Are you a wine expert?
At what point can you be considered a wine expert? Is it when you have such good â€œtheoreticalâ€ knowledge that you can place Bordeaux chateaux on a blind map and know which river flows through this and that wine region? When you, in a blind tasting, can guess the vintage, the region and the grape of, say, ten different wines? (*)
Or is it when you look critically at what you read and hear, donâ€™t believe everything, question things and remove wines from their pedestals? (â€œIconsâ€ are perhaps something that can be revered in other contexts, but not in the wine world.) Of course, they are linked. You must have some theoretical knowledge to be able to be critical.
The wine industry is particular in many ways. There can be such mass hysteria and hype around certain wines and producers, which results in high prices and shortages of those specific wines because everyone wants them. The strange thing, though, is that people continue to want them, high prices notwithstanding. A kind of cult is developed around the producer with a group of loyal admirers, a bit like a rock star.
But do people want the wine because everyone else wants it? Or because they think it is the very best wine?
There is a â€œmustâ€ to have tasted certain wines. There was even a wine writer who recently worried about the insane prices of some famous wines (more and more wines are getting there) because no wine student can afford to taste them. He even suggested that these exclusive wines (I think he mentioned RomanÃ©e-Conti and premier grand cru Bordeaux as examples) should be subsidised. How else can future winemakers and others learn what an outstanding wine tastes like?
He drew parallels with art students who can go to an art museum for free or for a small entrance fee and look at all the master painters of the world.
The comparison doesnâ€™t hold for obvious reasons, nor do his arguments. A wine becomes expensive not only because it is of high quality. If that were the case, we would have many more happy wine producers and fewer happy wine enthusiasts. Furthermore, you can always find a just as exquisite (or better) wine, but less famous at a more reasonable price. If you know where to look.
Do you have to have driven a Ferrari to appreciate the driving pleasure of a Renault? Do you have to have visited a dozen three-star restaurants to understand how good food tastes? Above a certain price point, itâ€™s more the name on the label that justifies the price than whatâ€™s in the bottle.
There is a reverence for certain wines and producers. At the primeur tastings in Bordeaux in spring, no one tastes the really exclusive wines blind. The journalists who give points to the wines taste together with the winemaker and/or the owner. The points will be high. Of course. I am not saying that the wines donâ€™t deserve these high points, but no one knows what would have happened if they had been tasted blind. But you can guess. You are influenced by the chateau environment, of course, and by knowing what you are tasting.
So much nonsense is said and written about wines. Knocking some wines down from their pedestals every now and then feels pretty good. There are so many other wines that are just as good. Read, taste and listen but donâ€™t forget to always have your critical mind switched on, donâ€™t believe everything you see and hear, and trust your own taste. Then you are a wine expert.
(*) By the way, no one â€œguesses correctlyâ€ the region, the vintage, and the grape of 10 different blind-tasted wines.
Last day to vote!
Both of us have been nominated to participate in the Wine Travel Awards competition. It was started by the magazine Drinks+ as a way to help restart the wine sector after the pandemic. A great effort to try and help wineries and wine people across the world to get back on track. Part of the competition is a public vote.
So, please vote for us, click on these links and then click â€œvoteâ€:
Vote for Britt as â€œtop wine guideâ€ (â€œI can assure you she isâ€, says Per).
You can vote for both. Deadline March 31.
Wine travel in harvest time
You can already start planning for wine tours next harvest season:
- Champagne, September 27 â€“ October 1
- Champagne and Bordeaux, September 27 â€“ October 5
- Bordeaux, October 1-5
Travel in winter (but summer)
Some of our most exceptional wine tours are during the winter. They are filled with very special experiences. In summer weather in the southern hemisphere!
You have three fantastic long-distance tours to choose from:
- Chile-Argentina in January 2024
- South Africa in February 2024
- New Zealand in March 2024
These are tours with unique and magnificent experiences.
More info on our wine tours here. “World’s Top Wine Tours“. Tours with the people who know wine and who have an unrivalled experience of wine and tours.
Travel in wine regions with someone you trust.
Enjoy the Brief!
Britt & Per
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What’s on at BKWine Tours
BKWine is also one of the worldâ€™s leading wine tour operators. Hereâ€™s what we currently have on our scheduled wine tour program:
We also make custom designed wine tours.
Weâ€™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:
- The Wonderful World of Wine
- Languedoc-Roussillon, the Wines of Southern France
- Champagne, the Wine and the Growers
News from the World of Wine
Short briefs on what’s been happening in the world of wine recently and other interesting things.
Entre-deux-Mers, no longer just white wine, now also an appellation for reds
Soon you will have to be careful when you order a glass of Entre-deux-Mers with your oysters. Entre-deux-Mers is an appellation in Bordeaux for white wines in a refreshing and light style, often with a significant portion of sauvignon blanc. The wine is the very image of a crispy white wine made to be drunk together with seafood. But the world is changing. Starting with the 2023 vintage, it will be possible to make red Entre-deux-Mers. The grapes will be the traditional red ones in Bordeaux and a blend of at least two. The wines must be aged for 21 months (in tank, bottle or barrel) before being released for sale.
Currently, white Entre-deux-Mers is made on 1,500 hectares, spread over the large Entre-deux-Mers region between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. The appellation Entre-deux-Mers has always been for white wine, but the large geographical area (called E-2-M) between the rivers has large areas of red grapes, above all merlot. Should the appellation stay true to its traditions or should it develop in step with changing consumption patterns? Read more: vinsentredeuxmers
Travel: Come on a wine tour to Bordeaux with BKWine.
Ver Sacrum, Mendoza – an unusual grenache from Argentina
One of the many memorable visits on our South America tour in January was to Eduardo Soler at La Cayetana in Mendoza. He makes two different series of wines, one he calls La Cayetana and one, more exclusive, called Ver Sacrum. The first thing he said to us when we arrived was that “you won’t get any Malbec here”. And we didnâ€™t mind at all. Instead we got great wines from garnacha (grenache), mourvÃ¨dre, syrah, mencÃa and pedro gimenez, a criolla grape.
Garnacha is Eduardo’s special favourite grape. Since March 24, his flagship Ver Sacrum Gloria 2019 is in the temporary assortment at Systembolaget. Which is why we mention it here. But you can also find it on many other markets. It is worth seeking out the Ver Sacrum / La Cayetana wines. Gloria is 100% garnacha, partially fermented with whole bunches. Half of the wine is aged in old French oak barrels and the rest in amphora. Gloria is named after the Swedish-born silent film star Gloria Swanson. It was one of the many wines we had the pleasure of trying with Eduardo. It has great concentration of flavour and at the same time a lovely light-hearted character of red berries with high acidity. A characterful wine with individuality and an unusual Argentinian wine. Most pleasant.
Thanks to Handpicked Wines, the Swedish importer, there are more wines from Eduardo in Sweden. We recommend them all: La Cayetana Criolla Blanca, Ver Sacrum Garnacha, Ver Sacrum GSM, Ver Sacrum Monastrell. And finally Ver Sacrum Gloria 2019. Look for those or others on your market.
Travel: Come on a wine tour to Argentina (and Chile) with BKWine.
Prosecco is still a grape in Australia; will EU (i.e. Italy) stop that?
Do you remember when prosecco was still a grape? That was before 2009. Then Italy decided that from now on, prosecco is a protected geographical origin, and the grape is instead called glera. An effective way to prevent others from competing with Italian prosecco. (Read more here about how Italy hijacked the prosecco grape name.) Others within the EU, that is. Because in Australia, prosecco is still a grape name, and they want it to remain that way, even though the EU now, in a new wine trade agreement between Australia and the EU, wants to extend the protection of several geographical indications, including Prosecco, to also apply to Australia.
The EU has already tried once to stop Australian producers from using the name prosecco. That was in 2013, and the Registrar of Trademarks in Australia thwarted the attempt on the grounds that prosecco is a grape name. And that is still how they see things in Australia. Prosecco has great success in Australia and is grown in 20 regions around the country, but it is most famous in the King Valley in Victoria.
The Australian government has opened a public objections process where anyone interested in allowing prosecco as a grape name to continue to exist in Australia can submit their views. How it all goes will perhaps depend on what the EU offers in exchange for the prosecco grape name? Read more winetitles
Champagne Henriot becomes cooperative wine and teammates with Nicolas Feuillatte
It was only last year (2022) that the Pinault family bought Domaines et Maisons Henriot. The acquisition vehicle was their company ArtÃ©mis Domaines, which already owns e.g. ChÃ¢teau Latour and several other luxury wine estates. With the Henriot purchase, they acquired not only Champagne Henriot but also Bouchard PÃ¨re & Fils in Burgundy, William FÃ¨vre in Chablis, and Beaux-FrÃ¨res in Oregon. Now ArtÃ©mis has decided to sell off Champagne Henriot, and the lucky buyer is Terroirs & Vignerons de Champagne (TEVC), whose major brand is the very well-known Nicolas Feuillatte.
TEVC is Champagne’s largest cooperative and includes 6,000 grape growers who grow 2,750 hectares. Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte sells around 12 million bottles a year and thus belongs to the big producers in Champagne. Probably only MoÃ«t & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot sell more (estimated to 30 and 16 million bottles, respectively). ArtÃ©mis Domaines thus focusses on Champagne Jacquesson, which they took a participation in earlier in 2022 and now control. If Artemis keeps the vineyards that Henriot owns or if they are part of the sale is not known to us. Read more: vitisphere
Travel: Come on a wine tour to Champagne with BKWine.
Low-alcohol wine from Australia appeals to Americans, but also â€œnormalâ€ Australian wines appeal to the USA
Australia’s exports to the US increased by 29% in 2022 and are now back to pre-pandemic levels. The US is Australia’s largest export market by value and second largest by volume after the UK. Wines in the 15-25 USD segment increased by 6%, and the number of producers exporting increased significantly, which is nice as export markets often only see the big giants. The brand that grew the most (43.3%) was Yellow Tail Pure Bright, a collection of new wines in the Yellow Tail family that are marketed as low-alcohol and low-calorie wines.
The five Australian big-sellers in the US:
- Yellow Tail (Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits)
- 19 Crimes (Treasury Wine Estates)
- Lindemans (Treasury Wine Estates)
- Jacob’s Creek (Pernod Ricard USA)
- Yellow Tail Pure Bright (Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits)
Read more: shankennewsdaily
New grapes in Bordeaux to fight both heat and fungal diseases
In the appellations of Bordeaux and Bordeaux SupÃ©rieur, and probably soon in the Haut-MÃ©doc, they are allowed to plant certain non-traditional Bordeaux grapes varieties that are believed may possibly help the region cope with a warmer climate, though within strict rules. These are called cÃ©pages Ã fins dâ€™adaptation climatique. On trial for ten years are:
- Alvarinho and touriga nacional, two Portuguese grapes
- Marselan, a southern French grape, a crossing between grenache and cabernet sauvignon
- Castets, an old local grape that rarely suffers from fungal diseases
- Liliorila, a white grape that retains its aromatic character even in very hot summers
- Arinarnoa, a red crossing between tannat and cabernet sauvignon
In 2023, four more new grapes are expected to enter the Bordeaux grape catalogue (still with restrictions). These are another type of grapes, namely hybrids resistant to fungal diseases. The grapes are called florÃ©al, sauvignac, souvigner gris and vidoc. All of them have a good (sometimes excellent) resistance to downy and powdery mildew, and some of them also to black rot and botrytis. Maybe these grapes will be planted in the so-called zone de non traitement (ZNT), parts of the vineyard close to walking paths, residential buildings, or schools, where you are no longer allowed to spray. Read more (pdf): planete-bordeaux
Travel: Come on a wine tour to Bordeaux with BKWine.
Austria climbs to the top of the organic league with the highest portion of vineyards â€œÃ¶kologischâ€, ahead of Italy and Spain
Austria cares about its image as an environmentally friendly wine country, and it has come a long way. The Austrian Wine Marketing Board has just published the latest figures on the organic vineyards in the country. 9,901 hectares are organically grown, a whopping 22% of the country’s total vineyard surface. BKWine thus nominates Austria as the world’s most organic wine country. Congratulations Austria! However, Italy and France are not far behind with 20% each. 1,600 hectares of the organic vineyards in Austria are also biodynamic. That is 16%, also a remarkably high figure. 8,808 hectares, 20% of the total vineyard area, are certified sustainable. Read more: austrianwine
Read: more on organic and biodynamic wine in BKWineâ€™s book Organic, Biodynamic and Natural winemaking.
Record figures for Austria’s wine exports in 2022
Austrian wine exports are doing well. Exports have increased steadily every year since 2000, and the curve has been extra steep upward since 2019. In 2022, the country exported 67.7 million litres of wine. What is as important, however, is that the value of exports has increased by 6.4% since 2021. The export price per litre was 3.42 euros, a record for Austria. It is a good price; if we look at statistics from 2020, only France and New Zealand get more. The most significant increase was for white wines and Sekt, the sparkling wine. In 2022, Austrian wines were especially in demand in Canada, with an increase in value of 46.7%, in the USA and northern Europe, not least Scandinavia, where Denmark, Sweden and Finland significantly increased their import of Austrian wine in value. Read more: austrianwine
The rootstock gest attention in Burgundy, finally â€“ research underway to improve the quality
The rootstock on which all our well-known grape varieties are grafted does not always get the attention it deserves. In fact, choosing the right rootstock is of the utmost importance as they can have different tolerances to drought, moisture, viral diseases, lime content in the soil and more. Now that climate change threatens to change the conditions in the vineyards, the choice of rootstock has ended up higher on the agenda. In Burgundy, a project has started to test new rootstocks together with different grape varieties in various locations to ultimately arrive at which rootstocks the winegrowers should choose.
Until now, Burgundy has relied on only five different rootstocks. However, there are problems with several of them, especially the one called 161-49C (they rarely give catchy names to rootstocks). It is used on 12% of the area in Burgundy. Vines with this rootstock have been suffering for several years from a weakening that can lead to their death. But Burgundy also has problems with two other much used rootstocks, SO4 and 41B. So, a review of the rootstocks is much needed. Read more: vins-bourgogne.
Features of the Month
Sophocles Vlassides, the Kandinsky of Winemaking, at the Vlassides Winery, Cyprus
Not much of the wines of Cyprus are exported. That is a great pity for the wine lover. There are many excellent wines made here. Many with an astonishing depth, freshness and character. One of the most talented winemakers is Sophocles Vlassides, the winemaker and owner of the Vlassides winery. His approach to winemaking is unusual, very thoughtful, artistic and also scientific. He uses both â€œinternationalâ€ grape varieties and indigenous ones, maratheftico, xinisteri, yiannoudiâ€¦ BKWine Magazine guest writer Matthew Stowell has named him â€œthe Kandinski of Winemakingâ€. Read the story that explains why. (As a bonus you can also watch a video recording of a conversation with Vlassides and the BKWine Magazine editor from a few years back.)
Read more in Matthew Stowellâ€™s article on BKWine Magazine: Sophocles Vlassides, the Kandinsky of Winemaking, at the Vlassides Winery, Cyprus.
RhÃ´ne wines with plenty of flavours from Saint Jean du Barroux
Ventoux is a beautiful, mountainous wine appellation in southern RhÃ´ne. It is located northeast of famous wine villages such as Gigondas and Vacqueyras. Next to the vineyards are the impressive limestone massif of Les Dentelles de Montmirail and the Mont Ventoux, the highest mountain of Provence, reaching over 1900 meters. In 2003, Philippe Gimel, a pharmacist turned oenologist (perhaps the step from blending medicines to blending wine was not that big), created his Domaine Saint Jean du Barroux here in Ventoux. And he turned out to be a very talented winemaker.
Read more in Brittâ€™s article on BKWine Magazine: Saint Jean du Barroux, excellent wines from Ventoux in the southern RhÃ´ne Valley.
Armenia, original grape varieties, and vineyards at high altitude
Armenia is an old wine country but new to most consumers. It is a treasure-trove for those who want to discover unusual grape varieties. They make some excellent wines. We have previously tasted and written about Armenian red wines from the grape areni noir. Here is the article where you can read about the Armenian wines we tasted then and at the same time you get an introduction to the wines of Armenia. We have recently tasted more Armenian wines and have gotten to know more local grape varieties.
Read more in Brittâ€™s article on BKWine Magazine: Armenia, original grape varieties, and vineyards at high altitude.
Johan Lidby tempts us with wines of quality and craftsmanship
â€œMostly family-owned vineyards that care for the environment and for craftsmanshipâ€, is how Johan Lidby presents his wine business. He started in 1999 and today it is one of the most reputable wine importers (in Sweden), with a large and extensive selection (400 references). Once a year, Johan presents most of his wines in a large tasting, where several producers are also present. BKWine Magazine went on a journey of discovery in the guise of our reporter GÃ¶ran van den Brink (and he found not only good Riesling but also a lot more).
Read more in GÃ¶ran van den Brinkâ€™s article on BKWine Magazine: Johan Lidby tempts us with wines of quality and craftsmanship.
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!
Champagne behind the scene, so much more fun | wine tour
We like to show our guests how it works behind the scene in Champagne, and that is why we mostly visit small producers and small houses on our tours, where the people will tell us things and show us things that they would not do at the big, grand Champagne houses. Because the fun thing about going to Champagne is to learn how you actually make champagne and why it tastes the way it does. Having superb lunches with champagne all through the meal will also help you understand why champagne is such a pleasant food wine. This time of the year, the end of September, will probably be right after harvest, so many things will happen in the cellar, making this tour even more exciting.
Come on a wine tour to Champagne with us. Book now!
- Champagne, September 27 â€“ October 1, 2023
And also: We have written an internationally award-winning book on Champagne, so you can hardly get a better guide to the region.
Enjoy and compare Franceâ€™s two most famous wine regions | Champagne and Bordeaux
Champagne and Bordeaux go well together. Maybe not at the same time but during the same dinner. The French always (or at least very often) serve champagne as a pre-dinner drink. And red Bordeaux is, for many, the choice of preference with meat. If you like both these wines, why not join us on our special tour that combines Champagne and Bordeaux? You will enjoy four nights in Reims, the capital of Champagne, and four nights in Bordeaux, one of Franceâ€™s most beautiful cities, on the river Garonne. We will visit some of our favourite producers (grand cru classÃ© chateaux are included) in the two regions and enjoy superb lunches at chateaux and champagne houses. Both regions, although traditional in many ways, are also dynamic and ground-breaking.
Come and discover Champagne and Bordeaux with us. Book now!
- Champagne and Bordeaux, September 27 â€“ October 5, 2023
PS: We have written an internationally award-winning book about Champagne, and also one on Bordeaux. And nine other wine books. Can you think of any other wine tour operator with that in the baggage?
Bordeaux, a style of wine you recognize | Wine tour to Bordeaux
You often recognize a Bordeaux when you have it in your glass. Not always, but fairly often. The notes of tobacco and cedar wood, a touch of oak and the tannins in the background are characteristics that every wine student learns almost on day one. This style still holds true even though you can find Bordeaux wines today made in a more modern way, even sometimes without any oak ageing at all. Our tour will give you some fabulous tastings and chateau lunches but also an up-to-date of what is happening in Bordeaux today, not least the efforts the producers are making to tackle climate change. Bordeaux is a must-see for any wine lover.
Come and discover Bordeaux with us. Book now!
- Bordeaux, October 1-5, 2023
PS: We have written a book about Bordeaux, and have been travelling there since 1986. Can you find a better guide and tour operator?
Amazing scenery, unforgettable lunches, and exciting meetings with winemakers | Wine tour in Argentina and Chile 2023
Argentina and Chile are wine countries on opposite sides of the mighty Andes Mountains. We will cross these mountains by bus halfway into our wine tour, a fabulous experience, one among many during our two weeks together in South America. We start our tour in the big city of Buenos Aires with, among other things, a tango show (as typically Argentinian as Malbec and Messi), and we then catch a flight to Mendoza, by far Argentinaâ€™s largest wine region. The Andes are close by, and vineyards are found at high altitudes, often over 1000 meters above sea level. It is a vast and impressive landscape. In Chile, we will start by going to the Pacific coast for visits to the cool climate vineyards of Casablanca and San Antonio. Some excellent pinot noir and sauvignon blanc wines are made here. And we will also have a quick visit to the breathtaking city of Valparaiso. We will then continue inland to Santa Cruz, a town in the wine region of Colchagua, famous for its red wines from cabernet sauvignon and carmenÃ¨re. Our tour ends in the Chilean capital, Santiago.
Come with us and discover the wine countries of Chile and Argentina. Book now!
More inspiration: You can get an even better feeling for what you will experience on this tour if you visit the latest tourâ€™s own Facebook group. Lots of pictures and videos from the tour (join the group and youâ€™ll get an update when we post new contents): The wine tour to Chile and Argentina 2023.
Chenin blanc, pinotage and many more wines and why not a gin & tonic | Wine tour to South Africa
South African wines. Some think of chenin blanc, others of pinotage. There is a lot to choose from, and there will be more. This extraordinary wine country is getting more exciting by the hour as small growers and big producers alike are investing in quality and exciting wines. Old, abandoned vineyards are being taken care of, and growers discover that the old brandy grapes â€“ chenin blanc, cinsault, colombard â€“ can become excellent wines with just a little effort. New styles of wines are created while the reliable Bordeaux blends remain but are sometimes blended with pinotage to become a Cape Blend instead. On this South Africa trip, you meet passionate winemakers, drink gin & tonic on one of the countryâ€™s longest stoep (porch), and visit Stellenbosch, Swartland, Hermanus, Franschhoek, Walker Bay, Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain. There will be many winery visits and wines to try, but you will also have plenty of time to enjoy the country.
Discover South Africa, the fantastic wine country, with us. Book now!
- South Africa, 8-18 February 2024
More inspiration: You can get an even better feeling for what you will experience on this tour if you visit the latest tourâ€™s own Facebook group. Lots of pictures and videos from the tour (join the group and youâ€™ll get an update when we post new contents): The wine tour to South Africa 2023.
A country far away with a unique culture, a unique landscape and unique wines | Wine tour to New Zealand
New Zealand is a young wine country, it shows in many ways. The producers still have a feeling of being pioneers who experiment with different grape varieties (New Zealand is not only sauvignon blanc!) and different wine styles. The modern wine industry did not develop until the 1970s. For a long time, the mÃ¼ller-thurgau grape dominated the vineyards; this is hard to imagine today when we enjoy pinot noir, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and of course sauvignon blanc from this island country where the winds from the see affect almost all the vineyards.
We will go from Auckland on the North Island down to Queensland on the South Island. We travel by bus all the way, an extraordinary way to see and enjoy as much of the country as possible. We visit around 20 wineries, but we also have time for some sightseeing. There will be geysers, kiwi birds (but bear in mind, they are very shy), glaciers, picturesque villages, the Maori culture and some more.
Join us for a great wine, nature and culture experience on the New Zealand wine tour. Book now!
More inspiration: You can get an even better feeling for what you will experience on this tour if you visit the latest tourâ€™s own Facebook group. Lots of pictures and videos from the tour (join the group and youâ€™ll get an update when we post new contents): The wine tour to New Zealand 2020.