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Founder of Gallo dies

>> Friday, March 30, 2007 Gallo died on March 6 in California. Enest Gallo founded together with his brother Julio E&J Gallo winery in 1933. Today it is the world’s largest wine producer. (Constellation Brands actually produces more wine but it is a conglomerate of different brands created by acquisitions.)


Less fat mice...

>> Thursday, March 29, 2007 who have done trials on mice have discovered that consumption of red wine may make fat mice less fat. Perhaps it may work on humans too… Watch the video interview with the researchers on (click on “Watch: Red wine wonder drug”).


Irrigation officially allowed in France

>> Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ah28-253-5369A new decree on December 6, 2006 officially and more permanently allows irrigation in French vineyards. Irrigating the vineyards can be allowed until August 15. It will even be possible to irrigate appellation contrôlée wines but the regulations for AC vineyards is stricter.


French wine export up

>> Tuesday, March 27, 2007’s nice to report some positive numbers for a change. French wine export grew by 13% in 2006. Exports to the USA, the biggest export market, increased by 22% to a total of 2.4 billion euro. In second place, the UK, up 8.2% to 1.5 billion euro. and more detail


St Emilion chateaux question the new classification

>> Monday, March 26, 2007 on the heels of the Cru Bourgeois debacle three estates in Saint Emilion have put in question the new St Emilion classification. Chateaux Villemaurine, Cadet Bon and Guadet-Saint-Julien have joined to argue the case that their demotion in the St E classification was not correct. They question if the process was fair and just in defining the new classification. Will this be the next cancellation?


Go back to GO: the new Cru Bourgeois classification annulled

>> Sunday, March 25, 2007 court in Bordeaux has declared annulled and invalid the new Cru Bourgeois classification that was introduced in 2003. 77 chateaux that had been excluded in the new ranking had taken the issue to court. The classification has been nullified by the court because, it is said, the jury included owners of some chateaux being judged – a classic case of being both prosecutor and judge one might think. Cru Bourgeois will therefore revert to the classification dating from 1932. The new classification had reduced the number of classified chateaux from 444 to 247 so one can imagine that there were a few discontent owners. Will this then have wider consequences. Almost all ”juries” in the French wine world include what one could consider partial jurors – both for classifications (such as in this case) and for Appellation Contrôlée wines (all AC wines are subject to a tasting for approval, called “agrément”).,,


FBI hunts fake wines at auction

>> Saturday, March 24, 2007

FBI has contacted both wine collectors and leading auction houses in a hunt for fraudsters who are selling fakes of exclusive wine bottles. The auction houses are thought to be one of the outlets for the fake bottles. It is thought that the price increases on the most exclusive bottles have lead to that profit-hungry people with a flexible conscience have started introducing forgeries on the market.


New Michelin stars

>> Friday, March 23, 2007 year’s edition of the Michelin Guide, or Le Guide Rouge as it is also called, introduces several new stars. Five restaurants were promoted to the top three star category: Le Meurice (Paris), L’Astrance (Paris), Le Pré Catalan (Paris), Pic (Valence) and Lameloise (Chagny). Four lost their three stars: Le Burehiesel, George V (Paris), Taillevent (Paris) and Marc Veyrat (Mégève). Read more:, and


” Can burying cow horns filled with manure in your vineyard result in better wines?”

>> Thursday, March 22, 2007’s the starting point for an article on Bloomberg about biodynamic wines. Biodynamism has for quite some time been popular with a small group of dedicated winemakers – sometimes verging on philosophers – in France. Lately it has become increasingly popular with biodynamism or similar practices: “lutte raisonné”, organic etc. Disregarding the theories and philosophy behind it, on can only conclude that many of these producer make excellent wines but it is of course difficult to know whether it is due to the philosophies or if it is thanks to the attention of the winemaker. Now this trend is apparently spreading even to the US. Here are some examples of American “bio-producers”: Robert Sinskey, Grgich Hills, Dark Horse Ranch, Les Dijonnais, Cailloux Vineyards, Quintessa, Crane Vineyards. Read more on


Gérad Bertrand buys Domaine de l’Aigle in Languedoc

>> Tuesday, March 20, 2007 the other end, so to speak, Antonin Rodet sells the property Domaine de l’Aigle in Languedoc (Limoux) to Gérard Bertrand. Domaine de l’Aigle was created by Jean-Louis Denois who sold it to Rodet some years back. Dom. de l’Aigle is perhaps too far away from Burgundy for the Burgundians to quite grasp how to develop this not very well known property, but who makes very interesting wines from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Gérard Bertrand is one of the “new and big” players in Languedoc. He already owns several properties in the regions, e.g. the well known Domaine de l’Hospitalet.


Antonin Rodet buys Maison Dufouleur

>> Monday, March 19, 2007

040923-143-4327Antonin, a big négociant in Bourgogne, has bought Maison Dufouleur Père & Fils. Dufouleur is both a négociant and owns 10.5 hectares of vineyards. The company has belonged to the same family for more than 400 years. Rodet is owned by the French investment company Sequana Capital ( They are probably better known for owning the paper group


The big vodka battle?

>> Saturday, March 17, 2007

k763-0007What is vodka? What do you think? Vote in the poll below. There is a debate currently on which rules should regulate vodka production within the EU, in particular what vodka should be made from. Some say that vodka should only be produced from grain and potatoes (nor surprisingly, this view is held mainly by the “traditional” vodka producers in northern and eastern Europe who traditionally use those raw materials). Others say that vodka could be made from other things too – perhaps not too drastic a view taking in to consideration that it’s a spirit that tastes mainly of, well, alcohol (and hardly of potatoes or grain). For the moment EU regulators are leaning towards the more liberal definition. The Swedish state owned company V&S Vin & Sprit, producer of the best selling vodka Absolut, threw it’s weight into the debate with a press release referring to a poll made with the Swedish public: 62% of the respondents said that they thought that vodka was made from grain and potatoes. “This shows that the Swedish consumer has a clear understanding of what vodka is made from” said Peter Luksep, responsible for EU issues at the state owned distiller, who was also the one who had commissioned the poll… He contrasted that with that “only” 24% of the respondents identified g as the raw material for cognac and 34% correctly answered apples for calvados. Could that perhaps be because many more people drink vodka than calvados or cognac? On also wonders why the poll did not ask the question if people thought a law should be introduced that limited vodka to be produced from grain and potatoes… And one also wonders if V&S Vin & Sprit’s conclusion is that it should be allowed to make cognac from other things than grapes. It is fun with this sort of self serving polls, isn’t it?


BKWine Tip: Restaurant Macéo, Paris

>> Friday, March 16, 2007

Paris 1

Macéo is just next door to Willi’s Wine Bar and both are owned by the Englishman Mark Williamson. Just like at Willi’s the wine list at Macéo is outstanding, with an emphasis on the Rhône Valley. Elegant but relaxed atmosphere that is a mix of classic and modern. Very good food of course. Set menus from 34 euro.

Click here for address and more recommendations.

Read more recommendations on restaurants and winebars on my Restaurant and Wine Bar page.


BKWine Tip: Clos Centeilles, Languedoc

>> Thursday, March 15, 2007

Clos Centeilles

bb21-345-4562Daniel and Patricia Domergue consider Cinsault to be the best grape in the whole of Languedoc! And also the most typical. Grenache and Carignan are both newcomers, introduced after the phylloxera crisis, they say. They bought the run down Clos Centeilles in 1990 with 10 hectares of Cinsault, Carignan and Grenache. Already the very first vintage they were impressed by the quality they had from Carignan. Now they make tow Cinsault cuvées, Campagne de C and Capitelle de Centeilles, as well as one more “traditional” blend on Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache, the Clos Centeilles. Le Carignissime is an original cuvée from 100% Carignan.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Tip: Domaine Couly-Dutheil, Chinon

>> Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Domaine Couly-Dutheil

20030524_1_840_0051One of the better known wine producers in Chinon. Couly-Dutheil is a family property dating back to 1921. They own 90 hectares. their wines show that Cabernet Franc can, if well done, be a quite powerful wine that also ages well. They have a shop in the town of Chinon where you can taste and buy their wines and also admire their vineyard Le Clos de l’Echo. Click here for address and more recommendations.


Wine Tours

>> Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wine Tours

bullet 040329-1-k2-0018June 6-10: Bordeaux

For 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
bullet26-30 September: Côte d'Or, the heart of Burgundy

Over the course of a long weekend we will take a close look at the heart of Burgundy: la Côte d’Or de Bourgogne, the Golden Slope of Burgundy. Our visits will give you expert insight into the important aspects of Burgundy wines: soil, geology, viticulture, and vinification. More info!
bullet17-21 October: Portugal – Alentejo

Portugal have been making great strides in improving wine quality over the last decade and the Alentejo region is one of the most dynamic (albeit one of the least known). There are many ambitious wine makers in the region, both traditional Portuguese "houses" and modern ventures. And this is also where you find the vast Portuguese cork oak forests and the delicious Pata Negra ham. More info!

Finnish Wine Tours - Viinimatkoja Ranskan viinialueille!

Tours on the schedule (in Finnish):

bullet9.-13. toukokuuta: Bordeaux More info here!
bullet26.-30. syyskuuta: Viinimatka Alsaceen More info here!
bullet17-21 oktober: Portugal – Alentejo


BKWine Brief #44, March 2007

>> Sunday, March 11, 2007

It’s nice to find a wine article in the daily press that is a bit more thoughtful, and thought provoking, then the regular “drink this or drink that” stuff. I recently chanced upon one of those articles in one of Sweden’s biggest quality dailies (Svenska Dagbladet) written by a PhD in biochemistry. Even nicer was to meet the author, again by chance, at a wine tasting I led a few days later. The article was a mixture of an essay on terroir and a review of an interesting wine book, The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode. It seems that the author would really like to find the “true” definition of what terroir is, or means, but, alas, that does not exist. Sometimes terroir refers to something that can be described as the ensemble of the environment where the wine has been grown, the soil, the microclimate and perhaps the local vegetation. Sometimes, as the author points out, people also include other things, such as the grape variety (or varieties) and wine making traditions. Personally, I would rather use the first definition rather than the latter, but who am I to say that it is right.

It makes me think of a wine maker who once said that some visitors (and often Swedish actually) have very technical and very precise questions when they come and visit her vineyard. ”What is the grape variety blend in this wine?” – and an answer such as “Well, this year it was probably 25% X, 30% Y and 45% Z, if I remember right, but it varies much from year to year.” is not welcome. Or “How much new oak do you use?”, then they are not happy with “It depends. Sometimes we don’t use any new oak at all and sometimes perhaps up to 50%.” Rather than thinking about how they wine expresses itself in the glass they want to know all the technical details. (Another aspect is that this reality – things are not clear cut – makes life harder for wine writers…)

But to come back to terroir – certainly it matters, and certainly it “exists”, but what it is and how it influences the wine is more difficult to say, and more personal. An example is if you visit a winery in Burgundy and the winemaker lets you taste two different wines. Then he says “The grapes were grown some 50 metres apart. I have done identical harvesting, winemaking and aging” and you have still two very different wine in front of you (Come on one of our wine tours and you will see!). Another example was a wine we had last night. It was a “classic Bordeaux” blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but very distinctly not Bordeaux with a very good expression of Languedoc terroir (the wine, by the way, was from a very interesting young producer in the Languedoc called Domaine de Terres Georges).

Unfortunately – or perhaps, fortunately – wine is often not very scientific.

Another question that the author of the article talked about was “minerality” in the wine. Does it come from the vine sucking up trace elements of minerals through the roots so an a chalky soil you get chalky minerality because you have, well, chalk in the wine? To me, minerality is simply a way to describe a certain characteristic in the wine, a characteristic that is a bit difficult to explain. It often implies that the wine has a high level of acidity, a slightly ”hard edge” but well structured and clean taste. Difficult to explain but easy to show in a wine. And yes, certain soil types give more minerality to wines than others. But do I believe that it is because small chunks of mineral have found their way into the wine through the roots? No, not really. Not more than that I think that the blackcurrant flavour of a Cabernet Sauvignon wine has to do with black currants.

Special offer to readers of the BKWine Brief

We have the pleasure to be able to offer you, dear reader, an interesting offer from our new partner: Bettane & Dessauve. Bettane & Dessauve are two very experienced wine tasters and two big wine personalities in France. They were previously the two leading persons in the French Magazine La Revue des Vins de France but have recently started their own activity. They publish a newsletter with extensive tasting notes, called TAST (in French though!). To readers of the BKWine Brief they offer a discounted subscription price. Click here for more info.

Vote for the BKWine Brief continue voting for the Brief on the blog ranking on LocalWineEvents. We would be delighted to move up a few more notches. You are allowed one vote per DAY, so even if you have already voted you can vote again. (You have to click “vote for this blog” on the page you come to when clicking on the button right. )

Wine tours

As I said in the last Brief: We are putting a big effort this year into developing our English language wine tours and our tours with more educational focus. If you are interested in our tours, or if you have some ideas or suggestions on the tours, or if you might be interested in some kind of collaboration around wine and food tours - we want to hear from you! We are glad for any help from you to further develop our English language wine tours. Tell your friends!

Spring tour
- Bordeaux, June 6-10

Autumn tours:
- Burgundy, September 26-30
- Portugal, Alentejo, October 17-21

Enjoy this month’s Brief and don’t hesitate to send me comments!


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


Link Tips - Some wine sites that you might enjoy visiting

>> Friday, March 09, 2007

Some wine sites that you might enjoy visiting:

  • – try remembering that URL. but if you know that it’s East Village Wine Geek it might be easier. If you need some motivation why blogs are fun and wine blogs in particular you should read this EVWG post. A true enthusiast. And geek. East Village Wine Geek or this one (you have to read it the headline in pure English to get the point…)
  • Food Wine and the Arts – sounds interesting doesn’t it? Copia, The American Centre for Wine Food and the Arts
  • Winecast – a wine blog and podcast (or wine internet radio for non-nerds):


Book Review: Wine Travel Guide to the World

>> Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wine Travel Guide to the World
By Robert Joseph

A very ambitious book: a travel guide for he who wants to visit vineyards covering the whole world. And perhaps even over-ambitious. The book contains lots of excellent recommendations – of growers to visit, shops with a good selection, hotels and restaurants, sites etc. All with personal, well written recommendations by Robert Joseph, who no doubt is one of the most well travelled wine writers (and founder and previous editor of the English wine magazine Wine International). But it is perhaps trying to bite of a too big piece of the cake. If, for example, you want to visit the upper Loire Valley (Sancerre, Pouilly and other appellations) is it really enough with just one producer recommendation? We hope for a sequel (or several) that will cover in a bit more depth specific wine regions.

(Sometimes it is fortunate that you read the fine print in the contract and sometimes you’re glad that you actually did not skip the introduction to the book. We were very surprised (and flattered) when we read in “Acknowledgements” in Robert Joseph’s book this sentence: ”I also owe a particular debt to the online efforts of Jamie Goodie (, Jancis Robinson (, Bertrand Celce ( and Britt Karlsson (” Many thanks!)

Buy the book: |

Travel to the World with BKWine.

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


Some More Reading Perhaps? - Decanter Magazine

>> Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We’re starting an occasional series on wine magazines – recommended reading for those of you who want to know and read more. First out is…

Decanter Magazine
Decanter is no doubt competing with Wine Spectator for first place in being the internationally best known wine mag and we’re not going to make any judgement here on who we think is on top. Even though it is published in the UK it has a very wide international readership. Many famous wine writers have written in Decanter and several do it on a regular basis. It does obviously have a bit of an English slant on things which is a drawback when it comes to articles on what is on sale in British supermarkets but which is an advantage in that they are very un-focussed on numerical ratings. Certainly a good read for the wine lover.


Moueix buys share in Belair

>> Friday, March 02, 2007

050527-204-0405The Moueix family has acquired 31% of Château Belair. Moueix is best known for being the owner of Château Petrus. Chateau Belair is owned by Pascal Delbeck, a very ambitious winemaker who at a very tender age became “famous” for being appointed responsible for Chateau Ausone, one of the two top properties in the whole of Saint Emilion. Delbeck sells a minority share in Belair in order not to loose it entirely due to French inheritance taxes. Belair has, since Delbeck’s arrival after having left Ausone, become one of Saint Emilion’s best chateaux.


Strong result for V&S Vin & Sprit in 2006

>> Thursday, March 01, 2007 Vin & Sprit, the international spirit producer and wine importer owned by the Swedish government, published strong numbers for last year: Operating profits up by 10% to SEK 2.2 bn, and net sales up by 8% to SEK 10.3 bn. The spirits branch V&S Absolut Spirits contributed 84% of the profit and 57% of the sales. Perhaps that may make other (private) importers on the Scandinavian market to think (hope?) that V&S might as well quit the wine business since it contributes comparatively little... (But it is perhaps interesting to keep in mind that several large wine importers in Sweden are actually owned by the Finnish government!) The chief executive of the government owned company says: "Increased sales of the Group's largest brand, Absolut Vodka, are a result of our strategy of increasing efforts on the US market while focusing on a number of prioritized markets.” We wonder how that fits with the government’s strategy to decrease alcohol consumption?


Life is being a chef...

050127-170-7077One of the hottest segments in the internet industry today is “social software”. It covers anything from the teenage virtual world of MySpace to professional networks such as LinkedIn. If you’re in the restaurant trade there’s a new social software networking site just for you:


Journal of Wine Economics

The new and scientifically orientated Journal of Wine Economics has published its second issue. There you can read about: “Growers vs. Merchants Bargaining on the Price of Champagne Grapes and the Role of Contracts when Bargaining is Unbalanced”, “Spatial Variations in Weather Conditions and Wine Prices in Bordeaux”, “The Paris 1976 Wine Tastings Revisited Once More: Comparing Ratings of Consistent and Inconsistent Tasters”, “What Determines the Future Value of an Icon Wine? New Evidence from Australia”, “Price Formation in the California Winegrape Economy”, “Tales from the Crypt: Auctioneer Bruce Kaiser Tells Us about the Trials and Tribulations of a Wine Judge”, “Price and Quality in the California Wine Industry: An Empirical Investigation”


Wine contributes $813 million to North Carolina

In our series on unusual American wine producer the turn this month has come to North Carolina. There are 55 wineries today, three times more than in 2000. The acreage under vine has doubled during the same period. The wine sector contributes $813 million to the state economy and generates 5700 full-time jobs.

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