BKWine Brief nr 228, August 2022

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When was the last time you met a tomato grower?

It is easier to compare the price of a kilo of tomatoes than of different wines. Too many factors affect wine pricing. This is not the only thing that separates viticulture from other agriculture. In the past, it wasn’t like that. Grapes were one crop among many others; wine was something you had with your meal without much ado.

The big difference came later, actually quite recently. Wine became a hobby for many, and a whole industry developed around wine with wine tourism, hotels, restaurants, wine schools, etc. Visiting a vineyard is fun. Visiting a tomato farm is less fun. Who knows which producer has grown the tomatoes you buy? But what wine enthusiast would buy a wine without knowing at least something about where it comes from?

All this interest in wine means that consumers meet more wine producers than other farmers. Is this why organic farming among winegrowers is much bigger than other agriculture? In France, 10.3% of the total agricultural surface is organic. If we only take the vineyard surface, the figure rises to 20%. We see a similar phenomenon for the French sustainability certification HVE (Haute Valeur Environnementale). 70% of the estates that are sustainably certified with HVE are vineyards.

There are probably several different reasons for this. One could be that vineyard estates are often smaller than other agricultural properties. The wine farmer lives close to his vineyard. And wine is not an anonymous product like most other agricultural products. You know who made the wine. The vigneron has put their name on the label. And it may be that it is easier to increase the price of a bottle of wine, if necessary, than a kilo of tomatoes.

And, quite possibly, the producers become extra motivated to prove themselves sustainable when they know that an inquisitive wine enthusiast can show up at the doorstep anytime.

When was the last time you met a wine grower?

If instead you want to meet a wine grower and winemaker, then there is no better way than to join us at BKWine on one of our wine tours. All wine tours are here: bkwinetours.com.

Go on a wine and adventure tour this winter

Now, when the world has (more or less) come back to “normal”, we have three fantastic wine adventures to offer you for this coming winter (and to escape winter):

  • Chile-Argentina in January
  • South Africa in February
  • New Zealand in March

These are tours with unique and magnificent experiences.

More info on our wine tours here. “World’s Top Wine Tours”.

Enjoy the Brief!

Britt & Per

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What’s on at BKWine Tours

BKWine is also one of the world’s leading wine tour operators. Here’s what we currently have on our scheduled wine tour program:

We also make custom designed wine tours.

We’re different than most other wine tour operators. We are people who know wine inside out, who travel constantly in wine regions, who write award winning books about wine. Who do this out of passion.

Our wine tours are different from others.

A typical year we organise more than 30 wine tours to destinations across the world. In Europe: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and more. World-wide: South Africa, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand. Thanks to our Scandinavian background we have a separate offer for the Scandinavian market. These are sometimes offered in English and also available as custom made tours. For example, these destinations:

Read our books

We have written eleven wine books. They have won awards from the Gourmand Awards, The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) and others.

Unfortunately, only 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:

Here’s the full list of our books:

News from the World of Wine

Short briefs on what’s been happening in the world of wine recently and other interesting things.

Pinot noir in Alsace upgraded to grand cru

Alsace now has its first grand cru wines made with pinot noir. Until now, the Alsatian red grape has been banned from grand cru wines. But not anymore. At least not from two of them. Red wines from Kirchberg de Barr and Hengst in Wintzenheim now have the status of Alsace grand cru. The rules set the maximum yield at 40 hl/ha (the white wines from the same vineyards have 50 hl/ha).

Alsace has a variety of grapes, but four of them have a special status as “noble grapes”: riesling, gewurztraminer, pinot gris and muscat. These are the only grapes allowed in a grand cru wine. However, the monopoly position of the four is beginning to loosen. A few years ago, the grand cru Zotzenberg was allowed to use sylvaner. And now, pinot noir is permitted in two grand cru wines. Pinot noir is on the rise in Alsace. More and more consumers appreciate the light, sometimes elegant style of red Alsace wines and the grape is given a more serious treatment by the producers. The wines are getting more interesting by the day. Alsace has a total of 51 grand cru vineyards. Read more: terredevins

New genetic engineering can make the wine world more sustainable

By using the new genetic technology CRISPR-CAS, Chilean scientists have produced a grape that is resistant to oidium, a fungal disease. The grape in question is Thompson seedless, a table grape, so not relevant in a wine context. But the interesting thing is using CRISPR-CAS to eliminate the problem with one of the wine world’s most difficult fungal diseases. Spraying in the vineyards is one of the biggest environmental problems today. CRISPR-CAS is different from “traditional” genetic technology but is currently subject to the same regulation within the EU, meaning that there is virtually no research in the field here.

But Marcel Kuntz, director of research at France’s CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, the French scientific research institute), believes that may change, which he welcomes. Europe ends up hopelessly in the backwater when it comes to NBT, new breeding technologies, he believes. As part of the wine industry’s sustainability efforts, it should be worth properly evaluation the technology. Read more: vitisphere

Torrontés has found a suitable climate at a high altitude in Salta, Argentina

Among the most critical things a winegrower has to think about is using suitable grapes in his vineyard, grapes that thrive. And this is true, not least if you grow wine in a dry climate at an altitude of 1,800 meters, such as in Valle Calchaqui in the Salta region of Argentina. Here, the torrontés grape has found a place where it excels. Torrontés is a hardy grape that is not very susceptible to diseases, and it has adapted very well to viticulture at high altitudes. With significant temperature differences between day and night, the wines are fresh and crispy.

Torrontés riojano, which is its full name, is today planted on around 8,000 hectares in Argentina and not only in Salta but also in Mendoza. It is becoming quite fashionable. The fact that it is a grape born in Argentina makes it extra special. The parents are criolla chica (the Spanish listán prieto) and muscat d’alexandrie. It has an aromatic and floral muscat character but is more subdued in aromas.

Some of our favourites are the wines from Bodega Amalaya in Cafayate, both their 100% torrontés and Blanco de Corte, where the torrontés is blended with 15% riesling. But look for any torrontés if you want to try something new.

Travel: Come on a wine tour to Argentina and Chile with BKWine.

Read: more on the criolla grapes:

Record early harvest after record hot summer

This year the harvest is very early in many places in France. At the beginning of August, some producers had already started in Languedoc-Roussillon. In Champagne, the first village to harvest was on August 20 in the Côte des Bar. In Burgundy, the first bunches were cut around August 25. It has been hot and dry across most of France, but it varies how badly the vineyards have been affected. At Champagne Christophe Mignon, they would have liked to see a little more rain, but, says Alexandra, because the vines’ roots go deep in the soil, they have been able to avoid some water stress. The vine can withstand periods of drought and heat, but this summer, with temperatures above 38 degrees in many places, has been difficult. The grapes “burn” and shrivel. In Alsace, it has not rained for two months, and the harvest will be small.

In the Rhône Valley, the grapes have ripened 20 days earlier than last year. But the quality looks fine. In Bordeaux, some rain happily arrived in mid-August, but the grapes are still small. Many have started picking white grapes and the red grapes used for rosé. “We start with the red wine grapes at the beginning of September,” says Nea Berglund at Château Carsin. More reports on the 2022 harvest will be in the September Brief.

The Old Vine Project in South Africa launches virus-free clones

In 2016 that Rosa Kruger and André Morgenthal started The Old Vine Project (OVP) in South Africa to find and care for old, sometimes abandoned, vineyards and to draw attention to the value of old vines. Today, OVP has 130 members who each year produce over 250 different wines from Certified Heritage Vineyards (CHV). Another exciting project is now underway, namely the launch of virus-free clones, Heritage Selection clones. Viruses are a problem in wine regions worldwide and have been a huge problem in South Africa. The vines die prematurely, and the quality of the grapes can also be affected.

OVP develops these clones together with Vititec, a well-known nursery in Paarl. The aim is to get clones that are guaranteed to be virus-free and which can therefore grow old and be used for a long time to produce quality wines. Cuttings are taken from selected, exceptional vineyard plots and “cleaned” of any viruses through a process called “heat therapy”, a kind of heat treatment. Read more about the project here OldVineProject.

Travel: Come on a wine tour to South Africa with BKWine.

The southern hemisphere’s largest wine estate turns one hundred years old

Berri Estates, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest wine estate, may not sound familiar. But you may very well have had a wine from there. Berri Estates is located in Australia’s largest wine region, the Riverland in South Australia. The ultra-modern winery exports over 100 million litres of wine a year. Berri is the largest producer of bag-in-box wine in Australia, with 60 million boxes, almost half of all boxes sold in Australia.

In the article below, winemaker Vikki Wade talks about the changes that have taken place during the 30 years she has worked at Berri Estates. When she started, they mainly made fortified wines and sweet generic wines from gordo (muscat d’alexandrie) and riesling. In the late 1990s, the big change came when they started exporting to the UK and making wines from shiraz and cabernet. They have constantly had to pay attention to consumers’ changing wine habits. The multinational company Accolade Wines owns Berri Estates as well as some fifty other brands/wineries, e.g. Hardys, Banrock Station, Anakena, Lambrini, Houghton, Flagstone, Reynella etc. Read more: ABC

Travel: Come on a wine tour not to Australia but to its neighbour New Zealand with BKWine.

Features of the Month

Articles and features published on BKWine Magazine and on our wine travel blog and (occasionally) photography blog in the last month.

Vermouth has made a comeback

Vermouth has made a comeback. For us, it has never been out of date. We have had dry vermouth as our favourite aperitif for a long time. But perhaps some people considered it a bit old-fashioned. But not anymore. Vermouth is back in fashion. French vermouth, not least. We have tasted the Dolin vermouths from Chambéry in the French Alps, and compared it to our “house” vermouth, Noilly Prat.

Read more in Britt’s article on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes: Vermouth, the world’s best aperitif, has made a comeback – we taste Dolin from the French Alps | Britt on Forbes.

Do we always have to compare any high-quality cabernet sauvignon to a Bordeaux?

Do we always have to compare any high-quality cabernet sauvignon to a Bordeaux? Maybe not, but sometimes it makes it easier to describe the wine. Per and I tasted one of Australia’s top cabernet sauvignon wines the other day. The wine was John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 from Wynns Coonawarra Estate. Per tasted blind, and the first thing he said was that it had a distinct Bordeaux feeling. And I understood exactly what he meant. A few days later, I had a zoom chat with the head winemaker at Wynns, Sue Hodder, to learn more about the wine and the winery.

Read more in Britt’s article on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes: New release from Wynns Coonawarra Estate: John Riddoch 2019, launce at La Place de Bordeaux | Britt on Forbes.

Sustainability on a big scale with Torres in Spain

The tasting at The Wine Hub’s new premises on Sibyllegatan resulted in a completely different dialogue about wine when Miguel Torres entered the scene. Torres certainly has a lot to brag about, but instead of focusing on the delicious liquids we had in the glasses in front of us, diagrams of carbon dioxide emissions were shown and there was talk of research and development.

Read more in Sven-Olof Johansson’s article on BKWine Magazine: Climate footprint per bottle and global warming in focus when Miguel Torres visits Stockholm.

Read: more on wine and the environment in BKWine’s book Organic, Biodynamic and Natural winemaking.

The fantastic wines from Montilla-Moriles in Spain

Going north towards Córdoba from Malaga is an experience. Olive groves spread kilometre after kilometre. Rarely do you see so many olive trees at once. And where olive trees thrive, vines are never far away. It’s hot and dry in Andalusia, but with the right kind of soil and grape variety, they produce some of Spain’s most memorable wines here. We have visited Bodegas Toro Albalá in Montilla-Moriles. The company is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. An opportunity to taste some really old wines.

Read more in Britt’s article on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes: Bodegas Toro Albalá in Montilla-Moriles: 100 years with pedro ximenes | Britt on Forbes.

BKWine tastes: Orange and dry wines from Jurançon, Domaine Cauhapé | August 2022

This month we have tasted two dry white wines from one of our favourite regions, Jurançon. The producer is Domaine Cauhapé, one of the famous ones in the region, an estate of 54 hectares run for many years by Henri Ramonteu. It is beautiful in Jurançon; the vines grow on gentle slopes in an undulating landscape south of the city of Pau in southern France. Jurançon belongs to the wine region known as the Southwest.

Read more in Britt’s article on BKWine Magazine: BKWine tastes: Orange and dry wines from Jurançon, Domaine Cauhapé | August 2022.

Wine Tours

Details on our current and future wine tours. Book a wine tour with the “World’s Top Wine Tour Operator” today (or when you feel like travelling to wine country).

Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience in the beautiful wine-lands together with some of the most knowledgeable wine people around. Book now!

The wine tour to Argentina and Chile: get to know two fabulous wine countries in two weeks

Our tour to Argentina and Chile is two weeks of delicious wines, good food but also many other experiences. We will get to know these two countries, South America’s most important wine countries, not only through the wine and the gastronomy but also through the nature, the cities, the countryside and of course, the people. We will get to know the French grape varieties that have found a new home on the other side of the globe, such as malbec and carmenère. We discover the impact of the climate. Although it is hot during the summer, the nights are often cool, which gives freshness to the wines.

Our lunches are a highlight every day. The meat is often cooked outdoors on the grill, and the delicious onion-filled empanadas, are traditionally baked in special clay ovens. Another highlight is the bus trip across the Andes. We go from Mendoza to the Chilean coastal city of Viña del Mar. It will be a day full of contrasts.

We will also visit some of the cities: Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile, Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Santa Cruz in Chile and the wine capital Mendoza in Argentina.

Book now!:

Wine tour to Chile-Argentina, January 16-29, 2023

Get to know South Africa in the harvest period

With a vineyard area of almost 100,000 hectares, South Africa is the world’s seventh largest wine producer. More and more people are discovering the diversity of South Africa; the days are long gone when people only looked for inexpensive wines here. Today, the producers, just like in many other wine regions, invest in sustainability and social responsibility. And, of course, in the quality and character of the wines.

During our tour in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Walker Bay, Elgin and Swartland, we will meet some of South Africa’s exciting wine people. We will taste wines from classic South African grapes such as chenin blanc and cinsault, Bordeaux grapes, pinotage, a crossing created in South Africa, and from grenache, syrah and many more grapes. The will to experiment and try new things is visible in South Africa.

We stay a few days in Cape Town and to visit, among other things, the Cape Peninsula with the Cape of Good Hope. A must! The harvest has probably started when we arrive in February, and the weather is still pleasantly warm but not too hot. A perfect time to visit South Africa.

Discover the South African vineyards with us!

Book now!:

Wine tour to South Africa, February 8-18, 2023

New Zealand 2023, discover a new wine country – the newest? – full of pioneering spirit

New Zealand is a country that is influenced almost everywhere by its proximity to the sea. Most of the wine regions are located by the sea, on the eastern side of both the North and the South Island. We will go to both islands on our tour that crosses almost the entire country (but not quite). Between vineyard and winery visits, wine tastings and delicious meals, we will experience the magnificent nature of the country.

New Zealand really is a new wine country, and you notice it. There is a certain pioneering spirit and a joy of discovery here. It wasn’t until 1973 that the first sauvignon blanc vines were planted in Marlborough. Sauvignon blanc wines quickly became popular, and they still are. But we will highlight many more wines, such as cabernet sauvignon from Waiheke Island, syrah from Hawke’s Bay, pinot noir from Central Otago and Wairarapa. During just over two weeks, we will get to know several of the New Zealand wine regions. A wine adventure, far away from everything.

Join us in New Zealand and discover something new.

The New Zealand wine tour, a great adventure.

Book now!

Wine tour to New Zealand, March 15-30, 2023

Wine tours spring and autumn 2023

We have of course our unforgettable southern hemisphere tours at the beginning of 2023 (read about those elsewhere). We are right now also planning for other tours in 2023. Already you can read about our extraordinary tour to Champagne and Bordeaux, starting end of September, 2023. 9 days of superb wine and food in the two most famous wine regions of France.

We start the tour in Reims in Champagne, famous for its many champagne houses and its beautiful Cathedral, one of the most important in France. After four nights and three days of passionate visits to champagne houses and small producers, we continue with the fast train to Bordeaux. We will stay four nights in the city centre and during three days we will visit some of the big and famous chateaux as well as smaller ones. Our tastings and our lunches at the wine estates will be truly memorable. In the evenings you will have time to stroll and discover these two beautiful cities.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to visit France’s two most famous wine regions in one very enjoyable go.

Book now: your wine tour with BKWine!

PS: We have written a ground-breaking book about Champagne, and also one on Bordeaux, so we have a bit of a clue of what we’re talking about.

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