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All info on our wine and food tours are now on BKWineTours.com.


Buy or license our pictures

>> Saturday, December 03, 2005

Did you know we have thousands of wine pictures available for licensing to professional photo buyers/photo editors/magazines/... Or if you want to buy a print for your own personal use to decorate your wall that can also be arranged.

You can find more information and many of our photos here.

We also have many pictures with the on-line photo agency Alamy. See them here:

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Christmas Gifts from BKWine: Wine Tour for you or for a friend

The best gift for a wine lover is without a doubt a wine tour. Give it to yourself or to a friend! We can also arrange for a gift voucher, either for a complete trip or for a specific amount. Here’s the spring program for the wine tours. Contact us for info about gift vouchers (info@bkwine.com)

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Christmas Gifts from BKWine: Wine Calendar

We have two different wine calendars to offer you: one do-it-yourself, that is free, and one that is printed and ready to hang on the wall. Both have one page for each month with a pretty picture with a wine motive (the photos are partially different on the two calendars):

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Christmas Gifts from BKWine: Note Book or Greeting Cards

Do you need a note book for your wine tasting (or other) notes? Get a BKWine Wine Note Book or give one to a wine-loving friend for Christmas. We have also made a greeting card with a Champagne motive.

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Christmas Gifts from BKWine: Framed Large Prints

A selection of some of our favourite photos with wine (and travel) motives, printed in archive quality, mounted on acid-free paper, with matte and a black frame. Format 19”x13” mounted. If you’d like a print of an image on our site that you can’t find in our “shop” – contact us and we will try and arrange it! (info@bkwine.com)

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Christmas Gifts from BKWine: Screensavers with Wine Motif

Do you prefer some magic chateaux or some gnarled vines instead of flying windows on your computer. Get one of our screen savers for free! There’s a few different themes on the screensavers.

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Christmas Gifts from BKWine: The World of Fine Wine

“Fine Wine” is a relatively recent UK based wine magazine. It is very contents rich and often has probing articles written by well known writers. Now you can get a good deal from us on the subscription: get 8 issues for the price of 6 plus a book as a gift. Get all the details here (900kB pdf file).

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Finnish Language Wine Tours - Viinimatkoja Ranskan viinialueille!

040923-143-4359Tours on the schedule (in Finnish):

  • May 3-7, 2006: Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy - 3 Classic Wine Regions - "3 Klassikkoa".
  • March 29 - April 2, 2006: Bordeaux.
More info here!

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Wine Tours

Tours on the schedule:

  • May 17-21, 2006: Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy - 3 Classic Wine Regions

    Take a break for a long weekend and visit three of the most famous wine regions in France: Champagne, Chablis and Bourgogne! More info here!

  • June 8-11, 2006: Bordeaux

    For a wine lover a trip to Bordeaux is a must! Here you find not only world famous châteaux and world famous wines but also a lot of new exciting initiatives. In this trip you will get to know both in detail. More info here!

Click here for more info.

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Recommended Producer: Domaine Réméjeanne, Rhône

Rémi Klein’s father bought Domaine Réméjeanne in 1960. Réméjeanne is in the Côtes-du-Rhône, close to Bagnols-sur-Ceze, on the west side of the river. He started with 5 hectares and it has now grown to 35 ha. Rémi Klein has almost become a reference for what Côtes-du-Rhône can be. For Remi it is the soil that decides. It is the terroir that expresses itself through the grape, especially when it comes to Grenache. He considers it to be a very interesting grape but, he underlines, it has to be treated correctly. It cannot take high yields without losing both aromas and colour. He mixes the Grenache with Syrah and also some Mourvèdre that he is progressively increasing by new plantings. Remi thinks it adds some finesse to the wines. He is always experimenting: micro-oxygenation, malolactic fermentation in barrel, different ways to do pigeage (stomping down the cap of skins and pips) etc – but all is just a means to find the best expression of his terroir.

Click here for address.

Read about more recommended producers on the site: Favourite Producers

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Recommended Producer: Tokaj Oremus, Hungary

Oremus is owned by the same Spanish family that owns Vega Sicilia, the Alvarez. It is a spectacular place. The winery is impressive and brand new, just as new as the ageing cellars are old! Walking along the underground corridors is an almost magical experience with bottles shining in gold tokay colours. The main wine is of course the sweet aszú wines but Oremus also makes some very interesting dry Tokay, for instance the one called Mandolás. Click here for address.

Read about more recommended producers on the site: Favourite Producers

Read more recommendations on restaurants and winebars on my Restaurant and Wine Bar page.

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Scandinavian Wine Fair is getting closer

On February 11 BKWine organises the 3rd Scandinavian Wine Fair in Paris. Registrations have started to arrive and we currently have around 25 registered producers. In connection with the Fair BKWine also organises the First Ever Scandinavian Wine & Spirit Competition. The Wine Fair is open both the public and to professional. Saturday February 11, 2006, 11.00-18.00 at the Cercle Suédois in Paris. In the evening there is a also a Winemakers’ Dinner with a limited number of spaces available for visitors. Here’s more info about the Fair and about the exhibitors:
http://www.bkwine.com/winefair/winefair-2006.htm

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Two wine giants fighting

Constellation Brands, one of the world’s largest wine producers, is making a hostile bid to take over Vincor International. Vincor is the forth largest wine producer in the USA. Constellation is offering CAN$ 1.48 bn which is 48% over the share price before Constellation’s bid was announced.
www.cbrands.com
www.vincorinternational.com
Edmonton Journal

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Can you tell a First Growth claret from a Bordeaux Supérieur?

That was the challenge launched by one Swedish wine importer (Bibendum) recently. Main challenger was Yves Vatelot, who was there to present his wine from Château Reignac, a Bordeaux Supérieur in the Entre-deux-Mers region. Vatelot bought Reignac in 1989 and in spite of the modest appellation classification he decided that he wanted to make top-of-the range wines, since the soil in his vineyards is similar to the one at Château Lafite-Rothschild, according to Vatelot. He relishes in arranging blind tastings with his wine and wines like Cheval Blanc, Lafite-Rothschild and other top Cru Classé wines. 20 journalists had been invited to the Bibendum Reignac tasting in Stockholm.

The wines we tasted (blind) were: Reignac Rouge 2002, Cheval Blanc 2002, La Mission Haut Brion 2002 and Lafite Rothschild 2002. So how did it go? Well, not very well. Or very well, depending on what perspective you have. 11 of the tasters liked Reignac the most, to the great satisfaction of Monsieur Vatelot of course. And considering that Reignac only costs a fraction of the other wines, maybe the 11 should be happy too. Good for your wallet! One comment can be that the high percentage of Merlot makes the Reignac more accessible at this young age than the other wines which are mainly Cabernet based. And some of the wine making techniques that Vatelot uses can also have an impact, like microbullage (micro-oxygenation), partial fermentation in barrels, and ageing in 100% new oak. More on Château de Reignac at www.reignac.com, Yves Vatelot, Château de Reignac, 33450 Saint-Loubès

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Auction 1: Hospices de Beaune

This year, the traditional autumn auction at the Hospices de Beaune was managed by Christie’s. On average prices were up by 11%. 789 pièces (burgundy barrels) of this year’s wine were sold for a total of 4,865,500 euro. This year there were (unusually) also some bottled, older wines: 300 bottles were sold for a total of 212,500 euro.

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Sexy wines in Australia?

Buller Wines, a family owned winery in Australia, has announced that they will sponsor Sexpo in Melbourne. Sexpo is the largest fair on sex and sexuality in the southern hemisphere. Buller says that they hope to reach a different consumer group than at the traditional wine shows – younger and less conservatives. No doubt they will.
www.buller.com.au
www.sexpo.com.au

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Auction 2: The Swedish monopoly completes it’s autumn wine auction

The third Swedish wine auction was held by the monopoly Systembolaget on November 29. Their wine valuation expert Maria Laurila was happy with the result: “we see it as a confirmation that there is a market for drinks auctions in Sweden”. 90% of the 503 numbers were sold for a total sum of 4.1 million kronor (433,000 euro), which was in the middle of the range of estimates. The highest price was fetched by 57 vintages of Mouton-Rothschild (1945-2000) that sold for 175,000 kr (18,500 eur). It was a rerun from the last auction when that lot remained unsold. The highest price for a single bottle went to a double magnum of Le Montrachet DRC 1983 that someone paid 58,000 kr (6,100 eur) for.
Photo: Systembolaget

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Vinsobres new AOC in the Rhône Valley

Vinsobres becomes the fifteenth village in the Rhône valley to get an “appellation locale” (or “cru”). The wines will therefore become AOC Vinsobres instead of being Côtes-du-Rhône Villages. It will cover exclusively red wine made from at least 50% Grenache, plus Syrah and Mourvèdre. To these “principal” grape varieties some “secondary” grapes can be added (Cinsault, Carignan,…). The appellation covers 1200 ha. Basic allowed yield (rendement de base) is 38 hl/ha.
www.vinsobres.fr

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Wine Evolution in Paris

Wine Evolution 2006 is taking place 30-31 January 2006, at the Palais des Congres in Paris. Wine Evolution is a two day conference focusing on the business side of wine, with a particular view to the international markets. It is organised by a Paris consultancy company called Skalli & Rein.
www.skalliandrein.com

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Terrorist bomb damages Rioja Alta

The famous Rioja bodega La Rioja Alta was damaged recently by a terrorist bomb. The bombers claimed to represent the ETA. It cased minor property damage but no persons were hurt. Why Rioja Alta was targeted is not known.
www.berria.info

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Application submitted: Vin de Pays de France

A group of producer organisations have submitted an application for a new appellation called Vin de Pays de France. The idea is that VdP de France would allow producers to make branded wines in large volumes, to compete better on the international market, while allowing the producer to give specification on the label on what is in the bottle, e.g. specifying the vintage or the grape variety. (Note: If a producer chooses to make wine in a way that is not according to the AC rules he can do so. But then it must be bottled as a Vin de Table and the problem with that is that on a VdT you are not allowed to indicate the vintage, the grape variety or any other “specifications” about the wine.)

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Finland’s largest wine exhibition on March 15-18

Next ViiniExpo will take place in Helsinki on March 15-18, 2006. ViiniExpo is Finland’s largest (and only) wine and spirits show. It is open mainly for professionals, but on March 18 it is also open to the general public. The show also has many visitors from neighbouring countries (Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia…).
www.finnexpo.fi

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Wine fights Alzheimer's disease

As reported in Scientific American: “A chemical compound in wine reduces levels of a harmful molecule linked to Alzheimer's disease. In a recent study, resveratrol - one of several antioxidants found in wine - helped human cells break down the molecule, which contributes to the lesions found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Fortunately for teetotallers, the compound is also found elsewhere.” Read the full article here.

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Bidders for Lanson

As we have reported earlier, Champagne Lanson is for sale and the French press reports that there are several bidders lurking. Favourite is Champagne Boizel-Chanoine and the other two bidders are LVMH (who already is the largest producer of champagne) and a consortium made up of the bank Credit Agricole and the Rothschilds. However, a spokesperson for LVMH denies that the company is interested in the deal.

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Hang time is hotly debated

A "hot" topic, these days, especially in California, is ”hang time”. hang time means how long the (ripe) grapes are left hanging on the vine before picking. Hang times influences several things: “ripeness” of course, which implies e.g. the phenolic ripeness (tannins), acid levels, sugar levels etc. But it also influences the water contents, thus the weight (longer hang time means loss of water). And since many grape grower are paid per tonne it can mean a substantial loss of income. (Often, in California, the grape grower and the winery/wine maker are entirely separate and independent.) It is also a debate about what taste characteristics it leads to: longer hang time means more powerful, heavier, and sometimes jammy wines. And the tendency today is towards longer hang time. Some also say that the longer hang time often used today sometimes leads to too concentrated must which leads to that the Californian winemakers have to dilute their wines with water…
Hang time: www.napavalleyregister.com
Water into Wine in California: www.economist.com/intelligentlife/

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World’s sparkling wines

For the third time, the competition Effervecents du Monde was held in Dijon on November 17 & 18. Three Great Gold Medals were awarded: Pillitteri Estates Winery in Canada for the Sparkling Icewine Vidal 2004 (!) (www.pillitteri.com), Champagne Canard Duchêne Brut Cuvée Léonie (www.canard-duchene.com), and La Cave de Die Jaillance Clairette de Die Tradition (www.jaillance.com). 31 Gold Medals were distributed to wines from the following countries: Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, France, Spain, Chile, Brazil, Austria and Germany. Full results here: www.effervescents-du-monde.com
Photo: Effervecents du Monde.

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André Lurton ”innovates” again

A very common affliction amongs wine producers (and others) is to create a web site that is too ”flashy”. As a visitor you are forced to watch a welcome page that moves around, maybe with music (and that takes ages to open), animated pages etc. And finally, there’s not much information anyway. Take Rothschild as an example: www.bpdr.com. Always very frustrating. So, again, André Lurton has proved to be an “innovator”: Lurton has launched a new web site that is easy to use, well structures, full of information about his 8 chateaux (e.g. La Louvière) and without silly animations. Visit it here: www.andrelurton.com

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Argentine wine exports continue to grow

Over the first nine months of 2005 Argentine wine (and must) exports grew by 32% in value (24% in volume), achieving a total value of $307 million. But exports are quite “concentrated”: only 289 producers exported 1234 brands. The largest exporter was Peñaflor. The largest brands were Trivento (in volume) and Trapiche (in value). Malbec represented 27% of the total.

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Romanée Conti leads to day long queues at the Swedish monopoly Systembolaget

The Swedish alcohol monopoly Systembolaget launched the Romanée Conti 2002 in November (28 bottles for sale) at a price of 13,495 kronor (1,425 euro). Swedish press reported that some people queued for a day before the wine was launched to be sure to get a bottle. According to some comments the wine is worth three times as much on the international market. In other words, the monopoly Systembolaget (controlled by a social democratic government) indirectly subsidises purchases of luxury wines by selling wine below market prices. So, that’s what we have a monopoly for?...

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The Swedish monopoly Systembolaget parties for 14 million kronor (1.5M€)

The Swedish monopoly Systembolaget recently organised a staff party (and staff meeting Systembolaget underlines) for 14 million kronor (1.5M€). On the other hand 14M is maybe not much when you make a profit of almost 200M. The cost equates to 4000 kronor (422€) per person. World of Wine reports that one of the wines served was corked – possibly a step in the alcohol policy of Systembolaget who’s goal is to reduce Swedish consumption. Some commentators have been critical both to the cost and the timing, two days before the Systembolaget bribery scandal was due in court and in a time when Systembolaget is set to reduce staff with 90 jobs.

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The Systembolaget launches an international political propaganda campaign

The Swedish monopoly Systembolaget has launched a new political propaganda campaign both in Sweden and in Europe. The campaign uses as a pretext a wish to inform the EU president Mr Barroso about the danger of alcohol. The managing director of Systembolaget, Anitra Steen, says that she is not worried about the future of the monopoly, on the contrary. The campaign is just there to make you think a bit. For 8 million kronor (845,000 euro): ad in the Financial Times (760,000kr), ads in some 70 Swedish papers (4.5M kr) and a propaganda film and a dedicated web site. It is curious that the Systembolaget AB is not just executing the policies that the government has decided but is actually doing its own political campaigning. Read a leader comment in The Local.

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Alcohol consumption increases more in Sweden than in other countries: +12% (or +30% according to the FT ad)

Statistics from the OECD shows that Sweden is the country where alcohol consumption has increased the most (2000-2003). The survey covers 30 countries. Most successful in decreasing consumption, according to the stats, are Slovakia, Portugal, Italy, Mexico and Ireland where consumption has decreased with between 5% and 15%. Perhaps this could make one think of which type of alcohol policy seems to be effective? Here's some background data.

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Four new Côtes-du-Rhône Villages villages

Four new villages have gained the right to use their names together with the Côtes-du-Rhône Villages appellation: Massif-d’Uchaux (Vaucluse), Plan-de-Dieu (Vaucluse), Puyméras (Vaucluse) and Signargues (Gard)...! They all make exclusively red wine. This brings the Villages appellation to a total of 20 villages.

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Cazes in Bordeaux/Langudeoc expands in Portugal and in South Africa

(Correction) -- Jean-Michel Cazes, owner of Chateau Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux as well as a few other wine properties i Bordeaux and Languedoc (where he makes a wine called Circus), has established a collaboration with a producer in Portugal to make a wine called Xisto which recently was named one of the ten best wines in Portugal. Cazes also has a collaboration with Bollinger (25% each of the capital) and Brian Croser to make a prestige wine in South Africa called Tappanappa. (We mistakenly originally attributed this to (the equally dynamic) Domain Cazes in Roussillon. Apologies to Jean-Michel Cazes as well as to Domaine Cazes. A case of mixed Cazes? Many thanks to an attentive reader who spotted it.)

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Oak record!

Do you happen to own an oak forest? Then you might be rich. A cooper in Bordeaux just paid 37,790 euro for a single oak. But it was not just any oak: it was 340 years old, so planted around 1660, 39 m high, a diameter of 1.3 m (not much compared to the Swedish Rumskulla oak (pictures here) oak that is 4 m in diameter), and a volume of 19 cubic meters.

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Bordeaux prices sky-rocket thanks to British pensioners?

Prices for top claret is said to have gone up dramatically recently. The reason is not that retired Brits gulp down more Latour and Mouton than before. Rather, as often, it is a change in taxation and legislation that is the cause. From the beginning of next year British SIPPs (individual pension funds) will be allowed to invest in wine. (However, in spite of the name, it is not wine for drinking. The SIPP must be managed by a professional fund manager who is responsible to achieve maximum performance.) Some merchants believe strongly in this, e.g. Berry Brothers & Rudd, who have set up a special activity focused on SIPPs. Others doubt if fund managers will think wine a good investment. Some commentators say that the price rise is more a question of increasing demand from Asia. All according to various reports in Harpers, Decanter, OLN and the Circle Update.

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BIG NEWS: Wine Tours in English and Finnish

>> Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I will launch two Wine Tours in English

Big news from us is that I will launch two Wine Tours in English the coming spring! I hope you will be many who are interested in this because it is two trips that promises to be very interesting indeed: one tour is “3 Classics” and goes to Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy, and the other tour is also a classic – to Bordeaux.

You can take a look at the full program on my site. You can find the link to the page below.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

And why not give a Wine tour to someone as a Christmas present?

Wine Tours in Finnish

And in addition, I will also be offering Wine Tours in Finnish next season too! See more info on the site.

The Agenda

English Wine Tours

  • May 17-21, 2006: Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy - 3 Classic Wine Regions

Take a break for a long weekend and visit three of the most famous wine regions in France: Champagne, Chablis and Bourgogne! More info here!

  • June 8-11, 2006: Bordeaux

For a wine lover a trip to Bordeaux is a must! Here you find not only world famous châteaux and world famous wines but also a lot of new exciting initiatives. In this trip you will get to know both in detail. More info here!

For info, contact me on blog@bkwine.com or +33 (0)6 80 45 35 70 or check the site: http://www.bkwine.com/wine_tours/wine_tours.htm

Finnish Language Wine Tours - Viinimatkoja Ranskan viinialueille!

  • May 3-7, 2006: Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy - 3 Classic Wine Regions - "3 Klassikkoa"

Take a break for a long weekend and visit three of the most famous wine regions in France: Champagne, Chablis and Bourgogne! More info here!

  • March 29 - April 2, 2006: Bordeaux

For a wine lover a trip to Bordeaux is a must! Here you find not only world famous châteaux and world famous wines but also a lot of new exciting initiatives. In this trip you will get to know both in detail. More info here!

For info, contact me on blog@bkwine.com or +33 (0)6 80 45 35 70 or check the site: www.bkwine.com/suomi/viinimatkoja/viinimatkoja.htm

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Wine and Food Tastings in Paris

With BKWine’s friend Melba Allen-Buillard. For more information and registration contact Melba directly on ph 06 61 60 35 70 or allen_melba%hotmail.com (swap the % with a @ to get the email). Melba is an American living in France since many years and has taught wine at various schools:

  • 8/11, 15/11, and 22/11: Wine Appreciation for the timid and the Un-initiated!
A series of three tastings that give you an introduction to French wine and wine vocabulary: 1. tasting and wine appreciation; 2. French Wines; 3. Wine and Food Pairing. Price:105€ per person for the three classes or 40€ per class if taken separately.
  • 22/11 and 31/1: The ABC’s to Wine and Food Pairing. Price: 40 € per class
  • 29/11 & 7/3: Pairing Wine and Cheese. Price: 45 € per class
  • 6/12 & 7/2: Pairing Wine and Chocolate, Price: 45 € per class
  • 13/12: Pairing Wines during the Holiday Season! Price: 50€

All tastings: time: 19h00 (7PM). Place: Le Garde-Robe, 41, rue de l’Arbre Sec, 75001 Paris, M° Louvre-Rivoli. Info and booking: 06 61 60 35 70 (Melba). Don’t forget to mention that you’ve found it in the BKWine Brief.

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Recommendations, wine producers - Château Haut-Marbuzet

Château Haut-Marbuzet
Saint Estèphe, Bordeaux
Château Haut-Marbuzet in Saint Estephe is, since quite a few years now, one of the top wines in Médoc. When the new Cru Bourgeois classification was done they were one of nine chateaux to be placed in the top category Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. They have a wine style that is round and full-bodied, and very seductive, and it has often given them top ratings. The Duboscq family does not hide their ambition to make a wine that is popular and easy to drink. They create their style by using a high percentage of Merlot (more that 50%), harvesting very ripe grapes, fermenting at relatively high temperatures, and substantial aging in new oak (18 months). The 2003 is already very drinkable, has a high alcohol (very warm year!) and well balanced tannins with quite low acidity. The 2001 is a classic Haut-Marbuzet, according to Hugues Duboscq: full-bodied and smooth with some chocolate and lots of fruit and berries.
Click here for address.

--> Discover more exciting wine producers. Go on a Wine Tour with BKWine. More info here! <--

Read about more recommended producers on the site: Favourite Producers

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Recommendations, wine producers - Domaine Haut-Lirou

Domaine Haut-Lirou
Coteaux-du-Languedoc-Pic Saint Loup

Pic-Saint-Loup is a sometimes spectacularly beautiful region some 20 kilometres from Montpellier and is one of the top districts within the Coteaux du Languedoc. There are several very interesting wine producers here and the district has applied to get its own AOC Pic Saint Loup (it now has AOC Coteaux du Languedoc-Pic Saint Loup). “And we really want this recognition” says Jean-Pierre Rambier who owns the Domaine Haut-Lirou together with his son. They have 65 hectares planted 70% with Syrah and with Grenache and Mourvèdre. Their white Vin de Pays du Val de Mont Ferrand is made from half Grenache Blanc and half Sauvignon Blanc and has a nice, refreshing acidity and flowery aromas. Domaine Haut-Lirou 2003 (60% Syrah and 40% Grenache) is not aged in oak and has attractive aromas of ripe, almost dried fruit. Their prestige cuvée, Esprit 2003, is made from a selection of the best grapes from old vines and is spicy and complex and will benefit from a few years bottle age.
Click here for address.

--> Discover more exciting wine producers. Go on a Wine Tour with BKWine. More info here! <--

Read about more recommended producers on the site: Favourite Producers

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Recommendations - Paris Restaurant

Le Petit Bistro
Unpretentious and nice – if you happen to be close to Saint-Sulpice and Bon Marché. Try their crème brûlée au Roquefort for a starter... Lunch menu for 15-18 euro.

Click here for address.

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Recommendations - Brussels Restaurant

L’Air de Rien
Restrained by attractive décor that well matches the food, that is delicious and beautifully presented. Lunch with two courses is 15 euro – very good value – and in the evening a main course will set you back 15-22 euro. Interesting wine list and good, attentive service. Simply very friendly.

Click here for address.

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Bordeaux Oxygène – a new, youthful initiative in Bordeaux

“We don’t want to hear another word about the crisis in Bordeaux!” The phrase comes from Sylvie Courcelle from Château Thieuley, a Bordeaux Supérieur estate. She and 17 other young Bordeaux producers, all around 27-35 years old, recently unveiled their new initiative called Bordeaux Oxygène. The purpose is to show to the world that there is a lot of dynamism in Bordeaux, that Bordeaux is not just a place with stuffy old men, and that, yes, it can be young and trendy to drink Bordeaux wine. “But it’s not a revolution” underlines Florence Lagragette of Château Loudenne in Médoc, “We want to stay with traditions, but there is a need for new ideas, willingness to progress and above all, Bordeaux needs to become better at communications and marketing”. (Photo: Benoit Trocard, President, Bordeaux Oxygene)

Bordeaux Oxygène has the following members:

  • Juliette Bécot, Château Joanin Bécot, Côtes de Castillon
  • Jean-Jacques Bonnie and Séverine Bonnie, Château Malartic-Lagravière, Pessac-Léognan
  • Jean-Baptiste Bourotte, Clos du Clocher, Château Bonalgue, Pomerol
  • Alice Cathiard-Tourbier, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Pessac-Léognan
  • Mathieu Chadronnier, Château Marsau, Côtes de Francs
  • Matthieu Cuvelier, Château Clos Fourtet, Saint Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé
  • Marie and Sylvie Courselle, Château Thieuley, Bordeaux Supérieur
  • Coralie de Boüard, Château Angélus, Saint Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé
  • Basaline Despagne – Thibault Despagne, Château Tour de Mirambeau, Bordeaux Supérieur
  • Erwan Flageul, Château Brillette, Moulis-en-Médoc
  • Caroline Frey, Château La Lagune, Haut-Médoc Grand Cru Classé
  • Eloïse Heeter-Tari, Château Nairac, Sauternes Cru Classé
  • Edouard Labruyère, Château Rouget, Pomerol
  • Florence Lafragette, Château Loudenne, Médoc
  • Jean-Christophe Mau, Château Preuillac, Médoc
  • Jean-Antoine Nony, Château Grand Mayne, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé
  • Stéphanie Rolland-Lesage, Château Le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol
  • Jérôme Tourbier, Les Sources de Caudalie – Hôtel, Restaurant, SPA
  • Benoit Trocard, Clos Dubreuil, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, Clos de la Vieille Eglise, Pomerol

What do you think? Comment on this in the blog.

--> Discover more exciting Bordeaux producers. Go on a Wine Tour with BKWine. More info here! <--

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The Harvest 2005 – a magnificent vintage

All reports from around France, and what we have seen ourselves, point to 2005 becoming an excellent vintage. In every district we have visited this autumn - Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Alsace, Champagne, Rhône-dalen and Languedoc – wine makers are happy and positive. The autumn has been unusually warm, sunny and dry in the whole country. If there has been any negative comments it has rather been the lack of rain during the whole growing season. The grapes have been nicely ripe and very healthy at harvest. The one issue was a short period of heavy rain in the Languedoc but most growers had already (at least almost) finished the harvest. It is never easy to taste a wine that has just finished fermenting, but the Grenache 2005 that we tasted at Domaine Haut-Lirou in Pic-St-Loup, with 15% alcohol and just barely finished the malolactic fermentation, was actually very nice to drink. It all bodes well for the future for this vintage.

What do you think? Comment on this in the blog.

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2005 will be a great year in California too

2005 promises to be a great year in California too, both for quality and for quantity. It is estimated that the harvest will reach 3.15 million tons, which is 10-20% above normal. Growers also say that both the quality and the maturity of the grapes are outstanding. The big harvest, some think, will lead to a drop in prices in spite of the high quality. (California accounts for some 90% of the US wine production.) Wine drinkers say “hooray”. Read more on Rocklin & Roseville Today

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Vinisud 2006 – The wine fair for ”Mediterranean wines” in Montpellier 20-22 February 2006

Vinisud is a wine fair about wines from around the Mediterranean. Admittedly, many of the exhibitors come from France, and not least Languedoc-Roussillon (which happens to be one of the most exciting regions in France today) but there are also wines from all around the Mediterranean ( Italy, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, Algeria, Greece, etc). At the last Vinisud there were 1391 producers present. In 2006 they expect more than 1500 exhibitors. It is a unique opportunity to get an overview of “Mediterranean wines”. (Interested in going to Vinisud? Contact BKWine and maybe we can arrange something fun around it.). www.vinisud.org

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Don Sebastiani & Sons named Winery of the Year by the Wine Enthusiast Magazine

The Wine Enthusiast, one of the US’s leading wine magazines, has selected Don Sebastiani & Sons International Wine Negociants as Winery of the Year. Don Sebastiani was created by an established wine growing family, more know for their budget wines, in 2001 to make and market good quality, moderately priced wines. One of their wines is Screw Kappa Napa…

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Scandinavian Wine Fair – 11 February 2006

And we don’t mean a wine fair IN Scandinavia but one with wine BY Scandinavians who make wine in wine districts all around the world. BKWine organised the Scandinavian Wine Fair in Paris 2004 (click here) and now we’re back with the 2006 edition – on Saturday 11 February. We will have more info (both for visitors and exhibitors) early autumn but mark the date in your calendar already! And – we are very grateful for any tips from you on Scandinavians that you might know of who are in any way involved in producing wine (or fine spirits, like Cognac). Send us an email if you know of any!

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Salon des Vin de la Loire 6-8 February 2006

Le Salon des Vins de la Loire in Angers is a big professional wine show for Loire wines. Many of the most interesting producers in the Loire Valley are represented. It is an excellent opportunity to get an overview of recent developments in the Loire. (And you can combine it with a visit to the BKWine Scandinavian Wine Fair in Paris on February 11!)

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South African wines grow in popularity in Sweden, reaches 16% market share

Imports to Sweden of South African wines grew by 35% over the first 8 months (compared to the same period last year). According to Wines of South Africa (Wosa) they now have a 16% market share, on par with the market leader Spain and ahead of Italy (15.5%) and Australia (11%). Madeleine Stenwreth, purchasing manager at the monopoly retailer Systembolaget in Sweden, said, according to the Sunday Times (SA) that Swedes buy more and more South African wines because of the value for money they offered. Read more in the Sunday Times (SA).

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Michel Laroche (Chablis) buys wine estate in South Africa

Michel Laroche, one of the most successful producers of Chablis, has just bought a winery in South Africa: Avenir Wine Estate. The winery has 55 hectares (but some say 24 ha)of vineyards in Stellenbosch. The deal is done in collaboration with AXA Millesime that will get 49% of the capital. Laroche has already expanded outside his home turf in Chablis (representing 450 ha, own vineyards and négociant activity) with wineries in Languedoc (500 ha) and in Chile. At his new winery in South Africa Laroche will concentrate on the typical local grape varieties Pinotage and Chenin Blanc (Steen). L'Avenir's web-site

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New appellation AOC Beaume de Venise

The Journal Officel of October 25 published the rules for the new appellation AOC Beaumes de Venise. This can be seen as an evolution of the rules for the previous appellation Côtes du Rhône Villages-Beaumes de Venise that is now supersede by AC Beaume de Venise. The rules specify (among other things):

  • the wine is produced in four communes in Vaucluse: Beaumes-de-Venise, Lafare, Suzette and La Roque-Alric;
  • the main grape varieties are Grenache and Syrah
  • the yield is limited to: ’rendement de base’ 38 hl/ha, ’rendement butoir’ 42 hl/ha, ’rendement maximum de production’ 50 hl/ha
  • wines from the 2004 harvest may carry the new appellation

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Kosher Wines Gaining Ground?

European Jewish Press reports that kosher wines are gaining in popularity in France. The cite for example that La Revue des Vins de France has commissioned an article on it for a spring edition. In any case it is clear that it is no longer something that is made only by some specialist producers. We have seen kosher wine at, for example, Chateau Beauregard (Pomerol) and Chateau Liversan (Haut-Médoc). It is controlled in detail and well isolated from the rest of the production and only “authorised” (or whatever the appropriate term might be) staff can handle the wine.

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450 new million euro in EU farm subsidies for the wine sector in 2006 and plans for “fundamental reforms”

The EU plans to allocate 450 million in wine farm subsidies, primarily to France, Italy, and Spain, in 2006 (approximately the same as in 2005). The main aim of the support is (in principle…) to help growers change over production to better grape varieties, better land etc. A spokesperson for the commission has said, though, that next year there will also be some “fundamental reforms” of the system, for example by no longer linking the subsidies to the production volume. All according to BeverageDaily.com

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France increases the budget for wine promotion in the UK with 40%

Sopexa together with the French Ministry of Agriculture will jointly increase the marketing budget for the UK with 40% in 2006. With this increase they hope to change the trend of losing market share on one of the largest export markets. Read more on Foodanddrinkeurope.com

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French wine maker in conflict with Absolut Vodka

A wine producer in Roussillon, in southern France, produces a wine called Tinto Absoluto. The producer of Absolut Vodka, the state owned Swedish company V&S Vin & Sprit protests that it is an infringement on their trade mark. Maybe you can draw some parallels with Champagne where the champagne producers have been very vigilant in protecting the “name” (but not trade mark) Champagne, preventing, for example, perfumes and shampoo to use it. Visit the Tinto Absoluto web site and read more on Decanter.

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Sommelier Champions

Danish victory in the Nordic Sommelier Championship
Dennis Rasmussen from the restaurant Le Sommelier in Copenhagen won the trophy as best Nordic Sommelier on Iceland recently. In second place: Björnstierne Antonson, and third: Sören Polonius (both Swedish). www.lesommelier.dk

Yann Satin wins the Belgian Sommelier Championship
Last Sunday the finals in the Belgian Sommelier Championship was held in Brussels. The happy winner was Yann Satin who works at the restaurant “Le Sanglier des Ardennes” in Durbuy. Congratulations! Second place went to Peter Verheyde and third place to Maxime Demuynck from the restaurant “L’Air du Temps” in Noville sur Mehaigne.

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WSET moves to new premises

The Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) has just moved to new premises (39-45 Bermondsey Street, just across the river from the Tower of London). The WSET is maybe the world’s biggest (and certainly one of the most respected) educational organisations in wine and spirits. During the academic year 2004/5 they had some 15000 “candidates” in 28 countries. The new facilities will also house several other organisations relating to wine and spirits. The opening was headed by one of the most illustrious ex-students of the WSET: Jancis Robinson. (Photos: WSET) http://www.wset.co.uk

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Decanter launches a Chinese wine magazine

Decanter, the leading UK wine magazine, will launch a Chinese language edition of the magazine. It will to begin with be sold in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, and at a later stage in mainland China. http://www.decanter.com/news/69331.html

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Why don’t they make more ”vin de cepage” in France? Or put the grape variety on the label?

You often hear the critique “Why don’t the French make more wines with the grape variety on the label? It would be so much more easy to understand!”. Well, maybe for some: A survey has shown that only 42% of the French claims to have heard of the concept “vin de cepage” (wine sold under the grape variety name) and only 15% could give a correct example of such a vine. The most common grape varieties cited were: Merlot (named by 3.6% of the respondents), Cabernet (2.8%), Chardonnay (2.1%) and Gamay (1.9%). All according to La Journée Vinicole.

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Do you want to buy a vineyard?

When recently in Burgundy we discussed vineyard land prices. We thought that it might be interesting for you who are dreaming of buying a few vines to know the approximate price levels. But don’t take it too serious. It is not a statistically grounded survey... - You can get a hectare of AC Bourgogne at entry level (the simplest terroir) for around 80,000€. The prices then go up to 3,000,000€ per hectare for the top quality plots on Grand Cru. But that, of course, does not include the very elite of vineyards like Romanée Conti and the likes, that simply do not have prices. So, you could get a hectare of Corton Grand Cru (not bad!) for around 1,000,000€. In other words, 100€ per vine! (And you will get less than half a bottle of wine from that vine…) Maybe we should look at another region?

--> Discover exciting Burgundy producers. Go on a Wine Tour with BKWine. More info here! <--

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Bernard Magrez opens wine shops in Bordeaux and Paris

Bernard Magrez is not a wine collector. He is a chateau collector. He is probably the person who owns the greatest number of wine chateaux in Bordeaux. He plans to open two wine shops, one in Paris and one in Bordeaux to sell the wines from his 30 wine estates and the more than 90 branded wines his empire makes. The shops will also offer tastings and courses. We do not know if they will also sell other wines than his own. All reported in Decanter: Writes Decanter

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Experts’ report recommends the abolition of the monopoly

“[the monopoly] is a vestige from the 1920s. […] a privatisation would not only benefit the consumers but it would also allow the government to increase its revenues from this sector. […]No reason exists to preserve this paternalistic attitude on the part of public authorities who seek to dictate lifestyles and to tell consumers which beverages they have the right to drink.”

These are the conclusions of a report written by a Canadian think tank called the Montreal Economic Institute. The full report is available here from MEI. It contains some interesting comparisons with the province Alberta, that previously also had a monopoly but which was abolished in 1994.

Some examples:

  • Better availability: The number of stores has risen since the privatisation in Alberta from 310 monopoly stores to 1087 stores today. That gives 42 stores per 100,000 inhabitants compared to the monopoly province Québec where they have 13 stores per 100,000 people. This leads to time savings and more convenience for the consumers.
  • More jobs: During the first three years after privatisation in Alberta the number of jobs in the sector rose from 950 to 2904, i.e. almost 2000 new jobs.
  • “The range of available products will be smaller”: In privatised Alberta there are 11,575 products available compared to the monopoly market in Québec with 7,148 products. The comparison is even more dramatic if you look at the evolution of the number of products in Alberta since privatisation. In 1993 the Alberta monopoly offered 1,957 products and now, in the private stores, there are around 12,000. The same evolution in Québec would give the Québecoise a choice from almost 44,000 products…
  • “Privatisation would lead to many more alcohol problems”: In Alberta the alcohol consumption is on approximately the same level as it was when the system was change. They had a slight increase in the year following privatisation but that was followed by a decrease in the following years. In monopoly controlled Québec the consumption has gone up by 15% over the same period.

What do you think? Comment on this in the blog.

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Quotes - Michel Laroche, one of France’s most successful wine makers

Michel Laroche, one of France’s most successful wine makers, on Vitisphere.com:

“If I today am attracted by the New World countries in wine it is because they offer you a liberty in how to make wine that does not exist in France. No limits in yields, no pre-defined grape varieties… each and all has the freedom to make wine as he decides best, with the consequence that he then takes the commercial responsibility to himself sell his wines. In France, our collective model with appellations is too heavy. It is necessary to revise the system.”

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Link Tips - Some wine sites that you might enjoy visiting

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Recommendations - Wine Bars and Restaurants - Barrique Wine Bar

Recommendations
Wine Bars and Restaurants
Gothenburg:

Barrique Wine Bar
If you happen to be travelling to Gothenburg in Sweden there is a new wine bar (opened in September 2005). It is run by Rolf Olofsson and Thomas Norman (who also runs the top quality restaurant Hamngatan 12). Unfortunately we have not yet been there but a new wine bar is always worth telling you about. They will have periodic “themes” and are starting out with Burgundy and a selection of interesting wine producers from Bourgogne.

Click here for address.

Read more recommendations on restaurants and winebars on my Restaurant and Wine Bar page.

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Scandinavian Wine Fair – 11 February 2006

And we don’t mean a wine fair IN Scandinavia but one with wine BY Scandinavians who make wine in wine districts all around the world. BKWine organised the Scandinavian Wine Fair in Paris 2004 (click here) and now we’re back with the 2006 edition – on Saturday 11 February. We will have more info (both for visitors and exhibitors) early autumn but mark the date in your calendar already! And – we are very grateful for any tips from you on Scandinavians that you might know of who are in any way involved in producing wine (or fine spirits, like Cognac). Send us an email if you know of any!

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Christie’s to take over the auction at Hospice de Beaune

The November auction at the Hospice de Beaune is somewhat of a guide for the market evolution for Burgundy wines. It is a very traditional affair mainly open to the trade, but also to some extent the public. According to information in the press the English auction house Christie’s will take over the responsibility for the auctions. Another change is that they will start auctioning wines in bottles. Traditionally it has only been wines in barrel that was offered, which of course is a bit inconvenient for private buyers. This year the auction will take place on November 18-20
www.decanter.com,
www.journee-vinicole.com

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Schramsberg, a Californian pioneer celebrates 40 years

BKWine’s reporter-at-large participated in the festivities on August 27 when Jamie Davies celebrated Schramsberg’s 40th anniversary. Schramsberg was founded by the Davies couple when they moved from Los Angeles to Napa in 1965. It has become well know for solely focussing on quality sparkling Napa. Read more here (a short exercise in French…):

Schramsberg-Napa

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Bag-in-Box wines show poor quality according to study: only 5% is OK

The Swedish monopoly retailer has conducted a study on how the quality evolves over time for wines in bag-in-box. Only 5% of the wines tested were judge to be of sufficient quality. The tests were done by checking how the quality changed in unopened BiBs bought in the monopoly stores. Barbro Ström, purchasing manager, said “One possible cause […] can be the packaging”. The Systembolaget will now try and make the producers mark the BiBs with a “best-before” date. As reported in World of Wine Fax News.

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Wines En Primeur less in demand (in Sweden)

People are buying less wines en primeur in Sweden. Well, actually, they will be buying none at all since Systembolaget, the Swedish retail monopoly, has decided not to offer wines en primeur any longer. The reason being the weak demand for it.

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Patagonian wines from Argentina

Argentina is mainly know for the Mendoza wines but since the beginning of the decade massive investments (partially state subsidised) have been done in Patagonia, a bit south of Mendoza. The landscape is flat and desolate; it is a desert that has been made arable thanks to irrigation with water from the Andes. Already after just a few years some of the wines are pretty good. BKWine was there in August and visited some of the producers: Bodegas Arquen, Shroeder / Saurus, NQN (Neuquen – which is the name of the city), Anelo / Finca Roja, and (the very appropriately named) Fin del Mundo. Never before have we seen so may shining new wineries in one place with so much money invested in developing vineyards. Read about the visit here (a short exercise in Spanish):
www.lmneuquen.com.ar (Photo: La Manana Neuquen) . It shows me, Mark Golodetz from the Wine Enthusiast/USA, Eduardo Viotti, Market Press/Brazil, and the BKWine photographer)

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