Right now there are two important things going on. No it’s not the Middle East. Nor Ukraine. Not even the new Swedish government or Scottish secession vote. It is the wine harvest and the wine travel season.
Let’s start with a few brief glimpses of what we’ve seen of the harvest in 2014 so far:
Bordeaux: After a difficult summer with cool weather and a lot of rain the end of August arrived, and especially September, with fabulous weather. So, basically it seems to be positive in terms of both quality and quantity, for both red, dry whites, and Sauternes. The red wine harvest has barely begun but for both dry and sweet white wines, the harvest has been going on for a couple of weeks already. It promises to be an at least good and maybe great year for all “colours”, red, white, rosé and sweet.
Sicily looks to get the best harvest in years. The dry and warm climate has been cooler than usual. There has even been some rain, received like manna from heaven. 2014 looks to be a good vintage for Sicily.
In Tuscany it is one of the most difficult harvests in memory. Rain, rain and rain throughout the summer. And then a couple of hail storms with hail the size of golf balls. And a tornado. No sun. It will be a small harvest and as to quality no one really wants to speak about it yet. But it does not bode well.
Champagne: It promises to be a very good year. Humid weather has led to some rot. But that does not matter too much because the volume is abundant. CIVB has decided on a fairly limited maximum harvest yield, to keep prices up, so there is plenty of margin for throwing away the fruit which is not really healthy, eg with rot. Much of the harvest is now already done in very good weather and most producers look and sound very happy.
Rioja: Everything points to a very good vintage here in 2014, healthy grapes, good summer weather. Unlike in 2013 which was a difficult and humid year.
Burgundy: It seems to be an almost normal-sized harvest. Most growers are very pleased with the quality, much better than the past two years. Though not entirely without problems so it’s important to do a sorting of the grapes at harvest. Some wine growers suffered dramatic hail storms during the summer, which had (very local) disastrous effects for those hit.
Veneto, with Valpolicella: 2014 is likely to go down in history as one of the worst years. A lot (!) of rain, as in Tuscany, has led to poorly and unevenly ripened grapes. Some producers have already decided not to make any amarone this year.
We have already been to a lot of wine regions with the autumn wine tours, as you can see above. Quite a few remain though. We will revisit some of the wine regions we have already been to, and add to that Piedmont, the Rhone Valley and the Douro Valley. You can look forward to more harvest reports!
For spring, we have new wine tours coming and we hope to have the opportunity to meet you at one of these.
And if not this spring perhaps in the autumn?
Enjoy this Brief in this, for us, to say the least, hectic season. At home on Mondays and Tuesdays. If we’re lucky. (Or unlucky?)
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them (click here to send them the Brief)!
What’s on at BKWine Tours
- Douro Valley in Portugal, October 22-26
- Chile and Argentina in South America, January 31 – February 15, 2015
- South Africa, February 27 – March 9, 2015
- Bordeaux, April 22-26
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!
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
Natural cork, alive and well
Those who believe that natural cork is about to die out should probably think again. Not only do the major wine countries such as France and Italy, in most cases, prefer natural cork, now more and more winemakers in the United States are also convinced of the benefits of the natural cork.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to closing a wine bottle, just different opinions. But the popularity of the natural cork has risen sharply in the United States in recent years, especially among high class restaurants. A steady decline of cork tainted wines allows winemakers, who previously abandoned the natural cork, to return to this closure. Read more on newsusa.com.
Champagne Roederer launches Brut Nature
Champagne Roederer has launched a new champagne, the first since Cristal Rosé was launched in 1974. This new Roederer is a vintage (2006) without dosage, that is, with no added sugar, no “dosage”, and no malolactic fermentation. In other words, we can expect a crisp champagne with a fresh acidity. This is the first time that Champagne Roederer makes a Brut Nature.
We look forward to tasting it. If we can afford it. Philippe Starck has designed the packaging. So both the inside and the outside is valuable.
New rules in France for hiring harvesting workers
The harvesting machine today replaces hand harvesting in many places around the world. And harvesting machines are not only for simple wines. Small, efficient and gentle machines are also seen in densely planted vineyards where the grapes end up in prestigious wines. More and more grapes are harvested with machine. Today it is around 60%.
But for many wine producers harvesting by hand is the only option. Because of the rules of the appellation or because of their own philosophy. So far, manual harvesting in France has been exempt from certain social security payments. This is to make it easier to hire people during the short time of the harvest. It also makes it possible for people who already have a job to harvest grapes during their vacation without having to pay double social security contributions. Now the French government is threatening to take away those benefits starting from next year. You can imagine the protests from the wine producers. Read more on vitisphere.com.
Spring wine tours 2015
For the winter and spring season we have already had the wine tours to South America and to South Africa open for bookings for quite some time. One more tour is now on the schedule: Bordeaux. With that the spring program will be:
- Chile & Argentina in South America, January 31 – February 15, booking now closed
- South Africa, February 27 – March 9, BOOK NOW
- Bordeaux, April 22-26, BOOK NOW
Here is a short intro to the Bordeaux tour on the travel blog: New wine tour to Bordeaux: classic wines and luxurious chateaux lunches.
The first two tours have been available for some time on the wine travel site. The Bordeaux program is also now published on www.bkwinetours.com
You can also contact us for your own private custom designed wine tour.
We have written a few short introductions to some of the destinations we have. Not all are on our scheduled program in English but all are available as custom tours also for private groups:
- Tuscany: Wine tour to the genuine, the fabulous Tuscany
- 3 Classics: Gargantuan wine tour to three classic wine regions: Sancerre, Chablis and Champagne
- Veneto, Valpolicella: New wine tour to Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone, Soave: the best and the most genuine
- Champagne: New wine tour program to Champagne: sparkling wine and gastronomy at high level
Here’s a comment from a client on a previous tour: “We were all very happy with the trip to Avignon”, wine tour in the Rhône Valley.
Ballu Tundu Riserva 2010 Cannonau di Sardegna | Birgitta’s Wine of the Month
Cantina Giuseppe Sedilesu is in Mamoiada right in cannonau-country in central Sardinia. The vineyard which has been in existence for over 30 years, is family owned and has in the past ten years gone from producing bulk wine to become a biodynamic producer of quality wines. Some ten wines are now in the portfolio; a white made from the very local white grape granazza, a powerful rosé and a whole range of reds on from the Sardinian red grape Cannonau (the local name for Grenache).
My favourite wine is Ballu Tundu Riserva 2010. The grapes for this wine come from century-old vines that grow at an altitude of 650 meters above sea level. Even if it is hard to believe during a visit in September when the thermometer is at 30 C in the afternoon, winter can mean snow in this high altitude landscape.
The wine is dark red in colour and has a nose with ripe fruit and herbs. It is round and full-bodied in the mouth with soft tannins. A wine that should go well with lamb or other red meat. The alcohol content is as high as 15.5 percent, but the wine still feels pretty balanced. The price is 25 euros.
BKWine meets two of France’s best-known vineyard consultants
Claude and Lydia Bourguignon are two well-known microbiologists who work as consultants worldwide. They advise wine producers and other farmers on all aspects of the soil. They analyse the soil, measure the microbiological activity, make recommendations about rootstocks, grape varieties, plant density, cover crops, fertilizers and so on. Their home base is northern Burgundy and their laboratory called LAMS (Laboratoire Analyses Microbiologiques Sols).
I meet Claude and Lydia out in the Cahors vineyards during the “Cahors Malbec Days” in June. They are both down in a nearly two meter deep hole dug out between the rows of vines. “We want to show you what the soil looks like down here” says Lydia. “It’s not really the top layer that is interesting but the deeper subsoil. This is where the vines get necessary nourishment and minerals. The subsoil is very important for the vine and very complex but it is like an unknown continent. There is still a lot of research to be made.”
Read more in Britt’s article on BKWine Magazine: The importance of long roots: We meet Claude and Lydia Bourguignon in Cahors.
San Felice, a wine producer in Tuscany
Agricola San Felice is a winery located in the southernmost part of Tuscany. It makes a variety of wines in various Tuscan appellations, DOC, DOCG and IGT in Chianti, Montalcino and the Maremma.
When the winemaker at Agricola San Felice, Leonardo Bellaccini, came to Sweden BKWine’s Peter Dybeck met him over a lunch and tasting with a presentation of the wines and vintages.
Read more on BKWine Magazine: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and IGT in Tuscany from Agricola San Felice.
BKWine goes to South Africa and meets the Swedish (!) CEO of a legendary wine producer
Hans Astrom is CEO of Klein Constantia, a winery in the Constantia wine region near Cape Town, since 2011. He also happens to be Swedish. We met him at the vineyard to talk about how it is to be responsible for a large vineyard in South Africa and to be the producer of the legendary Vin de Constance.
Klein Constantia was an almost forgotten vineyard when it was lifted up from what almost might be called oblivion. In 1986 the vineyard changed hands. At that time it was just four hectares of vines. Now it is 90 ha.
Read more in Per’s article on BKWine Magazine: Klein Constantia’s CEO talks about the legendary vineyards in South Africa, the wines and the history.
Feel tempted to travel to the South African wine lands? Join us on BKWine’s next wine tour to South Africa!
An unexpected grape variety in Tuscany: Cabernet Franc
“Super Tuscans” have almost been a bit fading from the wine scene in Tuscany recently. Or perhaps they are just changing. Traditionally super-Tuscans were made from Bordeaux grapes, mainly cabernet sauvignon, with a bit of sangiovese for local character. Initially they were powerful, impressive wines, but sometimes with a bit too much make-up and exaggerated curves, a bit like Italian television “air girls” swishing around the talk show hosts in short skirts, due to hefty doses of new oak.
The style has evolved though. People, both winemakers and wine consumers are looking for more balance and elegance and more fruit. One thing that is happening in Tuscany, as well as in some other warm-climate wine regions, is that cabernet franc is gaining ground.
Read more on this in Per’s article on BKWine Magazine: Cabernet franc makes progress in Tuscany.
If you want to know more on what is happening in the vineyards in Tuscany you can come on a wine tour with BKWine.
French wines do well on export. To the USA
It is not quite Jack in the Box, but French wines are making solid progress in the USA. In 2013 sales of French wines increased with 7.3% to reach 9.4 million cases, Shanken News Daily reports, based on numbers from Impact Databank.
What counts in terms of numbers are of course the affordable wines in a modest price range, $8-$14. In this price range you do not find the most exciting French wines, but you do find some very reliable French brands that today can give good value for money. This is perhaps one of the more important developments on the French wine scene in recent times, the emergence of large-volume French brands designed to appeal to an “international” (mostly meaning Anglo-Saxon) market. Often they are skilfully branded and supported by significant marketing budgets. Some examples…
Read more in Per’s article on BKWine Magazine: Demand for French wines growing – in the USA.
This also happens to be a theme that we touch on quite a lot in our new book on French wines.
Wine fair for organic wines: Millésime Bio, 26-28 January 2015
Millésime Bio is in international terms a small wine show (or wine fair). There are “only” some 800 exhibitors. On the other hand it is one of the most interesting wine shows to go to. There are many small or smallish wine producers and there are many that are aiming very much for the quality segment. It is a wine show where you have a high concentration of very interesting producers! One of the most worth-while wine shows around.
Read more on it in Per’s article on BKWine Magazine: The Organic Wine Show, or Millésime Bio, will be on January 26-28, 2015.
If you are interested in organic wines you should also take a look at our new book: Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking! There you can find all that you need to know about organic (and similar) wines.
BKWine meets Federico Carletti, head of Poliziano in Montepulciano in Tuscany
When Federico Carletti’s father said “here, take the keys to the vineyard”, he did not hesitate for a second. He took over the Poliziano vineyards and winery. It had lived a sleepy Italian village life until then. Federico, on the other hand, had big plans for the wines of Montepulciano. When Federico Carletti came to Stockholm BKWine’s Ulf Bengtsson met him over an extensive tasting and lunch.
On BKWine Magazine you get the full story and all the wine recommendations: Poliziano, a local from Montepulciano in Tuscany, with Federico Carletti.
If that tempts you to go wine travelling in Tuscany you can take a look at BKWine’s sample wine tour program for Tuscany.
Riesling from Germany, the next wine trend?
The German Wine Institute recently invited us to an event to make us acquainted with modern German wines. They wanted to show that the new generation of winemakers in Germany is about to shake off some of the old traditions and that they today make much more modern wines, wines that are more attractive and wine-drinker friendly without it compromising other parts of their long traditions.
BKWine met Generation Riesling, a group of young, forward-thinking German winemakers. There were many good Riesling wines, and others, in the presentation. BKWine’s Peter Cronström reports on BKWine Magazine: Generation Riesling, an initiative to increase the quality of German wines.
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