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France lowers the VAT on restaurants

>> Tuesday, June 30, 2009

France has decided to lower the VAT on restaurant meals from 19.6% (the standard VAT) to 5.5% in an effort to stimulate the sector that is suffering from the difficult economic times (and since many years from the French 35 hour working week). The new VAT should take effect already on July 1. The VAT on wine will unfortunately not change but remain on 19.6%.


World’s best syrah

>> Monday, June 29, 2009

Syrah du Monde is the competition for wines made from the syrah grape. It is of course held in the Rhône valley. This year’s top ten wines included syrahs from South Africa, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Switzerland (!), USA and Italy. Not bad. You can find the full list of winners here:


La Clape becomes AOC/AOP

>> Friday, June 26, 2009

On May 29 La Clape was approved as an AOC/AOP. the wines used to be sold as “Coteaux du Languedoc – La Clape” but now they will be, simply, “AOC La Clape”. The district is close to the coast in the Languedoc, mostly on a small mountain that used to be an island but is now connected to the mainland. Many interesting wine producers and certainly wines that merit to become better known. If they will achieve that by removing ‘Languedoc’ from the label remains to be seen.


EU abandons reform plans for rosé wines

Some time back the EU countries agreed to a big reform of the wine sector. One thing that was agreed was to allow rosé wine to be made by blending white and red wine. This is already permitted, but only in Champagne. The idea was to make it a generally allowed practice. When time approached to reconfirm the agreement some wine producer woke up and started protesting, especially in France, and then also in Italy and Spain. They claimed that it would mean a catastrophe for rosé wines. Why it would be so horrible was difficult to understand. But due to these protests it has been decided to withdraw this proposal so it will not be allowed to make blended rosé. Except in Champagne of course. Now we are waiting for the producers to start campaigning for a change in the rules in Champagne. Or was it simply a way to try and protect one’s position against evil new competitors? Read more


Les Echos de Bordeaux

If you want to practice your French, and read about wine, you can subscribe to the newsletter Les Echos de Bordeaux. Les Echos is published by Agence Fleuri, which is a marketing agency focussing on wine. More info here: (to subscribe to their newsletter you need to go to ‘Nous contacter’)


Charity auction in Piedmont

On 23 May, 2009 Piedmont’s grand Albergo dell'Agenzia, home of Slow Food's Wine Bank, hosted the 7th annual wine & art auction 'Sorsi di Pace' to benefit the charity Emergency. Each of the 24 magnums of Barolo, Gattinara, Ghemme, and IGT wines were adorned with work from a different contemporary artist. The auction raised 16,000 euro, all of which goes to assist those in need in Sudan and other African countries.


Chocolate and vanilla calvados

>> Thursday, June 25, 2009

At Vinexpo Château du Breuil will launch two new products: First a calvados “Chocolate Blend”, which, if we understand it correctly, is not a chocolate flavoured calvados but one that has been specifically blended to go well together with dark chocolate. And then we have a Calvados-Vanille, which is not really a calvados but an aperitif (only 16% alcohol), with a base of calvados and flavoured with vanilla. Tempted? (We neither, we admit. Why would you, when plain old ‘normal’ calvados is maybe the best digestif you can get!) But we have tasted neither of the new products so we’re not in the right position to judge. More info:


The World’s wine markets by 2030

The American Association of Wine Economists has chosen “The World’s wine markets by 2030” as the theme for next year’s AAWE conference. They are calling for papers on the subject. Potential speakers should contact Kym Anderson. The conference will take place in Adelaide on February 7-9, 2010. More info


French export markets

>> Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The latest export numbers we found was from 2006: a total of 14 million litres were exported (excluding sparkling wines). 58% were red or rosé and 42% white. The main export destinations:

  • UK: 20% of the exports
  • Germany: 17%
  • Belgium: 12%
  • Netherlands: 10%
  • USA: 8%
  • Japan: 4%
  • Canada: 4%
  • Switzerland: 3%
  • Denmark: 3%
  • Others: 19%

(Source: Viniflhor)


The end of the greatness of Vino Nobile? Italian wine bloggers in furore…

>> Tuesday, June 23, 2009

… due to a proposal from the local wine authorities (consorzio) for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to increase from 20% to 30% the allowed contents of “international” grape varieties. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is almost synonymous with sangiovese. At least for most people. The grape is locally known as prugnolo gentile and is closely linked to the regions soil and history. Today a Vino Nobile must contain at least 70% of prugnolo gentile, and can also have up to 20% of canaiolo nero, and 20% other red grapes, such as cabernet, merlot or syrah. The proposal is to increase the allowance of “foreign” grapes to 30%. Why transform this historic wine into a copy of the recently invented “super Tuscans”?, ask the Italian wine bloggers, as well as the well known wine journalist Franco Ziliani. Is a wine not unique because of its heritage and its traditions, which in this case is closely linked to sangiovese? Who would gain from changing VNdM to a more international style? These are the questions that the bloggers and journalists ask Federico Carletti, owner of the big winery Poliziano and also president of the Consorzio. They have not yet had any answer. We will continue to follow the issue.,,


Les italiennes montent à Paris - The Italian ladies come to Paris!

« The Italian women arrive in Paris »… that’s what they did a few days ago. 12 female winemakers from all over Italy came to Paris t present their wines. They come from all over Italy and the common denominator is that they’re all organic. They call it “natural wines”. Here was Helena Dante from the biodynamic Azienda la Colombaia (se more under this month’s producer picks) and Isabella Pelizzati-Perego from Azienda AR.PE.PE in Valtellina in northern Italy. She grows 10 ha of nebbiolo. ”I like to follow the old traditions”, she says, ”with long skin maceration (30-40 days) and long barrel aging”. The wines are light in colour but very complex and with depths of flavour.

Daniela de Gruttola at Azienda Cantina Giardino in Campania in the south also makes very interesting wines from the white greco variety. The wines get long skin maceration, 7 days, which is unusual for whites. The result is a deep golden colour with lots of body (“gras”/fat they would say in France) and a touch of caramel (albeit dry). From Sicily we have Arianna Occhipinto from the winery carrying her own name. Her reds are full of character, made from nero d’avola and frappato. We particularly liked her Siccagno, a pure nero d’avola cuvée, with good fruit and excellent balance. Her’s the list of all 12, worth looking out for:

  • Piemonte: Alessandra Bera, Azienda Bera (tasty Barbera d’Asti)
  • Emilia-Romagna: Elena Panteleoni, Azienda La Stoppa (The white Ageno 2005 is made from a very aromatic variation of the muscat blended with some trebbiano – a very aromatic wine, but entirely dry. Also has plenty of aromas of apricot and peaches. Very interesting.)
  • Toscana: Margherita and Francesca Padovani, Azienda Fonterenza (nice Brunello, quite powerful, with 40 days maceration on the skins). Helena Dante, Azienda la Colombaia. Rossella Bencini Tesi, Fattoria di Bachereto
  • Veneto: Cecilia Trucchi, Azienda Villa Bellini (good Valpolicella with funny labels and incredible black currant flavours and spices)
  • Trentino: Elisabetta Foradori, Azienda Foradori (our favourite is the Foradori Teroldego Rotaliano DOC, made from the teroldego grape)
  • Friuli-Venezia-Giulia: Franca Princic, Azienda Dario Princic (interesting pinot grigio with long skin maceration. Dark colour, citrus aromas.)
  • Valtellina: Isabella Pelizzati-Perego, Azienda AR.PE.PE
  • Abruzzo: Sofia Pepe, Azienda Pepe (she has a wide range of vintages of a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo) Siciliy: Arianna Occhipinti, Azienda Occhipinti
  • Campania: Daniela de Gruttola, Azienda Cantina Giardino


More wine prizes : women journalists' trophy

>> Monday, June 22, 2009

Coup de Coeur des Femmes Journalistes is the name of another competition where we recently were part of the judging panel. The competition is run by the wine cooperatives in four of the départements in southern France: l’Hérault, Aude, Pyrénées-Orientales and Gard. In other words, it covers Roussillon, Languedoc and parts of the southern Rhône valley. We were a group of 20 female journalists from all over France and we tasted the wines that had been awarded gold medals in the annual ”Concours Régional des vins de la coopération”. Our task was to select and agree on a “coup de coeur”, our favourite, for each colour. Discussions were animated (you can imagine) but an agreement was finally reached. The selected wines will be the representatives and “standard bearers” for the cooperatives for the coming year.

Our Coup de Coeurs:

  • White wine: Muscat Sec Cuvée Vermeil du Crès 2008, Vin de Pays d’Oc, from Les Vignerons de Sérignan
  • Red wine : Cuvée Latude 2006, Coteaux du Languedoc Pézenas from La Fontesole à
  • Fontès Rosé: Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Vin de Pays d’Oc from Cellier du Val des Pins Montaud
  • Vin Doux Naturel (sweet): Banyuls Grand Cru 1998 Cuvée du President Henry Vidal, from Cellier des Templiers


Concours Mondial de Bruxelles – prize winning wines

At the end of April Valencia was host to the 16th edition of the annual wine competition Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. CMB has grown from a modest start in 1994 to become one of the world’s biggest wine competitions. The first edition had 861 wines. This year they had over 6000 wines and spirits from 54 countries. There were 250 judges from 41 countries (BKWine representing Sweden). Italy, Spain, France and Portugal were the winners of the “Best Wine of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2009”. The top scores went to:

  • Best Sparkling: Champagne Bourgeois Cuvée du Dernier Siècle, Brut millésimé 2002 (FR)
  • Best White: Adega Vila Real Grande Reserva, Douro 2005 (PT)
  • Best Rosé: Chiaretto Giovanni Avanzi, Garda Classico 2008 (IT)
  • Best Red: Protos Crianza, Ribera del Duero 2006 (ES)
  • Best Sweet: Nes, Passito di Pantelleria 2007 (IT)
  • Best Spirit : Osteria di Rubbiara, Pedroni, Grappa di Vinaccia di Lambrusco Invecchiata (IT)
Congratulations! And also a big hand for, for example, the excellent and modestly prices Bordeaux Château Thieuley who won a gold medal for a white sauvignon-sémillon wine; Gerovassiliou from Greece with a gold medal for his syrah 2006; Château Pech-Latt in Corbières with a silver medal for Tamanova 2006; and Château Saint-Jacques d’Alba in Minervois with a gold medal for their La Chapelle 2006. One of the big surprises (when the names were revealed after the blind tasting) was two fantastic wines from La Mancha in Spain: Condesa de Leganza Reserva 1998 and Varones Tempranillo Gran Reserva 1996. But were awarded well deserved gold medals. There are many, many other wines that we would like to mention (e.g. some excellent whites from Sicily – another big surprise!) but space does not allow it. Instead we recommend a visit to the web site where you will find the full list of winners.


Valencia: rice and wine – but no paella

>> Friday, June 19, 2009

At the end of April I was in Valencia to taste wines, lots of wines. I was there for the big wine competition Concours Mondial de Bruxelles which this year, inn spite of its name, was held in Valencia, the third biggest city of Spain. I didn’t know much about Valencia before going there, but I did know one thing. Valencia is known for its paella. And I love paella so what a wonderful occasion to taste the real thing, I though. But it turned out to be a difficult “fish” to catch. Sadly, I never actually managed to get a real paella during my days in Valencia and it wasn’t for lack of trying or for lack of rice. Valencia has the biggest rice paddies outside of south eastern Asia. A bit south of the city, close to a sweet water lagoon called Albufera, they have huge plantations of rice that end up in the paellas, and many other rice dishes. The Valencianas eat rice at least three or four time a week and all self respecting cooks claim, of course, to make the original paella valenciana. And come to think of it, it’s an excellent party dish for summer if the barbecue (cook) goes on strike.

But is there any wine in Valencia? There certainly is – plenty of wine in all colours, both around Valencia and the neighbouring city of Alicante, where thirsty tourists down much of it. If you want to go up a notch in quality you might want to make a trip to Utile-Requena, a few tens of kilometres inland at 900 meters altitude. The climate is hard, very warm summers and very cold winters. The dominant grape is bobal, a local variety. It is sometimes blended with tempranillo and garnacha. They make a lot of rosé, rosada, and some good, powerful and fruity reds. The big and modern Bodega Murviedo is a good source. Try for example their Corolilla Crinaza, a 100% bobal. Most of Spanish cava (sparkling) come from Penedes but Utile-Requena also produces some. Coto d’Arcis Cava Brut nature, without dosage, dry and delicious, and Hoya de Cadenas Cava Brut made from 100% macabeo, appley with a fresh acidity, are two that stuck in my memory.

Another name to remember in DO Valencia is Bodegas Enguera. Started in 1999, they are an organic vineyard. The label design is modern and so are their wines. Easy to drink, soft but with a good backbone structure. Cañada Negra 2008 is a blend of tempranillo and syrah that has been given a short aging in Hungarian oak. Benali 2007 is a monastrell/syrah mix with 16 months in French oak barrels.

Spain is not always sunshine. Taking a walk in the old city centre, the rain starts pouring and I take refuge in a small bar. I ask for a fino sherry and I get a glass of not unknown Tio Pepe. Nothing wrong with old Tio of course and it was delicious together with a few olives. So even if this was really about Valencia I’ll finish with a call to all of you to drink more dry sherry (as well as Valencia wine!). Dry sherry is the perfect aperitif now in summer time – and any other time. You can’t find dryer than fino and it is the perfect aperitif to get your appetite going for dinner. And that’s what aperitif is for, isn’t it?


The state of the international wine market

>> Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sopexa, the French marketing agency for wine and other agricultural products, has conducted a big survey called the Wine Trade Monitor. The study is based on 1400 respondents in 16 countries. The survey will be repeated annually. It will be presented at Vinexpo in Bordeaux later in June but already today BKWine Brief can reveal some of the most interesting conclusions from the study (NB: it only covers still wine, no sparkling, no spirits):

  • The wine market in 2008: 51% of the respondents said they had a growth in wine sales in 2008 and 23% had stable sales. In other words 74% were stable or growing, in spite of crisis
  • 2009: 48% were positive re sales in 2009
  • But the optimism varies by country:
The optimists: China, Netherlands, India, Hong Kong, Belgium
Pessimists: Taiwan, Russia, Denmark, Switzerland, USA
  • Rosé continues to be popular: 25% see an increase in demand. Big country differences here too:
Optimists: UK, Denmark, Netherlands, USA, Canada
Pessimists: China, Taiwan, Korea, Switzerland
  • Three segments are seen as particularly interesting:
Varietal wines
Organic wines
  • An impressive 25% see a positive evolution for organic wines. A high number, considering that it is a very small percentage of all wine that is organic. (Something like 2% if we’re not mistaken.)
  • But the demand for the segments varies by market
AOC/AOP: Asia (in general), Denmark, Belgium, Canada (19+%)
Varietal wines: India, Singapore, Germany, USA, UK (45+%)
Organic: Canada, Japan, USA, Denmark, Netherlands (29+%)
  • Comment: AOC/AOP wines should therefore not be seen as a loosing proposition compared to varietal wines. Rather, they are different and complementary segments. If you take into consideration the size of the respective markets varietal wines are ahead today (the %-figure indicate the size of the listed countries as part of total French exports, only major countries counted). Looking ahead AOC/AOP will probably gain in importance since the Asian markets are expected to grow more.
  • Grape varieties:
Cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay: by far most popular (82% and 72% of respondents cited those)
Merlot, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, and syrah are in a tight second group (44-59%)
Malbec, pinot gris, and riesling are also relatively well positioned (20-30%)
Potential niche varieties: tempranillo, grenache, chenin blanc
  • Low alcohol wines: Wines with low or now alcohol was overall regarded as without market potential
  • Price: low and mid-range dominate (71% and 67%) by far over premium and super premium (in terms of perceived demand), but with big country differences:
Low price countries: UK, USA, Canada, Singapore, Russia, and India
More premium oriented markets: China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan (apparently Singapore buys both cheap and expensive)

Some conclusions:
  • Most interesting markets for French wines: China, Hong Kong (high potential for French wines as seen by respondents)
  • Less interesting markets: UK, USA, Taiwan, Russia, Switzerland, Denmark (idem)
  • French wine producers need to develop a greater offer of varietal wines (there is already a strong AOC/AOP offer, and this also has continued potential)
  • Wine producers need to pay more attention to what the market (markets) are asking for
The report from Wine Trade Monitor study will be presented in detail at Vinexpo by Sopexa on June 24 – worth a visit if you’re in Bordeaux. More info:


Jack recommends: Coptertino Rosso

This month I have a recommendation in the ’budget’ range: 2001 Copertino Rosso (6-7 euro). Too cheap for the fine cuisine for the nice dinner you might think. But give it a try to the cheese, and do try it with a not too strong parmesan. It is made from the negro amaro grape, ripe, leathery aromas, some cherries, a touch of burnt charcoal, well balanced with some dried fruits and nuts. Perfect to drink today rather than to age further. It is made by a cooperative in Puglia in Italy.


Åsa recommends: Cartizze, Desiderio Brisol & Figli

Time for bubbly. The beginning of summers gives of lots of excuses to open a bottle of sparkling wine. It may be end-of-school celebrations, barbecue with colleagues, or simply an evening with friends and family. In any case, the sparkling, or spumante, Cartizze from Desiderio Bristol & Figli is a good choice. Cartizze is made in eastern Veneto, in the Valdobbidene valley, 100% from the prosecco grape variety. It’s a “cru” wine with a fine delicate mousse, wonderful freshness and aromas of pears and apples. It has a touch of bitterness that adds balance and elegance. Serve it at around 9 degrees for aperitif. Around 20 euro.


BKWine Pick: Cave Saint-Marc, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

>> Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cave Saint-Marc, Villeneuve-lès-Avignon

If you want to discover the vineyards of southern Rhône the small town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon is a good base. It’s almost like a suburb of Avignon, just across the river, but actually an old town in it’s own right. When the Pope was residing in Avignon in the 14th century the cardinals lived in Villeneuve and many of the impressive old buildings date from that period. A good place to taste the local wines, Tavel, Lirac, Côtes du Rhône etc, is in the wine bar cum wine shop cum restaurant Cave Saint-Marc in the centre of the town. It seems to be THE meeting point for locals. Try for example the delicious ‘petits farcis’, spicy stuffed vegetables. The cuisine is, as one would expect, decidedly Mediterranean – aubergines, tomatoes, spices and herbs dominate.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Chai Pascal Bar à Vins, Saint Emilion

Chai Pascal Bar à Vins, Saint Emilion

This charming wine bar opened in the old town of St Emilion a year ago by Pascal Fauvel, who runs the place, and Catherine Papon-Nouvel, the owner of three St Emilion chateaux: Château Gaillard, Château Petit Gravet Ainé and Clos Saint Julien (see our video with Catherine here). Catherine’s wines are of course on offer but also many of her colleagues’ wines, both in St Emilion and from other districts. It’s a very relaxed place and if you want something to eat with your wine they offer platters with Basque charcuteries, cheese and smoked salmon. Open every day 11AM to 11PM in season, closed on Sundays the rest of the year.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Château Moulin du Cadet, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux

Château Moulin du Cadet, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux

Another small biodynamic recommendation this month. Classic, quite tannic and structured Bordeaux wines is the hall mark of Pierre Blois at Château Moulin du Cadet in Saint Emilion, just a short walk from the village. He has 5 ha, biodynamic since 2004. “Farming biodynamic means that you really have to be present in the vineyard all the time”, says Pierre. “You spend more hours in the field compared to conventional farming. And you also have to have staff that believe in the methods!” He’s very happy with the results. His vines are healthier and his wines have become more “lively” and with more minerality, he says. Very good wines, of a classic Saint Emilion cut.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Colombaia, DOCG Chianti Colli Senesi

Colombaia, DOCG Chianti Colli Senesi

It’s a small property of only 4 hectares that has recently converted to biodynamic farming. They will have completed their Demeter certification next year. The production is artisan, they avoid adding any substances and in the vineyard they have a horse instead of a tractor. The wines are very interesting and expressive. Colobaia Bianco Toscano IGT is made from malvasia and trebbiano and has a good body. The reds are mostly from sangiovese and are typical Chianti wines with good structure, some tobacco and solid acidity and some fruit. Definitely food wines rather than parlour wines.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


Some things on our wine philosphy - and BKWine Brief #71

>> Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is there anyone who has not seen Susan Boyle singing on Britain’s Got Talent? Or Diversity, the dance group who practiced in front of the bus station since there was a ‘free’ mirror wall? Incredible achievements. (If you haven’t seen it, first watch Susan Boyle’s initial performance. Watch how everyone reacts. Unbelievable. 25 million views on YouTube. Watch it here. You can see many more here.) I can’t help it, I find Britain’s Got Talent captivating. Wonderful to see all these talented people. The other night it struck me that it’s almost the same thing with wine.

Let me explain. To listen to Placido Domingo, or watch Rudolf Nureyev dance, well, of course it is amazing performances, but you wouldn’t expect anything else would you? And to get a ticket you have to mortgage the house, sort of. To listen to Susan Boyle (and watch all the others on BGT) is entirely different. It’s a discovery and it’s an experience in another dimension. To drink a Romanée Conti, a Petrus, a Grange, or a Screaming Eagle is outstanding and delicious but, (dare I say?) so what? What else did you expect? You pay thousands of euros so getting a bit of bang is only to be expected, isn’t it? But to find a small grower, in the back of beyond, that you have never heard of, and then think “wow! This is exceptional!”, that’s different. And then if the wine only costs a fraction, perhaps some tens of euros, it only makes things better.

In other words, drinking, tasting and appreciating great and famous (and expensive) wines is rather easy. It is certainly delicious wines and great experiences, but it is easy. But to find something different, the undiscovered, something that merits more attention and that surprises you, that requires a bit more effort. But it is also much more fun. And in the end perhaps you have contributed to giving some very talented but unknown wine maker a bit more of the attention and appreciation that he/she deserves. Just like those fabulous talents on Britain’s Got Talent.

So there you have a little bit of our wine drinking philosophy.

This issue of the BKWine Brief is a little different from what it usually is. We have some texts that are a little bit longer about some of the things we’ve discovered recently and fewer short stories about various wine news items. It wasn’t really intended that way. It just happened, since we had so much we wanted to share with you. But it would be interesting to hear what your reactions are! Do you prefer the longer text we write about tastings and such things? Or is it better with the short news items, like it was before? Do let us know – with praise (yes please!) or with comments and suggestions on how to make things better (yes please, that too!). We’d love to hear from you. We have some 16,000 subscribers today and we want to continue making the Brief better.

One evolution is that we are trying things in the “Web 2.0” of wine. We hope you are already familiar with our videos on BKWine TV on YouTube. (Not to mention our wine blogs.) And since some time back we’re also trying out Twitter and Facebook. At the moment it’s an experiment to try and figure out what you can do with it. But if you’re interested in that kind of things do “follow” us on Twitter and “friend” us on Facebook. Might be an opportunity for you too to see what it’s all about. You can find our links to Twitter and Facebook at the end of this intro.

It should soon be summer, even though it’s not really something you notice in Paris these days (we’ve had terrible weather this past week). That means that you should be planning for your autumn wine trip! Take a look at our autumn wine tours to Bordeaux. Or get in touch with us if you are interested in organising a custom wine tour. Last year we organised some 30 wine tours to destinations in France (of course, living in Paris), and to Portugal, Spain, Italy (Tuscany, Veneto, Piedmont), Germany, Austria… And it would be a great occasion to meet you.

Enjoy reading this month’s Brief!

Britt & Per

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

More on wine:

Read the entire BKWine Brief #71 here!


Alsace growers want to stop others from putting riesling et al. on the label

>> Friday, June 05, 2009

One part of the new EU wine reform is that from the first of August it will be possible to put the grape variety (e.g. riesling) on the label for wines “without geographic denomination”. Typically, this refers to wines that fall outside the traditional AOC (AOP) rules for a region. Say you make a riesling wine in Languedoc. Riesling is not a permitted variety in AOC (AOP) Languedoc so instead the wine will have to be made “without geographic denomination”, what used to be called Vin de Table, but on a VdT it was forbidden to specify the grape variety. But with the reform it will now be possible to put the variety on the label. But the Alsace producers are not happy with this. They think that putting e.g. riesling or gewürztraminer on a wine that does not come from Alsace will confuse customers and devalue Alsatian wines. Therefore they want to forbid growers in other regions to mention the “Alsatian” varieties. The French have now launched a committee that will try and find a compromise. Another example of counterproductive and narrow self-interests that hinders a progression towards a better functioning wine market? After all, there are plenty of wines out there that say riesling, gewürztraminer etc on the label from e.g. Germany, Spain, not to mention the New World. So again, we have some French producers hindering other French producers to compete better against wine producers from other countries.


Full moon? Cancel the wine tasting!

>> Thursday, June 04, 2009

If the moon is not in the right moon phase the wine may taste much worse, that is at least what Tesco and Marks & Spencer, two of Britain’s biggest wine retailers think. They only invite to tastings on days when the moon is in an appropriate position for tasting. This is inspired by the so called biodynamic sowing and planting calendar where days are categorised as appropriate for different activities. Some days are good for planting, other for harvesting etc. And apparently, some days are better for tasting than others. Jo Ahearne at M&S was doubtful but after having made comparative tastings he was convinced that it made a big difference. Time to reschedule your tastings? (Note: The calendar, established every year by Maria Thun, is not strictly speaking part of the biodynamic principles, but many biodynamic growers use it. Many growers who are not biodynamic also look at the moon phase to decide the appropriate days for e.g. bottling or racking.) More on


Australian albarino turns out to be savagnin

>> Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Some wine producers in Australia have turned out some very decent wines from albariño grapes (some 150 ha planted). Albarino is a grape variety well known from e.g. northern Portugal. At least, so they thought. Two French researchers, Jean-Michel Boursiquot and Laurent Audeguin at the Institut Français de la Vigne et du Vin, have made DNA analysis of the vine. It turns out that it’s not albariño at all but a variety called savagnin. Savagning is a little known grape that is primarily used in the Jura district in eastern France. More Australian researchers have subsequently done their own tests and made the same conclusion…


Advanced wine tasting technique with Fry & Laurie

>> Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Perhaps not a method to take after but a quite enjoyable clip about wine tasting with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. “This one is cat and the other one is dog, right?”


Do winemakers make wines they like or wines that get high Parker Points? (The Parker Effect 2)

Do the winemakers make wines they like, or wines the consumers like, or wines to please the most influential wine critics (Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate, James Laube of Wine Spectator and perhaps some more)? That’s the question that Tina Caputa, editor-in-chief of Vineyard and winery Management Magazine, asked herself when preparing a presentation for the American Wine Society. But she also put the question to the winemakers. The result is a video reportage looking at how the heavyweight wine critics influence the type of wines we can buy today. Watch the reportage here:


To filter or not to filter?

We’ve previously written about filtering of wine (us being wine tech geeks!?). Does it matter? Is it good or bad? Is there any substance in the fashion of making unfiltered wines? Here’s an interesting article by Tim Patterson in Vines & Wines: ”If filtration ’strips’ wine, what’s getting stripped?


What’s a rosé wine?

>> Monday, June 01, 2009

As part of the EU wine reform that has been agreed by the countries’ agricultural representatives it is planned that it will become legal to make rosé wine by blending red and white wine. Today, in most EU countries, you have to make rosé from red grapes with a short skin maceration (except, we’ve heard, in Spain). But that might not be something that you’re average rosé wine consumer knows. Or cares about. Now, in the eleventh hour, there has come a lot of protests from primarily French and Italian wine producers who say that it would destroy the quality of rosé wines (if it ever was there to start with). But, one might ask, did then the countries agree to it in the first place? Well, one comment we heard was that the Italians did not want to raise their voice in the previous discussions since they had been cheating with the milk quotas and did therefore not want to attract any attention. And the French? Perhaps they were sleeping? We don’t know. But does it really matter? Would it be such a catastrophe if you could make rosé wines by blending red and white? (And would the consumer suffer?) Or is it the “traditional” rosé wine producers who do not want to get more competition? We’re not convinced. And then you should keep in mind that virtually all rosé champagne is made by blending red and white wine. And we have not heard anyone protesting against that. Have you? See e.g. Reuters and


Robert Parker’s impartiality in question

More rough times for Robert Parker. Not only is he in trouble with the wine blogging community but he also seems to have difficulties with his own ethical rules. He has laid down very strict ethical rules for how the Robert Parker tasting and writing team operates. For example, they always pay their own hotels, they do not accept trips paid for by wineries or promotional organisations, they always pay their own restaurant bills etc. In reality, rules that virtually no other professional wine writer can live by. But now it turns out that his collaborators in the Robert Parker publications apparently do not follow those rules. DrVino, an interesting wine blogger, wrote a letter to Parker and asked for clarifications. Parker is, after all, a very dominant entity in the wine world, so it is reasonable to know what goes. Tyler Colman (=DrVino) did receive an answer but Parker simply dismissed the question without at all addressing the key questions. Another thing that has made the wine bloggosphere buzz. With reason, we’d say. Read all of DrVinos story here


"Robert Parker should be ashamed of himself”

That is at least what many wine bloggers think. Parker does exist on the internet, as, but he’s certainly not a dedicated Web 2.0 adept. More importantly, he has written several denigrating comments about wine blogging, wine bloggers, and the Open Wine Consortium (organising the American Wine Bloggers Conference), implying that what wine bloggers write is of no value and that many wine bloggers are ‘bought’ by the wine industry. Not good Mr Parker. Read a detailed commentary here: and and

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