles that serves bouillabaisse. This is not one of them. Paul & Kopa is basically a pizzeria, but with a twist, or perhaps one should say not only. It is nicely decorated, real table cloths on the tables, comfortable seating and comfortable lighting. Friendly service. All in all very nicely presented. And the pizzas are excellent, really excellent. You can have the pizzas as a starter or you can have them as a main course. You can get them in different sizes depending on how hungry you are or if you want to share. They also serve other things than pizza: traditional Provençal-Mediterranean dishes with fish and seafood, for example the small local octopi called soupions, so you don’t have to be a pizza-lover to go there. Definitely a good and reasonably priced restaurant just off the old harbour on the Place aux Huiles.

Restaurant Paule et Kopa, 42 Place aux huiles 13001 Marseille, ph 04 91 33 26 03, www.paule-kopa.com

Experimental planting of new vines with resistance to mildew allowed in Languedoc

marselan in the vineyardThe producers of the Languedoc has now received its long-awaited permission from the Ministry of Agriculture to start growing, on an experimental basis, new grape varieties that are developed to be resistant against powdery mildew and downy mildew, we read in La Vigne. Not having to treat the vineyards against these two problems is of course a great advantage to the environment and it allows the winemakers to save some money. If the quality of the wines made from these grapes will be good enough for the consumers remains to be seen.

The new varieties are the result of years of research, a research which is still ongoing. The resistant varieties are hybrids, that is, crosses between the European vitis vinifera (which is highly susceptible to fungal diseases) and the American or Asian vitis-families (which are more resistant). However, it is more complicated than it sounds. First, an initial crossing is made and you get a vine with one or (preferably) several resistant genes. This vine is then crossed again, one or often several times, with known vitis vinifera as merlot, grenache, cabernet, etc. In the end you get a vine with a high proportion of vitis vinifera and, hopefully, the resistant genes intact.

QOC Agrigento, Sicily restaurant | BKWine Pick

vegetablesQOC is a small modern style restaurant in the centre of Agrigento, in the Valley of the Greek Temples, just a few steps away from where you have a view of the temples. On the ground floor there is a café-bar and a small seating place. If you go upstairs you come to the real dining room. The style is modern both of the decoration and the cuisine, but for the cooking it is based on fresh local products. Fresh fish served with vegetables or beans and a good selection of other Sicilian-modernist dishes. Some say it is the best restaurant in Agrigento. A small but good selection of wines, mainly Sicilian. Reasonably prices. Definitely a good place to go when in Agrigento.

QOC, Outfit restaurant bar, Via Cesare Battisti 8 (near Via Atenea), ph 0922 27 107, 92100 Agrigento, www.qoc.me

(If you come with BKWine on a wine tour to Sicily you should definitely take a few extra days to visit the Temple Valley, and QOS. We currently have a “Scandinavian” scheduled wine tour to Sicily but will be happy to do it as a custom tour in English for private parties.)

Rules for labelling in France

a wine bottle labelOn May 6, new rules were published for the labeling of wines in France. The rules come into force on 1st of July. The ministries involved, writes La Vigne, have taken quite some time to get the rules published but actually they are more or less already in use. The 6th of May publication was rather a confirmation of what everyone already knows.

We have taken a closer look at the labelling rules. For example, the Alsace-growers (and the growers in the Jura and Savoie) have managed to protect their grapes to a certain degree. Grapes from these regions are not allowed to be mentioned on the labels of wines without geographical origin (Vin de France). The grapes concerned are the Alsace grapes gewurztraminer, riesling and sylvaner, the Jura grape Savagnin and the Savoie grapes trousseau, mondeuse, jacquère, poulsard, altesse and gringet. Moreover, the same rule applies for clairette and aligoté.

For wines with geographic origin – AOC/AOP  and vin de pays/IGP – the names of the grapes can be mentioned on the label, provided that each grape represents not less than 15% of the blend. One wonders why they decided on a 15 % limit.

I am always confused when I see the term “mis en bouteille a la propriété” (bottled on the estate) on a bottle from a cooperative. Now I have the proof that it is permissible for cooperatives to put this on the label if the vinification has been made by the same cooperative that bottled the wine. And I’m still confused. For me, estate bottled and bottled by a cooperative are opposite things.

Sweden has a broad range or wines, or not?

order bookHow does the fact of having a monopoly on retail sales influence the range of products on sale in Sweden? A few years back a new range of wines was introduced, the so called “On Order” range which means that the wine lover can choose from thousands of wines in addition to the normal range in the stores. If they are patient, plan ahead and can wait a week or 10 days for their bottles. But do people take advantage of this “On Order-range”?

We report in this article: The range of products available at the Swedish monopoly is … great, good, or poor?

Auction of century old champagne

old champagne11 champagne bottles that was found in a shipwreck close to the island of Åland, between Finland and Sweden, in 2010 will be auctioned on June 6 this year by French auction house Artcurial Briest-Poulain-F.Tajan. The auction will take place in Mariehamn, the capital of Åland. The bottles are considered to be from the first half of the 19th century. More: Artcurial Briest–Poulain–F.Tajan

In total, 162 bottles were found of which 79 were considered drinkable. Champagne expert Richard Juhlin tasted the champagnes when they were recorked and he found many of them still healthy and pleasant to taste. The champagnes found come from three different champagne houses: Juglar (which does not exist any more), Veuve-Clicquot and Heidsieck.

Starting price is approximately 10 000 euro per bottle.

The simplest Burgundy wine changes name. Farewell Grand Ordinaire!

burgundy bottlesA new appellation has been born in Burgundy. Or rather, an old appellation has changed its name and its profile. The old name was AOC Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, or BGO. A wonderful name, I have always thought and now I also know what is behind the name. In the old days the every day wine people drunk was called Bourgogne Ordinaire and on Sundays the wine was a little bit better so it was called a Grand Ordinaire!

The new name is Coteaux Bourguignons and the first bottles will be available this spring (vintage 2011). It is an overall appellation stretching from Auxerre in the north down to Beaujolais in the south, what is known also as the Grande Bourgogne. It is possible to make red, white and rosé. The grapes are the usual Burgundy ones, with some additions. For red wines, pinot noir and gamay can be joined by césar if you are in the department of l’Yonne in northern Burgundy. For the whites you have the choice of chardonnay, aligote, melon de Bourgogne (also known as muscadet), pinot blanc and pinot gris. The wines may be varietals or blends. A Burgundy made of pinot gris? Yes, one wonders, but in fact the Coteaux Bourguignons is not a 100 % Burgundy wine. You may not put “Vin de Bourgogne” on the label because it cannot be declassified to an AOC Bourgogne. All other appellations can be declassified to AOC Bourgogne except AOC Bourgogne that can be declassified to Coteaux Bourguignons. All nice and clear?

According to BIVB (Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne), the appellation Coteaux Bourguignon will serve as an introduction to Burgundy, especially for new wine drinkers.

Le Verso Restaurant Pizzeria, Avignon | BKWine Pick

pope's palace avignonThey have good pizzas. That’s the most important thing to say about Le Verso. The restaurant is nothing special, quite plain. But pizzas are good. They do have a terrasse (outside seating), albeit on a street with quite a lot of traffic. It is only 50 meters off Place de l’Horloge but is comfortably un-touristy. It was originally recommended to us by someone at one of the posher restaurants in Avignon a day when sophistication was not on the agenda and we asked for a suggestion for some simple but good place to eat. The place to go if you want something really uncomplicated after a long day in the vineyards. No need to worry too much about the wine in this restaurant. They have some, yes.

Le Verso, restaurant-pizzeria, 3 place Nicolas Saboly, 84000 Avignon, ph 04 90 85 28 89

Good choice of name? Côte, coteaux or not?

coteaux du languedocSpeaking of Coteaux Bourguignons (see other news item) as a name for an appellation, the trend in recent years in France has rather been to get rid of words like “coteaux” and “côte”. Côtes du Ventoux and Côtes du Luberon is now Ventoux and Luberon, Coteaux du Languedoc is Languedoc, Coteaux Tricastin is Grignan-Les Adhémar (admittedly this change was also due to the presence of a nuclear facility). But still, my impression was that it was generally thought that “coteaux” and “côte” was not so easily understood outside of France.

On the other hand, Côtes du Rhône is doing well and Coteaux bourguignon undeniably makes you think of boeuf bourguignon which is, for most consumers, positive!


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  1. Auction of century old champagne | WineTalkGroup - May 19, 2012

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