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|News from BKWine|
| “World’s Best Wine Tours” – Travel + Leisure Magazine, on TravelAndLeisure.com
Wine Tour to Bordeaux with BKWine
In Bordeaux you find world famous châteaux and world famous wines but also a lot of new exciting initiatives (less famous but maybe more important for the future of Bordeaux!) and young enthusiastic wine makers. On this trip we will visit both some big, famous Grand Cru Classé-châteaux and smaller ones that are less known, but very quality conscious. We will visit the well-known regions like Médoc and Saint-Emilion, but also rising-stars among the regions, like Entre-deux-Mers. We will learn about viticulture and vinification and after this trip you will know quite a lot about what’s going on in Bordeaux at the moment.
In all the chateaux we will get private tastings together with the people who are involved in the wine making and who are delighted to share with us their passion for fine wine. We avoid the usual big ‘tourist trap’ addresses and instead focus on the real people and the real wines. We will stay four nights in the city of Bordeaux, an elegant and very beautiful city of just over half a million people.
BKWine offers you two possibilities to go to Bordeaux this year
And we will have one tour to Burgundy:
For more information please contact us on email or on phone (we’re on French time). Visit our video channel http://www.youtube.com/bkwine to meet some of the producers we visit.
What do people think about a wine tour with BKWine?
That is of course a question that we think is very important. We want it to be a wonderful and memorable experience for everyone. Here are some of the comments we’ve had from customers this season:
Custom wine tours
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. We’ve done tours for wine clubs, for sommelier educations, for corporate events, for wine importers, for wine course study groups… just to mention a few.
You’ll get a tour designed exactly according to your requirements and tastes, made by one of the most experienced wine people in the business. We personally visit some 200 wineries and taste thousands of wines every year; we write on wine for various wine magazines (we had more than 30 articles published last year); in 2007 we published a ground breaking book on the wine of the Languedoc and in 2009 we published a book on vine growing and wine making – unique in its kind. And we have organised hundreds of wine tours over the years.
Wine tours in Finnish
More info on the Finnish wine tours here: Viinimatkoja
You can find the pictures on www.bkwine.com/wine_pictures/photo_galleries.htm
|A selection of what we have tried, tasted or visited recently. □ Producers
Château Lagrange, Saint Julien, Bordeaux
This Grand Cru Classé was bought in 1983 by the Japanese beverage company Suntory which got a lot of attention at the time. A Grand Cru Classé in the hands of the Japanese! Almost a bit of a scandal. But being Japanese hasn’t really done Château Lagrange any harm. On the contrary. An enormous amount of money has been spent on investments, both in the cellar, the vineyard and in the beautiful park. Lagrange, with 115 hectares of vines (157 hectares in total), is one of the biggest estates in Médoc. The investments have paid off; the quality today is very high. Lagrange produces three different wines: Château Lagrange, Les Fiefs de Lagrange (the second wine) and a beautiful white wine called Les Arumes de Lagrange, made of 60 % sauvignon blanc , 30 sémillon och 10 muscadelle. 4 hectares are planted with white grapes. The red grapes are cabernet sauvignon (65 %), merlot (28 %) and petit verdot (7 %). Les Fiefs de Lagrange is one of our favourites, a very good Bordeaux for a reasonable price. We recommend the vintage 2007 of both Lagrange and Les Fiefs.
Quinta do Vale Dona Maria, Douro-dalen, Portugal
The road up to the quinta is narrow and steep. But once you are up there the reward is an amazing view of the valley and the river. And of course, some very good wines. The estate is about to get its organic certification. ”It’s import for me”, says Cristiano, ”even if the market doesn’t care.” Quinta de Vale Dona Maria 2008 is one of his best wines. The grapes come from the oldest vines. It is 13 different varieties which are foot trodden in traditional lagars. The wine has complex aromas, soft tannins and an incredibly intense fruit. The wine radiates elegance and power at the same time. The elegance is important to Cristiano. “The oak should never overpower the fruit. “
Read about more recommended producers on the site: Favourite Producers
Read more recommendations on restaurants and wine bars on my Restaurant and Wine Bar page.
|News from the Wine World|
|Wine tourism conference in the Languedoc
”Les assises de l’oenotourisme” is the elegant official name of the event that will take place on February 3 in the Languedoc. It sound perhaps a bit less prestigious if you translate it – the sit-down about wine tourism. But that’s exactly what it is about: sitting down and talking about how wine producers, local food producers and a whole region can work more effectively with wine tourism. We mention it here if someone (a wine producer?) happens to be in the region on February 3. And because BKWine is one of the invited speakers – as an expert on wine tourism! www.winetourisminfrance.comSouth African wines biggest export markets
South Africa is making progress in its wine exports. Total exports are on the increase. Great Britain is the single biggest market but the Scandinavian countries are also performing very well, in particular Sweden that conquered the third place from the Netherlands in 2009. Here is the list of the top ten export markets:
– Great Britain: 126 million litres (up from 111 Ml in 2008)
(Source: South Africa Wine Industry Statistics and Drink Business)
South Africa’s wine country is organised in three levels
Much have changed in South African wine production over a few decades. Today they use a classification system called Wines of Origin (WO) based on three levels: regions, districts, and wards. There are four regions, with varying number of districts. Each district can have several wards. It is questionable if today there are any distinct differences in character between wards (and perhaps even districts and regions) but perhaps that will develop over time. It may be more likely that some regions, districts as well as wards will become well known names. It is, after all, a young wine country. Here aare the districts and their regions:
Distrikt Coastal Region
Klein Karoo region:
Olifant River region:
Breede River Valley region
Districts that don’t belong to a region: Overberg, Walker Bay, Douglas, Cape Agulhas, Plettenberg Bay
Wards that don’t belong to a region: Ceres, Cederberg, Prince Albert Valley, Swartberg, Lambert’s Bay, Lower Orange
However, this listing should be read with a certain caution. The WO system seems not yet quite stable and different (official) documents have different listings. Here are e.g. Two sources with different details: www.wine.co.za (pdf) and www.wosa.co.za.
South Africa’s grape varieties: chenin blanc still in the lead
Chenin blanc is not so often called steen, as it used to be, but it is still South Africa’s most grown grape variety, albeit decreasing. Quite a lot of it goes to making the very respectable, sometimes excellent, South African brandy. Pinotage, the exclusivity of south African vineyards, often considered an emblem of SA grape growing, accounts for only 6% of the surface. These are the most grown grape varieties (2009, % of surface):
Wine technology: wine with gum Arabic
Gum Arabic is, technically, a polysaccharide and a resin like substance from an Arabic acacia tree. Its use is permitted in winemaker. Nothing particularly strange about that. It is a regular food additive with the code E414. So what is it good for? It has two primary effects in wine: The first is to stabilise the colour, i.e. to avoid unwanted colour changes of the wine. Generally, it is to keep a darker colour of the wine. the other effect is to give the wine somewhat softer tannins and a rounder mouth-feel. It is normally only used in the making of simpler red wines made to be drunk young.
”Methode provençale” to make sparkling wines?
Since quite a few year it has been forbidden to use the expression “methode champenoise” on sparkling wines made with a second fermentation in the bottle. In the future we may instead see “methode provençale”. Provence is enjoying the popularity of rosé wines but researchers have now developed a “new” method to make bubbly that is supposed to keep the wines fresher and lighter than other methods. Generally when making sparklers one adds some sugar (and yeast) at the end for the second fermentation. That is what they do in Champagne. If you do that you will inevitably increase the alcohol contents making a potentially heavier wine.
In the Provence method you start the winemaking by removing part of the must before fermentation. It is put in cold storage to avoid fermentation. When the wine has finished the fermentation that must is added back in, instead of adding sugar as you would traditionally. The result is that after the second fermentation the wine has the “normal” alcohol level, just like the still wine. In traditional sparkling wine making the sparkling wine will have a higher alcohol contents than the still wine due to the added sugar. The Provence method is still at an experimental stage and the wines do not have an AOC/AOP. They are simply called “vin mousseux de qualité”. In the future they hope for an appellation “rosé effervescent de Provence”. Around 70 wine producers are taking part in the experiment.
Spain’s most grown grape varieties
Which is the world’s most planted grape variety? It is a common question in wine quizzes, since few have heard about the obscure grape. It is a Spanish white grape variety (unless it has changed recently, plantings have decreased): airen. It produces large quantities of anonymous wine in central Spain. More interesting and noteworthy are the wines from the biggest red grape variety, tempranillo. Here are the most grown Spanish grape varieties:
(Source: Observatoria Espanol del Mercado de Vin, Drinks Business)
Very, very old vines
Many wine producers make a cuvee ‘vieilles vignes’ (old viners). Old vine wines are often considered to have superior quality – lower yields producing more concentrated wines. Jean-Armand Bloc, who is not really a vigneron but a nuclear physicist (according to La Revue du Vins de France), has made it his speciality to produce wine only from very old vines, at least 75 years old. He owns no vineyard but finds parcels with old vines in existing vineyards and makes a ‘très très vieilles vigne’ cuvee in partnership with the owner of the vineyard. To date he has made a TTVV in Beaujolais and in Corbieres. More info: www.ttvv.fr
At last! La Vigne launches web site
La Vigne is the French wine magazine that you should subscribe to once you have become tired of consumer wine magazines superficiality. Or quite simply because you are curious about the details behind wine growing and winemaking. La Vigne is actually a magazine for wine growers (and rumoured to be up for sale) but many of the articles are very interesting also for wine “amateurs”. The have finally (enfin!) launched a web site, and it is full of information: articles, weather forecasts, videos, photos etc etc. Go to their web site here: http://www.lavigne-mag.fr
Fighting diseases organically – copper and sulphur the only weapons?
For organic wine farmers the only permitted products are copper and sulphur, it is often said. That is not quite correct, since in organic farming you are allowed to use other products – if they are “natural”. Here’s a summary of diseases and treatments for organic wine growing (based on an article from La Vigne):
Portugal dominates cork production
17 billion wine bottles were sealed in 2009. 11.3 billion (66%) used “natural” cork, 3.1 bn used screw cap, and 2.9 bn used synthetic corks. The by far biggest producer of ‘natural’ cork is Portugal. Here are the major cork producers (source: La Vigne, Apcor):
– Portugal: 157,000 tonnes (52%)
Not all yeasts are created equal
It is common practice to add cultured (sometimes called artificial) yeast to the must to control the ferementation of wine. Just like for “natural” fermentation it is Saccharomyses Cerevisiae that converts the sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide (for beer it can be Saccharomyses Carlsbergensis). A new type of has now been launched that is not a Saccharomyses. It is called Torulaspora delbrueckii. The benefits are said to be that the wines get more pleasing aromas and more fresh fruit. A test on chardonnay in Burgundy showed that Torulaspora wines had more aromas of citrus fruit, flowers and spices whereas Cerevisiae wines had more notes of tropical fruit like pineapple. The “T” wines also gave the impressions of being more full bodied. However, Torulaspora cannot completely finish the fermentation since it dies at 8-10% alcohol. The winemaker has to add Saccharomyses Cerevisiae yeast at the end to finish the fermentation. (Source: La Vigne)
More extraction with higher pressure – or lower
Perhaps you are familiar with ‘flash detente’. If you are not you should read our book A Wine is Born (unfortunately not yet available in English – Ett vin blir till). Basically, it is a method to extract more from the grape skins by heating up the grapes and then rapidly subjecting them to a vacuum. It is a big machine sold by Pera. Another big vinification equipment manufacturer, Bucher-Vaslin, has now invented another process which is different but that does essentially the same thing: Delta Extractys. It uses high pressure instead of low. After heating the grapes to around 60 degrees C (in e.g. a thermo-vinificator) they are transported to a pressure chamber. The grapes are put under high pressure, up to 4 bars, and then rapidly returned to normal atmospheric pressure. The effect is very similar to what happens in flash detente: the grape skin membranes are damaged so that the extraction of polyphenols is more intense. It supposedly increases the fruit and body of the wine and gives them a better tannic structure. Most likely to be used by cooperatives and other large producers of not too ambitious wines. And not cheap: 35,000 to 90,000 euros. (Source: La Vigne, Bucher Vaslin).
Bordeaux court fines Italian wine producers for economic parasitism
At the last Vinexpo, the world’s biggest wine fair that took place in Bordeaux in 2009 the Italian wine producers were absent. Instead they had rented a big “party tent” (600 m2) at a hotel nearby the exhibition where they presented their wines. They did not participate in Vinexpo “proper” due to a conflict with the organisers regarding e.g. the placement and the size of the planned Italian stand. The organiser of Vinexpo were very upset when they discovered the Italian tent, what in French they call an “off” event (not linked to the official fair). The were so upset that they took the Italian tent organisers, Ital Assist, to court. The court has now decided in favour of Vinexpo and fined the Italians 150,000 euro for “economic piracy”. We can’t help thinking that what Vinexpo has done is not only silly, but also wrong. In reality, all those “off” events at a trade fair bring a lot of value added to the event itself. If the result will be that there will be fewer off events then Vinexpo will be the loser, since the off events certainly make the fair more interesting and bring more visitors. We can only hope that Vinisud, the second biggest French wine fair, who has also been critical of off events, will not try and do the same thing! Read more www.vitisphere.com and www.vitisphere.com
Most planted grape varieties in Austria
Percentages are of total planted area in 2009. + or – signifies changes since 1999. Whites in total have gone from 75% of the total area to 66%, and thus reds from 26% to 34%. Curious to see that reds are progressing so strongly in Austria. The total area planted with vines is now 46,000 ha, which is a decrease with 5% since 1999.
Freedom to the vines? Should planting rights be abolished?
A few years ago the EU countries agreed a big reform of the wine production sector. A big part of this was the abolishment in time of the “planting rights” system. (It was also suggested that chaptalisation, adding sugar to increase the alcohol level, should be forbidden but winemakers protested too much.) The planting rights system means that you must obtain a permit to plant new vines and these “rights” are severely limited. Instead, it was agreed, people would be allowed to plant vines more or less as they want. On the other hand – if they couldn’t sell their wines they should not expect subsidies. (The current/old system provides subsidies for unsold wines.) The whole reform was created to make the European wine industry more internationally competitive. Now, some politicians are starting to say that planting rights should be maintained and that the government(s) should continue to control and “manage” vine plantings. The last one out was president Nicolas Sarkozy in France. Last year it was chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany. Just recently an organisation called AREV has joined in the choir. AREV is an organisation that brings together various wine regions around Europe. They have a habit of supporting measures that protect the wine growers from competition and from change. But that rarely benefit the consumers.
The French wine writer Hervé Lalu has written a very interesting article on his blog that argues that this is a bad idea; that the wine industry and the wine consumers will be better off if the system with planting rights is abolished. In fact, maintaining planting rights is just one way for the “old-generation” current wine producers to try and protect themselves from competition. We agree with Hervé Lalu, that that position is outdated, wine consumers and wine producers will be better off without the old protectionist system. Down with planting rights! Read Hervé’s article here (Use Google Translate if you don’t read French!): Droits de plantations, la polémique continue… mais est-ce la bonne?
Protection against bad times for Armagnac? Condom from Condom…
Condom is, believe it or not, the main town in the Gascogne region that produces the delicious spirit called Armagnac. It is a three hours’ drive south from its cousin Cognac. But Condom is of course also something else. Some clever marketing people have launched “the Condom from Condom”. Clever, no? The town sages are apparently not convinced, since according to a report in Sud-Ouest they are considering legal action. But who can fail to see the charm with arguments like “the first luxury condom, chic and elegant, with this particular ‘French touch’”.
Just like wine (or armagnac) it is even available in a six pack bed-side table box: “you will be proud of displaying it!” (we assume ‘it’ refers to the elegant jewellery-inspired box). Local businesses seem to have caught on more than the municipality. There’s even one who has started to sell armagnac-based cocktails with inspired names like “la turlutte”, “le gratte-cul” ou “la coucougnette aux figues” (look it up on Wikipedia!). Can we hope for a combined gift box, including a bottle of armagnac, a tin of delicious foie gras (another local speciality) and a luxurious condom box? Who can resist? Read more in Sud-Ouest Sud-Ouest, more on armagnac and more on the condom from Condom www.theoriginalcondom.com. The most surprising thing is that no one has done it before!
Delicatessen and wine shop in Bordeaux
We are in no way neutral in this case: Chateau Lestrille is a small, family-owned chateau in the Entre-deux-Mers region in Bordeaux, one of those “small and little known”, as opposed to “big and classed growths”. But this is the category where you can find many well-made and interesting wines at very reasonably prices (certainly a fraction of classed growths). Lestrille is run by Estelle Roumage who took over the winery from her father a few years back. She is full of ideas and she has now opened a wine shop (selling not only her own wines!) and delicatessen. A wine bar and restaurant is in the pipe-line for next season. If you are a small family producer you have to have lots of energy as well as ideas! And why are we not neutral? French Estelle is married to Spanish-Swedish Martin, and Martin is one of the wine guides for BKWine’s wine tours. You can hardly get a better insight into wine than that! Read more bordeauxwinenews.blogs.sudouest.fr
Can a Swedish resident import wine for personal consumption, without having to go through the monopoly?
This is a question that pops up quite often, both from Swedish residents and from wine producers / wine sellers. This is a first version of the answer, perhaps not 100% exact (it is difficult to be that) nor 100% to be taken as legal advice:
Yes he can. Under certain conditions.
Since a few years it is OK for a Swedish resident to buy wine from a seller outside of Sweden but inside the EU. This is a result of EU competition laws. However, this is legal only under certain conditions. Read the details here Can Swedish residents import wine for personal consumption?
Greek winemaker becomes mayor of Greece’s second city
Yiannis Boutaris was recently elected as mayor (a politically important role) in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second biggest city. Yiannis Boutaris is part of the same family that has given its name to the famous Greek wine producer Boutari (without the s). But in the 90s Yiannis Boutaris choose to go his own way. He left the family firm and launched a new winery in the region of Naoussa in northern Greece (Macedonia) under the name of Kir-Yianni.
Today the winery is run by Yiannis’ son Stelios Boutaris. Kir-Yianni has in spite of its short life take a place among the most quality conscious wine producers in Greece. We were quite impressed when we were there some while back.
In fact, there are a lot of interesting developments in the wine regions in northern Greece today. Perhaps the next new wine tour destination? Let us know if you are interested.
Must-have thing of the month: remove sulphur with SO2GO
Some say that the headache you get from wine is due to the sulphur the wine contains rather than to the volume consumed. Apparently you can actually be allergic to sulphur but we tend to believe that the headache mostly is due to the volume issue. But if you don’t think it is there is now a solution. So2go is a liquid that you pour into the wine and that eliminates the sulphur.
A small vial of 3 ml is enough to remove the sulphur in one bottle of wine (how can one know, since the sulphur contents varies greatly?). It costs a mere £1.50 a pop. So2go contains hydrogen peroxide that is also used as bleach, as an antiseptic and (according to Wikipedia) as rocket fuel.
If you prefer to remove the sulphur in the wine without bleach and rocket fuel you can pour the wine into a decanter and aerate it a bit. It works too. And it is free. (As a matter of fact So2go releases oxygen when added to the wine. So in practice it does noting different than a decanting.) More www.so2go.co.uk
Is it outrageous that a bottle of wine can cost 1000€ or more?
You can ask the question differently (many do): “should we all be able to buy e.g. classed growth claret at reasonably affordable prices?” surprisingly often you get the answer “yes” to both questions. Many seem to be upset about the extraordinary prices that the best (or at least most expensive) wines in e.g. Bordeaux have reached recently. But is it really unreasonable? Is there anything that says that we should be able to buy the wines we bought yesterday also in the future?
Many consumers see in a nostalgic light the bottles they bought years ago without too much pain inflicted on the wallet. Many wine writers have been outraged over the price rises in recent years. One who just shrugs the shoulders is Robert Joseph, a well-respected British wine writer. His view is that today some wines have become pure luxury goods, and there’s nothing wrong with that. “the $1,000 bottle is no more crazy than the $10,000 handbag“. We agree.
For the rest of us, who don’t want to pay 1000€ for a bottle of wine, or not “even” 100€, there are plenty (more than ever) good and excellent wines to buy at reasonable prices. And the producers of those wines probably needs our money more than those who make the diamond studded wines. Read all of Robert Joseph’s article here Plus ça change
More about the book on Tokaji
In the last Brief we wrote a review of the new book on Tokaij wines, Tokaji Wine – Fame, Fate, Tradition by Miles Lambert-Gócs. We also speculated in for whom it might have been written. The author sent us a mail and explained: ”I feel obliged to respond to your question about ‘the intended reader.’ If we are talking about someone who is going to read the book from front to back, certainly it would only be a real Tokaji enthusiast. But mainly I was thinking of serious enophiles who occasionally want to explore particular topics about Tokaji. That is why I divided the book into parts, with an A-Z format within that framework. Also, I definitely had wine writers, MWs, etc. in mind in wanting to set out everything needed to avoid the wrong or false history that has plagued Western literature on Tokaji to date.” Here’s the original book review.
Record price for vineyard in Bordeaux
A chateau neighbouring Chateau Haut Brion has been sold at a record price. It is Chateau Les Carmes Huat Brion that has been bought by a Bordeaux based real estate company. The vineyards are 4.7 hectares, there is a park of 3 ha and a chateau of course. The vines are classified as AOC Pessac-Léognan. If you make a quick calculation it makes for 3.8 million euro per hectare. Not bad! Read more www.sudouest.fr
This post is also available in: Swedish