Superlatives, thirst wines, and ad masquerades
If wine adverts (all too often masquerading as “journalism”) are to be believed all wines are fantastic, perfectly balanced and go with everything, from tapas to tandoori chicken.
I agree that a wine can be appreciated regardless of price; it all depends on the context. But not all wines are fantastic. Hopefully nobody really believes what the ads say anyway. But who knows, considering all publicity that is hiding behind a façade of being “editorial”… Can the reader really always tell the different? Ad newsletters vs news newsletters? Ad sites vs journalistic sites? Certainly not always easy to tell the difference. That, in a way, is the main purpose, isn’t it…?
If one did believe in all those superlative words there would be no reason to go up in price range to have a bigger wine experience. There are no superlatives left for the over-20-euro wine. All of them have been used to describe the 6 euro wine.
In France, the producers themselves often call their cheapest wines, not “fantastic”, but vin de soif or vin de copains, wines to drink with your buddies or when you are thirsty (doesn’t sound so catchy in English). In other words, unpretentious wines that you shouldn’t waste any superlatives on. Wines to just drink while talking and discussing. No doubt with some charcuteries on the side.
Some wines demand attention, a small comment and some thought, but not a vin de soif.
However, I realize that the rules of alcohol advertising in many countries would not allow you to call wines either vin de soif or vin de copains. And definitely not to mention the producers own definition of a successful vin de soif: when the bottle is finished rapidly and you want to open a new one. But ad rules all too often seem to have no problem with ads masquerading as journalism.
Summer has still plenty to give – this weekend most French people start their vacation – so keep on enjoying! Enjoy a vin de soif, a thirst quencher. And enjoy a greater wine when you want something special.
And then a few words about our wine tours!
For the autumn, there are just a very few seats left on the Bordeaux tour. A fantastic wine and food experience.
It is also high time to book the winter long-haul wine tours. Both are very special experiences, truly once-in-a-lifetime, with exceptional wine, food and culture. We still have a few, not many, seats left on both: Chile-Argentina in South America, and South Africa with the possibility to extend it with safari (a must!) and golf. See more below.
A thought on how to choose your wine tour operator perhaps? How do you choose the right one? Should you choose a “normal” tour operator, a generalist, relatively cheap, but with little knowledge on wine? A “luxury” operator who has nothing but the most famous names on the program (where you will be greeted by one of the six employed guides)? Someone who makes one or two tours in a year? Or a specialist, a wine and travel expert? Someone who has organised many hundreds of wine tours over 15 years and who has written nine internationally award winning books? It’s your choice. And then just get in touch with us. 😉
Enjoy the Brief, with more reading than usual for you to enjoy during your vacation.
There is so much to read in this Brief so keep it for later if you don’t have the time to read it all at once.
Britt & Per
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief!
What’s on at BKWine Tours
Autumn / fall 2017 (with places left)
- Bordeaux, September 27 – October 1
- Chile and Argentina, January 27 – February 11, 2018
- South Africa, February 23 – March 5, 2018 (with possible safari and golf add-on)
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 short, news and stuff from the world of wine.
A typical Chianti: Fattoria della Aiola Chianti Classico
A little while ago a few bottles of Chianti Classico arrived in the post from Fattoria della Aiola. This turned out to be a wine estate founded in 1934 by an Italian politician and sold in 2012 to Russian investors, who now continue to develop the 36 ha property. We tasted the wines and discovered that they are typical Chianti wines with all the characteristics that one learns that a classic Chianti has: quite light, high acidity, a bit of tartness. So often the theory that you learn does not match reality, especially today when many wines are more international and quaffing-friendly, and when it does, you’re happy. The grapes are 90% sangiovese and the rest merlot and colorino. All three wines will be at their best in the company of a good meal. More on the winery: aiola.net
Fattoria della Aiola Chianti Classico 2014: Cherry flavours, a bit herbaceous, tight tannins and a pleasant tartness, typical of Chianti. Quite light bodied and slender.
Fattoria Della Aiola Chianti Classico Riserva 2013: Dark cherries, quite tannic, light in body and style.
Fattoria della Aiola Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 Cancello Rosso: Again, cherry dominates with red berries, a little bit of tobacco, prominent tannins, some soft oak on the palate, a refreshingly high acidity.
Château Darius: Young wine entrepreneurs set out to modernize Saint Emilion
The wine world is considered by many to be a bit old-fashioned. But times are changing. “We want to be innovative in this very traditional world,” says Flavien Darius Pommier. 23 years old and with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in his pocket, he is now, along with a friend, marketing the family chateau Château Darius in Saint Emilion. By using social media – the most important thing – but also by actively working with famous chefs, restaurants, wine clubs, etc. he wants to modernize Saint Emilion. Michel and Odette Pommier bought Château Darius in 1990. The château has a vineyard of just over six hectares in Saint-Laurent des Combes. The soil is sandy and gravelly with high iron content. The grapes are 60% merlot and 40% cabernet franc. The average age of the vines is high, 50 years. The wine is aged 18 months in barrels, one third of them new. We have tasted vintage 2012. Château Darius 2012, Saint Emilion Grand Cru: Round and soft fruit with good texture, length, some oak in the aftertaste, good concentration. More on the winery chateau-darius.com
Come on a wine tour to Bordeaux with BKWine!
Qvevri and “normal” wines from Lipartiani-Khareba in Georgia
Georgia is on the move. And it’s no longer just the qvevri wines that get attention. In June, Winery Khareba/Lipartiani presented its wines in Paris. We tasted red and white qvevri wines and “regular” wines. These latter ones account for most of the production in the country. However, the traditional method of qvevri, which means that the wines are fermented and aged in buried clay vessels, is important. “We like wine in Georgia, it belongs to our tradition,” says export manager Alexander Vashalomidze. The Soviet era, however, killed all international contacts. Georgia had to start all over again but is now making a comeback on the world market. The two largest export countries for now are Russia and China. But Europe is growing. Vladimer Kublashvili, the chief oenologist, says that the company has 1000 hectares all over the country, which means many different types of climates. More on the vineyard: winery-khareba.com. Two delicious qvevri favourites from the tasting:
Winery Khareba Krakhuna qvevri 2015 (white): Very dry, refreshing and a bit tannic. Pleasant honey notes, some bitterness in the finish. In qvevri for a month with 30% of the skins.
Winery Khareba Otskhanuri sapere 2012 (red): Intense flavours, very dry, tight and clean fruit, good structure, refreshing acidity. In qvevri for six months.
Côtes de Provence celebrates its 40 years with a design competition
Côtes de Provence celebrates this year 40 years as an appellation. And there is reason to celebrate. Rosé wines from Provence have had incredible success in recent years. The world does not seem to be able to get enough of Provence rosé. As part of the celebration, a design competition was organized in June in collaboration with Verallia, a big manufacturer of glass bottles. The task of the contestants was to design an innovative bottle that gives a picture of today’s Provence. The three winners all had their own interpretations of what they think Provence stands for. First prize was given to a designer named Caroline Charrel. She had chosen to focus on the historical legacy with a bottle reminiscent of Greek columns. The jury’s coup de cœur (special price) looks more like a bottle for expensive cognac or perfume. I wonder which rosé producer will be tempted? See the three winning bottles here mon-viti.com. And read more about Caroline Charrel’s bottle here carolinecharrel.eu
Grapes in the Napa Valley as expensive as in Champagne
Does Champagne have the world’s most expensive grapes? We thought so but now it seems that you have to pay as much for cabernet sauvignon grapes in Napa Valley, California. For one kilo of Napa cabernet sauvignon you pay 7 USD, compared to between 5.20 and 6.20 euros for one kilogram of Champagne grapes. Other wine regions, of course, also have grape growers who sell their grapes to négociant but they would never come close to these prices. Cabernet sauvignon is by far the most popular grape in California. In 2016, 37% of nursery sales were cabernet sauvignon, way before pinot noir and chardonnay with 16% each. In fourth place is pinot grigio with 7%, a rather sharp decline for this grape compared to recent years’ popularity. Read more thedrinksbusiness.com and on winesymposium.com
Vines threatened by fungal diseases, virus, maltreatment, draught etc
The French nurseries that supply wine producers with vines face major challenges. At the end of June, 120 of them gathered to discuss the future. The most important thing they discussed is the withering of the vineyards that has been going on for some time now. Everywhere, the wine growers see how some of their vines grow weak, give lower yields and maybe die prematurely. This is due in part to the disease called esca and other related diseases which in French are called maladies du bois. These are fungal diseases that affect the vine and there is no cure for it.
But there are other reasons as well. It can be viruses, insects, water stress during drought, poor functioning ecosystems around the vineyard, wrong type of pruning, etc. 75% of the French vineyards are planted with grape varieties that are sensitive to much of this. And of course, this is not just France, but the whole of Europe. Several research programs are underway. Read more on vinconnexion.com on how to fight it.
Gérard Bertrand celebrates 30 years as a wine producer
Gérard Bertrand in Languedoc celebrates 30 years as a wine producer. He has had a tremendous success. He had to take over the family wine business at a young age when his father died. At the time the business was small. Now he produces 12 million bottles that are sold in 60 countries. He has built a wine empire that he controls from the Château l’Hospitalet in La Clape just outside Narbonne. L’Hospitalet is a vineyard, but also a hotel, restaurant and wine shop. Gerard Bertrand has done a lot for Languedoc. He has helped to make the wines known all over the world. The brand is strong. Consumers associate Gerard Bertrand with quality and reliability, whether they are buying the volume wines or the more prestigious wines such as Cigalus, Viala, Clos d’Ora and others. Many of the wines are organic or biodynamic, some are without added sulphur. We congratulate Gérard Bertrand to the 30 years!
Affordable Red Burgundy from Maison Ambroise
Red Burgundy that is both good and does not break the bank can be difficult to find. Maison Ambroise is one place to look. We visited the house this spring on one of our wine tours and tasted their selection, starting with the “plain” Bourgogne Rouge, a wine that offers a good pinot noir character with red berries and balanced oak. The wine is light-weight but structured with good acidity and tannin. Good value at around 16 euro. Overall, Maison Ambroise makes very good wines. It is a family company that keeps a fairly low profile but works ambitiously. The property has been certified ecologically since 2013. Bertrand Ambroise became responsible for the property in 1987 and is now working with his children. They have more than 20 hectares of vineyards scattered over as many appellations, both in Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits.
Features that we have published during the past month, with lots of reading for you.
A new generation of German wines | Britt on Forbes
Ever since I started drinking wine I have had a fondness for German Riesling. I want them dry or, occasionally, very sweet. I have never been a fan of the off-dry or semi dry wines which Germany used to produce lots of. They still do, but the dry wines are rapidly gaining in popularity.”
Read more on this on BKWine Magazine: The reinvention of German wines | Britt on Forbes.
Are ”natural wines” still trendy?
Very strange things – even completely incorrect – are sometimes written and said about “natural wines”, the wine category that a few years ago became one of the hottest subjects among wine geeks (and that still is largely limited to the wine geek crowd), and one that no one can really agree on what it means . So when one more article is written about it one fears even more strange things.
But that didn’t happen. It turned into an unusually sensible article on “natural” wines in a business magazine, including an interview with BKWine’s Britt. Read more on BKWine Magazine: How’s it going for “natural wines”?
Rosé wines from Provence
Rosé wine has become amazingly popular in recent years. The consumption of rosé increases more than other wines. France is the world’s largest rosé producer. Provence is the region in France that is most famous for its rosé wines and it is also the largest producer with 42% of all rosé.
BKWine Magazine’s Henrik Stadler reports from a tasting of Provence rosés: Provence, Champion of Rosé in Five Wines.
One of the greatest chefs of France, Alain Senderens | Per on Forbes
It is not often you meet someone who has voluntarily given up on having three Michelin stars, even if recently we have seen a handful of great chefs do it, or claim they did it. But even in this case Alain Senderens was a precursor. He “handed in” his three stars in 2005, after 28 years. Before that he had been a pioneer in many ways, since he began in the kitchen in 1957: classic cuisine, nouvelle cuisine, wine and food cuisine, japanophile cuisine, and most recently democratic haut-cuisine. There are many reasons for anyone to listen to what he has to say.
Senderens died recently. A few years ago we met over lunch in his restaurant, called simply Alain Senderens. Read all of Per’s article on BKWine Magazine: Chef Alain Senderens, a French restaurant legend, an interview | Per on Forbes.
We found our book in an unexpected place
“Every time I go past a bookshop I pop into the shop to see if they have one of our books on the shelf. We’ve done nine wine books by now, nine published in Swedish and only one of them published in English. So it works well in Sweden where there’s usually one or two of our books on the shelf. But here in France it doesn’t really work. None of our books has been published in French… (Yet, says the always hopeful.)”
Read more on this happy discovery on BKWine Magazine: The pleasure of book shops and organic wines.
A young winery in Washington, The Walls
“Attorney Mike Martin wasn’t looking for a bend in the road of life when he and a pal stopped off in Walla Walla a few years ago to play some golf and drink some wine en route to business in Boise. But bend it does. At Walla Walla’s Wine Country golf course, Mike Martin hits his first-ever hole-in-one. Bam! Much back-slapping, wine drinking, bad karaoke, and general hilarity ensue. Next morning, Mike and his friend sober up, suit up, and drive on to business in Boise – but Mike never shakes the thrill of that hole-in-one, nor the camaraderie with those folks in Walla Walla.”
Read more in LM Archer’s article on BKWine Magazine: Meeting Ali Mayfield at Walls Vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington.
And here you have the tasting notes: Tasting the wines from The Walls, Walla Walla, Washington.
The CEO of the world’s biggest cork producer meets BKWine | Per on Forbes
Just a few years ago, or perhaps mainly in the mid 90s and early 00s, corked wines were a big discussion subject. Some people reported 4-5% cork defects in wine, sometimes even 10%. We started to see serious “alternative closures”, mainly plastic corks and screw caps. Today that debate has mostly disappeared (although not quite disappeared and not in all countries).What has happened? Have we become used to corked wines? Or are there fewer of them around? Have screw-cap taken over the quality wine market?
Read more on corked wines, screw caps and other corky things – and watch the video! – in Per’s article on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes: The CEO of Amorim on corked wines, technical innovation and the world market | Per on Forbes.
Good wine tourism projects at wineries around the world tourism | Per on Forbes
Each year they organise a conference in Italy on wine tourism. The organiser is Città del Vino, a collaboration between the Italian wine regions. This year they wanted an international perspective, someone who could talk about wine tourism projects around the world, outside of Italy. So they turned to one of the world’s most successful wine tourism companies and asked a representative to come and speak. They turned to BKWine and it fell to me to go to Umbria and speak on wine tourism. This was actually the second time I was a speaker at that conference. As far as I know, no other Scandinavian has been there as a speaker so it certainly felt like an honour.
You can read a short summary of what I said on how to be successful in wine tourism on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes: How a winery can be successful in wine tourism | Per on Forbes.
You can also read the full presentation with lots of examples on BKWine Tours: The 4 Different Kinds of Wine Tourism, and the 3 Different Wine Tourists.
Changing from horses to wine, Ackerman in Napa Valley
Lauren Ackerman attributes some of the success of Ackerman Family Vineyards in Napa on a Bill Harlan quote. When asked why he bought cult winery Screaming Eagle at a time when most people considered retiring, he answered, ”If I don’t do this now, when will I?” Ackerman, an equestrian-turned-vineyard owner, wine maker, and civic leader, unwittingly cantered into decanting after she and her husband Bob purchased a Coombsville horse farm replete with an old working vineyard in 1994.
Read more in LM Archer’s article on BKWine Magazine: The Ackerman winery in Napa, a success story.
From zero to one of Sweden’s biggest wine importers in 20 years | Per on Forbes
Today: “I produce 30 million bottles of wine”, Says Takis Soldatos, founder, owner and CEO of Oenoforos, a wine importer and wine producer. Yesterday: “I started in the wine business a long time ago working for a Greek wine entrepreneur and moved to Sweden to market his wines.” So how do you go from the one to the other, I asked?
Read more on how you become one of the biggest wine importers in Per’s article on BKWine Magazine, originally published on Forbes: A wine importing success story | Per on Forbes.
The best Barolo and Barbaresco from the ”prima”
A convincing vintage of Barolo 2013 and despite a very difficult year for Barbaresco 2014, there are wines that surprise. Positively. The wines were presented in Alba during the event Nebbiolo Prima, in Piedmont in early April. Over a hundred wines a day were tasted by some sixty invited wine journalists from around the world.
BKWine Magazine’s Åsa Johansson reports: Nebbiolo Prima: New vintages of Barolo 2013 and Barbaresco 2014.
A picture essay from ”Oriente” in Lisbon
A while back I had a few hours to spend in Lisbon. I was visiting Portugal to go to some oak forests and vineyards. (More on cork production here.) I was staying at a hotel in the part of the city called Oriente. Much of it was built for the Expo 98 world exhibition that too place here in Lisboa-Oriente. It is an interesting part of the city to stroll around in. In the evening it is fairly quiet, or really quiet actually, unless you find one of the not very numerous restaurants. But it is beautifully located along the river. See the photo essay on BKWine Photography: Shapes and forms in Oriente in Lisbon.
Some information about current and future wine tours with BKWine.
Harvest time in Bordeaux | wine tour
End of September is usually a very busy time in the vineyards in Bordeaux. It is peak harvest season. But it is always different; sometimes harvest is later, sometimes earlier. This year it will be early so end of September will be towards the end of the harvest. Which means that there are still plenty of people in the vineyards and that things are very busy in the cellars.
What we certainly can promise it that you will get to know Bordeaux behind the scene, much more than “the big and famous” with their will trained guides, that most people offer. Instead we will take you to some of the most exciting, smaller, “confidential”, often family-owned chateaux. And we can also promise you some really outstanding gastronomy that you will get to enjoy at the chateaux, together with some great wines of course. Book now!
Chile and Argentina, a wine tour filled with unforgettable experiences
Our wine tour to South America is filled with experiences. The wines, the nature, the people, the food. Every day will be different. Which wine will be your favourite? A Carmenère from Chile or a Malbec from Mendoza? Or maybe a Pinot Noir or a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s coastal district where the ocean’s cool winds provide acidity and elegance to the wines. You see more and more different wine styles in Chile and Argentina. In Chile, they grow wine further and further south, in Argentina at higher and higher heights. The ambition is huge in both countries. The quality potential is not yet fully explored. But already, if you know where to go, and we do (!), it is fantastic.
Between our wine visits we enjoy the magnificent nature, we relax at the swimming pool, we drink pisco sour, we taste the world-famous and delicious meat. We will get to know the big cities, Buenos Aires, Valparaiso and Santiago de Chile, and we learn the art of blending different grape varieties into a perfectly balanced wine. We travel by bus across the Andes, a magnificent journey through a desolate, fascinating landscape. In short, a trip you do not easily forget. Book your place now. Only very few left.
Read more on the wine tour to Chile and Argentina 27 January to 11 February 2018.
You can see more of photos and videos from the tour on the Facebook group for the wine tour to Chile and Argentina.
South Africa, wine and food in combination | a world class wine tour
South Africa has about 100,000 hectares (240,000 acres) of vineyards. This figure has been stable for a long time. What has changed is how the grapes are used. During apartheid, over 50% of the grapes went to distillation for brandy production. Now most grapes are used to make wine.
During our tour in the South African wine regions, we will see many examples of this change. More and more producers are making interesting and exciting wines. There is an incredible variety of grape varieties planted in South Africa today. The variety of wine styles is huge. Which is good. And the quality level is astonishing. The South African gastronomy is also very rich in different styles. And delicious. Among other things, we will get to know the traditional and spicy Cape Malay cuisine. With homemade samoosa and bobotie on the plate and a Pinotage in the glass we will not have much to complain about.
Read more on the wine tour to South Africa on 23 February to 5 March 2018.
You can see plenty of pictures and videos from the tour on the Facebook group for the wine tour to South Africa 2017.
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