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Bettane & Desseauve launches new web site about quality wines

>> Monday, May 23, 2005

Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve were two of the leading names at La Revue des Vins de France (France’s leading wine magazine). They left the magazine when it was acquired by the Marie Claire Group. Bettane & Desseauve have now revealed what they intend to do: They have started a web site called (no price for guessing): They say there will be quite a lot of free information on the site. They will also publish a bi-weekly pdf newsletter that is sent out to paying subscribers only (but it seems not to be quite operational yet…) and a second newsletter for the trade. Originally they aimed to have everything up and running by March 1 but when we last checked it seemed to have slipped… But it will definitely be interesting to see how this turns out.


New top level cooperation in Northern Rhône

>> Sunday, May 22, 2005

Alain Voge is one of the very best producers in Cornas, just south of Hermitage. He is one of the persons that have led the renaissance of the Cornas appellation bringing it from quasi-obscurity 20 years ago to now being almost as well known as Hermitage and Cote Rôtie. He will soon take retirement and does not have any family member who is interested in taking over the vineyard. Instead he has started a collaboration (a “joint venture”) with Alberic Mazoyer (now technical director and manager at Chapoutier) who will in practice take over the operations of the domaine. In addition to Voge and Mazoyer, Chapoutier will also have a stake in the company.


Snow in Hermitage

On April 16 and 17 (seems like ages ago now) Hermitage had, very unexpectedly, heavy snow fall. For two days we had (we happened to be there that week-end) five centimetres of snow on the ground. We talked to Joel Duran, one of the leading growers in Cornas and St Joseph, and he commented: “I am not very old but all the same this is only the second time I see snow in April. The first time was on April 27 in 1981”. Joel and other growers we talked to were not worried for the vines though: ”What is dangerous is the star bright nights – nuits blanches. That’s when you can get frost. On the contrary, the snow is good for the vines. They need water and the snow will melt slowly and let the soil absorb the water”. Read more in Decanter. (we wrote the piece)


Miguel Torres, interviewed in La Revue des Vins de France:

Quote from an interview in La Revue des Vins de France:

“We [the wine trade] are going through a crisis. There’s been excess everywhere. In the New World too, but there they are much more flexible. Supply and demand is much more easily balanced in those countries. I have already experienced three crisis in Chile [Torres has a vineyard in Chile] and I remember that during one of those crisis we grafted kiwi on the vines. There you don’t wait for the government to intervene, instead you take some initiative. In Italy or France it is always the government that is supposed to take some action. You should rather alleviate the burdens [on the wine producers] to improve the competition on the market.”


Oak chips in Bordeaux wine?

Oak chips in Bordeaux wine is not permitted today. The new boss of CIVB (the Bordeaux producers’ association) has proposed that it should be allowed in the future (but not for all wines). But we are far from there yet. He also wants the local growers’ associations (like his own CIVB for example) to have more power to decide about rules and legislation. Today the control is mainly in the hands of the INAO.


Swedish opinion about the alcohol monopoly

According to a recent survey 55% of Swedes are positive to keeping the monopoly, 35% are negative and 10% don’t know. The survey was commissioned by the Swedish Spirits and Wine Importers Association. Of course, you can interpret this in different ways. You could for example take it as a clear decrease in the support for the monopoly. I don’t know if they did a similar survey earlier but going back in time my impression is that some years ago almost everyone in Sweden thought the monopoly was a good thing, even those who in other context thought that a market economy rather than planning economy was good.


New classification in Graves

As we have mentioned previously in the Brief the process has started to change the classification in Graves/Pessac-Léognan. La Revue des Vins de France has taken this as an occasion to do a big tasting of the wines and make their own ranking of the Graves wines. The top ten wines in the list (from both Graves and Pessac-Léognan):

  • Haut-Brion,
  • La Mission Haut-Brion,
  • Pape-Clement,
  • Haut-Bailly,
  • Laville Haut-Brion,
  • Domaine de Chevalier,
  • Malartic Lagraviere,
  • Smith Haut Lafitte,
  • La Tour Haut-Brion and
  • Les Carmes Haut-Brion.


Concours Mondial de Bruxelles

I was recently part of the jury for the twelfth edition of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, one of the many wine competitions around the world. This was the biggest edition ever: almost 200 tasters from 46 countries tasted 4666 wines from all over the world. Over three days we blind tasted around 50 wines each day. 40-50 wines is what they consider to be a ”reasonable” number of wines in a day to be able to give a faire judgement of each. And you do want ot be fair – for many producers, especially those that are not so well known, this is an important event. Getting a medal that you can put on the label can make a difference.

1378 medals were given: 44 Grandes Médailles d’Or (<1%), 445 Gold Medals (9%), and 881 Silver Medals.

These were the French winners of Grande Médaille d’Or:

  • Château Segonzac - Héritage 2003, Bordeaux Supérieur
  • Château Beaumont 2002, Haut-Médoc
  • Château Lacapelle Cabanac - Malbec XL 2002, Cahors
  • Les Verdots 2003, Vignobles des Verdots, Côtes de Bergerac
  • Château la Coustarelle - Grande Cuvée Prestige 2002, Cahors
  • Champagne Jacquart - Tradition Brut
  • Domaine Saint Hilaire - Advocate - Cabernet - Merlot 2002, Vin de Pays d'Oc Rouge
  • Château de Viella - Prestige 2003, Madiran

Some names that won Gold Medal:
  • Château de Pressac 2003, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
  • Château Thieuley - Réserve Francis Courselle 2001, Bordeaux Supérieur
  • Château de Haux 2004, Bordeaux Blanc
  • Château Rollan de By 2002, Médoc
  • Château Hostens-Picant - Cuvée d'Exception Lucullus 2001, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux
  • Château Lestage Simon 2002, Haut-Médoc

The full list can be found on:


BKWine Recommended restaurant: La Fin de Siècle in Brussels

A nice little Italian restaurant with a very good brochette de scampi and home made pasta. Original and clever strategy with the first courses: add 2€ and they’ll make it into a (bigger) main course. Pleasant outside seating in the garden at the back

The address and more recommendations here


BKWine Recommended restaurant: Trema, Paris 10

Drink champagne and eat salmon – that’s what you should do at Trëma! Go for a brunch on Sundays for example (18-25 €). On week-days you can get a good lunch with two courses for 12€. Emphasis on fish of different kinds and you can swallow it down with a glass of very nice Domaine Tariquet white. The lowest price champagne is called Godet and sells for 25€, for 35€ you will get a Jacquesson Cuvée 729 (note that they have moved from 728 to 729, indicating a new vintage) and for 45€ you can get Jacquesson Avize Grand Cru 1995 – almost a steal. Good value is also the Pol Roger for 27€. The chef comes from Finland (!) so they also have many types of vodka to choose from. And Swedish mineral water: Ramlösa.

The address and more recommendations here.


BKWine recommended wine producer: Domaine Joël et Eric Durand

In the middle of the little village Chateaubourg, just behind the church, in the southern part of the appellation Saint Joseph you find the two brothers Durand – Eric and Joël. They used to sell the grapes to larger producers like Delas and Jaboulet but in the early 1990s they started to bottle their own wine. Now they make fabulous wines from their 12 hectares (7 ha in St Joseph and 5 ha in Cornas). As an example, a Cornas 2003 bought at the domaine costs 23€.

More pictures here


A Robert Parker rating increases the price with 15%

Decanter reports that a study shows that wines that get a rating from Parker on average gains 3€ (equivalent to 15% for the wines studied) compared to a wine that is not rated by Parker. The study is based on ‘primeur’ wines in Bordeaux. For the consumer it can then be expected that the price difference will be even greater. Maybe one conclusion can be that the Parker craze may be defeating itself: rated wines automatically become more expensive so if you want to find something that is good value-for-money you should look elsewhere?


Irrigation will (probably) be allowed in France

INAO made positive noises towards allowing irrigation in French vineyards. The proposal means that it would be OK to water vineyards under special circumstances, as for instance the extremely hot summer in 2003.


New rules in Alsace

INAO has introduced some new or changed rules for Alsace wines: Planting density must be at least 4500 vines per hectare, training must be in simple Guyot with at the most 8-10 “eyes”. Alsace Grand Cru must be made from one single grape variety; permitted Grand Cru wine varieties are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat à Petits Grains, Muscat Ottonel. (Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim and Zotzenberg have more sever restrictions.) Maximum ”agronomic” yield is 10,100 kg/ha. Minimum alcohol contents is 12.5% for Pinot Gris and 11% for the other varieties. The new rules will initially only apply to vineyards planted after 2000.
More pictures here


Wine in China

China Drinks, China’s main wine and spirits magazine, organised a competition in January: the 2005 Beijing International Wine & Spirits Competition. BKWine was on-site and participated in the jury for the Chinese wines and spirits. Well, today Chinese “wines” are not always made from grapes but sometimes from other fruit and berries – or rice! So it was an odd collection of beverages we were tasting and judging. Not all that easy. One Great Gold Medal was awarded to a Chinese wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the best and biggest vineyards: the Great Wall Winery. Chinese wine consumption, as the production, is rising rapidly. Pictures from China are on the site.

More pictures here



Calvados is making progress on the export market. This excellent digestif can help you digest a big meal as no other and is also an excellent ingredient in the kitchen (and for the cook): e.g. crêpes flambées or to give flavour to a creamy sauce. Most calvados come from the sub-region called Pays d’Auge, the very picturesque landscape between the fashionable seaside resort Deauville and the cheese town Pont l’Eveque. In Pays d’Auge calvados is double distilled, just like for cognac. And then it is stored in oak for a number of years which gives it much of its character. The youngest calvados is sold after 2 years of aging. After four years it can be called VSOP and if it has six years or more it can be called hors d’age. Sometimes you can even see 20 ans (20 years) or old vintages in small quantities. It is small and not at all tasty apples that are used for calvados (and cider). It is a mix of bitter, sweet and acidic apples (of different varieties) that are used to make a good cider that is then distilled to make the calvados. And you need a lot of apples! 20 kg of apples makes 14 litres of cider which makes 1 litre of 70 % calvados – which is then diluted to the appropriate strength.

More pictures here


BKWine Brief Blog on NewsGator

>> Saturday, May 14, 2005

If you are using a news aggregator to collect information from blogs you can now get the BKWine Brief nes directly to NewsGator by clicking on the button in the right hand column. Quick and easy.


Some wine blogs

Here are a few wine blogs that you might want to take a look at:
Swirl & Sniff:


What's this thing with blogging?

>> Thursday, May 12, 2005

We had a very interesting discussion this morning with one of the "blogging gurus" in France - Loic Le Meur. (Thank you Susan for organising it!) It convinced me that we should see if we can do some more with this blog.

Because, as you might have noticed, we're not very active so far.

The thing that really interests me is the "business model" that drives blogging. It's easy to understand if you own a company that sells software for blogging - like Loic (Six Apart - have to find out where that name comes from. The stranger the better?). Or if you can sell a company for millions like flikr. But for some reason there are 30 million blogs out there (I am told. - Where can one find statistics on this?)

So, we'll try and be a bit more active in this blog and see what happens. Because I think we have a lot to tell about wine, food, restaurants and such things that could interest many people. (But somehow, somewhere we also need to make a living don't we?)

Another thing that pushed me into spending a bit more time on this blog was that I went on to Technorati and looked up BKWine. Technorati, I am told (again) is THE cool thing to use to see what happens in the bloggosphere. Looking up on Technorati (in real time(!) they say) I foiund that some new people had linked to us. I don't know who BWIII is but he/she likes the same Rhone producer as we do: domaine du Colombier. That's fun to know. We have a nice little photo gallery on Domaine du Colombier and Florent Viale, and we have written a recommendation on him on our wine producer recommendation page. We have even written about him in our newsletter, the BKWine Brief. (PUBLICITY: you can subscribe for free here) And below in this blog.

So, there you have it. We'll try and spend a bit more time on this. If you want.

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