BKWine Brief nr 96, July 2011

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portrait”No, that’s not correct. You can’t say that”, I was told off. It felt a bit like being squashed down the shoes, especially since it was a Master of Wine who said it – at a wine tasting where we were discussing Languedoc wines. I had said that I thought one of the wines had a sweeter nose. But no, sweet has no smell, I was told. I was fairly quiet for the rest of the tasting.

That thing came to my mind when I recently read what a wine writer wrote in one of his columns, that wild strawberries have no taste. Oh, yes? The MW was perhaps right in that sugar has no smell. But if honey, a very ripe peach of fruit jam does not smell sweet then I do not know which way to turn. And perhaps wild strawberries has no particular taste, other than slightly acid, if you completely removes the smell. But that is quite a pointless point to make. If you take away the smell (e.g. by holding your nose) of anything you eat it becomes rather tasteless. So what is the point in saying “wild strawberries have no taste”?

To me, wild strawberries will still taste of warm summer days and smell very sweet. Taste and smell has a lot to do with feeling, imagination, and likenesses/parallels. To try and apply strict technical principles (like the above) to it defeats the purpose. In my opinon. Instead you should use your fantasy, make comparison and find likenesses and difference when talking about taste and smell. And never tell someone off and say he’s wrong.

BKWine Magazine

Some big news, really big: the redesign of our site is done and becomes BKWine Magazine. Or at least almost done. There are still plenty of things to iron out and lots of contents that need to be fixed, polished, and organised. But it is at least fairly finished. And above all, it is available to you so you can read it! We hope that the new design will make it easier and nicer for you to visit us on BKWine Magazine and that you will find more interesting contents. Try it now, go visit BKWine Magazine !

Do comment and share!

The new site will also make it much easier to comment, to share on Facebook, to send tweets or emails etc. We encourage you to try out those new (for us) features. Try for example to share on Facebook if you find some interesting article on BKWine Magazine! We would much appreciate it!

2,000,000 visitors

Almost at the same time as the new site arrived we, i.e., had our 2,000,000th visitor! We are happy and proud. We must be doing something right. Read more about the stats in the Brief.


One more thing that we are very happy to tell you: We have two new guest writers on BKWine Magazine that we introduce in this Brief: Jeff Leve, who is a specialist in Bordeaux and who writes about the primeurs, and Stuart George who has written in this issue on wine auctions and on natural wines.

Wine Tours

And finally we must remind you of our wine tours. We have some places left on the Bordeaux wine tour in October. It promises to be a superb tour with some great chateau visits. Sign up for it 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 – no more bookings!
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

More wine tour customer testimonials here.

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. And in German, Norwegian, Spanish…

From the World of Wine

2,000,000 visitors on

CrowdsCongratulations dear visitor number 2,000,000 on The site recently counted its two millionth visitor!

Statistics on the internet is always a bit tricky. First, there is not really and totally (totally!) accurate way to measure web statistics. Secondly, most statistics is “private” so you just have to trust those who talks about their stats. Or not. There is no way to check and no “official” numbers. In our case, at BKWine, we use among other things a service called StatCounter. It recently reported the 2,000,000th “unique visitor”. But we didn’t start counting until early 2005 and considering that we are on the internet since 1996 we probably in reality passed number 2M quite some time ago.

One should also be aware of the different types of numbers, e.g. unique visitors, page views and hits. Unique visitors is just that, a measure of how many people, based on certain assumptions, have visited the site and viewed at least one page. A completely different number is hits. Hits used to be popular but is today actually quite irrelevant. It tells you how many “server requests” have been made which is basically how many files have been fetched. A web page can consist of many files: tens or even hundreds of files. Each html-file, each image, each icon etc is a file / hit. Page views is a third measure that tells you how many web pages have been shown to a visitor: if a visitor clicks through three pages before leaving that makes for three page views. So if someone talks about their web statistics you should remember to ask what number they are actually talking about!

And we say a heart felt welcome to our unique visitor nr 2,000,000! Just as unique as everyone else!

The magic of oxygen in the wine bottle

many bottlesOne of the things that contribute to the ageing of wine is oxygen. Aging is, partially, a slow oxidation of the wine. It leads to changes in the flavour and aromas and it also changes the colour. Sometimes it goes too far and the wine becomes “oxidised” – a defect. Apparent oxidation in a wine can sometimes be desirable, as for instance in some sherry wines and in some wines from the Jura.

To reduce the speed of oxidation (and risk of spoilage) most winemakers add sulphur as a preservation agent.

So where does this oxygen come from? What has been much discussed is the oxygen transmission through the cork or closure. In particular this has been a subject of debate in the ongoing fight between “natural” corks and screw caps. But now it turns out that this might be peripheral.

Read the rest on the site: The Magic of Oxygen in the Wine Bottle.

Prices on Bordeaux primeurs mostly going up

Prices for Bordeaux primeurs are mainly going up. Again. Is that a cause for concern? No, we argue.

grands vins de bordeauxMost if not all chateau in Bordeaux will have announced their prices for the primeurs 2010 by now although many of the “releases” seems to have been done later than usual. Perhaps that is because they wanted to get more of a feeling for where the market was going? Or perhaps it was a sign of nervousness?

Whatever the background, most prices are on the up. Many producers seem to put a lot of faith in Asia, in particular China, as a buyer. At the same time some merchants on the traditional markets, for example in Europe, has been hesitant to buy at prices that in many cases are close to astronomic. Some have voiced protests, saying prices are too high.

2009 was a very good vintage and prices went up and when a 2010 follows as yet another excellent vintage (which undoubtedly it is) with a continuation of increasing prices some voices are critical. But on the other hand, there is always someone who has a reason to complain.

See where the Bordeaux primeur prices are going this year and why that is not a problem on BKWine Magazine: Prices on Bordeaux primeurs mostly going up.

Château Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac – BKWine Pick, wine producer

fourcas hostenWe recently had a Château Fourcas-Hosten 2003, bought a few days earlier for the sum of 12 euro. It was a fantastic Bordeaux – classic in style with cedar wood and firm tannins (despite the hot summer of 2003) – and the price was as fantastic. Who says Bordeaux wines are expensive? The chateaux in Listrac, although very well situated on the Médoc peninsula, close to Margaux and Saint-Julien, are often very affordable. They can be as good as their more famous neighbours closer to the Gironde, but you pay maybe 50 % less.

Château Fourcas Hosten has 47 hectares of vines and in 2008 they started renovating both outside in the vineyard and the vinification cellar and the ageing cellar and they now work with small (50 and 100 hectolitres) concrete tanks and oak tanks for fermenting.

Jeff Leve, of The Wine Cellar Insider, new contributor on BKWine Magazine

wine cellar bordeauxWe are very happy to introduce Jeff Leve as a new contributor to BKWine Magazine. Jeff Leve is founder and editor of The Wine Cellar Insider, a wine site focusing on Bordeaux wine, and also touching on the Rhone Valley and California.

Jeff Leve has travelled to the Bordeaux wine region to barrel taste over a dozen times. He usually goes there a few times each year. Each visit includes tastings at all the major properties and lasts between 2 to 3 weeks. Jeff produces tasting notes and Bordeaux commentaries like a vine grows in May, with an incredible energy and productivity. There are not many chateaux in Bordeaux that he has not tasted and visited (any?) and his tasting notes and comments are read and trusted by many around the world. Read more on Jeff and all of his articles on BKWine Magazine here: Jeff Leve in BKWine Magazine.

So how did the Bordeaux primeurs 2010 taste? – Featured Contributor Article

primeursTasting primeurs is not as difficult as it is sometimes said. Wines that young, just barely six months after harvest (tasted in April), can be wonderfully attractive: lots of fruit, hopefully ripe tannins and not too much wood (they have only spent six out of 18-24 planned months in barrel). But there are three things that are very difficult: having the stamina to go taste all the wines (no one can), being able to write something descriptive and useful about it (only a few does), and above all being able to make some judgement on the future of the wines you are tasting.

To be able to predict how such a young wine will develop requires skill and experience. Jeff Leve is a wine writer with a passion for Bordeaux. He is an excellent guide to the primeurs of Bordeaux, and he is a contributor to BKWine Magazine (the renovated!). You can read his extensive tasting notes on the 2010 Bordeaux on the site – all of Medoc, the Left Bank, the Satellites and more. Don’t miss it if you are a Bordeaux enthusiast!

The 2012 calendar with sexy winemakers launched

jungvinzerinnenSorry ladies, it is not handsome vineyard farmers looking for spouses (does that TV program exist elsewhere?). It is twelve young female wine growers who have made a calendar, the Jungwinzerinnen Kalender. Each month in the calendar is illustrated with a lightly (very) clad grower, dressed in nothing but lace underwear. The idea, one assumes, is to create attention and interest for Austrian wines. But who dares hanging that kind of calendar on the wall? The producer of the calendar is Kreativ Consulting.

The calendar is now in its seventh edition. Perhaps we should add that in the first edition the winemakers were actually a mix of male and female. But perhaps they thought it was less good marketing that way. A decision that one could perhaps question these days when it is more and more common that the wine purchases are made by the women. Hum. Kreativ Consulting. (Photo Copyright: Kreativ Consulting/Ellen Ledermüller-Reiner)

448. s.l.m – Åsa’s Wine Of The Month

S.l.m. is not some odd grape variety nor a strange name for a wine producer. No, it is simply the Italian expression for altitude, sopra livello mare.

It is exactly on 448 meter’s altitude where you would like to be when temperatures reach 35 C at night in Florence at 11 PM. And not a hint of a breeze. Since I could not reach those heights I had to settle for a wine with that name, 448 SLM. Fresh, nice refreshing acidity and quaffable. And not expensive. the grape varieties are pinot grigion, pinot bianco, and sauvignon. The name of the producer is Girlan. It is a co-operative in Trentino Alto Adige and the make very good wines in spite of a very broad range. And when one finds a wine with a good elevation on just have to try it.

448 s.l.m is around 10€ and goes nicely with rice, fish and as an aperitif hot summer nights. Either you are in Florence or anywhere else. (Ed.: please send some of that heat up north!)

Half a million hectares of vineyard land for sale

vast landscapeIf you are really aiming to be a volume producer this might be your chance. 989,000 acres, around half a million hectares, of land is for sale in Argentina. It is claimed that it is the biggest patch (patch?) of land ever for sale, but can that really be true? Were not some of the US states incorporated into the nation through sales for example? If you would like to start a vineyard half of the land is suitable for vines. However, nothing has been grown there for 25 years. There is plenty of water: two rivers flow through the region. The price asked is around 7 million euros. Sounds like a steal. That sum will barely buy you ten hectares in a good appellation in Bordeaux… Read more

Spiced up wine writing

valkryddatWe are happy to introduce a new contributor to BKWine Magazine: Stuart George. Stuart has worked as a wine merchant, travelling extensively through the world’s wine regions, before turning to writing. In 2003 he was the UK Young Wine Writer of the Year. He has judged at wine competitions in Austria, Brazil, Chile, France, Spain and Italy and worked harvests in France, Italy and Australia. His website and blog is He will occasionally be contributing articles the BKWine Magazine. More on Stuart George here. And why that heading? Stuart originally wrote online on a blog he called Worcester Sauce, as he happens to come from Worcester.

A perfect 10?

a perfect ten?How was it for you, 2010? In some ways it was a remarkable year, another magnificent vintage in Bordeaux for example. But a horrific one in Chile that was struck by a quake. Stuart George (one of our new contributors) is also an expert on wine auctions. In A Perfect 10? he looks at the auction and wine market in 2010, a year that in spite of financial difficulties was quite remarkable. He also makes some predictions about the future (always titillating) and suggests some good vintages for those who may want to give a gift (or drink) an anniversary wine in 2011. Read the article here: A Perfect 10?

Torbreck, naturally

natural wine“In February, I spent a very enjoyable evening in New York with Alice Feiring, the “high priestess” of “natural” wine and author of The Battle for Wine and Love: Or How I Saved the World from Parkerization.

While discussing important things like English and Noo Yawk accents (I’d been watching Goodfellas too much, thought Alice’s friends) and my MCC cricket sweater (“I like your tennis jersey”) we tried several “natural” wines, which, with no official recognition, can be difficult to define. Essentially, as little as possible is added to the wine. Grapes are grown organically or biodynamically and only natural yeasts are used.”

That is the beginning of the article that Stuart Geroge (our new guest contributor) writes on the “natural” wines from Trobreck. Read all of it here: Torbreck, naturally

New Zealand wine exports

new zeeland wineIn the 12 months to January 2011 New Zealand exported 1.56 Mhl (156 M litres). Almost all of it, 84 %, goes to the three top export markets: UK, Australia, and USA. Here are the top ten export markets for NZ wines:

  • UK: 34 % of total exports
  • Australia: 30 %
  • USA: 20 %
  • Canada: 5.1 %
  • Ireland 1.3 %
  • Germany 1.3 %
  • Netherlands 1.2 %
  • China 0.8 %
  • Hong Kong 0.7 %
  • Denmark 0.7 %
  • Singapore 0.6 %
  • Sweden  0.6 %
  • Japan 0.5 %

(Source: Drinks Business & NZ Winegrowers)

New Zealand’s most popular grape varieties

sauvignon blancNew Zealand is very well know for its internationally very successful sauvignon blanc wines, sauvignons that are very aromatic to the point of sometimes being overpowering. The focus on sauvignon has perhaps been so strong that other grape varieties have suffered behind it but there seems to be a trend today towards “rediscovery” of other grapes than kiwi sauvignon blanc. Here are the top varieties on the export markets (year to January 2011):

  • sauvignon blanc 83 % of total exports
  • pinot noir 5.9 %
  • chardonnay 3.4 %
  • pinot gris 1.9 %
  • merlot 1.6 %
  • cabernet & “blends” 0.7 %
  • “sparkling” 0.8 %
  • riesling 0.6 %
  • other 2 %

(Source: Drinks Business & NZ Winegrowers)

South Africa’s biggest export markets: UK, Germany, Sweden

Here are the top export markets for South African wines:

  • UK 104 million hectolitre
  • Germany 72 Mhl
  • Sweden 38 Mhl
  • Netherlands 26 Mhl
  • Denmark 17 Mhl
  • Canada 14 Mhl
  • USA 13 Mhl
  • Russia 7.8 Mhl
  • China 4.3 Mhl
  • Japan 3.4 Mhl
  • Kenya 3.2 Mhl

(Source: Drinks Business & WOSA)

Spain’s biggest wine customers

spanish vineSpain has in recent years been suffering a decline in the wine exports. The international sales have gone down from 1.2 bn euro in 2007 to 1 bn euro in 2010 (excluding bulk and sparkling). Here are the biggest markets:

  • UK 153 million euro
  • Germany 153 M€
  • USA 127 M€
  • Switzerland 71 M€
  • Netherlands 52 M€
  • France 40 M€
  • Canada 38 M€
  • Belgium 34 M€
  • Sweden 34 M€
  • Mexico 30 M€

(Source: Drinks International & Wines From Spain)

Champagne raises yields with 20%

champagn vineChampagne is one of the few wine regions where the permitted yield is modified almost every year. This is done in an effort to manipulate supply and demand and the prices that champagne sell for. The control organism, the interprofession Comité interprofessionnel des vins de champagne (CIVC), recently decided to raise the maximum yield for 2011 with almost 20% to 12,500 kg grapes per hectare. In all other French wine regions (and also in other countries) yields are counted in hectolitres per hectare so it is a bit tricky to compare. If you make the calculation 12,500 kg/ha is the equivalent of 78 hl/ha. Quite a lot compared to others. Read more on La Vigne

Chateau Lascombes in Margaux sold

chateau lascombesIt is not often that one of the major chateaux in Bordeaux changes hands. Buyer is the French insurance company MACSF. Seller is Colony Capital, an American investment company.

The price tag is not official but assumed to be around 200 million euros for around 100 hectares. In other words, 2 million euros per hectare. But it is not only the vineyards that have been sold. Buildings (a beautify chateau for example) and stock valued to 30-50 million euro are also included.

Chateau Lascombes is one of the biggest estates in Margaux, Medoc, with some 100 ha of vineyards. They make around 500,000 bottles of wine each year. Lascombes was classified as a second growth (2:e cru) in the historic 1855 classification.

Read more on Sud-Ouest, and, and on The Wine Cellar Insider by Jeff Leve.

Wine and art – free ebooks

wine artMany wine producers illustrate the label with a beautiful work of art. Some (wealthy) owners of wine estates are also art collectors. Philippe Margot is a Swiss wine writer who has written a number of ebooks on how different wine producers work with art. He has written on e.g. Chateau La Lagune, Domaine Trevallon, Taittinger and several others. His writing is in French but even if it is a language that you perhaps don’t fully master it is worth looking at the books just for the illustrations. You can find Philippe Margot’s ebooks on wine and art here.

Spirits and more spirits: which is the world’s biggest seller?

digestif and coffeeDrinks International follows what happens on the international drinks market. They recently published a special issue on the world’s top brands. Here are a few pickings. Which is the world’s biggest selling spirit? Smirnoff? Absolut? Bacardi? No, not at all. It is a brand called Jinro, a soju. Jinro is made in South Korea and sells 64 million 9 l cases (the standard measure for spirits). Soju is a spirit similar to vodka, but generally weaker, around 20% (between 18% and 40%) and slightly sweet and its main market is Korea. Here are the top ten selling sprits brand in the world (brand, category, volume):

  • Jinro, soju, 64 M 9 l-cases
  • Smirnoff, vodka, 24 M
  • Lotte Liquor, soju, 23 M
  • Pirassununga 51, cachaca, 20 M
  • Bacardi, rum, 19 M
  • Tanduay, rum, 18 M
  • Bagpiper, whisky (Indian), 16 M
  • Officer’s Choice, whisky (Indian), 16 M
  • Johnnie Walker, whisky (Scotch), 16 M
  • McDowell’s No.1, whisky (Indian), 14 M

There are 172 spirits brands selling more than 1 million 9 l cases. (Source: Drinks International)

The world’s biggest selling whisky is…?

The world’s biggest selling whisky is not what one thinks. It is a “local” Indian brand called Bagpiper. The biggest “international” whisky is Johnnie Walker that comes third. Here is the top ten:

  • Bagpiper, India
  • Officer’s Choice, India
  • Johnnie Walker, Scotland
  • McDowell’s No.1, India
  • Royal Stag, India
  • Original Choice, India
  • Jack Daniel’s, USA/Tennessee
  • Old Tavern, India
  • Ballantine’s, Scotland
  • Imperial Blue, India, and in eleventh place:
  • Jim Beam, USA, bourbon

(Source: Drinks International)

Wine bars in Vienna in Austria – BKWine Pick

It is too seldom one comes to Austria. Both the wine districts and the countryside are well worth a visit. And if you come to Vienna there is now a wealth of wine bars and restaurants to discover. Julia Sevenich is an American wine writer who lives in Austria so one could hardly find a better guide to the Viennese wine bars. There are many of them and it’s a perfect place to start discovering the Austrian wines. Read more about Julia’s recommendations here: Vienna: wine bars and base camp for wine travel.

The world’s best selling vodka is…?

karlsson vodkaSo is the world’s biggest selling vodka brand something one has heard of? Actually it is. The leading brand is Smirnoff that sells almost twice as much (24 M 9l cases) than the number two, Khilbniy Dar. And Absolut comes third with 10 M cases. Here is the top ten:

  • Smirnoff
  • Khilbniy Dar
  • Absolut
  • Zelenaya Marka
  • Nemiroff
  • Khortytsa
  • Czysta de Luxe
  • Pyat Ozer
  • Kristall
  • Belenkaya, and in eleventh place another international brand:
  • Grey Goose

(Source: Drinks International)

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This post is also available in: Swedish


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