An insider’s tip to the wine enthusiast: do not pay much attention to vintage tables and ratings.
This year’s harvest is a prime example of why you should not bother too much about what you read in vintage ratings tables.
Last Friday I was in Champagne, at Chassenay d’Arce, an interesting cooperative in southern Champagne in Aube. Everyone was happy. The harvest had started about a week before and it was the penultimate day of harvest. The sun shone. Smiles all over. Summer has been warm, almost too hot, and definitely too dry. But in late August came two days with just enough rain to refresh the grapes. Then came ten days with near perfect weather.
The day before, on the Thursday, I met thirty champagne producers in Paris and the harvest was certainly a hot topic. Some had basically finished, others were in the midst of the harvest. Still others had not begun, but would start the following day, on Saturday.
Saturday morning I woke up to pouring rain. The rain pours down almost all day, often with impressively strong storm winds that tore at everything that was loose. Leaves and grapes for example.
Those who harvested early had almost perfect conditions. Those who harvested late, well who knows? If it will continue raining then it will be difficult.
For some, it becomes an almost perfect year. For others it can be dreadful.
As it looks now, though, the forecast for the days ahead looks pretty decent so all may go well. But it could equally be the opposite. A 10 out of 10 vintage rating for some, 3 out of 10 for others.
Moreover, it may very well be that it is pouring rain for a week in Epernay, but brilliant sunshine one hour and a half further south in Champagne-Aube. Hypothetically, that is.
Similar things could happen in any district. Flooding in the Languedoc (yes), forest fires in California (yes), drought Tuscany, etc. But only affecting some, not others.
But there are other reasons not to care much about vintage tables.
Today, there are really no excuses to make bad wine, a bad harvest. Winemakers have (should have) the knowledge and the technology to make good, but maybe not excellent, wine even in more difficult years. Sorting tables, temperature control, well-tended vineyards etc. Bad years are history. Today it’s more about different character from year to year.
Perhaps there is one context where it can be important to keep an eye on vintage tables. When you buy wine as an investment object (but I hope you do not!). The investment market for wine is not determined primarily by the quality of the wine which is traded but by what people think about the quality (not necessarily the same thing). Or perhaps more accurately, what opinionated experts have said about the quality. The wine is not bought to be drunk anyway so it’s more a matter of rumours, image, and of the vintages that are trending. But that said I hope this is not what primarily drives your interest in wine.
(But perhaps I should not reject them altogether. They can be useful sometimes. And we at BKWine are also part of the advisory committee putting together the International Wine & Food Society’s annual vintage chart…)
Now some other things.
By coincidence we write a lot about South Africa in this Brief. But it’s a good thing, because now is the time to book the wine tour to South Africa if you want to join us, Per & Britt, on this tour. The last booking date is October 15, so book now. I promise it will be an amazing trip!
The spring travel planning is also virtually nailed. Take a look at the program below or on the wine tour site.
This month’s Brief is a little shorter, and earlier, than usual (some readers seem to think that is a good thing!). We have a lot to keep us busy right now: this autumn travel season starts at full speed, spring wine tours must be finalised, two new book manuscripts to be submitted to the publisher, and more. So the Brief is shorter than usual. I hope you’re not disappointed!
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief !
What’s on at BKWine Tours
- Bordeaux, September 23-27
- Douro Valley, October 21-25
- Chile and Argentina in South America, February 6-21, 2016
- South Africa, February 26 – March 7, 2016
- Bordeaux, April 20-24, 2016
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)
Do you want the latest news and updates on our wine travel activity? Subscribe here! (Second alternative BKWineTours.com)
From the World of Wine
Best places to buy champagne in Reims and Epernay | Per on Forbes
The best place to buy champagne when you are in Champagne is of course at the producers’. And preferably at the small independent growers who typically make more exciting and individual champagnes than the internationally well-known big-and-famous brands. (And in any case, why travel all the way to Champagne and then buy the same bottles that you can find at home or in any duty-free?) But to do that you have to get out into the vineyards. What if you don’t have the opportunity to do so? Or if you want to extend your collection with even more different champagnes.
Last time I was here in Reims, guiding one of our wine tours of the Champagne region, I made a point of visiting all the wine shops in the city. So, here is a guide to the best places in Reims, the capital of Champagne, to buy champagne.
The article was originally published on Forbes. Read more on BKWine Magazine: Where to buy champagne in Reims and Epernay | Per on Forbes.
Brix and Eletheria, two new wine importers
The Swedish wine business is changing continuously. The internet wine shops have become quite established, but also the classic part of the industry changes. Two new importers have appeared lately: Brix Wine Consultants and Eletheria Wine Group. Had by coincidence recently an occasion in Paris to try a very nice champagne that is now imported by Brix: Champagne Collet, with eg a superb BSA called Héritage. Read more about these two on BKWine Magazine: Two new wine importers: Brix and Eletheria.
What? Brandy from South Africa? Swedish brandy?
South Africa is in a sense a greater brandy country than wine country. But they keep most of the brandy for themselves. They make large amounts of brandy, of cognac type. It is actually a very old tradition. The first time they made brandy in South Africa was in 1672… Curiously there is also a South African brandy with a direct link to Sweden, Olof Bergh Brandy, which of course it is a pleasure to explain. In particular since he also has some historic links to the South African wine industry.
Read more on BKWine Magazine in Per’s article: South Africa is not only good wines and good food, also delicious brandy. (Don’t miss the comment by the (Swedish) Managing Director of the Klein Constantia winery.)
Why not join Britt and Per on the wine tour to South Africa in March. You will taste many excellent wines and perhaps a brandy or two also.
Delicious wines, clever names from Jordan
“Kathy Jordan recently visited Stockholm and we talked about the development of the vineyard which she shares with her husband, Gary, whose parents originally bought 146 ha in 1982. Since I last visited Jordan Wine Estate in May 2009 a lot has happened in the vineyard. The restaurant, which opened six months later, is one of the ten best restaurants in the Cape region, it is possible to stay overnight at the vineyard, and there are more wines / product lines and many other projects.”
Read more on Jordan on BKWine Magazine in Mikael Karlin’s article: Jordan in Stellenbosch, fine wines with clever names.
Jordan is one of the producers that may be on BKWine’s wine tour program to South Africa in March. Why not join Britt and Per on the tour?
Loire wines from 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1993, 1985, 1983, 1981, 1975, 1964, 1959, 1953, 1949 and approximately 1875
Moulin Touchais has over a few decades gone from being virtually unknown, woken up from its Sleeping Beauty bed, and become almost a legend. In the cellar there were over a million bottles from the 1800s onwards. Today it is estimated that there are between 1.1 million and 2 million bottles in stock. But they don’t really know because they’ve never counted them. Many older vintages are still for sale. BKWine Magazine’s Roland Eriksson has tasted a number of vintages.
Read more on Moulin Touchais in Roland’s article on BKWine Magazine: Sweet, white and classic from the Loire: Moulin Touchais Anjou.
Amarone is dried raisin juice. Argentina only makes bulk wine. Barolo is overpriced. True or prejudice?
“Vingruppen is Sweden’s second largest wine importer and consists of six different companies: VinUnic, Wineworld, The Wine Agency, Vinovum, Valid Wines and Opentable. When they invite you to taste their range, it feels like there are more bottles than guests there. It may be because it is the same bottles during an entire afternoon while guests come and go. These companies represent many of the wine world’s great brands such as François Lurton and Masi. There are even niche high-end producers such as Borgogno from Piedmont in the range. I went to these three producers see if they could challenge three of my prejudices, or possibly misconceptions.”
Curious how the challenge turned out? Read more in Mikael Karlin’s article on BKWine Magazine: An uneven battle against 400 wines and three prejudices.
And if you would like to challenge your own prejudices (if any) on amarone, barolo or Argentine wines, then you can come with BKWine on a wine tour to Veneto, amarone land, or on a wine tour to Piedmont, or on wine tour to South America, including Argentina and Chile (South America scheduled for February).
We tried our hands at making wine. Here’s the result
In most cases, when you visit a winery, it is to taste the wine, talk to the winemaker and see the vineyard and cellar. Only on the rare occasion you also get the possibility to actually make your own wine. But that is what our travel guests on the latest wine tour to South Africa did. You don’t really have the possibility to make the wine from A to Z in a short visit. But what you can do is one of the most important steps in the winemaking process: the blending. At the Rickety Bridge winery in Franschhoek in South Africa we all had the opportunity to “blend your own wine”.
I brought home “my” personal blend and later served it blind for Britt to taste… Read about how it went on BKWine’s Travel Blog: “Lasting” memory from winery visit in South Africa.
Do you want to have a go at it yourself? The wine tour to South Africa in March is likely to have a blending seminar on the program. Join us. It’s great fun.
Tapas in Rioja
When you are in Spain having a few tapas can easily turn into a whole dinner. You go from bar to bar and try a few tapas (or pintxos that it is sometimes called) and a glass a wine. You continue to the next and try some more. We have collected a list of recommended tapas bars in Riojas second capital, Haro.
Read more on the tapas bar recommendations on BKWine’s Travel Blog: Going for tapas in … Haro in Rioja?
TripAdvisor’s list of ”World’s Best Food Tours” includes BKWine Tours
“Miam, miam, experience the world with the world’s best food tours.” It is not our head-line. It is taken from the TripAdvisor article where they have featured BKWine Tours. Well, we are certainly very pleased and honoured to have been featured as one of the companies on TripAdvisor’s list of “The World’s Best Food Tours”.
Read more on the “World’s Best Food Tours” on BKWine’s Travel Blog: BKWine on TripAdvisor’s list of World’s Best Food Tours.
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This post is also available in: Swedish