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The German wine law updated

>> Thursday, November 30, 2006

One of the changes is that VDP Erste Erlage will be an umbrella description for the best German vineyards (”lage”). You can find details of the changes at Die Prädikatsweingüter


The first wine harvest at Versailles

030812-k687-0024A long time ago there were plenty of vineyards around Paris. Now there are only a few (mostly symbolic) left. But some have actually been replanted more recently. So, for example in Versailles, a few tens of kilometers outside of Paris. Three years ago they planted 1850 vines and this year they gave their first harvest. It will become 200 bottles of rosé wine and it will be called Cuvée Marie-Antoinette. (Photo: One of Paris' vineyards - not the one in Versailles though - with a view over the Eiffel Tower)


Champagne increases ”rendement butoir” to 15,000 kg/ha

>> Wednesday, November 29, 2006

030902-1-k835-0014This month’s least engaging headline? But this refers to a theme that is also often talked about in very generalised, and sometimes mistaken, terms. “Lower yields are of course much better”. Right? Not necessarily. In Bordeaux yields are often around 45-50 hl/ha. Sometimes the grower say ”we have very low yields, not more than 30 hl/ha” and you are expected to nod admiringly. But lower is not always better, especially for white wines (or think about hyper-concentrated, jammy “new world heavyweights” with 15+% of alcohol). To come back to the headline: it means that in Champagne they now allow a yield close to 100 hl/ha, certain years and under certain conditions. (To be precise: “rendement de base” is 10,400 kg/ha and “rendement butoir” has been increased from 13,000 kg/ha to 15,500 kg/ha. A press is filled with 4000 kg of grapes and from that you get 2550 litres of grape must. Do the maths.) Perhaps something to think about.


Mechanical harvest better than manual?

img003.jpgMany have opinions on this matter. Often, people believe that manual harvest, with “real” vendangeurs is better, not necessarily without knowing why. We would rather say, like in most things in wine, that it depends. Manual harvest has the benefit that the harvesters can do a selection already in the vineyard but that requires skilled and trained workers, which is not always the case. And mechanical harvest automatically makes a selection: unripe grapes, or overripe grapes are loft on the vine by the harvester, provided it is correctly tuned. But this is just one aspect. Here is someone who argues that mechanical harvest is unquestionably better: WineBusiness. com


Uruguay wines continue to progress

ah20-236-3687Uruguay is radically different (and perhaps less known) than Argentina and Chile, in terms of wine growing. If you find vast vineyards over immense prairies and multi-million dollar investments in wineries in the two bigger countries, in Uruguay wine production is much more “European” in that most producers are relatively small family enterprises. Many have over the last few years had quite some success on export markets: Bodega Pizzorno, Juanico, Pisano, Bouza, Castillo Viejo, De Lucca, Filgueira, Stagnari, Plaza Vidiella etc. Read an interesting article on Uruguay on and take a look in our Uruguay picture galleries.


A wine university in the Rhône Valley

>> Tuesday, November 28, 2006

L’Université du Vin – it could not be more straight forward. The University of Wine in Suze La Rousse is housed in a magnificent old medieval chateau. They have several different university programs focusing on e.g. wine tasting (sensory evaluation), marketing and sales, wine law, viticulture and oenology etc. But they also organise wine courses for non-professionals: shorter wine tasting courses over e.g. a week-end or just a day. More info (Photo:Suze-la-Rousse)


Blanche d’Armagnac

Perhaps it is clever marketing. We have heard about Blanche d’Armagnac since quite a while back and have written about it previously here. But you can still not buy it. This new, “white” (clear and unoaked) spirit from Armagnac will only be available in 2007. It will be interesting to taste it one day. In the mean time, read this Q&A interview with one of the producers’ representative and you will find out the details of what it is. Read the full article on our site.


American wine overtakes French wine in the UK

>> Monday, November 27, 2006

040225-2-k472-0010According to the latest sales figures wine from the US have for the first time sold in bigger volume than wine from France and now holds second position in the UK. Consumers increased the consumption of US wines with 6.1% over the summer. The increase was largely driven by good sales of rosé wines, in particular Gallo apparently. However, the biggest exporter to the UK is actually Australia. (Photo: of the US Embassy in Paris)


More trouble for V&S Vin & Sprit: fined for illegal advertising in Sweden

Even more advertising trouble hit the state owned vodka producer V&S Vin & Sprit in Sweden when they were fined 500,000 SEK for having used inappropriate imagery in ad campaigns in Sweden: two arms making a toast, and a pizza box, according to the newsletter World of Wine News. It is not only in England that the ad supervisors are diligent.


Absolut Prostitution? – Vin & Sprit pulls ad campaign in Germany

>> Saturday, November 25, 2006

The state owned Swedish spirits giant V&S Vin & Sprit, with its immensely successful Absolut brand, recently launched an ad campaign in Germany that showed a sultry red lipstick impression with a silhouette of a bottle of Absolut between the lips. The headline said “Absolut Herbertstrasse”. Herbertstrasse is a street in Hamburg that, similar to Reeperbahn (which is a parallel street) is known for its prostitution. Various press sources have reported that the head office in Sweden decided to pull the campaign when commentators in Sweden saw it as an indirect support for prostitution. Particularly embarrassing since Sweden was very vocal in protesting against prostitution in Germany during the football world cup. Commentators from Vin & Sprit say that they have cancelled the campaign but that the German organisation cannot understand what the fuzz is about. Read "Absolute Hypocrisy" on The Local.


Unoaked Chardonnay more and more popular

040923-141-4126It’s not exactly big news for those of you who read about wine elsewhere: Heavyweight barrel aged Chardonnay is loosing ground. Consumers are moving towards lighter wines with more pronounced fruit, rather than oakiness and butteryness. A recent study made by Wine Opinions have reached the same conclusion: heavily oaked Chardonnay may have its future behind it.


Big harvest in Europe

7img002The total volume in Europe, though, seems to be relatively big. The total for the four countries German, Italy, France and Spain is expected to reach 154 million hectolitres compared to 145 Mhl last year (and 164 Mhl in 2004, and 149 Mhl in 2003). The French harvest is estimated to reach 53 Mhl (compared to 50 Mhl last year) and in Spain 43 Mhl (35 Mhl). Italy and Germany are more or less flat compared to last year though (49.5Mhl vs. 50.5 Mhl, and 9 Mhl vs. 9.1 Mhl).


Small German harvest

>> Friday, November 24, 2006

The rain arrived just at harvest time in Germany. Many producers had to do very strict sorting of the grapes at harvest, which will lead to a harvest volume that is a bit smaller than normal. The quality is expected to be quite good though (provided proper “tri” has been done). Before the rain grapes had already achieved very good levels of maturation so a larger than normal percentage will be Prädikatswein.


Vin & Sprit announces sales and profits up

V&S Vin & Sprit, the Swedish state-owned that is one of the world’s largest vodka producers (with the Absolut brand), announced sales up with 13% to 7.6 billion SEK for the nine months to September. Operating profits were up 18% to reach 1.6 bn SEK. The improved numbers are chiefly attributed to good sales of Absolut vodka in the USA, Europe and in Asia. Perhaps the Swedish state is happy with the increased alcohol consumption in this case, in spite of its campaign for reduced consumption in Sweden through its monopoly retail stores Systembolaget.


No more Tokay d’Alsace or Tocai Friuliani

>> Thursday, November 23, 2006

img012Next year the agreement between Hungary and the EU will come into effect that will reserve the name “Tokay” (in its various spellings) to wine coming from the region of Tokay in Hungary. The use of Tokay d’Alsace or Tokay Pinot Gris in Alsace will no longer be allowed, nor in any other regions in Europe. They will simply have to call the wine Pinot Gris (which is often already the case).


Introduction to Wine Tasting – new guest writer article

A new guest writer article has been posted in the Guest Writer section on our site: “How to Appreciate a Bottle of French Wine” by Phil Leventhal. Read the full article on the Guest Writer page.


Salon des Vins de Loire, 5-7 February

>> Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Next year’s edition of the Loire Valley wine fair – Salon des Vin de Loire – will take place on February 5 to 7. It is a big trade fair where most of the Loire Valley’s producers that count can be met. A Mecca for the Chenin Blanc lover for example. This year they will even have a wine blog competition! Submit your blog and you might win!


Truffles, olive oil and wine in the Rhone Valley, 14-18 February

The black Perigord truffle is one of the most highly acclaimed (or at least most expensive) food ingredients. The price varies between €1500 and €4000 per kilo… To find truffles you need a truffle dog (sometimes, but rarely a pig) and access to a truffle forest during the short season between the end of November to the end of February. BKWine organises a “truffles hunting trip” in the southern Rhône valley in February 2007. We will spend half a day with a truffle hunter and his dog. After “the hunt” we will enjoy a truffles lunch with the mushroom part of every dish from start to finish. The whole trip is three days long and we will also visit an olive oil producer and several interesting wine domaines. More info on the site



Some restaurant recommendations in Languedoc and Sweden

>> Tuesday, November 21, 2006


040303-1-k468-0013Aux Plaisir des Halles

Very ambitious kitchen, perhaps the best in Nîmes. A small dining room decorated in quite modern style, avoiding the over-heavy classic French attributes that you sometimes see, in particular in smaller cities. If you’re lucky you can have a chat with the chef after dinner.
Click here for address and more recommendations.


040305-1-k467-0006Auberge La Rose Blanche, Lou Caléou

Located between Montpellier and Nimes , its an old basement – « cave » perhaps – transformed into a modern restaurant. Wonderful contrasts and trendy details. Very good food and a good selection of local wines.
Click here for address and more recommendations.


050408-187-8741Bistro Jarl Champagne Bar

Centrally located near Stureplan and the Dramaten Theatre it is a popular meeting place. Has recently expanded and there is now more room. The city’s only (?) real champagne bar.
Click here for address and more recommendations.


This name rings of history in Stockholm, since it was the name of an old dance palace. Now it is a restaurant worth discovering. Outstanding French fries to the minute steak for example. Mid-range prices and quite good wine list.
Click here for address and more recommendations.

050408-187-8727Prinsen (The Prince)

Another classic Stockholm restaurant that is still going strong. They do a lot of traditional Swedish food – “husmanskost” – so it is an interesting venue for the visitor who wants to taste some well made Swedish cuisine classics although the dishes have been give a little bit of a modern make-over. Not cheap, but good. Good selection of wine, elegant dining room and friendly waiters.
Click here for address and more recommendations.


Domain Gilles Robin, Crozes-Hermitage

>> Monday, November 20, 2006

Gilles Robin made his first vintage of Crozes-Hermitage in 1996. At that time he had to help him his grand father, and when Gilles later created a cuvée prestige he named it after his grandfather: Cuvée Alberic Bouvet. Gilles now has 15 ha in Crozes and a small parcel in Saint Joseph. All Gilles’s wines have a very good expression of the grape variety – Syrah. But he is keen that also the terroirs should be evident in his wines. The best way to do that, he says, is to grow your vines organically, so, no chemical pesticides, and only natural fertilizers. Harvesting is manual. His red Crozes-Hermitage, Le Papillon, comes from a five hectare plot with young vines that he has planted himself. It is peppery and fruity (blackberries, black currants). The 2003 costs 9 euro at the vineyard (if there is still some left). Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée Albéric Bouvet is made from old vines, planted by Gilles’s father 45 years ago. The wine has spent 16 months in oak. The bouquet is full of spices – cinnamon, cloves, pepper, liquorice, and the taste is long with a very expressive Syrah character (14 euro). Gilles also makes a very nice white Crozes from Marsanne and Roussanne grapes.

Click here for address and more recommendations.



BKWine announces collaboration with Alamy

>> Saturday, November 18, 2006

From our press release on our stock photo activity:

A new source for wine, food and travel stock photography is now available with the launch of the collaboration between BKWine and Alamy. The collaboration marks a mile stone in the wine and travel picture business for BKWine. BKWine will make available its extensive library of pictures through the online photo agency Alamy.
More info here:
Press release archive

Details and samples from our collection with Alamy:


Champagne Duval-Leroy

The very dynamic Carol Duval-Leroy from Belgium found herself at the head of this family company in 1991 when her husband died. She has successfully marketed her champagne ever since, often targeting female consumers. As an example, she has created a cuvée prestige called “Femme” and launched a series of gift items on a champagne theme specially targeting women. But she has also modernised and improved the production. You find Duval-Leroy in Vertus, in the southern Côte des Blancs. They have extensive (for Champagne) land holdings, 170 ha, but this accounts for only a quarter of their production.

Click here for address and more recommendations.



New Wine Tours

>> Friday, November 17, 2006

Wine Tours

  • February 14-18 Truffles, Olive Oil and Wine in the Rhone Valley
Haven’t you always dreamed of going truffle hunting? Now you have the opportunity! Join us on this trip in February to the southern part of the Rhône Valley, in Provence. We will go truffle hunting, learn how to make olive oil and of course, taste a lot of good wines. More info

  • June 6-10: Bordeaux
040329-1-k2-0018For a wine lover a trip to Bordeaux is a must! Here you find world famous châteaux and world famous wines but also a lot of new exciting initiatives (less famous but maybe more important for the future of Bordeaux!) and young enthusiastic wine makers. More info

  • In the autumn there we are planning some really interesting trips... Perhaps Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Rhone, Italy,... More info coming soon. Or get in touch and tell us what you would like! One thing is already settled:
  • October 17-21 : Portugal – Alentejo More info soon.

Finnish Wine Tours - Viinimatkoja Ranskan viinialueille!

Tours on the schedule (in Finnish):
  • February 14-18: Truffles, Olive Oil and Wine in the Rhone Valley (in English)

  • 9.-13. toukokuuta: Bordeaux More info here!

  • 26.-30. syyskuuta: Viinimatka Alsaceen More info here!

  • 17-21 oktober: Portugal – Alentejo
For info, contact BKWine


A new BKWine Brief is out

Read it here:

Or subscribe here

Here's the introduction:

Quite a few restaurant and producer recommendations in this Brief. The two selected producers I have for you are very interesting: An unusual, and very dynamic champagne producer and one of the new generation of Rhône producers (but already famous enough to hardly have any wine left to sell!)

Guest Writers

I’d like to tell you about one of the pages of the site that I think deserves to be a bit better known: the Guest Writer page. You will find article on very varying subjects written by friends of BKWine: Armagnac, Coteaux Lyonnais, Wine Culture, Why You Get a headache from Red Wine and others. Many are in English and some are in other languages (that’s the challenge of trying to run a multicultural activity…).

Truffles, Wine and Olive Oil

I must also tell you about a really interesting tour that I have scheduled for early next year: the Truffles, Olive Oil and Wine Tour in the Southern Rhône Valley. I can promise you that it is a really unusual experience to go truffles hunting a cold February morning – and then warm up over lunch with a 100% truffles lunch. Read more about it below. But don’t delay booking if you are interested. Last booking date is soon.

And by the way, the rest of next year’s program is on its way. Some of the trips are already fixed. Take a look below.

For the next brief I plan to give you a few suggestions for Christmas gifts, so welcome back in a few weeks’ time.


PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them !

More here soon!


Tell us where you are!

>> Friday, November 10, 2006

That’s right. We want to know where you are. Just for fun, to know where our readers are located.

We have created a Frappr map (a free Google service) for the BKWine Brief. You can put a pin on the map to show us where you are, anonymous or not. Please do. Just for fun!


Some wine sites that you might enjoy visiting:

>> Thursday, November 02, 2006

Some wine sites that you might enjoy visiting:

  • Better wine with chemistry, according to Paul Evans in Business Week
  • Oenology, vinification, wine technology and lots of more useful information. You find it with illustrations and videos on the extensive (but difficult and confusing to navigate) site made by Michel Veron who is a professor of oenology in Champagne:


Australian wine exports down for the first time in 15 years

>> Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Australian wine exports fell with 0.6% in value for the year to 30 September. The total value reached $2.78 billion. It is the first time in 15 years that exports have shrunk. But if you measure in volume the export still grew by 7% to 738 million litres, so the export decrease is due to declining wine prices, i.e. the weak international wine market. Great Britain is Australia’s largest export market. Read more in The Australian

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