BKWine Brief nr 199, March 2020

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BKWine Brief logo

Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitThe best or the most practical terroir?

The world’s classic wines come from places, usually in France, which have been praised for so long that it is difficult to say if the first vines were planted there because it was the best terroir or because it was simply the most practical place to plant. Maybe the soil was too poor for anything else, maybe the slopes were not suitable for pasture, maybe the closeness to a river facilitated the transport of the wine to the nearest town. The rivers probably had more significance as a transport route than as a “mirror” to reflect the heat of the sun.

Of course, such aspects were important for the first winegrowers. Probably practical considerations have played a greater role in shaping the wine culture than we think.

My thoughts went in this direction when we were in South Africa in February and met the French winemaker at the Holden Manz Winery in Franschhoek. Thierry, as is his name, told us about how the wine industry is progressing in South Africa. How it changes from being just Bordeaux-influenced to become more terroir-influenced.

Does that mean we can now tell if a wine comes from Stellenbosch or Franschhoek? Maybe not. Most probably not. Terroir is one of those interesting wine words that, although it can be explained (maybe), it is still very much an abstract concept. Because a wine can be a terroir wine even if you cannot identify its origin. It is more a question of getting the impression that the wine has an origin. This is not as strange as it sounds. Terroir wine becomes the opposite of streamlined wine.

Probably Thierry simply meant that the winemakers in South Africa should now make wine according to the conditions you have in South Africa, not copy the conditions that they have in Bordeaux (which, of course, are completely different). Maybe Cabernet Sauvignon should be replaced with other red grapes. Maybe the French barriques should be thrown out of the cellar. This is a golden opportunity to see which grapes should be planted where. Without preconceptions. And with more tools available than the monks had in the Middle Ages.

The Corona virus has turned the world upside down including our travel planning. As you probably understand, our spring tours are cancelled. We have made three winter tours, to Chile-Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand. The last one was a very special experience as the country decided on a “lock-down” the day after the tour ended. It was a bigger adventure than expected, although New Zealand is probably one of the safest places in the world at the moment.

So, for the rest of the spring, we have cancelled all tours. Not an easy decision but of course inevitable.

We hope things will look better in the autumn and hope that your desire to travel will come back as soon as the world situation has stabilized. Further on in the Brief, you can read more about our tours in September and October as well as our long-distance tours to the southern hemisphere in early 2021.

We will soon start planning for the rest of the year 2021. If you have any thoughts or ideas about new travel destinations, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

During this time when we all stay at home; we hope you can keep up your wine enthusiasm by reading more of what we write about wine on BKWine Magazine.

Britt & Per

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief !

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What’s on at BKWine Tours

All spring tours are cancelled.

  • Bordeaux, September 30 – October 4, 2020

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!

Read our book(s)

We have written several wine books, nine at the last count. One of them has been translated to English; the others are (so far) only available in Swedish. This is the one that is available in English: Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking, Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture

All our books are on wine, but on different subjects: wines of the Languedoc, wine growing and wine making, the wines of France, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Piedmont, Burgundy, Champagne. Several have won prestigeous prizes and awards. Read more on our wine books.

From the World of Wine

In Brief

In short, news and stuff from the world of wine.

The harvest in New Zealand is saved and looks very promising, in spite of challenges, and South Africa

The Atawere Valley in Marlborough, New ZealandIn New Zealand, wine producers were in the middle of the harvest when the message came on March 25 about a total lock-down of the country. The relief was great when they were told that the harvest, despite everything, could be continued and completed. “Farming and viticulture have been defined as essential industries, so we can proceed. We have to take a lot of precautions with any workers, but it is fine,” says Olivia Doonan at Tupari Wines in Awatere Valley in southern Marlborough. See the incredibly beautiful vineyard landscape in Awatare Valley on this video.

The quality this year looks to be exceptionally good. We saw many happy faces during our tour here in March. Jenny Dobson, winemaker at Unison in Hawke’s Bay, says: “We started harvesting very early this year, as early as March 3rd. Until now (March 13) we have only picked white grapes. Everything looks very good. It has been an interesting season with fine weather but very dry, which is unusual for New Zealand.”

Also for Larry McKenna, legendary winemaker at Escarpment in Martinborough, the harvest began in early March, actually earlier than he has ever encountered during his long winemaking career. He expects the vintage 2020 to be superb.

Join us on the wine tour to New Zealand in February 2021.

You can see plenty of pictures and videos (including the above) on our New Zealand wine tour Facebook group.

Also in South Africa the harvest was threatened to be destroyed by home-confinement regulations. But special permissions have been obtained and harvest is done sometimes with a very special effort. Tariro Masayiti, winemaker at Springfontein Wines in Walker Bay explained “a special permit was negotiated with the authorities. We support the restriction of movement of people and so all casual labour has been cancelled and we are harvesting the remaining grapes ourselves, just a small team of core staff.”

Join us on the wine tour in South Africa in March 2021.

You can see plenty of pictures and videos on our South Africa wine tour Facebook group.

South Africa: Creation Wines in Hemel-en-Aarde supports The Pebbles Project

Participating in the Pebbles Project at Creation Wines in Hemel en Aarde, South AfricaDuring our South Africa tour in February we visited Creation Wines in beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde on the south coast. We tasted the lovely wines of course. But owner Carolyn Martin also took the opportunity to tell us about something that is dear to her, namely The Pebbles Project. This project was founded in 2004 and helps disadvantaged children in the wine regions through various support programs. The focus is on education but not only.

The Pebbles Project finances its activities partly through the annual Cape Wine Auction. Several wineries, such as Creation Wines, support the project by working in their local communities. So, for Carolyn’s part in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Visitors to Creation can contribute to The Pebbles Project. For 100 rand you can have as much fun as the kids on the video! More on the Pebbles Project.

Join us on the wine tour in South Africa in March 2021.

You can see plenty of pictures and videos on our South Africa wine tour Facebook group.

Watch this drone video from the beautiful Hemel en Aarde Valley and Creation’s vineyards .

A medal on the label can mean a lot for a wine

One jury team at the Concours Mondial de BruxellesA recent Wine Intelligence study shows that consumers’ knowledge of wine decreased between 2015 and 2019. But that does not mean that these consumers do not buy wine. So how do they choose their wines? Maybe they are attracted by a medal sticker on the bottle. Recently, the big wine competition Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) conducted a survey of producers who received medals in this competition. They also interviewed a number of wine merchants in Europe and the US to find out the significance of a medal for sales and marketing. The survey clearly shows, says Concours Mondial (which, one must remember, is not quite neutral in the question), that medals from the competition are of great importance.

78% of the wine producers who participated in the survey believe that a medal from the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is important for their image. 77% believe that a medal has a positive effect on their sales. Especially lesser-known producers see a medal as a way to enter new markets.

According to the rules of the competition, a maximum of 30% of the wines participating in the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles can be awarded a medal. The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2020 was scheduled to be held in early May – with BKWine participating in the jury – in Brno, in the Czech Republic, but has been moved to the end of June. Read more concoursmondial.

Organic certification makes financially sense for vineyards according to new study

Champagne bottles that are organic, “bio”It is often debated whether it makes economic sense to work organically and if it is possible to raise the prices of the wines if you switch to sustainable or organic agriculture. Now we have it in black and white, yes, it does pay off, according to a new report. At least for bulk wines of IGP Pays d ‘Oc, the largest IGP in Languedoc. The figures, which apply to the 2018 vintage, are interesting.

Conventional wines of the vintage 2018 are sold for 90 euros/hectolitre (average price for all “colours”). The price goes up to 96 euros/hl if the wine has an HVE label (a sustainability certification), to 103 euros for the Terra Vitis label (another more well-known sustainability label), and to 174 euros for organically certified wines. Wines that are under conversion to organic also fare well. You obtain 132 euro/hl if you are in the second year of conversion and 154 euro if you are in the third (and last) year. Read more about the report here: vitisphere

If you want to know more about organic wine and about sustainability in viticulture you can read our award-winning book on the subject.

Large-scale viticulture, how does it work?

Cordon simple pruningHow is it possible for some wines to cost so little? Is it about mass production, about advanced industrialization? A new project run by Anivin de France, the association of producers of Vin de France, in collaboration with the research institute Institut Français de la Vigne et du Vin, shows how to mechanize more efficiently the production of low-priced wines. But in a sustainable way.

In Aude in Languedoc there are two experimental vineyards of 30 hectares since 2018. The vines are trained to just over one meter in rows that are at least 200 metres long. The training is simple cordon (spur pruning) which allows mechanical pruning. This saves labour. The idea is to reduce labour per hectare from 70-80 hours to 15-20 hours. Each vine will carry 100–300 buds (which is a lot) and this will yield a harvest of at least 15–20 tonnes of grapes per hectare (~140 hl/ha).

Vin de France are wines with no more specified origin than France. They used to be called Vin de Table, table wines. They are for the most part simple, low-priced wines. The category is also sometimes used by high-quality producers whose wines fall outside the framework of appellations. Read more: mon-viti

Some inspiration for all home-dinners with wines from South Africa

Kevin King, owner of South Hill Wines, Elgin, South AfricaThere will be many dinners at home in the coming weeks. Here are some recommendations from producers we met on our tour in South Africa in February.

  • Gabriëlskloof Amphora Sauvignon Blanc, Cape South Coast, Bot River, ~15 euro
  • Gabriëlskloof No. 79893 The Blend, South Africa, ~15 euro

Family winery in Bot River, next to more famous Elgin. Gabriëlskloof is fortunate enough to have skilled Peter-Allan Finlayson as winemaker. Vibrant Sauvignon Blanc, full of character, that has matured 10 months in amphorae. Red Bordeaux blend with dark berries, soft tannin structure and fine and lively acidity.

  • Crystallum The Agnes Chardonnay, Western Cape, ~20 euro

Full-bodied, classic Chardonnay from Peter Allan’s Finlayson’s own range of wines.

  • Holden Manz Chenin Blanc 2017, Franschhoek, ~18 euro

Winery in southern Franschhoek with a winemaker from France, Thierry Haberer. Floral and expressive chenin with beautiful freshness.

  • South Hill Sauvignon Blanc, Elgin, ~10 euro

Kevin King, his son Nick and their winemaker Sean Skibbe make wine in cool Elgin where the winds from the south coast influence the vineyards. This is an intense and tasty sauvignon with well-balanced freshness.

For more inspiration and wine experiences, join us on our wine tour to South Africa in March 2021.

You can see plenty of pictures and videos on our South Africa wine tour Facebook group.

Wine tours

Some information about current and future wine tours with BKWine.

Bordeaux, a prestigious wine region and city | wine tour

Cabernet sauvignon ready to harvest, BordeauxThis is the most classical of all our wine tours. Bordeaux has inspired almost all other wine countries in one way or another. The Bordeaux grapes are planted all over the world. Most countries make Bordeaux blends. Bordeaux is a style that has conquered the world. Come with us to Bordeaux to discover or rediscover the original Bordeaux. We will stay four nights in the city of Bordeaux, one of the most beautiful cities in France. We will enjoy high-class chateau lunches combined with some incredible wines. Discover all the new things that are happening in Bordeaux at the moment.

Champagne, not only for cocktails! | wine tour

Oak barrels and a press in a cellar in ChampagneChampagne is not just for cocktails. It is foremost and above all a wine, a very high-quality wine. We will show you some of the best and most interesting houses during our tour. We take you to some of our favourite independent growers, often much more enjoyable than the big houses. Meet passionate wine growers and learn the secrets behind the scene. Enjoy high-quality champagne and magnificent champagne lunches. Harvest will probably be underway which is always a special moment.

Three magnificent wine tours to wine regions of the southern hemisphere in winter 2021

Felton Road Winery and vineyards, Central Otago, New ZealandDuring the first three months of 2021, we arrange three unforgettable trips to four exciting wine countries in the southern hemisphere. We will focus on wine and food, of course, but you will also experience cultural adventures and we will have plenty of time to enjoy spectacular landscapes. We will meet fascinating people who will share their knowledge with us. We can promise many unforgettable memories to take back home.

The very popular and spectacular South American tour includes both Argentina and Chile and it takes us to Buenos Aires, Mendoza, several of Chile’s exciting wine districts and even to Valparaiso. A highlight is the journey by bus across the Andes.

We will see a large part of New Zealand during our 16-day tour which takes us from Auckland all the way down to Queenstown.

Or come with us to South Africa in March and discover the high-quality wines in this charming and underrated wine country. We visit the classic regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, but also exciting Walker Bay on the south coast and trendy Swartland in the north.

  • South America, Chile and Argentina, January 18–31, 2021
  • New Zealand, February 18–March 5, 2021
  • South Africa, March 17–26, 2021

See details – and book! – on BKWine Wine Tours.

Don’t be an egoist! Share with your friends and other wine enthusiasts! Forward the Brief to your friends! Suggest that they sign up for a free subscription !

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