BKWine Brief nr 200, April 2020

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitChardonnay, the swan that became an ugly duckling?


Issue 200


Where are we now?

This will be a long Brief, so save it and read when you have the time. Let’s start with the swan.

It is alarming how sometimes an arbitrary strange thing spreads from one wine writer to the next, from one advertiser copy writer to another. I am right now thinking about how Chardonnay is described. For some time now, a claim is going around that Chardonnay doesn’t taste much. We read a very funny advertising text from one of the big Swedish morning papers today. (Well, it looks as if it comes from the paper, but in reality it is paid advertising although one can’t tell.)

The headline: “A Chardonnay from France, typical for the grape

Then in the text: “The Chardonnay grape tastes basically nothing. Well, some little, little hints of citrus, and it is medium-bodied.

How can it be a selling point to call a wine typical for the grape if in the next sentence you write that the grape doesn’t taste anything? How can then the wine even be typical? Or are they saying that the wine is tasteless?

This was not the first time. Someone must have started this slander campaign against Chardonnay. Yes, it does say on Wikipedia that Chardonnay is a neutral grape and if you google “chardonnay neutral” you get many results.

One of the absolute top grapes in the wine world, responsible for fantastic wines all over the globe. How is it even possible to describe it as “neutral”?

OK, there is a continuation of the advertising copy, and it’s more or less the same text I encountered everywhere in my Google search: “The rest of the taste and aromas come from where it is grown and from the wine production itself.”

So this would only apply to Chardonnay?

Without winemaking, without fermentation, there would be no wine. You cannot disregard what happens during the fermentation when talking about a wine’s character.

The advertising copy, and all the other Chardonnay detractors, perhaps mean that it is the grape itself that tastes of only a tiny bit of citrus when you put it in your mouth in the vineyard? It is a possibility. But hardly likely. But would one describe a grape as medium-bodied? Hardly. So obviously they mean a wine made from Chardonnay. Which does not exist before “the wine production itself”. The logic is hard to understand.

But OK, let’s say they mean that the grape itself doesn’t taste anything. The same goes for most grapes. They taste mostly sweet. In any case, a grape is not a wine and their respective tastes are not really comparable. The transformation of the grape into wine affects all grapes. The soil and geography affect all grapes as well. Even the so-called aromatic grapes.

Chardonnay is not an aromatic grape. But that doesn’t mean it’s neutral.

Don’t believe in this kind of slander. We should put an end to this smearing of Chardonnay here and now.

Newsletter number 200!

It was not something we planned when we started. 200 monthly newsletters. The first, BKWine Brief Nr 1, was in May 2003. Seventeen years ago. SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO. The year when the Concorde made its last flight. The last VW Buggy in the “real” design was made. The fifth Harry Potter book and the Da Vinci code were published. Just to compare, the first smartphone, Apple’s iPhone, was launched in 2007…

Time flies.

We can think back even longer. We launched our first wine web site in 1996. It was, as far as we know, the first web site about wine in Scandinavia and one of the very early ones world-wide. But we will return to history at a later date.

It is particularly strange to think of this jubilee at this time, in these day. When no one knows what the future will bring.

Where are we now?

It is easier to know where we are than where we will be. Our activity is fundamentally affected by what is happening in the world at this moment.

A very large and important part of what we do is to organise wine tours. All of our travel activity is, of course, currently on hold. All our wine tours for the spring season have been cancelled.

What about autumn? Since no one really knows what will happen in the fall/autumn we are working with the hypothesis that it will again be possible to travel. This means that we are planning for all the autumn tours as if they can go ahead. The autumn season is around two thirds of our business. We don’t know if it will be possible. Many things point to long term effects for the travel business, that it will suffer for a long, long time. We will have to wait and see and take decisions when we know more.

So, slightly amended, I will quote what I wrote on Facebook recently:

I am sure you understand that we are not doing any wine tours this season. We are keeping as isolated as possible, as everyone else, to help fight the virus.

We are also very uncertain about the autumn season. Even if covid has been “tamed” will wine lovers want to travel to wine regions?

So, as you can imagine, this will not be a good year for us, like for many others in travel and tourism. We live from our travel activity.

But you can help us a little bit:

Read what we write in the BKWine Brief and on BKWine Magazine. We hope that it might cheer you up and give you some pleasure. And maybe a little longing to go to a wine region, when that day arrives.

Also, follow what we post on Facebook, pictures, videos and stories from previous (!) travel. “Like” our posts (click the button!). Keep us and BKWine Tours in mind when you start feeling the urge to travel to wine country again. Think about us for your next wine tour. When the time is right.

But you can help us even more:

Tell your wine-loving friends about us. Tell them about our wine tours and our wine writing. Tell them that they should get our newsletter and “like” us on Facebook and Instagram (where we are @bkwinetours). And maybe join one of our wine tours sometime in the future.

Whatever little help you can give us, it is much appreciated!

We’re trying to liven up your time in home-confinement or however you are dealing with this situation, or simply your time without travelling, by posting more than usual about lovely wines and wonderful wine regions.

We plan for the future. A future when we hope to meet you somewhere in a wine region.

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.

2019 statistics for the world’s wine production show stable acreage but reduced production

The vineyards at Casa Marin, San Antonio, ChileOIV, the International Organization of Vine and Wine, has recently published new statistics for the world’s wine production in 2019. Here are some key figures.

The vineyard area in the world is estimated at 7.4 million hectares, which means it is stable since 2016. Wine production amounted to 260 million hectolitres in 2019, a substantial reduction from 2018 when production was historically high at 293 million hectolitres. The three largest wine countries in the world all saw a sharp reduction in their production. Italy produced 47.5 million hl, France 42.1 and Spain 33.5. Together, these three countries accounted for 48% of the world’s wine production in 2019. The fourth-largest wine country, the United States, produced 24.3 million hectolitres, down 2% from 2018. According to OIV, this decrease is not due to bad weather conditions or the California fires in October but is rather an attempt to tackle the overproduction of grapes and wine that California has been suffering from for two years.

Most of the wines produced are consumed. World consumption in 2019 is estimated at 244 million hectolitres. The export market in 2019 increased slightly compared to 2018. In volume, it is estimated at 105.8 million hectolitres (+1.7%) and in value to EUR 31.8 billion (+0.9%). More info www.oiv.org

“Good” news for South Africa: Wine exports again permitted as the country eases lockdown

Tariro Masayati, winemaker at Springfontein Wine Estate, Walker Bay, South AfricaWine producers in South Africa have been through some tough times but now things are at least getting a bit better. During five weeks of lockdown, they have not been allowed to sell their wines locally (all alcohol sales are prohibited) or to export.

On May 1, the government will remove some restrictions. The country goes from level 5 to level 4. For the wine industry, this means that producers can again export their wines. Transport of wine is again permitted. Wineries can transport their bottles to ports and to airports for export out into the world. They can also export by road to neighbouring countries.

Maja Berthas, representative of Wines of South Africa (WOSA) in Sweden is relieved. “I hope the industry will get back on its feet as soon as possible. A production and export ban has of course very serious consequences, both financially and socially for the Western Cape Province.”

Tariro Masayiti, winemaker at Springfontein Wine Estate in Stanford, Walker Bay, is happy but says that still some things need to be clarified: “We couldn’t be happier with the good news but at the same time we still need clarity if support services like printing of labels, labeling, etc. are also permitted. We can only assume that export certification systems at the Department of Agriculture will be running, otherwise no wine can leave the country.”

He also says that not allowing sales of wine on the local market under controlled conditions is hurting businesses and livelihoods in the wine industry and the value chain. “We can only hope that the government continues to review this ban of local sales and make the right call sooner, rather than later. On a happier note, our overseas clients can look forward to some very special wines coming out of the cellar and heading their way.” Read more: wosa

Travel to South Africa: 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.

Reduced spraying in the vineyard with the help of viscosity

A vine leaf attacked by mildiou (downy mildew)The idea seems brilliant. The company De Sangosse has developed a new product, a so-called adjuvant, named LE 846, whose viscous and liquid properties help to reduce the spraying by a quarter against downy and powdery mildew, two difficult fungal diseases. This adjuvant will reduce the amount of fungicide remaining in the air. There will be less waste. The drops do not bounce back but remain on the leaves (or wherever they are supposed to end up). The product is thixotropic, which means that it is liquid during the spraying but becomes viscous as soon as it lands on the vine. In a similar way that paint colour is fluid when stirred but still doesn’t run when you paint a wall. LE 846 can be used with copper, sulphur or synthetic chemical fungicides. It will be sold for the first time for the 2020 season. Read more vitisphere

Pressure chamber will help New Zealand wine growers to irrigate at the right time

The Atawere Valley in Marlborough, New ZealandMany wine regions are doing research to better understand the challenges posed by climate change. In the recently inaugurated Bragato Research Institute in Blenheim, Marlborough, in New Zealand, 84 small fermentation tanks and a lot of other necessary equipment, some in miniature format, will enable various research projects for both viticulture and vinification. After two very dry years in New Zealand, research concerning the vine’s water needs is high on the wish list. How much water does the vine actually need and exactly when does it need it? The research will include so-called “pressure bombing” where you measure the water potential of the vine leaves in a small pressure chamber. In this way you can very precisely decide if and when to irrigate. Other important research topics at the Bragato Research Institute will be on sustainability, new aromas, testing new equipment, and much else. Exciting with a new research centre for wine. Read more: tvnz

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.

Hail in Bordeaux, reporting from Château Bernateau in Saint Emilion

Hail at Chateau Bernateau, Saint Emilion, BordeauxBordeaux was hit by violent hailstorms on April 17. In Saint Emilion, Château Bernateau – that we were supposed to visit the day after on our Bordeaux spring tour, if everything had been normal – was hit, but not as much as they first feared, says owner Karine Lavau. But they needed to react quickly and start spraying the vineyard as more rain was expected. And it also came.

Château Bernateau is an organic vineyard and Karine and her husband Pierrick can therefore only use contact products, such as copper and sulphur, to protect the vines against fungal diseases. To make these products more effective, they added a mixture of plants – comfrey, nettle and horsetail – to “promote the natural resistance of the vines, eliminate the stress brought about by the hailstorm and help the vegetation to recover”, says Karine.

Nettles and horsetail are both used in biodynamic agriculture (Bernateau is not biodynamic) and are considered to have many useful properties. Nettles make copper more effective and horsetail, which contains sulphur, is used as an anti-fungal product.

Join us on a wine tour to Bordeaux!

”Pétillant naturel”, petnat, obtains official recognition in Montlouis-sur-Loire

Montlouis sur Loire, FranceThe oldest way to make sparkling wines is called méthode ancestrale in France. The method is mainly used in Gaillac, Limoux and Die. A more modern, or at least trendier, style of this method is called pétnat, or pétillant naturel. It is an easy-drinking bubbly wine, often from the Loire Valley, popular at “natural wine bars” around the world. Montlouis-sur-Loire in Touraine has now raised the status of pétnat and included it in its appellation regulations. Officially, the wine is called Pétillant Originel AOC Montlouis sur Loire. “Naturel” is for good reasons a touchy word to use in French wine circles. “Naturel” as opposed to “not naturel”? The grape is chenin blanc, the same as for still Montlouis.

A pétnat, and a méthode ancestral, is produced with only a single fermentation. The wine is bottled before the first fermentation is completely finished. The fermentation continues in the bottle. (A “méthode traditionelle, like e.g. in Champagne, uses two fermentations, the second with added yeast and sugar.) The end result is a wine with a lower pressure than a méthode traditionelle wine (3-3.5 bar instead of 6) and a slightly lower alcohol content. A pétnat is usually completely dry, while a traditional méthode ancestrale often is a bit sweet and with even lower alcohol content. A Montlouis Pétillant Originel must be disgorged but in other regions it is fairly common for pétnats to leave the yeast deposit in the bottle and simply let the wine be a little cloudy. Read more vinsmontlouissurloire

Asado, some rules for a successful Argentine barbecue

Meat on the grill for an asado at Bodegas Weinert, Mendoza, ArgentinaBarbecues are loved in many countries and the season is starting. In South Africa, they invite you to a braai, in Argentina and Chile to an asado. What’s so special about an asado? Is it like any barbecue party, except that it is, of course, mandatory to drink Malbec? There are actually some specific asado “rules”. Number one is that you have to have different pieces of meat on the grill. Of course, all the meat comes from the Argentine cattle. However, you do see pork meat occasionally and pork sausage should be included on the grill. And blood sausage (the Argentineans love them). And, as I said, different cuts of meat, such as beef ribs, flank steak, thick cuts of beef, sweetbread or other offal if you want. In Chile they often add a selection of pork and chicken.

You start the fire well in advance. If you have beef ribs you start it well before the guests arrive. Beef ribs take some time to grill but they will turn out wonderfully juicy and tasty. When the guests gather, you serve some wine, of course and some snacks. It could be cheese, cured ham, chorizo, olives, freshly baked empanadas. Rule number two is that the meat should be grilled slowly. The third rule is that when you are about to start eating, the guests sit down at the table. The salads are already there. You can do just tomatoes and onion if you want to keep in simple. And more wine is served. You serve the meat one type of cut at a time. Never everything at once. You serve the sausages first, then the offal (if you have any), then a portion of flank steak, a portion of ribs, a portion of beef, etc. One more fundamental rule: you barbecue over an open fire or hot coal, never, never, never, in a covered “barbecue” (like a Weber). That does not count as grilling. Bon appétit!

Argentinean wine suggestions will follow.

Join us on the wine tour to Chile and Argentina in January 2021.

You can see plenty of pictures and videos on our Chile-Argentina wine tour Facebook group.

Record-breaking heat and drought this spring in Burgundy

Landscape and vineyards in Chablis, BurgundyIt has been an extremely warm and dry spring in some parts of France, especially the northern and north-eastern parts. We asked Philippe Bernard at Clos Saint Louis in Fixin (Côte de Nuits) how the vines are doing. “This is another ‘année de folie’, a crazy year”, he says. “It has been hot and very dry, too dry. We have only had 5 mm of water in over a month.”

The vines grow at an incredible speed. 2020 has great chances of becoming the earliest harvest ever in Burgundy. The work that Philippe and his co-workers are now doing, ebourgeonnage (removing unwanted buds) and relevage (fixing the branches between the wires), he normally does in mid or late May. Because it has been hot and dry, he currently has no problems with downy mildew, but he needs to be vigilant about any development of powdery mildew. Clos Saint Louis is Terra Vitis certified, one of the most stringent sustainability labels.

Argentinian wines to make your barbecue a success, not only Malbec

Ala Colorada, Ancellotta, Viña Las Perdices, Mendoza, ArgentinaArgentina is known for its Malbec and its excellent meat. They both go amazingly well together. But if you want to make an Argentinean evening at home, which is quite easy if you have a grill/barbecue, you don’t have to limit yourself to Malbec see our separate text on asado). Here are some recommendations for a 100 % Argentine evening:

For aperitif, start with a Sauvignon Blanc from Mendoza, for instance from family estate Pulenta. It is fresh and aromatic (~8 euro). Another option would be a wine from the grape Torrontés, even more aromatic and also a bit perfumed. If you want an easy-drinking red try Proemio Syrah Reserve from Mendoza (~10 euro).

While you all gather around the grill, try Susana Balbo Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Uco Valley (15 euro). Susana is one of Argentina’s most famous and respected winemakers. She became Argentina’s first female oenologist in 1991. Or try the lovely Mendel Semillon from Mendoza (~15 euro). One of the owners of Mendel is the legendary Argentine winemaker Roberto de la Mota. Or a Altos las Hormigas malbec.

To the meat: Susana Balbo Signature Malbec from Uco Valley (~20 euro) will be splendid. Mendel makes fabulous reds as well, try their Mendel Cabernet Sauvignon (~18 euro) or the Mendel Cabernet Franc (~22 euro).

Join us on the wine tour to Chile and Argentina in January 2021.

You can see plenty of pictures and videos on our Chile-Argentina wine tour Facebook group.


Features that we have published during the past month, with lots of reading for you.

Focus Santa Barbara: Sideways Relaxed, or has California changed gear?

Chardonnay just brought in from harvest in Burgundy“California Wines had invited to a master class on the theme of “Going Sideways for Santa Barbara” under the leadership of Gavin Chanin, who represented both his own company Chavin Wine Company and several other producers in Santa Barbara. The subject is close to my heart as I am fascinated by the efforts to make good pinot noir wines on the American west coast. As I mentioned in a previous article in April 2019 about pinot noir from California, apart from Oregon some other parts of the Central Coast are well suited for pinot noir. Among the best are the Santa Barbara County area.”

Read more in Carl-Erik Kanne’s article on BKWine Magazine: “Focus Santa Barbara: Sideways Relaxed, or has California changed gear?”

Be inspired by pictures and videos from the winter wine tours to the southern hemisphere

Vineyards in Central Otago, New Zealand“Now when travel is restricted, some inspiration for couch surfing or to dream yourself away from any self-confinement. In winter we have three lovely long-distance tours to wine countries in the southern hemisphere: Chile, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand. It is so nice to get away from the cold and dark winter. But more importantly, these are four wine countries that are really charming. Different cultures, beautiful landscapes, good food. And above all, fantastic, delicious and exciting wines.”

Read more and let yourself be inspired on BKWine Magazine (and Facebook): Be inspired by pictures and videos from the winter wine tours to the southern hemisphere.

Monferrato DOC Master Class – twenty-six wines but few favourites

Monferrato rosso wine“Going to a Master Class is enriching regardless of subject area or specialisation. An enthusiastic speaker with a strong connection and a big heart for the area in question. A conversation not only about the wines but about the place, the region and the people. Michael Palij welcomed us and mastered the art of keeping pace and interest at the top for two hours. The initial ten wines were like a duel, barbera vs barbera superiore.”

Read more in Sven-Olof Johansson’s article on BKWine Magazine: Monferrato DOC Master Class – twenty-six wines but few favourites.

Anteprime Chianti Classico 2018, 2017 and Brunello 2015

Landscape in Tuscany“The “primeurs” tastings of new vintages from Tuscany offered many surprises. The Tuscan version of Bordeaux’ primeurs – the anteprima – is one of the highlights of the year. During a week in February, journalists from all over the world gather in Tuscany and taste hundreds of wines to judge the new vintages. It is like a big happeninig for the wine world, PR agents, producers, journalists and curious people are mixed in a blissful blend, with one big difference, and that is that everyone walks around with red teeth.”

Read more in Åsa Johansson’s article on BKWine Magazine: Anteprime Chianti Classico 2018, 2017 and Brunello 2015.

Col d’Orcia vertical tasting: Brunello di Montalcino 1980-2015

Views over Brunello di Montalcino and vineyards“’It was the vintage of 1990 that made the world discover Brunello di Montalcino,’ says Francesco Marone Cinzano. We meet at the family’s beautiful estate one evening in February. The family has invited a handful of journalists from all over the world to a vertical tasting of Brunello di Montalcino from 2015 back to 1980. I always get butterflies in my stomach when I go to Montalcino. Although I have been there a hundred times over the years. But there is always something new to learn, something new to discover among the talented winemakers and of course a lot of good wines to try.”

Read more in Åsa Johansson’s article on BKWine Magazine: Col d’Orcia vertical tasting: Brunello di Montalcino 1980-2015.

Casa Marin’s crunchy Sauvignon Blanc Cipreses from Chile’s cool Pacific coast

Felipe Marin, of Vina Casa Marin, ChileCasa Marin is the wine producer who showed the world that you can make quality wines just a few kilometres from the cold Pacific Ocean in Chile. Last year, the Lo Abarca area of the San Antonio Valley even obtained its very own designation of origin. We have visited Casa Marin once a year since 2017, they are on our wine tour itinerary. We have been impressed every time, not only by their Sauvignon Blanc but also by their Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Grenache, Riesling… But Sauvignon Blanc is the family’s most important grape. It is planted on 16 of the estate’s 41 hectares.

Read more in Britt’s article on BKWine Magazine, where you can also watch a video with Felipe, the winemaker: Casa Marin’s crunchy Sauvignon Blanc Cipreses from Chile’s cool Pacific coast.

Join us on the wine tour to Chile and Argentina in January 2021.

You can see plenty of pictures and videos on our Chile-Argentina wine tour Facebook group.

Jenny Dobson, legendary Kiwi winemaker, talks about changes and challenges in New Zealand | Britt on Forbes

Jenny Dobson, winemaker and wine consultant in New Zealand“After having worked for 16 years in France, winemaker Jenny Dobson returned to New Zealand in 1996. Her home country was at the time slowly changing from being only a country of sheep and rugby to being also a country of wine. The region she chose to settle in was Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island. Maybe because this is a region well suited to Bordeaux grapes. She had worked for 12 years in Médoc in Bordeaux so she was well acquainted with these grapes.”

Read more on Britt’s article on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes, and watch our video interview with Jenny: Jenny Dobson, legendary Kiwi winemaker, talks about changes and challenges in New Zealand | Britt on Forbes.

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.

Roccafiore Umbria, Italy’s best grechetto

Luca Baccarelli, winemaker at Roccafiore in Umbria“Just don’t make the same wines as your grandfather did, my friends said when I told them I would start making my own wines,” says Luca Baccarelli of the Roccafiore winery in Umbria, laughing. His grandfather’s wines were rustic, blunt and heavy. Just the opposite of what Luca makes today. Umbria, and not least the area around Todi where Roccafiore is located, is incredibly beautiful. It looks like a pristine Tuscany with medieval picturesque villages, a rolling landscape of vineyards and olive groves that take turns to showcase its beauty.

Read more in Åsa Johansson’s article on BKWine Magazine: Roccafiore Umbria, Italy’s best grechetto.

How to choose 100 good producers from Languedoc-Roussillon among the 10,000 there is?

Tasting wines blind in hidden bottles at the Languedoc Week“Languedoc-Roussillon is a big area. Around 200,000 hectares. Exactly how many producers there are is difficult to know, but it is probably about 10,000 to 15,000. In our book “Languedoc-Roussillon, The Wines Of Southern France” we have selected almost 100 with profiles and around 150 more which we basically only mention by name. All equally exciting and worth discovering, even those just mentioned by name. How do you do to select these gems out of the 15,000 that exist?

Read more in Per’s article on BKWine Magazine: How to choose 100 good producers from Languedoc-Roussillon among the 10,000 there is?

Investing in wine through crowdfunding, interview with WineFunding CEO | Per on Forbes

Maxime Debure, founder and CEO of WineFundingDo you have a dream of owning a wine estate? Or investing in a vineyard? Unless you have several million dollars to spend it is likely to remain a dream. However, since a few years back you can invest in wine estates through crowdfunding that lets you get engaged in wine with a much lower financial commitment, but it still lets you be part of a wine project. One of the first crowdfunding platforms dedicated to wine is WineFunding.com that started in 2016-2017. They now have funded, or are in the process of funding, around twenty different projects. It works quite differently from “classic” crowdfunding.

Read more on Per’s article on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes, including a video interview with the founder and CEO: Investing in wine through crowdfunding, interview with WineFunding CEO | Per on Forbes.

New Zealand pioneer Unison Vineyard interprets Gimblett Gravels terroir | Britt on Forbes

Unison Vineyard Reserve Merlot Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay, New ZealandGimblett Gravels has become a hot spot of New Zealand’s famous Hawke’s Bay wine region. And yet the soil here was considered worthless as late as the mid-1980s. There was nothing here except (this being New Zealand) some sheep. Around that time, however, somebody took a closer look at that deep, well-drained gravelly soil. And before long the sheep were gone. The sheep were replaced by neat rows of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. In 30 years, 2000 acres (800 hectares) were planted. Union Vineyard was among the first to realize the potential of Gimblett Gravels.

Read more on Britt’s article on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes: New Zealand pioneer Unison Vineyard interprets Gimblett Gravels terroir | Britt on Forbes.

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.

Wine tours

Some information about current and future wine tours with BKWine.

Rubrik rubrik

Champagne, for celebration and for food | wine tour

Pinot grapes in a press in ChampagneThe world drinks more and more sparkling wine. Not always champagne. But champagne is for many the best wine to drink when you have something special to celebrate. Or if you want a special wine with your meal. Champagne is actually a superb food wine. This, and many other things you will discover on our Champagne tour. Going there is the best way to learn. Provided things return a little bit to normal.

Bordeaux, historic, famous and very exciting | wine tour

The wine cellar at Chateau Lafite, Pauillac, BordeauxEvery wine lover must travel to Bordeaux at least once. Preferably several times. You will discover something new on every tour. The prestigious history of the Bordeaux wines leaves its mark. There is something special, and magic, about seeing and visiting the beautiful, world-famous wine chateaux. Still, despite all the tradition, Bordeaux is vibrant and exciting. Provided things return a little bit to normal.

Three trips to four New World countries in the southern hemisphere during the winter of 2021

View over the summits of the Andes in Mendoza, Argentina, and the vineyardsOur long-distance wine tours in early 2021 will take us to South America, New Zealand and South Africa. This will be three memorable trips with wine and food, incredible nature and inspiring meetings with winemakers. Provided things return a little bit to normal.

The South America tour takes us to Buenos Aires, Argentina and from there we continue to Mendoza wine region. Our bus then takes us on a spectacular trip across the Andes to Chile where we will explore Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, Casablanca, Santa Cruz, Colchagua, Apalta and some more places. We end the wine tour in Chile’s capital Santiago.

Our tour to New Zealand will be an awesome road trip that takes us by bus from Auckland on the North Island down to Queenstown in beautiful Central Otago on the South Island. We will visit several of the New Zealand wine regions, Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay, not least. A magnificent country with some very special wines.

In South Africa, in March we visit the well-known wine regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, but also interesting Walker Bay on the south coast and trendy Swartland up north. South Africa’s wines are getting better and better and it is an incredibly energizing country to visit.


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