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Invest in wine cheaply – in Fenouilledes

>> Friday, April 21, 2006

That is one of the arguments in a recent press release from the wine growers in Fenouilledes (Languedoc-Roussillon). The other argument is that the region will be “the next Pic St Loup” in Languedoc. Compared to some other wine districts, land is not expensive: 7,000 – 10,000 euro per hectare for old Grenache and Carignan, with possibilities for partnerships with existing growers to help you get going. Almost makes you want to move south! For more information:

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Masculine wine

030902-1-k835-0014No, it is not Hermitage or Côte Rôte (sometimes called the most “masculine” of wines, as opposed to more feminine wines like Burgundy). A vineyard in California has launched a range of wine targeted and packaged solely and directly for male consumers. The range only includes red wines (“white wines are for ladies”) and is made by Ray’s Station Vineyards: “hearty red wines for men” is the slogan. But there is another producer that has already taken the brand “Fat Bastard”. BBC News


How to survive a wine harvest

030902-1-k835-0013If you are thinking of taking part in the grape harvest this autumn, now is the time to organise it. But you should not think that it is a nice way to get a week or two relaxing autumn vacation. It is very hard work. To get an insight into what it is you can read the “Survival Manual” for a grape picker done by Chateau Carsin (Finnish-owned and medal winner at the Scandinavian wine competition recently) and published on their web site. The “manual” actually gives quite a lot of information about what goes on during the harvest, interesting even if you don’t intend to pick grapes.


Norway launches wine production scheme according to

>> Thursday, April 20, 2006

Norway has started a vineyard close to the village Ugotterby. The Norwegian minister responsible for wine questions Loof Lirpa (NB!) explains that the long hours of sunshine that Norway has in summer compensates for the cooler climate, according to (Disregarding the fact that this article was published last Saturday, there is actually supposed to be a vineyard in Norway. Maybe a reader has more details?)

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Auction prices go upwards at Sotheby’s

Some encouraging or discouraging (depending on if you are buying or selling) prices from Sotheby’s recent auction L06603 (98.5% of all wines sold):
12 bt Lafite 1982: £7,130
12 bt La Mission haut Brion 1989: £7,130
12 bt Latour 1982 : £6,900
….and more.


Champagne with screw cork?

a0616-216-1637No, at least for the moment that is unlikely. But the champagne growers’ association (CIVC) has created a project group to study alternative closures. They have done tests with synthetic corks and have concluded that it is not good partly because they may cause seepage. Composite corks (e.g. with the process “Diamant”) have given better results, according to the person in charge, Michel Valade. But for the moment they do not say anything about screw cap, nor about crown cap (“beer bottle cap”) even though it is used by at least one of the champagne producers (on a wine made in Australia). Read about that here.

--> Discover Champagne. Travel to wine country with BKWine. More info: Click HERE! <--


The wine fair in Brussels cancelled

Brussels Wine Expo has been cancelled according to information on their site. Perhaps there are too many wine shows around the world now: Vinexpo (in 2005), Vinisud on February 20-22, Vinitaly on April 6-10, Prowein on March 23-26, Vinordic on April 24-27, and of course the BKWine Scandinavian Wine Fair in Paris on Paris 11…


World’s best Tempranillo

>> Wednesday, April 19, 2006

041006-146-4608On May 22-24 the World’s Best Tempranillo competition will be held i Cologne. The competition is organised by a Spanish organisation which perhaps is not surprising since much of the world’s Tempranillo is made in Spain. But they have taken the opportunity to use the competition as a travelling promotion event, organising it in a new city every year: in 2005, the first year the competition was held, it took place in Copenhagen. Perhaps not a bad idea to make your wines known around the world!

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Salaries up 5.8% in the wine business

According to a report from Wine Business Monthly and Western Management Group salaries have gone up with on average 5.8% in the wine industry during 2006, compared to 3.5% for all sectors. A wine maker’s average salary was $92,435 (+2.6%) and a vineyard manager received on average $76,685 (barely +1%). Vice Presidents of Sales had on average $151,555 (+1.5%). Read more on Wine Business Monthly


More on the wine agreement between the EU and the US

Recently we mentioned that the long discussed agreement between the EU and the US on wine has been signed. This is supposed to decrease the use of “geographic” names (e.g. Chablis) on wines that do not come from that specific region. Overall, the intention is to facilitate trade. Here is some more detailed information from the American Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB):
- A short introduction
- A summary of the agreement (pdf)
- The complete text of the agreement (pdf, 83 pages)
- The main TTB page:


The genetic code of Pinot Noir established

040505-1-105-CRW_0572_RJA group Italian researchers at the agricultural research institute Michele all’Adige have identified the genome (the genetic code) of Pinot Noir. It is the first grape that has had its DNA mapped. The researchers say that it will contribute to develop new and better variants of the grape, e.g. more resistant against diseases. Riccardo Velasco, leader of the research team, says that it is like taking the first step on the moon. “Agriculture will never be the same again.”


René Renou reappointed chairman of the INAO

René Renou will continue as chairman of the semi-governmental control authority INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) that supervises much of what has to do with wine production in France. Renou is a wine maker in Bonnezeaux (sweet wines from the Loire Valley made from Chenin Blanc grapes). During his time as chairman INAO has launched several proposals on how to reform the French AOC system to improve French wines’ competitiveness. The INAO chairman is appointed by the French Agriculture and Fishing Ministry.


Screaming Eagle in California sold

>> Tuesday, April 18, 2006

030718-k914-0020The Californian cult vineyard Screaming Eagle has just changed hands. Charles Banks and Stanley Kroenke, two financiers, acquired it from Jean Phillips who, according to press information, had liquidity problems – in spite of sometimes astonishing prices on the wines. (A six litre bottle of the 1992 vintage sold for $500,000 on auction once, admittedly a charity auction.) The price has not been announced but the value of the vineyard has been estimated at around $30 million.


Chateau Cantenac-Brown sold

Chateau Cantenac-Brown, a 3rd Cru Classé in Margaux (Médoc), has just been sold to Simon Halabi, a British financier. Seller is AXA, an insurance company that owns numerous other wine properties in Bordeaux and elsewhere (Pichon Baron is probably the best known). AXA will invest the money they get in developing their other properties. Cantenac-Brown covers 76 hectares, 53 of which are planted with vines.

--> Discover Bordeaux. Travel to wine country with BKWine. More info: Click HERE! <--


Bordeaux producers continue price fixing cartel

A while back, the producers’ association for Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur decided by vote that anyone selling his wines for less than 1000 euro per tonneaux (900 litre) would be denied to use the Appellation Contrôlée (AOC). Despite continuing slow sales they have the intention to continue this measure to block cheaper wines coming to the market. According to Decanter, sales in January and February this year reached 34,000 hectolitres red AOC Bordeaux compared to 213,000 hl the same period last year. There must be a lot of unsold wine in the cellars… Just a pity that they do not trust market forces and consumers more.


BKWine Pick: Château Pech-Redon, Coteaux du Languedoc-La Clape

6img019It is almost a breath taking ride up to Château Pech-Redon: The vineyard is high up on a hill top, part of the chalky La Clape mountain range stretching between Narbonne and the Mediterranean. The winding road seems never to end but when you finally reach Pech-Redon you get a good view and a chance to meet the talented wine maker Christophe Bousquet. Christophe has 42 hectares in a very dry and sunny climate (3000 sun-hours per year). His best wine is called Centauré, which is the name of a small flower that grows among the cliffs on the hill but that has almost become extinct. This is his way to make sure that the flower is not forgotten. It is an exclusive wine – a very small production of old-vine Syrah (70%) and Grenache. He also makes an excellent red Coteaux du Languedoc made from 50 year old Carignan (60%) plus some Cinsault and Grenache. This wine certainly has the typical “Garrigue” style. Click here for address and more recommendations.

Read about more recommended producers on the site: Favourite Producers.

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One step closer to oak chips

A French government report has proposed to allow oak chips in the wine making. As we have mentioned previously in the Brief there is a EU proposal on the way to being accepted that would allow for experimental purposes and this French proposal pushes it one step forward. The report also proposes a number of other measures, e.g. simpler and clearer rules for appellations and for labels to make it easier for consumers.
- The Press Democrat:
- Information from the French ministry:
- The whole report written by Bernard Pomel (pdf)


BKWine Pick: Vieux Château Gaubert, Graves

>> Friday, April 14, 2006

031011-1-k750-0016Dominique Havelan’s family has been wine growers in Graves for three generations and in 1988 Dominique bought the quite run down Vieux Château Gaubert that he has been renovating and replanting since. His wines, both white and red, received much praise almost from the beginning and today Vieux Chateau Gaubert is one of the safe bets to get a good Graves wine. The property covers a total of 16 hectares. Dominique has put most of his effort into the wines and has only recently started work on the château itself. It dates from the 18th century and does need some renovation.
Click here for address and more recommendations.


Wine Tours in English

Wine Tours

  • September 27 – October 1: The Northern Rhône Valley
If you love the Syrah grape, this is the trip for you! The northern part of the Rhône Valley is mostly about powerful red wines but we will also get to know the regions delicious, full bodied whites. More info here!
  • October 11 - 15: Bordeaux at harvest time
This trip to Bordeaux is just at the end of the harvest season (though you can never predict in advance exactly when harvest will be). 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. More info here!

For info, contact me or check the site:


Finnish Language Wine Tours - Viinimatkoja Ranskan viinialueille!

Finnish Language Wine Tours - Viinimatkoja Ranskan viinialueille!

Tours on the schedule (in Finnish):

  • 20.9 - 24.9 2006: Viinimatkan kohteena Bordeaux
Bordeaux on viininystävälle ehdoton matkakohde! Siellä ovat tunnetut isot viinitilat, klassiset viinit mutta myös paljon uutta perinteisen rinnalla. Kolmena päivänä vierailemme sekä kuuluisilla arvotiloilla että pienemmillä erittäin laadukkailla tiloilla jotta pääsemme tutuiksi myös itse viininviljelijän kanssa. Paina tästä!
  • 4.10 - 8.10 2006: Viiniä ja tryffeleitä Bourgognessa !
Nyt sinulla on mahdollisuus oppia tuntemaan Bourgognen maailmankuulut kylät, viinitilat ja tuottajat. Sekä heidän ainutlaatuinen erikoisuutensa : Bourgogne- tryffeli ! Paina tästä!

For info, contact me or check the site:


Just back from Burgundy and Champagne

>> Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I’ve just been on quite an exhausting 3-day trip to Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy, visiting winemakers and seeing how far the vines have progressed in the vineyards. (Not very far at all actually. There are even some growers who have not yet finished their winter pruning!) It’s an interesting round trip to three very different wine district and three very different towns. Reims is quite big, famous for its cathedral, but it is not obvious to find good restaurants, except if you are prepared to pay a substantial amount of money. (That actually goes for the whole of Champagne.) Chablis – the world famous wine district – is also the name of a small town. Very small actually. But they have a decent selection of good restaurants thanks to a few recently opened eating places. But for hotels… Not easy to get some decent rooms for a small group of wine lovers. Beaune, the last stop on the trip, has a tremendous selection of both hotels and restaurants, from the super-luxury ones to very good value places. You could spend a week there and discover a new “resto” every night.

Do take a look at my wine tour program for the autumn season – That is an excellent way to discover some good restaurants and to visit some of the most interesting wine producers in a region. This season I have the Rhône Valley and Bordeaux on the menu, but I also do custom tours if you would like something special.


Do you like our Blog (or not)

>> Sunday, April 02, 2006

We just joined Blogtopsite. Mostly for fun, not sure what good it can do...?

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If you like our blog you can rank us on Blogtopsites. (Well, you can of course also rank us if you don't like it!)

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Thomas Jefferson

Link tip:

About Thomas Jefferson, president, ambassador and wine enthusiast: In Forbes



>> Saturday, April 01, 2006

Book Review:
Helen Gillespie-Peck, Melrose Books
Wine educator, wine writer and wine maker Helen Gillespie-Peck arrived in France 30 years ago. The book is not so much an autobiography – even if she explains all about the challenges of moving to France, understanding how things work, learning French, dealing with neighbours etc – but more an introduction to the world of wine. She walks the reader through how to grow wine, how to taste wines, understanding different wine regions in France and in other countries etc. All is underpinned by her own personal experiences. Can be read as a “text book” or just as entertainment.

Click here for more book reviews on my site. You will also find links to on-line book shops on that page.

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