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Book Review: Les Grands Crus du Languedoc et Roussillon

>> Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Les Grands Crus du Languedoc et Roussillon
By Michel Smith
Editions Renault

A dense tome with profiles of many growers in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Michel Smith has selected his choice of best growers, the future Grands Crus. The book is 100% focused on the producers, not even a brief introduction to the region or the appellations is included. Every property is presented on one or two pages, in quite a bit of detail. Lots of text in rather small type, interspersed with some (but not much) photos. You can always have opinions on a selection of growers. For instance, why are none of the excellent producers in La Clape included? But overall we think this is a good and representative selection from the region. A book for the French reading Languedoc enthusiast looking for a reference work on growers.

Buy the book: | |

Read more best wine book reviews here.


The world’s best Barbera

>> Monday, January 29, 2007 grape variety has it’s competition it seems and so does Barbera. In 2006 the competition counted 305 entrants, 35 of which cam from outside of Italy. The winner was Paion 2005, Barbera d’Asti Superiore from Tenuta La Fiammenga, Cioccaro di Penango. the best “foreign” wine was Rezerve 2004 from Shenandoah Vineyards, Plymouth, California (USA). No doubt the organisers would appreciate more entrants from other countries, so, Barbera producers around the world, if you hear us out there, submit your wines next year! (Contact: asperia (at) al.camcom (dot) it or barbera (at) vinidea (dot) it). A bit over half of Italy’s Barbera is produced in Piedmont. There i s a total of 30,000 ha in Italy. Other producers of Barbera are e.g. Argentina, California and Australia. Read more about Barbera here.


Wine Fair in Finland

Finland’s biggest wine event is the annual wine fair ViiniExpo. It is open both to professionals and to the general public. This year’s event takes place on March 15-17.


Petition for truth in wine labelling...

>> Friday, January 26, 2007

a0615-213-1363“Protect Place” is an initiative created by seven wine regions to promote truthful (geographical) information on wine labels. The regions behind the initiative are Champagne, Jerez (Sherry), Napa Valley, Porto (port wine), Oregon, Walla Walla, and Washington State. They have launched a site where you can support them by electronically sign their petition. An excellent initiative, we think. But could have been even better if it had been more concrete and straight forward. For example, the petition is very fluffy in what it promotes. Why not state clearly that it promotes a “100% rule”: if a region is mentioned on the label 100% of the contents should come from there? Why not include vintages and other things? Why not demand that if a vintage is on the label 100% of the wine should be from that year? And if provenance is so important, whey did Champagne (in France) force Champagne (is Switzerland) to stop using their place name on the label? (Here is Champagne in Switzerland). In other words, perhaps a bit limited and self interested. Press release. The promotional site


This year’s big Rhône event, ”Les Découvertes”, on March 13-19

>> Thursday, January 25, 2007

050414-192-9208« Les Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône » is a movable feast where you have the opportunity to taste and get to know all of the appellations in the Rhône Valley. Tastings are organised in all the appellations where the producers present their wines. unique opportunity to get to know Rhône valley wines. Only for professionals. 13-19 March 2006.


Fitou leaves Languedoc cooperation?

>> Wednesday, January 24, 2007 (Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins Du Languedoc) is a sort of producers cooperation and promotion organisation for the appellations in Languedoc. Fitou is one of the larger appellations in Languedoc but is apparently not happy with the way the CIVL works. Fitou has announced that they withdraw from the CIVL as of 30 November 2006. It is, of course, a question of money – Fitou pays 4 euro per hectolitre to the CIVL (1 euro more than most) and they think that the money could be better spent by themselves. However, the CIVL considers Fitou still to be part of its organisation. Philippe Coste, president of CIVL, says, according to Vitisphere: “We have statutes. You cannot enter and leave the organisation as you wish.”


Wine for presidents?

>> Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In April the French people will elect a new president. The two front runners for the race are Nicolas Sarkozy (conservative) and Segolène Royale (socialist). This has led to an unexpected hausse for the sales of a wine produced by the Saint Emilion cooperative (L’Union de Producteurs de Saint Emilion). The brand was created already in 1933 but has become particularly popular with the socialist supporters (one assumes): it is called Royale Saint Emilion and is available in a gift box. May we add that the wine is red.


Chinese police stops winemaker's mass nude run through capital

>> Monday, January 22, 2007 Ruyi Tobacco and Alcohol Company had recruited 284 people who, against a payment of 10,000 Yuan (ca 980 euro) at Christmas would run naked through the streets of Zhenzhou, the capital of the Henan province. The purpose of the naked run was, according to the organisers, to protest against the excessive packaging used by some producers (by featuring totally “unpackaged” runners?). Unfortunately, they did not get a permit from the police for the event because “public commercial events must meet moral standards. Such mass streakings do not” – according to The Sydney Morning Herald.


Château Romanin (Provence) sold to Charmolue

am14-308-0875 Château Romanin is one of the better known properties in Provence, in the appellation Les Baux de Provence. The vineyards cover 58 ha (of a total of 230 ha). Romanin is also known for following the biodynamic principles (e.g. taking into account the position of the stars) and for its cathedral-like wine cellar. The domaine was sold by the Peyrauc family to Jean Louis and Anne Marie Charmolue, former proprietors of Chateau Montrose in Bordeaux.


Corsican wine show

>> Wednesday, January 17, 2007 international wine trade will have a great opportunity to taste and select the best Corsican wines on April 26-27. The “First Corsican International Wine Convention” will welcome buyers from all over the world. Organised by Adhes and Vins de Corse


More wine auction news

Top lists seem to be popular this season. Here’s one from Sotheby’s wine auctions. Top auction prices:

- 6 bt DRC Romanée Conti 1985: $119,500
- Double magnums Ch Lafite 1865: $111,625
- 12 bt DRC Romanée Conti 1989: $111,625
- 2 magnums Ch Cheval-Blanc 1947: $105,750

Sotheby’s also announced record sales for the year : $37,380,538 (+28%) and claims also the prize for best sales rate: 97.5% (only 2.5% of the lots remained unsold).


Bleu Wine Expo – wine fair for Provence wines in Marseille 29-30 January

Organised by Les Vignerons Independents, Blue Wine Expo will present more than 100 wine producers from Provence on January 29-30.


Jacques and François Lurton separates

>> Tuesday, January 16, 2007 and François Lurton, sons of the legendary André Lurton (owner of e.g. Chateau La Louvière) have under many years built up a substantial and well respected wine production activity around the globe under the (not so very well known) name JFL SA. They have often been referred to as “flying winemakers” and have made wines in France (Bordeaux, Languedoc,…), Spain, Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Uruguay,… Modern wines designed for an international market. Now the brothers have decided to part company and JFL will be managed and owned by François only. Jacques will still consult on winemaking but will spend more time on his fathers’ (who’s now over 80) properties in Bordeaux.


Not only oak barrels

Oak is certainly by very far the most popular wood to use for barrels, but it is not the only. EU has recently approved the mention on wine labels that the wine has been fermented or aged in wood other than oak. It is also permitted, though not required, to mention on the label the type of wood. In other words, you may in the future see on the label e.g. “aged in barrel” or even “fermented in chestnut wood” (or corresponding national wording).


One wine and two spirits brands on the top 100 brands list

>> Monday, January 15, 2007 year Business Week makes a survey of the world’s 100 most powerful brands. This year there is one wine and two spirits brands that just squeeze in on the list. Guess which! Here’s the answer. Top on the list (shame) a soft drinks manufactures, followed by a an IT time wasting tool and a machine that is these days a service… Read more here:


£775,000 for some bottles of sweet white wine A unique collection of Chateau d’Yquem (Sauternes, Bordeaux), spanning 150 years, was recently sold at auction by the Antique Wine Company in London. The buyer has wished to remain secret. Almost every vintage back to 1860 were included in the collection. As a bonus, the buyer received two custom made wine cabinets worth £50,000.


Lynch-Bages owner buys Sénéchaux in Châteauneuf

050302-175-7502Jean-Michel Cazes, owner of the famous Château Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux, has acquired Domaine des Sénéchaux in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Sénéchaux. Sénéchaux has previously been one rather inconspicuous Châteauneuf property, but that will no doubt now change, judging from the “Cazes effect” in his previous projects. and


Chehalem Mountains becomes 15th Oregon AVA

>> Saturday, January 13, 2007 American Viticultural Areas (AVA) is the US equivalent to the French system of Appellation Contrôlée (although very different). Chehalem Mountains, close to Portland in Oregon, has been approved as the fifteenth AVA in the state. Chehalem covers 1600 acres (approx 800 hectares) and has 31 wineries. They grow mainly Pinot Noir and also some Pinot Blanc and Riesling. Yahoo Finance


About Oak – new guest writer article People generally think of oak barrels as either French or American. And true, that are the most frequently used wood types. But there is a tendency to more and more use locally sourced oak, for example in Germany (as well as many people in other countries experimenting with alternatives to the traditional sources). David Furer, BKWine Guest Writer, explains more in a new article in the Guest Writer section on the site.


Vote for the BKWine Brief Blog

>> Friday, January 12, 2007 The site LocalwineEvents have launched a top list of the most popular wine blogs. BKWine Brief Blog is “only” in 53rd place at the moment. We just need a few more votes go move up to the first page (top 50) and only 1018 votes to move to first place… Click on the button and cast your vote for us!

You can vote once every 24 hours!


Unesco creates a chair in wine and culture

Unesco has approved the proposal from the University of Burgundy to create a chair for wine and culture. The first professor holding the chair will be Jocelyne Pérard, previously president of the university. and


BKWine Restaurant Pick: La Bastide d’Opio, Paris 6

>> Wednesday, January 10, 2007 A small Provence restaurant in Paris with a definite southern feeling. Very good cooking that is nicely presented on the plates. The grille tuna was excellent and very succulent and the crumble d’agneau (!) very tasty with just the right cover of crumbles. At lunch time you can get two courses for 14.10 euro. The wine list, though, is short and would definitely improve if a little more focus and effort was made with wines from Provence.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Restaurant Pick: Baxo, Paris 10 nice little restaurant only just opened in December, not far from the Canal Saint Martin. Very good value lunch menu, 2 courses for 12 euro or three for 14.50 euro. In the evening they have à la carte with starters for 8-12 euro and main courses for 12-18 euro. You can get French classics like hamburger (perhaps not so French but still classic), tartare, or côte de Boeuf, and also some more “fusion” inspired cooking: tuna with wasabi, or wok de calamars. They will develop the wine list towards a selection of smaller, ambitious growers (but it will take some time for them to build up the list they think). Modern interior decoration with fat cushions and trendy lighting. The bar (called “bar lounge”…) is almost as big as the restaurant, which on the other hand is not very big (only some 25 places). Very customer friendly opening hours: from 9 in the morning to 2 at night. Closed Sundays.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


Tell us where you are!

>> Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Check out our Frappr!Put yourself on the BKWine Frapper Map. Show us where you are! Click the button to access the BKWine Frapper map and see where other BKWine Brief readers are located and put a pin for yourself (and post a picture if you want).


BKWine Pick: Domaine Piccinini, Minervois-La Livinière, Languedoc

Domaine Piccinini, Minervois-La Livinière, Languedoc
bb21-345-4535Jean-Christophe’s father, Maurice Piccinini, was for many years in charge of the village co-operative in La Livinière and turned it into one of the best in Minervois. He was also a driving force behind Minervois being elevated to AOC status and subsequently La Livinière. The son, J-C, trained as oenologist and wanted from the start to make and bottle his own wines. His wines are today among the “safe bets” for excellent wines from Minervois. Try and find, for example, his Clos Angély, that he makes in both red and white version (or any other of his cuvées for that matter).

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Château Belair, Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé

Château Belair, Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
050527-203-0376One of the best chateaux in Saint Emilion, now one of the 13 Premier Grand Crus Classés (B). Belair is owned by Pascal Delbec, quite a personality who previously was in charge of Chateau Ausone, a neighbour (classified “(A)”). The vineyard covers 13 hectares, soil is primarily lime stone although it is very varying, giving added complexity.

Click here for address and more recommendations.



BKWine Brief #42 out

>> Monday, January 08, 2007

BKWine Brief #42 is now out. You can find it here. This is how it starts:

Decanting the wine... Sounds perhaps old-fashioned or snobbish? But that is a big mistake. The traditional motivation to decant a wine (i.e. pour the wine from the bottle into a decanter) is to remove the sediment that has formed at the bottom of the bottle in a wine that has been aged for a long time. But to be honest, for most of us, rare is the occasion when that is necessary. Unfortunately. But an almost more important, and useful, reason to decant the wine is to let it “breathe”. (Can you hear it wheezing in the bottle?) Letting the wine breathe, or aerate, is a way to make the aromas and the taste develop one additional notch before drinking it. At home we decanter almost all the red wines we drink, and some of the whites, to give it that extra boost in flavour. Or to look at it from the other side, to allow it to develop its full potential before it is poured into the glass. If you don’t have a carafe at hand you can use any other container, and then pour the wine back into the bottle. Many of the winemakers we visit say in the tasting room “it’s a pity I didn’t open the bottle a couple of hours ago. You’d notice the difference!” They often recommend decanting the wine several hours before serving it. And sometimes even the day before. So you hardly need to worry about decanting the wine too early – the longer the better, almost. Wine is not so fragile and volatile as sometimes believed. Unless you are opening that delicate old Burgundy from the 70s that you have been saving. Then you should do it just before serving. So, polish up your old decanter and use it more often. (Then again, I remember reading an article in some wine magazine some time ago where they did a test with freshly opened bottles, recently decanted, and some that were decanted a long time before the tasting. The result was that in most cases – the opinions were divided. But until I do the blind test myself and are proven wrong, I am convinced that decanting is good. And it looks nice…)

Vote for our blog

The site LocalWineEvents have launched a top list for wine blogs. Everyone can vote for his favourite. The BKWine Brief is at this moment in 53rd place. We need just a few more votes to get onto the first page of the list (top 50). And we “only” need another 1018 votes to get to the top spot. Help us move up the ranking by voting on us! See the info further down in the Brief on how to vote.

Travel with BKWine

Isn’t it time to plan the next wine tour? Take a look at our tour program. This spring we have a tour to Bordeaux and we are currently working on the autumn program. See more info here.

The Recruitment Campaign

In August I launched the recruitment campaign – “get more readers to the BKWine Brief”. At the time I had some 3000 subscribers to the Brief and set the target to 4000 by the end of the year. I can happily say that, thanks to your help and all the people who have been interested, I have well exceeded that target. We now have 4517 subscribers. (Plus another 10,000 for the Swedish language version.) Thanks to all who helped, all who recommended the Brief to your friends, all the wine clubs who, told their members about it,…! That being said, please continue help to get more subscribers.

Recommend the Brief to your friends!



One wine and two spirits brands on the top 100 brands list

>> Sunday, January 07, 2007

Each year Business Week makes a survey of the world’s 100 most powerful brands. This year there is one wine and two spirits brands that just squeeze in on the list. Guess which! Here’s the answer:

  • 83: Hennesy

  • 87: Moet & Chandon

  • 93: Smirnoff
Top on the list (shame) a soft drinks manufactures, followed by a an IT time wasting tool and a machine that is these days a service… Read more here:


Vote for this blog!

>> Friday, January 05, 2007 for us on the Top 100 Wine Blogs list on! It would be fun to move up a bit in the ranking on the Top 100 list at LWE so please put your vote for us. Just click the Vote Button here. It will take you to a voting page on LWE where you can also see the full list of wine and food blogs.


Link Tips

>> Wednesday, January 03, 2007

  •“French have a shot at vodka” – In the last Brief we mentioned Blanche d’Armagnac, the new “white” spirit from the Armagnac district. CNN found a perhaps more catchy headline than we did. Read their article here:
  • "Mine is bigger than yours" (wine cellar, that is) a common American syndrome (and elsewhere!), except that it is perhaps more a question of having sophisticated design rather than appropriate wine storage facilities. Read the commentary on Vinfolio, The Wine Collector
  • I might also add that Steve Bachman’s blog is unusually interesting for a wine blog. It’s not the usual “last night I drank this” stuff but quite a lot of interesting posts from someone who should certainly know about wine and the wine trade – being a wine merchant: The Wine Collector Blog
  • An interview with Jancis Robinson in Wines & Vines


Book Review: The Wine Atlas of Canada

The Wine Atlas of Canada
By Tony Aspler, photographs by Steven Elphick
Random House Canada

This is the first book we have read on Canada. And if you want an introduction to wine in Canada, this is an excellent choice. After a short introduction and history (and some very recent history!) the author takes you through each of the wine regions in Canada. In each region the main producers (or perhaps all?) are profiled, including tasting notes and practical information to help you plan a visit. The author is one of Canada’s best known wine writers. Excellent photography by Steven Elphick. If we could have one wish it would be for better maps… Indispensable if you are going to Canada.

Buy the book: |

Click here for more book reviews on my site.


Book review: The Healing Power of Champagne – History, Traditions, Biology and Diet

>> Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Healing Power of Champagne – History, Traditions, Biology and Diet
By Dr Tran Ky & Dr F Drouard
Savoir-Boire Ltd

If you ever needed an excuse to drink a glass of champagne you should read this book. It walks you through all good things champagne can do for you in case you suffer from appetite loss, obesity, migraine, depression, gynaecological troubles (yes), food allergies and much more. It even has a “technical appendix” on various good or bad substances. Champagne history, as the title hints, is featured throughout the book. It is a translation from a French original which certainly has contributed to the style of the writing.

Buy the book: | | AdLibris | Bokus

Click here for more book reviews on my site.


Book review: The Wines of France – The essential guide for the savvy shoppers

The Wines of France – The essential guide for the savvy shoppers
By Jacqueline Friedrich
Ten Speed Press

This pocket sized book will come in very handy for those who want advice on what to buy. The whole book is a listing, region by region, of what the author thinks are the best and most interesting producers across France (including descriptive comments on the growers and their wines). Friedrich has spent years criss-crossing France to select the wine makers to be included. Any list of recommendations is of course up for debate, by definition since it is a personal choice. But looking at the recommendations for some of the districts we know particularly well we certainly wouldn’t argue with much of it, and even could find some new names that sound exciting. Good buy if you want a pocket size buying guide.

Buy the book: | | AdLibris | Bokus


Book Review: About Wine

>> Monday, January 01, 2007

About Wine
By J. Patrick Henderson & Dellie Rex
Thomson Delmar Learning

We were particularly interested to receive this book for review since it is a course book for professional/students and many of our readers work in the wine or restaurant trade (or hope to be). As soon as you see it it certainly gives you the impression of being a serious text book: over 500 pages in large format, and not much “gloss”. The book is written by Americans for Americans but that doesn’t in anyway diminish its value as a general “wine course” study book (actually, it hardly shows at all). The coverage is very balanced, covering all the important wine regions across the world. It starts with a good overview of the basics: the vineyard, the winery and wine making technology and about tasting wine. The following chapters go through the wine regions of the world. But what makes this wine particularly valuable for the professional are the last chapters on “the business of wine”: how better to sell wine in a restaurant, how to manage and develop a restaurant wine list, and even on how to train the colleagues. Certainly a book to recommend as a study book for professionals in restaurants and the wine trade, but also a very good book for the “amateur” who wants a bit more technology and structure than what you get in the glossy books.

Buy the book: || AdLibris | Bokus

Click here for more book reviews on my site.


A (relatively) new press and media relations service

DrinksMediaWire (DMW) is a relatively new service for companies in the drinks industry. It is a specialised press release distribution and communications service. They have many thousands of journalists and media contacts in their database. Can be interesting if you are looking for a way to get your message out:

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