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Wine-On-Line - Some wine sites worth having a look at

>> Monday, August 15, 2005

  • Wine Maker Magazine, mostly for the home brewer, but also for others. Quite a lot of interesting info actually. E.g. How to get oak character by using oak cubes? How to deal with brettanomyses? Or what to do with pips and skins after pressing? –

  • Screw cap – good or bad? Cork-cork = risk of cork taint (TCA). Screw-cork = risk of reduction (smell of rotten eggs). Curious to know more? Read the article in Wine Business Monthly -

  • Do you know what CPM is? Well, it means Cold Prefermentation Maceration (or pré-macération à froid), meaning that you chill the must before fermentation to extract (soak) some additional aromas and colour (the result is different compared to maceration during or after the fermentation). Learn all about it on Vineyard & Winery Management -


Commentary: The Swedish monopoly locks out some of the importers under investigation for bribery

According to Swedish radio and press the monopoly retailer Systembolaget has decided to act against some of the importers/suppliers in Sweden who are under investigation for having bribed personnel at the monopoly. The three importers aginst which the Systembolaget take action are VinTrädgårdh that will not be allowed to supply any products at all in the future to Systembolaget, and Philipsson & Söderberg and Åkesson, both of which will have some of their current products blocked by the monopoly. A representative for the Systembolaget says that the wine producers who are hit by having their wines blocked are welcome back if they work with other importers. Systembolaget’s actions seems (again) a bit odd and premature, just like when they fired their employees suspected for taking bribes before any court ruling was made that established any guilt or not. None of the three suppliers have so far been tried and convicted in the legal process.

The lawyer representing Systembolaget said in an interview with Ekot (Swedish radio): “If later it turns out that the individual action did not represent bribery may not be of any importance. This type of actions are anyway against the agreements between the Systembolaget and the suppliers”. “Not important”... well it certainly is for the importers and for the wine producers. But with that reasoning it also means that Systembolaget refers to a private agreement that no outsider has any insight into (and cannot question the validity of)…

Cannot help wondering how Systembolaget decided which of the wine producers should have their products blocked. Purely by hazard or did they evaluate who had drawn the most benefits from the alleged bribes?

One can also not help wondering why the other importers who are involved in the investigation have not been hit with the measures. For example, the importer V&S Vin & Sprit AB who has five employees under investigation for bribery. They happen to be owned by the government, just like Systembolaget and is by far the largest supplier.

If there have been bribes it is certainly deplorable and immoral, but the most sad thing in this story seems to be the actions of Systembolaget. But then again, there is an easy way to avoid this kind of scandals in the future: abolish the monopoly.

What is your opinion? Make your voice heard by commenting on this article.


Book Review: Biodynamic Wines

Biodynamic Wines (Mitchell Beazley)
Monty Waldin

This is a somewhat heavy book, but if you are interested in the principles of biodynamic wine growing this book gives you all the information you need. It’s written by a knowledgeable person who has worked, among others, with Fetzer Vineyards, one of the pioneers on biodynamics in California. The first part tells you about the history behind the philosophy and how it is used in the vineyard (including how to prepare biodynamic compost) and the second part lists, with extensive information, a number of biodynamic growers around the world.

Read more book reviews on the site. There you can also order the books from a book shop on-line.


Book Review: The World Atlas of Wine

The World Atlas of Wine, 5th edition (Mitchell Beazley)
Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson

If you want to learn a little about every wine region in the world, this is the book for you. The first edition was written by Hugh Johnson in 1971 and 30 years after, in 2001, this 5th edition, with Jancis Robinson as co-author, was published. You’ll find short but fact-filled information on every wine region imaginable and an introduction to the history of wine, viticulture and vinification. Beautiful pictures and very good maps.

More reviews or if you want to buy the book: our book pages


Wine exports in 2004 – France still in the lead, but only just

France was still the world’s biggest exporter of wine in 2004 but the distance to the number two, Italy, has diminished dramatically. Here are the statistics, in million of hectolitres, and the percentage change from 2003:

  1. France 14.21 Mhl (-6%)
  2. Italy 14.20 Mhl (+9.9%)
  3. Apain 13.5 Mhl (+9.4%)
  4. Australia 6.4 Mhl (+19.9%)
  5. USA 3.9 Mhl (+17.6%)
  6. Portugal 3.1 Mhl (+2.1%)
  7. Germany 2.7 Mhl (-2.3%)
  8. South Africa 1.8 Mhl (+0.5%)
  9. Argentina 1.6 Mhl (-16%, but +36% if you look at the value!)
  10. New Zealand 0.3 Mhl (+14.8%)


Scrap the monopoly and get more consumer choice, better service and C$200 more in state revenues - according to expert panel

Ontario has a alcohol monopoly just like the Scandinavian countries Sweden, Finland and Norway. Earlier this year an expert committee was appointed by the LCBO (Liquor control Board of Ontario) to review the benefits of the monopoly and its future. This is what the chairman of the committee says in his introduction to the final report that has just been published:

Begin quote
” The [current] system is inflexible and there are many anomalies and inequities. If we could go back to the drawing board, no one would design an ideal system this way.
… The challenge you put to us was to determine if the beverage alcohol system is delivering the maximum benefits to the people of Ontario. It is not.
The overriding government objective remains as valid today as it was in 1927 - to reduce the potential harm from beverage alcohol.
… Our conclusion: in order to ensure the socially responsible sale and use of beverage alcohol, it is not necessary for government to own and operate retail and wholesale facilities itself. In the 21 st century, government can protect the public interest just as well, if not better, through modern regulatory tools such as pricing policies and active enforcement.
… Monopolies lock up economic value, and uncompetitive markets hold back innovation and value creation, leaving untapped revenue "on the table." We believe this revenue, which we estimate to be in excess of $200 million annually, should accrue to the people of Ontario.
… We unanimously recommend that the government create a regulated, competitive market that would expand opportunities for producers, improve convenience and selection for consumers, extract the government from commercial risks and increase revenues for the public purse - all while protecting social responsibility.
… We conservatively estimate that, following a transition period, this plan would produce at least $200 million more government revenue than the government currently receives from the beverage alcohol system.
… After 78 years, action is long overdue.

I close with what I believe are the real outcomes of our recommendations:
1. the consumer would get greater convenience and choice and would benefit from a competitive retail environment;
2. the government would remove itself from investment risk while increasing its annual revenues;
3. Ontario would continue to benefit from sound social responsibility practices; and
4. the existing commercial inequities would have been materially addressed.
John Lacey
End quote

Read the full report here Your own comments here in the BKWine brief Blog...


Californian vintage wine with 15% younger wine?

U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) has proposed a change in the rules for labelling vintage wines: the proposal says that it would suffice with 85% of the wine to come from one vintage to be allowed to put the year ion the label. Today it has to be 95% from the specified vintage. The proposal only cconcerns state or county labelled wines (e.g. Monterey County or Sonoma County). More exact designations (like for example Napa Valley) would keep the 95% rule. Both Napa Valley Vintners and California Association of Winegrape Growers are expected to opposed the proposal. As they say in the Sanfransisco Chronicle, there is a risk that the consumer and the press might interpret the change as a lowering of quality requirements in Californian wines. Perhaps not so surprising, is it? Read more on


Michel Rolland hired as consultant for Antinori

The famous wine consultant Michel Rolland (perhaps most famous to the public for his “contribution” in the wine film Mondovino) has also been hired by Antinori to work with Tenuta Campo di Sasso. According to Decanter he will spend 4-5 days per year on the estate.


Antinori hires Swedish wine maker Helena Lindberg for new venture

Antinori has recruited the Swedish (!) winemaker Helena Lindberg to manage the Tenuta Campo di Sasso winery. Campo di Sasso has already launched a mid range/entry level wine called Insolio del Cinghiale (Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) and plan to launch next year a top range wine called Il Pino di Biserno (who said that French wine names were difficult to remember?). Helena has previously worked in Bordeaux, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. She will also be helping Antinori with a new vineyard venture in New Zealand. (another of these annoying animated Flash sites…)


Listen to wine radio

If you have started to get to grips with what blogging is, now it is time to look at pod-casting. But never mind the geek speak. It is simply a way of listening to radio via the web. The most successful web radio on wine is The Grape Radio. They even manage to earn money on their activity (who wouldn’t want that!). Listen to their programs here:


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!


Wine producers in southern France hand out 400,000 free bottles of wine to motorway drivers

Tourists travelling on some of the motorways in southern France this summer could get the pleasant surprise of being given a free bottle of wine when they stopped at the road toll both. Wine growers in the Aude depratement handed out free bottles and a leaflet with information about the French wine crisis to visitors in order to make people understand better the difficulties that French producers face today. Read more in e.g. Pakistan Daily Times!


French film star and French Bordeaux magnate invests in Hungarian wine

Gerard Depardieu, one of France’s best known film actors, already owns several vineyards in e.g. the Loire valley (Chateau Tigné) and Languedoc. He has launched a cooperation in Hungary with Huba Szeremley (of First Hungarian Wine House Kft) who owns vineyards close to the Lake Balaton. The objective is simply to make Hungary’s best wine. Depardieu’s partner in the venture is Bernard Magrez, a Bordeaux magnate who already owns more than a dozen properties in Bordeaux. More in Budapest Business Journal


Top quality German wines on auction on September 21-25

The annual wine auctions of the Prädikat Wine Estates (VDP) in the Mosel, Rheingau and Nahe regions will take place from 21–25 September 2005. On offer are a number of rarities and the finest lots of recent vintages, 95% of which are Riesling wines. Wine lovers and professionals worldwide are welcome to bid at these auctions. If you cannot attend in person you can also bid online:


Taittinger sold to the US but the champagne returns to France?

The family owned group Taittinger was finally sold to the American investment company Starwood in a deal worth €2.8 bn. The group includes, in addition to the champagne house, several luxury hotels and the exclusive crystal manufacturer Baccarat. But now it seems that the champagne might return to France and to the hand of the Taittinger family in cooperation with the bank Credit Agricole, which seems logical since Starwood is much more focussed on hotels (it owns Sheraton). The price tag? Supposedly around €450 million.


Unbreakable wine glasses?

Tired of fragile crystal wine glasses that break when you wash them? The German glass manufacturer Schott Zwiesel has created a series of wine glasses called “tritan”. They are virtually impossible to break (it is said) and in addition they do not contain lead (as traditional crystal) but titan. Here is a fascinating video of how you can hit the glass with a steel ball without breaking it (, click the upper right video). (Photo:


Burgundy goes for rosé too

Even Bourgogne has been struck by the enthusiasm for rosé wines – since it is one of the few wine categories that currently sell very well it is understandable. Production has risen from 2000 hectolitres in 2000 to 16,500 hl in 2004 (+80%). It represents around 285 hectare – quite small compared to the total surface of around 40,000 ha. The majority of the rosé wine has AC Bourgogne, 22% is AC Macon and 12% Marsannay.


Rosé sells well – Bordeaux adjusts

Sales of rosé wine has gone up with 2.8% since the beginning of the year while red wine is down with 2.5%. In Bordeaux the old denomination “clairet” has seen a revival with many new producers of this full bodied and deep coloured type of rosé. Clairet is also said to be the origin of the English name “claret” for all red Bordeaux wine. So today there are two different rosé appellations: Clairet and Rosé. Even some classed growths have started to make rosé, e.g. Chateaux Kirwan, Giscours and Smith Haut Lafitte. It might be a sign of commercial dynamism at these particular estates – Kirwan is run by a new generation Shÿler, Giscours is owned by a Dutch business man and SHL was bought some years ago my the Cathiard couple who after they made a fortune in selling sports goods. But there can also be another background for making rosé: it can be a way of improving the red wine if done by “saigné” (early in the fermentation process a part of the must is run off and used to make rosé and the remaining must is thus more concentrated). The rosé wine that tasted recently at Kirwan was surprisingly full bodied with a deep colour, in spite of having macerated only for just a very short period on the skins. It was excellent with a picnic!


Changed rules for white Costières de Nîmes

Costières de Nîmes is at the southern end of the Rhône valley on the border to Languedoc. The modified rules for white CdN wine declares: Permitted grape varieties are Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc, Roussanne, Vermentino, Macabeu, Marsanne and Viognier. Ugni Blanc must not exceed 30% and after 2010 it is no longer permitted (it is generally considered as a not very interesting variety). Viognier is limited to 10%. The wine must be a blend of at least two different grape varieties. The maximum yield “rendement de base” is 60 hl/ha.


The ”discoverer” of The French Paradox honoured with the Legion d’Honneur

Professor Serge Renaud was given the Legion d’Honneur on July 14 for his research into what has become called The French Paradox: Why is it that French have so comparatively little cardiovascular diseases even though they eat a lot of fatty food? – Why, they drink wine bien sur. (to summarise the findings briefly…) His work gained little recognition in France initially, until it was widely publicised on American TV. Read more on (Photo: foie gras and a glass of wine)


Le Nez du Vin launches ”oak case”

Le Nez du Vin, created by Jean Lenoir, is the classic of « aroma kits » - sets of tiny bottles of aromas to illustrate the tastes and smells of wine. They exist with various aromas: blackcurrant, rose, gooseberry etc. Lenoir has now launched an “oak case” to illustrate the impact of oak on wine. It contains aromas such as vanilla, leather, toast, liquorice etc. You can buy the set for a mere 72€. Unfortunately we have not had the occasion to try it.


The Zagat restaurant guide recommends wine bars in New York

The very popular restaurant guide Zagat gives special recommendations to six wine bars in its just published New York edition: Bar Jamón, ’inoteca and Bar Veloce are given ”top appeal” and Enoteca i Trulli, Le Bateau Ivre and Ara Wine Bar follows closely behind. Read more on Decanter.


Ontario plans to abolish the monopoly – the employees strike

5400 employees of the Ontario Liquor Board (LCBO) threatened to strike to protest against plans for the abolishment of the monopoly. A report from the government had proposed that the alcohol monopoly should be replaced by licensed shops (the licenses were to be auctioned off). What happens now after the strike threat is unclear.

The report (dated July 2005) that was at the origin of this is interesting to read. The four main conclusions are that an abolision of the monopoly and change of the system as proposed would lead to:

1. the consumer would get greater convenience and choice and would benefit from a competitive retail environment;
2. the government would remove itself from investment risk while increasing its annual revenues;
3. Ontario would continue to benefit from sound social responsibility practices; and
4. the existing commercial inequities would have been materially addressed.

Read the full report here:


Ikea’s founder’s vineyard threatened by forest fires

Ingvar Kamprad owns a vineyard in southern France, near Hyères in Provence. Forests not more than 10 kilometres away have been hit by the raging fires even if the vineyard itself is not currently burning. According to the Swedish evening paper Expressen.


Wine from Nebraska

It is said that all US states except one (guess which!) make wine. But Nebraska is not the first one you think of for wine. But up until the early 20th century they had around 1000 hectares of vines. Today there are 14 wineries with some 200 ha in total and they have expansion plans. Read more in the Daily Nebraskan. (And if you’re not sure where Nebraska is you can check here:


agnès b. designs wine label

Château l’Evêché in Saint Emilion has made a tradition of having its label created by a fashion designer. The latest vintage (the 2003) has been drawn by agnès b. Not very traditional bordelaise in style but the clothes are a bit more striking. (Foto:


BKWine launches English wine tastings in Paris

BKWine will be offering a series of wine tastings in Paris this autumn for English speakers. The tastings will be on begginner's and intermediate level and will take place in a just-opened wine shop close to Les Halles. The first one will be a "Tour de France" with an overview of grape varieties and wine regions (October 24) and the second tasting will be on the theme of "Champagne and other sparkling wine" - just in time for the fêtes on December 5. More info here


BKWine launches wine tours in English

BKWine, who is one of Scandinavias most active organisers of wine tours, now launches a selection of tours in English to French wine regions. The BKWine tours will be in the format of "a long week-end", starting on Thursday evening and ending on Sunday. Each tour will include several visits to a selection of the most interesting wine producers in the region. The first two tours will be "Two Classics: Champagne and Chablis" in May 2006, and "Cote d'Or - The Heart of Burgundy" in June 2006. More info here.


Crisis distillation of wine has mixed success

The EU allocated a special budget for distilling excess wine: the wine producers had to apply to have their wines distilled and would then be paid for the wine. In France the applications have by far not reached the required volumes (a third of the volume is missing). In Spain, on the other hand, there has been so much applications so the volume has exceeded the quota with a quarter. (Photo: a mobile distillation unit in Champagne.)


Wine writing illegal in Norway?

Journée Vinicole writes that the Norwegian ministry of Justice wondered if the articles written on wine in the Norwegian press should be considered as advertisements. They asked the Ministry of Health for an opinion, also concerning if photos of wine bottles should be forbidden, but the response was that they saw no reason to change current legislation


Restaurant recommendations...

For more restaurant recommendations and for the addresses - visit our restaurant page on the site:
Restaurants Wine Shops Books


Recommended Restaurant: Numéro 75, Avignon

This beautiful hôtel particulier has been transformed into a trendy restaurant without losing its noble character. The walls have been painted in a warm burgundy red colour which goes very well with the very special lamps. Exciting food and a good wine list where, of course, the Rhône Valley is dominant. Set menu from 22 € and main courses from 14 €.


Recommended Restaurant: Radis Roses, Paris 9

A tiny restaurant with amusing and colourful details and a very ambitious cuisine. The speciality of the house is ravioli (but there are other things as well) and as raviolis are a speciality from the Rhône Valley (you didn’t think they were Italian, did you?) the wine list offers only wine from this part of France. The food looks beautiful on the plate and tastes delicious. All entrées are 9 €, the main courses are 14 € and the desserts 7 €.


Recommended Producer: Château Potensac, Médoc

This big chateau in the northern part om Médoc belongs to the family Delon, who also owns the more famous Château Léoville-las-Cases i Saint-Julien and recently Château Nenin in Pomerol was acquired. Potensac is a 70 hectares estate situated just north of Saint-Estèphe and was one of the nine chateaux being classified as Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel in 2003. Right now there are a lot of renovations going on at Potensac. The wine is well structured in the classical Médoc-style and needs some ageing. The very good vintage 2001 is 18,17 euro at


Recommended producer: Domaine Marius Delarche, Pernand-Vergelesses, Bourgogne

Philippe Delarche has 9 hectares of vines in Côte de Beaune, and apart from Pernand-Vergelesses he also makes a little Corton and Corton-Charlemagne. His red wines are elegant and fruity, quite light but with a delicious Pinot Noir-aroma. Red Pernand-Vergelesses from 11 euro.

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