BKWine Brief nr 95, June 2011

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitFinally some summer. We had a sampling of summer in April and early May but after that it has been rather chilly.

Summer can be a good occasion to spend some more time with good wines and perhaps read that wine book or that wine magazine that one simply has not come round to reading.

In the last issue of the Brief you could read about some of our suggestions for barbecue wines. In this issue we will give you five suggestions of how to make it a more interesting wine summer:

1. Think about the temperature: Serve the red wines a bit cooler (~16C) and the white wines not too cold (~8C). It will make the reds a little more refreshing and give the whites a bit more flavour and character.

2. Don’t go for the rosé: Yes, it is trendy and you are supposed to say “rosé is so good these days”, but in reality many rosés are quite boring and character-less, as well as having quite a bit of residual sugar to help a weak wine. We suggestion that you rather choose a red or a white, or why not one of each. A rosé is still quite often the in-between choice supposed to please everyone. Which it doesn’t.

3. Don’t pick a bag-in-box (wine pouch): This is perhaps particularly relevant for the Scandinavian market (in Sweden almost 60% of all wine is sold in BiB!). Buy three of four bottles, different bottles, instead of the BiB. It will be so much more fun and the wine will be much better.

4. Dare to be different: Try some different or unexpected wine and food matches. Why not a Beaujolais to the grilled fish? Or a white wine to the cheese? (Delicious!) Or a New World chardonnay to the barbecue. It can’t be all bad. It can actually be excellent! And fun.

5. Designate a “country of the week”: Drink only wines from that country for a full week, say Portugal one week, Greece the next, and then France. Etc. But pick some countries that you are not so familiar with – not your usual Napa Cab or Chianti. It will take some planning but with a bit of cooperation from a few wine merchants it shouldn’t be too difficult to do.

And since summer is here it is about time to think about the wine tours to do in the autumn!

We still have a few places left on our Bordeaux wine tour in September, but not many.

Book now!

Britt & Per

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them !

What’s on at BKWine Tours

“World’s Best Wine Tours” – Travel + Leisure Magazine, on

BKWine offers you two possibilities to go wine travelling this autumn:

  • Wine Tour to Bordeaux,  October 5-9, 2011 – Book now!

chateau in bordeauxFor a wine lover a trip to Bordeaux is a must! 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. More info on our wine tour to Bordeaux here!

  • Burgundy wine tour – exclusive, elusive, enchanting, October 19-23, 2011
wine cellar in burgundySome of the most unique wines in the world – reds and white – come from Burgundy. A well made red Burgundy, made from the elusive pinot noir, is a wine of elegance, hardly found anywhere else. You find them in the Côte d’Or, the golden slope, the heart of Burgundy. More info on our Burgundy wine tour here!

For more information please contact us on email or on phone (we’re on French time), or go to our wine travel site on!

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:

  • “Many thanks for a fantastic trip. You are so keen to make everything the best for your guests and you are so knowledgeable about wine. A pleasure to travel with you.”, W-A
  • ”Thank you for a wonderful trip to Umbria and southern Tuscany. Wonderful in many ways – our initial ideas for the trip on food and wine in Umbria and Tuscany – and discovering sagrantino and sangiovese – were more than fulfilled”, I & P in Umbria and Tuscany

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.

More info on the custom designed and bespoke BKWine wine tours and travel here!

Wine tours in Finnish

We also do wine tours in Finnish.

From the World of Wine

From head to foot: A nose for wine tours and good walking shoes

cow mule, nose for wine tours?We have had a few mentions in the press about our wine tours recently. Travel Weekly wrote about BKWine as a “travel operator with a nose for wine tours”. If shopping on your vacation only gets in the way for the really interesting activities then you should talk with us, they say.  The Daily Herald points to the importance of good walking shoes. They did an interview with Britt on “insider’s tips” on a successful wine tour and one of the things they picked up on was that you need good footwear when travelling in wine country. We certainly agree. It is even one of the points that we mention in our FAQ on wine tours. Claire Walter at Travel Babel is an American travel writer and she wrote about two of our most classic wine tours to the “Old World”: our Bordeaux and Burgundy trips. Thank you for the attention! If you happen to see a mention somewhere, please let us know! It is quite difficult for us to find mentions so we are glad for any help!

Château La Garde, Pessac-Léognan – BKWine Pick

chateau la garde cellarChâteau La Garde in Pessac-Léognan is a beautiful small chateau in the style which in French is called chartreuse. The chateau was bought by Dourthe (big négociant in Bordeaux, now owned by Champagne Alain Thienot) in 1990 and the quality of the wines has improved enormously these past few years. The vineyard consists of 60 hectares of which 2 hectares are white grapes (Sauvignon blanc and Sauvignon gris).

Dourthe uses Château La Garde as their experimental vineyard. They are for instance experimenting with high density plantings (13 000 vines per hectare) and they allow vines of various ages in the same plot. They want to keep the old vines as long as possible which means that they prefer to replace each vine when it dies, rather than replant a whole plot. This makes the work in the field more difficult because young and old vines do not ripen at the same time. The average age of the vines is high and the younger vines (under 10 years) are used for the second wine, Les Terrasses de Château La Garde.

bottle of chateua la gardeLes Terrasses de Château La Garde 2007 is very pleasant, fairly light in style but with good structure, and ready to drink now.

We get more body and richness in the chateau wine, Château La Garde. 2008 is classic in style, still young with a deep colour, good body, generous fruit and a velvety taste. The 2006 vintage is also classic, but the style is different. The acidity is higher and Nicolas Chemineau, the export manager of Dourthe, believes that the 2006 vintage, after some ageing, will be better than the 2008 vintage.

2005 was a very good vintage and Chateau La Garde 2005 has developed well and is starting to be quite soft and smooth. It is still rich in taste and concentration and the fruit is fabulous. This is a very good wine with a long life ahead of it (if you want, but you can also enjoy it right away). The 2004, however, is very drinkable now. The style is classic Bordeaux with cedar wood and black currents.

Also look for the white Château La Garde (not so easy to find as the production is very small). The 2007 was a very good year for the whites and Château La Garde Blanc 2007 has lovely aromas of citrus and flowers, well integrated oak flavours and a fine acidity. (Interested in a wine tour to Bordeaux?)

La Chablisienne (1) – high quality cooperative

la chablisienneThere are a lot of wine cooperatives in France, some of them good, some of them bad. One of the best is to be found in Chablis. This cooperative is called La Chablisienne and you will find the wines of La Chablisienne easy enough, as the cooperative is responsible for about 25 % of the total Chablis production. We have always appreciated the wines from La Chablisienne and a visit there recently again confirmed the quality of the wines. Actually they even tasted better than a few years ago.

300 wine growers belong to La Chablisienne and they get advice and help from the wine makers and the oenologists from the cooperative in order to produce fine and healthy grapes. “It is important to work together” says Hervé Tucki, a so called ambassador of La Chablisienne. “Our vision of Chablis”, Hervé continues, “is classical, we want our wines to show the minerality. We do not vinify a Chardonnay wine, we vinify a Chablis. Chardonnay is everywhere, Chablis is only here…

“Chablis can be a bit austere”, says Hervé, “not so friendly, to begin with. It needs time to develop and it has a long life after the initial primary fruit aromas have disappeared.”

La Chablisienne uses some oak, often 20-30 % of the wine spends time in oak barrels. The use of oak in Chablis is controversial, Hervé however, says that because they never bottle their wines early the oak has time to integrate and it does not mask the minerality.

La Chablisienne (2) – Tasting of vintages 2009 and 2008

Both 2009 and 2008 were great vintages with a very good grape maturity. However, they were very different. 2008 was colder than 2009 and had less problems with botrytis (the north wind, a good treatment against botrytis, also helped). “We could pick perfect grapes in 2008”, says Hervé, “with good freshness and with richness and acidity in balance”.

2009 was hotter and the wines have less acidity and are more powerful than usual.

Petit Chablis 2009
“To understand Chablis you should always start a tasting with Petit Chablis”, says Hervé. “Pas si Petit” (not so small) is the name of this Petit Chablis, and it is a good name. Just because it is a Petit Chablis, it does not mean that it is a simple wine. This one has a lovely Chardonnay nose; it is unpretentious but very pleasant to drink. “This is the most Chardonnay like wine that we produce”, says Hervé.

Chablis La Sereine 2008
Good acidity and pleasant citrus aromas. 20 % of the wine has spend time in small oak barrels, no batonnage though (stirring of the lees). “We prefer a static ageing on lees, instead on a dynamic one”, says Hervé. Bottling 15 months after harvest. “We love long ageing; it gives less fruit, but more structure.”

Chablis Les Vénérables 2008
Made from a selection of old vines. 30 % in oak, the rest in stainless steel tank and bottling after 18 months. A classic Chablis with freshness, minerality, complexity and length.

Chablis 1er cru La Singulière 2008
Blend of grapes from both sides of the river Serein. A lot of citrus on the nose and on the palate, quite full bodied with a pure and fresh taste. And marvellous after taste.

Chablis1er Cru Côte de Léchet 2008
From the left bank of the river, close to the village of Milly. Made from old vines. Beautiful minerality, sharper than la Singulière (and less citrus).

Chablis 1er cru Montmains 2008
This well known premier cru is also on the left bank. Quite steely and very classic Chablis. Good balance between body, acidity and aromas.

Chablis 1er cru Fourchaume 2008
Fourchaume is on the right side of the river. It is a powerful wine, tasty and with all elements in harmony. It is already very elegant but it will keep for 10-20 years. The terroir will be more obvious after a few years, says Hervé.

Chablis 1er cru Mont de Milieu 2008
Mont de Milieu is quite close to the Grand Cru slope. It has a very good southern exposition and the grapes ripen easily. The acidity is a bit sharp but there is a certain softness in the aftertaste. The wine is pure and elegant with a subtle minerality.

Chablis 1er cru Montée de Tonnerre 2008
Powerful and full bodied wine with a flinty taste and with citrus aromas mainly in the aftertaste. “Very sophisticated minerality”, says Hervé.

Château de Grenouille 2008
Grenouille is the smallest of the seven Chablis Grand Cru. La Chablisienne owns a big part of it – 7,2 hectares out of 9,2 in total. It is a beautiful wine with an incredible length and a creamy structure. But the acidity is there and the freshness and the purity. “One of the best wines we have ever made”, says Hervé.

Chablis La Singulière 1991 ended our tasting and it shows that a Chablis can age wonderfully for at least 20 years. The aromas change but this wine is amazingly well kept with only a hint of dried fruit and honey. And the crispy acidity – the sign of a good Chablis – remains.

We have talked a lot about minerality! Do you want to know more about how La Chablisienne explains minerality? Visit their website and click to the right on ”Minerality of wine according to La Chablisienne”. (Interested in a wine tour to Burgundy?)

New appellations in France – VDQS on its way to extinction

A number of French wine regions were recently ‘promoted’ to Appellation Contrôlée by a decree by the INAO: Saint-Mont, Tursan, Saint-Sardos, Côtes de Millau, Vins d’Estaing, Vins d’Entraygues et du Fel and Coteaux du Quercy. This is as a consequence of that the VDQS category (Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieur) will cease to be (go to its forefathers, be no more,…) at the end of 2011. The existing VDQS districts are on their way to become AOCs. Read more on Hervé Lalu’s blog Chroniques Vineuses. Hervé is a French wine journalist and he also poses the question if the current inflation in French ACs, where many unknown and perhaps not always well-deserving districts become appellation contrôlées will lead to a general watering down of the whole appellation system. Interesting question. Is there a real conflict between the AOC system’s reputation and the extension of it? What do you think? Had you ever heard of Côtes de Millau?

Canada’s LCBO to introduce weight limits on bottles

weight on a scaleAccoring to a report in Decanter the Canadian province of Ontaria will introduce an upper limit for how much an empty bottle of wine may weigh. Decanter refers to a letter written by the Liquor Control Board of Ontaria (LCBO) that specifies an upper weight limit for bottles of 420 grams for wines retailing at CAD $ 15 or less. More expensive wines will not have a strict upper limit but lighter bottles will be treated “favourably”. The decision is based on environmental considerations.

Wine auction in Stockholm

Even on the Swedish monopoly market there exists since a few years back wine auctions. It is of course the monopolist itself, the Systembolaget, who organises the auction. At the beginning of June they held the spring auction that ended with a final sales value of SEK 5.9 million Swedish kronor (640,000 euro), which was a record. 88% of the items were sold. Some notable objects:

  • Heidsieck Monopol Goût Americain, 1907, 1 bt, 24,000 SEK
  • Château d’Yquem, 1899, 1 bt, 30,000 SEK
  • Le Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche, 1985, 3 bts, 8,000 SEK
  • Château Margaux, 1921, 1 bt, 20,000 SEK
  • Château Pétrus, 1964, 1 magnum, 30,000 SEK

Glou – Cuisine et vins sympathiques – BKWine Pick

restaurant tableModern style restaurant and wine bar. For lunch they offer a menu for 15 euro or choose something à la carte, maybe grilled sardines – very good! – or a steak tartare. Many interesting wines between 20 and 30 euro (you get a pleasant Picpoul de Pinet for 19 euro). Open every day for lunch and dinner. Perfectly situated if you are out shopping in the Marais. (101, rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris, tel 01 42 74 44 32,

Midsummer – the peak of Scandinavian boozing

aquavit at midsummer in SwedenWe only have numbers from Sweden but we suspect that the situation is similar in other Nordic countries. Midsummer is one of the most important Swedish holidays. Only Christmas can rival. Midsummer is a bank holiday in reality if not in principle. This year it was celebrated on June 24. (In reality it is the day with the shortest night, usually June 22 or 23, but the pragmatic Swedes have decided to permanently move it to a Friday so that everyone can go on a long weekend.) So, here are the numbers: The day before Midsummer is the busiest day of the whole year in the Swedish monopoly alcohol shops, Systembolaget. In 2010 they have 1.1 million customers that day. (Sweden has a population of around 9 million.) More statistics, this time for the full preceding Midsummer week (a four day week! all Systembolaget shops are closed on the actual Midsummer holiday):

  • 2.5 million customers
  • 175 000 litres of akvavit is sold, which is 1,400% more than a “normal” week
  • 7,300,000 litres of beer, +100% to a normal week
  • 4,900,000 l of wine, + 50%
  • 1,300,000 l of “pure alcohol equivalent” sold, + 77%

Not surprising that streets are not quite like a normal day. (Message to the government: Perhaps it would be a good idea to try and change the drinking culture and behaviour instead of spending large amounts of money on defending the archaic and not very effective monopoly system?)

Free sample issue of Fine The Wine Magazine to BKWine Brief readers

Just like for the last issue we can offer the readers of the BKWine Brief newsletter a free sample issue of the hyper-exclusive wine magazine FINE The Wine Magazine. In the latest issue you can read about e.g. advertising for wine, have you seen it?; eBay an eldorado or a mine field for wine lovers?; wine from the Douro Valley and much more. The ads in the paper are worth a look just on their own… A subscription for the online version normally costs €60 but as a reader of BKWine Brief you can read it for free here: the latest issue of FINE The Wine Magazine. FINE The Wine Magazine

Wine sales on internet up 30%, in France

a wine shop in parisAccording to recent statistics wine sales on the internet grew with 30% compared to last year and reached 176 M euro in France. The increase is higher than the growth in general e-shopping, that grew on average with 24%. But it is still only a minor part of all wine that is bought on the internet: only between 3% and 5% according to estimates.

But the internet is an important source for information before going bricks-and-mortar shopping: 60% of internet users say they find information on the internet before buying wine in regular shops. According to the research people get information on wine, before shopping, twice as often from the internet as from the printed media. (Source: La Vigne & Pierre-Gérard Pouteau, CER France Maine et Loire.)

The world’s wine production 2010: very small volume

pumping mustThe world’s total wine production in 2010 is estimated to around 260 million hectolitre (Mhl). It is a decrease with around 4% from 2009. This is a small harvest with in particular the EU having very low wine production.

The EU wine production in 2010 was exceptionally small, only 153 Mhl. It is one of the smallest harvests in the last 15 years (as were 2007 and 2008). Compared to 2009 it is a decrease with 8% from 163 Mhl. The only country in the EU that increased its wine production was Portugal with a small growth. Outside of the EU the 2010 wine production was also smaller than 2009, but not so radically: 70.6 Mhl compared to 71.8 Mhl.

  • France: 45 Mhl, wine production 2010
  • Italy: 44,8 Mhl
  • Sapin: 34 Mhl
  • Germany: 7.1 Mhl
  • Portugal: 6.8 Mhl
  • USA: 19.6 Mhl
  • Argentina: 16.2 Mhl
  • Australia: 11.2 Mhl
  • South Africa: 9.2 Mhl
  • Chile: 8.8 Mhl

(NB: this is not a top-ten list, some countries are missing)

Source: OIV (Read more:

World wine consumption 2010: downwards trend broken?

OIV estimates the world wine consumption for 2010 to around 236.3 Mhl which is a small decrease compared to 2009 (-0.2 M hl / -0,1%). In recent years consumption has been on a steadily sinking trend and OIV speculates if this negative trend is now broken. The fifteen biggest EU countries saw a small decrease of 0.2 Mhl to reach a total consumption of 119.6 Mhl which in practice is the same as 2009. Consumption in the United States was also virtually unchanged in 2010: 27.1 Mhl.

Source: OIV

Le Bistro de l’Hôtel de Beaune – BKWine Pick

roof hospice de beauneA newly opened bistro chic owned by Swede Johan Björklund, previous owner of London based wine company Cave Cru Classé. But Johan started his career as a chef and now he is the happy owner of this high-class bistro and luxury hotel with seven rooms in the center of Beaune. The food is well prepared and sophisticated. Menu for 40 euros and the main courses à la carte starts at 25 euros. As would be expected the wine list is thick as a book and even if the most famous wines are out of your reach, remember that the talented producers also make wines from the simple appellations. A Bourgogne from Domaine Simon Bize, for instance, is excellent value for 38 euro. 5, rue Samuel Legay. 21200 Beaune, tel 03 80 25 94 14, (Interested in a wine tour to Burgundy?)

Piper Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck champagne sold

champagne cellarThe two champagne houses Piper Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck have been sold. The previous owner, Rémy Cointreau, could not get the two champagne producers sufficiently profitable and have chosen to divest them. The buyer is a French family owned company called EPI who paid 412 M euro for the two houses, according to reports in Wine Business Monthly & Shanken Daily News. (Interested in a wine tour to Champagne?)

10 microbes that you may (or may not) want in your wine

fermenting barrelThere are many different types of microbes (minuscule organisms) that contribute to making the wine into what it is. Many of them are desirable and even essential to the making of a wine. some only exist during the vinification process while other may survive into the bottled wine. Many microbes have been studied in detail and it is well understood what they do, but for others their roles and effects are less clear. And in many cases it is not a clear cut answer if they are good or bad. Some may be both good and bad, depending on the situation and depending on your tastes. As often in the wine world things are not so easy as black and white.

Erika Szymanski has compiled a very interesting list on Palate Press with ten interesting little beasts:

Saccharomyces cerevisiae – the common yeast

Oenococcus oeni (or Leuconostoc oenos) – a lactic acid bacteria that contributes to the malolactic fermentation (the “second” fermentation)

Lactobacillus – a different kind of lactic acid bacteria

Schizosaccharomyces pombe – a type of yeast that can reduce the acidity

Brettanomyces – a yeast that in recent years have become famous (or trendy) among wine geeks. Some think it is an undisputed fault if there is “brett” in the wine while others think it can give an added dimension to the wine

Pediococcus – in most cases an unwelcome bacteria but that can perhaps also add complexity

Acetobacter – the well-known acetic acid bacteria that may turn your wine to vinegar or give it a touch of volatile acidity (VA), which in small doses can be a good thing in some wines

Kloeckera (eller Hanseniaspora) – another common yeast strain

Botrytis cinerea – On more familiar name, responsible for the very desirable noble rot or the dreaded grey rot, depending on the circumstances

Flor – a collective name for various microbes that produces a thin film on some sherry wines in cask (as well as some other wines) giving them a very distinct character

Read the full article by Erika Szymanski on Palate Press Top Ten Microbes in Your Wine and her blog The Wine-o-Scope

Moët & Chandon invests in sparkling wine in China

moet & chandon cellarMoët & Chandon, the world’s biggest producer of champagne and is owned by the luxury group LVMH has invested in a vineyard in China to make sparkling wine according to a report in The Telegraph. The vineyard is 66 ha and will be planted with pinot noir and chardonnay, starting early next year according to current plans. it is located in Ningxia that is close to the Gobi Desert and the Mongolian Plains. The intention is to produce sparkling wines according to the methods used to make “real” champagne. It will be sold under the brand Chandon which the company already uses for sparkling wines for other non-French wine regions. The project will be managed by staff from Moet & Chandon but it is a partnership with a local, state-owned company called Ningxia Nongken. Read more in the article

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