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Book Review: The Wine Atlas of Australia

>> Monday, April 30, 2007

The Wine Atlas of Australia
By James Halliday
Mitchell Beazley

A must if you are hooked on Australian wine. It’s a back-breaker of a book, over 300 pages in large format, but it covers virtually all there is to know about Australian wine. Each chapter is dedicated to a region, starting with a map and a a general introduction (climate, grape varieties, soil etc). then comes a selection of the most important (all?) producers in the region. This section also includes a lot of useful travel information: address (including web address), tasting possibility, if the winery has a restaurant etc. The book is beautifully illustrated with plenty of As I said, a heavyweight from the southern hemisphere.

Buy the book: |

Don’t forget that we have a whole section on the site with reviews and recommendations of good wine and food books. Pages full of inspiration for the wine and food lover: the book shelf.


Book Review: The Art & Science of Wine

>> Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Art & Science of Wine
By James Halliday & Hugh Johnson
Mitchell Beazley – new edition of a classic

Don’t be put off by the title. It is not an overly technical or scientific book. The two authors – giants in the world of wine writing – are a guarantee that it is a good and informative read. After reading the book you will have a very good understanding of wine, wine growing and wine making. You might not be an expert winemaker, but there are schools for that. The book is split in three sections: In the Vineyard, In the Winery, and In the Bottle. Starting with things like terroir and irrigation, over winemaking techniques for different types and styles of wines, to what makes wine age and the very topical subject of wine closures – this book will give you a lot of insight. It’s actually quite a unique book – no other wine book explains the technical details behind winemaking in such an enjoyable form. Certainly very worth reading.

Buy the book: |

Don’t forget that we have a whole section on the site with reviews and recommendations of good wine and food books. Pages full of inspiration for the wine and food lover: the book shelf.


Altia signs agreement with Constellation

>> Friday, April 27, 2007 Corporation is one of the Nordic region’s biggest wine and spirits importers in the Nordic region. It is owned by the Finnish government. The state owned company is probably better known under various of its operating subsidiaries: Philipson & Söderberg, Bibendum, Premium Wines, Strøm, etc. Altia has just signed a new cooperation agreement with Constellation Brands, the world’s biggest wine 7 spirits company, to represent them on the Nordic market. The Constellation portfolio includes many well known brands: Hardys, Banrock Station, Ravenswood, Robert Mondavi, Paul Masson, Talus and Nobilo... But can’t help wondering why the Finnish state should run such businesses…


New AVA: Snake River in Idaho

>> Thursday, April 26, 2007 April 9 Snake River Valley will officially become an AVA, American Viticultural Area. Snake River Valley is in the state of Idaho(!) and covers a total of some 21,400 square kilometres. The area is described as high altitude, cool desert. But there’s only some 30 wine producers in the whole state though, with a vineyard area of around 1800 acres (730 hectares). That brings the total number of AVAs to 236.


Montenegro joins OIV

>> Wednesday, April 25, 2007

bg09-426-2644The new republic of Montenegro (previously part of Yugoslavia) has joined the OIV, Office International de la Vigne et du Vin, the international wine bureau (the cooperation organisation for wine producing countries). Montenegro has a good potential to become a new tourist destination, with a beautiful coast and impressive mountain ranges, which will no doubt drive wine consumption and production. BKWine had the pleasure to visit Montenegro and its vineyards last year – you can see some more pictures from the country and the vineyards here.


Château La Tour Haut Brion ceases production

>> Tuesday, April 24, 2007 wine Château La Tour Haut Brion will no longer be produced. The wine has a history traced back to the Middle Ages when it was called La Tour de Rostaing. Today it is owned by Château Haut-Brion (Domaine Clarence Dillon). The vineyard is 5 hectares. In the future the wine will instead be used for Ch La Mission Haut-Brion’s second wine La Chapelle de La Mission Haut Brion and perhaps later in the La Mission itself. Another illustration of how the Bordeaux classification system is actually more a classification of brand names and not of vineyards…


St Emilion classification annulled

>> Monday, April 23, 2007

050529-209-0943Just as we speculated in the last Brief the new classification of Saint Emilion has been declared invalid by a court in Bordeaux. Like the precedent (the Cru Bourgeois classification whose cancellation we reported last month) the court has judged that the panel who defined the classification was partial: it included representatives for (or advisors to) the estates that were at the same time subject to the decision. Seven chateaux that had been excluded had taken this issue to court. In the system it is actually quite common that producers judge their own and their neighbours’ wine, e.g. in the agreement tastings for appellations. So even in this case we should perhaps ask – who’s next? Wine Business International,, and


”Les 5 Côtes” – and then there were 4...

>> Sunday, April 22, 2007

030728-3-k542-0020Schizophrenia is a common affliction when it comes to reasoning around French wine rules and regulations. Yes, you want to cooperate with your neighbouring regions better to promote the wine, and yes you want to have as small and specific (and obscure) appellations as possible. An unusual initiative was when recently five Bordeaux “côtes” appellations (Côtes de Castillon, de Francs, de Blaye, de Bourg and Premières Côtes de Bordeaux) joined forces in view of uniting the five appellations into one with the name Côtes du Bordeaux – easier for the consumer to recognize perhaps. Harmony is no longer – Bourg has pulled out of the collaboration because they did not like the idea that they would no longer have their Côte de Bourg AC, even if they would be allowed to add the name to the new AC (Bourg-Côtes de Bordeaux). Who’s next? As reported in


Feminine wine?

>> Saturday, April 21, 2007 ploy? For sure. But we find it quite interesting how people try and be creative to stand out a bit from the crowd, so we’re glad to offer these ‘ployers’ some space in the Brief. For the international women’s day Yvon Mau, a big Bordeaux négociant, assembled a jury of women wine personalities (sommeliers, oenologists, writers,…). The task of t all-female jury was to select wine for a new cuvée that Mau will launch called “Premius au Féminin”. We have not tasted the wine unfortunately, but at least Mau (Jean-François, the current generation) seems to be enjoying himself at the centre of the jury. Who knows, next year BKWine might even get to participate in the selection…?


Vinho Verde – distance learning

>> Friday, April 20, 2007 Would you be interested in learning more about the Portuguese Vinho Verde? Then you can take the e-course on this Portuguese wine that has just been launched by the Vinho Verde institute in cooperation with a local university and the Minho region. It’s all internet based and the course finishes with an exam and a diploma. The only odd thing, perhaps, is that you actually have to pay a fee to participate in this otherwise clever marketing promotion. More info:


Latest news on the catwalk: clothes from wine; or wet-tshirt-competition as an art form

>> Thursday, April 19, 2007 Australian researcher has developed a “textile” from wine. If you leave wine in an open container a film develops on the surface. In a similar way the “Micro’be” textile is produced. It still has a few production and utilisations issues though: it smells bad and it has to be kept wet so as not to crack (that though, some might argue, is perhaps an advantage). “Wine ware” has already had it’s premiere on the Paris catwalk. and


Wine from Myanmar

>> Wednesday, April 18, 2007 More unusual wine destinations: Myanmar, or as it used to be called, Burma, has it’s first vineyard. It’s a German business man who have planted grapes in this isolated country. The area is said to be resembling the landscape in Tuscany and the vineyard is planted with various varieties, including Sauvignon Banc and Moscato. We have not yet tasted the wine… (On the other hand, it might also be a question of if you really want to drink wine from this strange country.)


Wines from the Balkans

>> Tuesday, April 17, 2007

bg10-430-3043First, we have made a big picture update on the site with lots of pictures from vineyards and wineries in the Balkans: Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina:

You can read more about Balkan wines in Business Week that recently had an article on Balkan wines called Make Mine a Macedonian Wine (with the added benefit that they interviewed and quote BKWine in the article):


Taste Bordeaux 1949

>> Monday, April 16, 2007

050408-185-8502A little envelope arrived the other day. An invitation to a wine tasting of ’49 Bordeaux. Eleven wines: Cheval Blanc, Lafleur, Pétrus, Latour, Lafite, Mouton, Montrose, La Mission,… Nice, we thought, so we checked the agenda for May 11. No problem. Oh, need to check the price. Ah, 2,900 euro. Yes, that’s right. But then it includes a two star dinner at Carré de Feuillant of course. And VAT. If any of you is interested I can make my seat available. More info:


The “original” Malbec travels to South America

>> Thursday, April 12, 2007 surprisingly the Compagnie France Malbec is located in Cahors where the main grape variety is – Malbec. Ghislaine Baltenweck and her husband owns a small vineyard, but their main activity is a ‘négoce’ where they buy grapes from 400 other producers and sell mainly on export. They make three different wines, Impernal, Le Paradis and Malbec de France - Plant du Roy. Their main market in South America and China! There’s already a big “local” production of Malbec in South America – it’s one of the main grapes in Argentina – but the Baltenwecks hope to convince the consumers that “the original” is worth trying, even if they admit that Cahors is still not very well known internationally. For the Cuvée Malbec de France-Plant du Roy they have designed the bottle with an original orange coloured label and capsule, apparently specifically to attract female Brazilian consumers. The wine is quaffable but very well structured – it is after all a 100% Malbec.


Cote de Duras

>> Wednesday, April 11, 2007 Parisians love the accent of the wine growers in Duras in south-western France. To make a sure success of a marketing campaign for products from the region – bring up a native, they seem to think. So this year we will probably see a lot of Durassiens (?) in Paris. It is the 70th anniversary since they received their appellation Contrôlée. Nevertheless, it is a rather little know district, but this they intend to change. The Duras wines will of course be the leading stars in the promotions but they will also feature other local gastronomic products, for example the famous ‘pruneaux d’Agen’ (dried plums). More info (on the unfortunately not very up-to-date site in English - the French version is more informative):


BKWine Pick: 15cent15

>> Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Restaurant 15cent15, Hôtel Marignan Champs Elysées, Parisôtel Marignan Champs-Elysées is a new luxury boutique hotel in central Paris. The main restaurant in the hotel is Spoon by the fabled chef Alain Ducasse and they recently opened a “lounge”, this oh-so-trendy concept in the restaurant world today. The lounge, called 15cent15, also run by Ducasse, is a good place to have a less ambitious lunch in a relaxed and comfortable setting with a definite “club” feeling. Lunch dishes cost between 15 and 25 euro and there’s an interesting selection. For example, a wonderfully succulent salmon tartar (18 euro) or a foie gras poëlé (very quickly fried foie gras – 16 euro). In the evening the 15cent15 transforms into a tapas bar with a wide choice from 5 euro. The wine list has a few interesting wines by the glass (could be more), e.g. a white Côtes-du-Rhône from Domaine Perrin (of Beaucastel fame) that is very nice, nutty and herbal. Perhaps they could overall have been a bit less traditional in their wine selection. There are not really any nice and imaginative surprises – more safe bets. And why does a boutique hotel choose as a house champagne one from the huge co-operative Nicolas Feuillatte…?

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Brief nr 45, April 2007

>> Sunday, April 08, 2007

Some misconceptions and misunderstandings

- “When it comes to budget wines, France is way behind.”

Perhaps that is true when it comes to the really, really budget level wines – the ones that we wouldn’t even think of recommending in the Brief. Otherwise it’s not really true. There are plenty of wines made by inspired winemakers around France that cost far from a fortune. The difficulty is that they are often small produces, with not much of a marketing budget and that will therefore never reach supermarket shelves. On the other hand – you as reader of the BKWine Brief already have a good route to find them…

- “An open bottle of wine gets spoiled in a few days.”

(Perhaps you should count yourself lucky if there's still something in it.) Well, it depends on what kind of wine it is. Yes, if it is that very old and fragile wine that has been lying in the cellar for ages, then I would certainly recommend not to save it too long opened. On the other hand, if it is a “normal” bottle of wine it will keep very well for quite some time. Put a cork in the open bottle and put it in the fridge. Or if you want to be extra careful, pour it into a smaller bottle. It will survive well into the next weekend (well, can’t take any responsibility for if you finish it before that).

- “The wine we ordered in the restaurant wasn’t very nice so we sent it back.”

Sure. It can happen. But it is very rare. The only reason to send a wine back in a restaurant is that it is faulty. It’s not a question of if you don’t quite like it or if it wasn’t what you expected. The only valid reason to send it back is that it’s defective. And then – if you order an odd or a really old wine you, as a buyer, have to expect that it might be tired or strange, which also means that it’s not a valid reason to send the wine back.

Special offer 1: Portugal

Portugal has developed into a very exciting wine country. That’s why we do one more wine tour to Portugal this year. Just in time for that trip a new book on wine and food from Portugal will hit the shelves. It’s The Wine & Food Lover's Guide to Portugal written by Charles Metcalfe (ex-editor and co-founder of Wine International) and his wife Kathryn who have written it. In co-operation with Charles we are happy to be able to offer to the readers of the BKWine Brief to buy the book at a preferential price directly from Metcalfe. Let us know if you are interested and you will get the book delivered as soon as it is off the presses (Sep/Oct). And we hope that you’ll come on the Portugal tour too! (But the book offered is open to anyone who’s interested – you don’t have to come on the tour.)

(But don't forget the Burgundy trip that also is scheduled for this autumn. It promises to be very interesting!)

Special offer 2: Bettane-Dessauve’s Tast

As I mentioned in the last Brief, in collaboration with Bettane & Dessauve we can also offer a one year subscription to the “Tast” newsletter published by two of France’s leading wine tasters. To readers of the BKWine Brief they offer a discounted subscription price of 55€ (instead of 80€); more than 30% discount. Use the promotional code BKW07. Click here for more info. Or you can follow this link to download the sample issue TAST #11 (2 MB pdf).

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.


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


Even more Provence – new guest writer

For those of you who are not so good in Finnish, we have even more to offer on Provence: three new articles on our guest writer page, all written by our new guest writer Ester Laushway to whom we say a big welcome!:


New president of the INAO

Yves Bernard has been appointed president of INAO, the French control authority for (among other things) wine. Bernard comes from Champagne with a long career at LVMH, who owns several champagne houses, e.g. Moët & Chandon, and also wine estates, not least Chateau d’Yquem


World’s best Syrah wines

050414-191-9182The first ever competition for pure Syrah wines will be held in Ampuis in the northern Rhône town of Ampuis (home to Côte Rôtie) on May 31 and June 1.


Conference on wine economics in Trier in May

From a press release by the Association of Wine Economists: “The first annual conference of the American Association of Wine Economists will take place in Trier, Mosel (Germany). The conference will be joint with the Vineyard Data Quantification Society and the Society for Quantitative Gastronomy. The "Call for Papers", as published in the Journal of Wine Economics, is extended until March 15.”


On Provence

bc24-352-5206Our Finnish readers may be interested to know of a new article on Provence, written by BKWine’s Finnish partner Virpi Sorvisto, on Toisi Sanoen


Wine show for Fenouillèdes wines

>> Saturday, April 07, 2007 small Fenouillèdes appellation in the southern French region of Roussillon is not very well known but they seem to be very dynamic and taking lots of initiatives to make it better known (perhaps simplifying the spelling could be one?). In April they organise a wine show to present their wines to the trade in Tautavel, not far from Perpignan.


Competition in grape growing and wine production

>> Friday, April 06, 2007 American wine university UC Davies organises on August 8-10 a conference on the theme ”Competitive Forces Affecting the Wine and Winegrape Industries”. Call for papers: Authors are encourage to submit essays for the conference. Deadline: March 26.


No more Brunello?

>> Wednesday, April 04, 2007 an article in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera a journalist speculates if the future is sombre for Brunello wines. Researchers at the university in Florence have concluded that the climatic changes may make temperatures too hot in Tuscany for making great wines and that wine makers may need to move to colder areas further north. Perhaps time to come on a wine tour with BKWine to Tuscany before it gets too hot?


Romantic wine tastings

>> Tuesday, April 03, 2007

bc24-352-5237Fact #1: A glass or two of wine can make a simple dinner full of atmosphere and romance. Fact #2: Dating sites on the internet have become tremendously popular. Conclusion: create a dating site for wine lovers. That’s exactly what an American entrepreneur has done:


The wine trade doesn’t care about younger consumers?

>> Monday, April 02, 2007 X is, or was, a wine magazine for “young adults, the Generation X. Wine X has now folded, well, been forced to close down. According to the founder and editor, Darryl Roberts, they had to close mainly because of lack of interest in the wine trade for the younger generation. Is the trade not really interested in attracting younger consumers to wine? Could it be so that the margins are higher on alcopops and spirits and the trade prefers to keep younger drinkers on that?

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