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Alcohol consumption

>> Monday, August 31, 2009

How much alcohol do people drink in different countries? Here’s some statistics on the alcohol consumption, counted in litres per capita (persons over 15), for 2003:

1. Luxemburg: 15.5 l
2. France: 14.8 l
3. Ireland: 13.5 l
4. Hungary: 13.4 l
5. Czech Republic: 12.1 l
6. Spain: 11.7 l
7. Denmark: 11.5 l
8. Portugal: 11.4 l
9. United Kingdom: 11.2 l
10. Austria: 11.1 l
12. Belgium: 10.7 l
13: Germany: 10.2 l
14. Australia: 9.8 l
16. Finland: 9.3 l
20. USA: 8.3 l
22. Italy: 8 l
26. Sweden: 7 l
27: Iceland: 6.5 l
28. Norway: 6 l

Source: OECD and


Tempest in a pot of Bordeaux

Even Bordeaux is affected by the crisis. Bordeaux is otherwise one of the few wine districts that from a sales perspective have been working quite well these last few years. But at the latest meeting at the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux), the cooperation and promotion organisation of the Bordeaux producers, the debate was at times heated. The background is that sales are down 14%, exports are down 15% and new contracts are down with 29%. In spite of that the CIVB President Alain Vironneau maintained that, according to research, consumer demand is not down (the effect is supposedly due to big stockholders of Bordeaux wine emptying their cellars). Whatever the truth is the meeting was at times animated and some of the growers present claimed that the CIVB don’t do enough to improve the situation. Read more on Blog Sud Ouest. -- And watch our video interview with Alain Vironneau, the president of CIVB and Georges Haushalter, its vice-president , where they talk about the situation.


Wine from Bolivia!

But to tell the truth, Bolivia does produce ”real” wine too since a long time back. Unfortunately we have not (either…) had the opportunity to taste their wines. Since a few decades back they are trying to develop the wine production towards a quality profile. The vineyards are located near the Argentinean border at altitudes of between 1600 and 2850 metres! In total there are some 2000 ha (less than half of Chablis), planted with varieties such as malbec and cabernet sauvignon. Producers like Kohlberg and La Concepcion are spearheading the development. BBC Business and Wine Business Monthly


Wine from Bolivia?

What else could one expect? 1000 bottles of wine were shipped from Bolivia, via Chile to Europe. When it arrived in Bulgaria it was seized by the police (cooperating with the US DEA). When they opened the bottles they found 700 litres of concentrated cocaine, worth some 10 million euro.


Åsa’s Wine of the Month: ”Behind the island” there is a sweet wine filled with sunshine – Dietro l’Isola from Salvino Gorgone

>> Friday, August 28, 2009

Salvino Gorgone owns two hectares on one of the southernmost islands of Italy, Pantelleria, south of Sicily. He makes a wonderful sweet wine using the passito method (drying of the grapes for some time after the harvest) called Dietro L’Isola, “behind the island”. It has aromas of sun-ripened peaches, apricots and honey. It has an astonishing fresh acidity so that it is sweet without being cloying. The balance between sweetness, fruit and acidity makes this wine a wonderful example of a passito di Pantelleria. On the palate it is filled with figs and citrus fruit. It’s made from a grape called zibibbo. It’s a wine that is best drunk on its own, without any food. My suggestion is to simply replace the cheese or the dessert with a glass of Dietro l’Isola so that it can shine on its own. A half-litre bottle costs some 20 euro. Salvino Gorgone does not have a web site but can e reached on salvino.gorgone [at] libero [dot] it


BKWine Pick: Le Vin Chai Moi, Paris 1

Luc Menier is the sommelier and Sébastien Farré is the chef. Born and raised in the same village, in Chinon in the Loire Valley. Now they are both at the cleverly named and very nice restaurant Vin Chai Moi, just off Place de la Madeleine. They used to have a restaurant in the 20th arrondisement in Paris but in May they moved to this, much more central location. They are still putting the final touches to the decoration, when we were there the first time the parquet was not yet done on the first floor but the second time it was in place. They have three levels: a small are on street level which they will run as a small and elegant brasserie with just a few tables. The basement can be rented for private functions or tastings. One floor up is the restaurant and a small bar. A three course menu goes for 33 euro and if you pick and chose from the à la carte you can expect 40-45 euro. The ravioli de langoustine is a delicious starter with a creamy sauce, or try the foie gras de canard mi-cuit. As a main course you can try the file de bar (seabass) with penne and chanterelles mushrooms, a generous entrecôte with creamy mashed potatoes, or a souris d’agneu (literally, a smiling lamb, a very tender knuckle of lamb) with curry cauliflower. If you still have room for desert (please do) you can try their home made baba au rhum (sponge cake steeped in rum, but go easy on the rum, they’ll put the bottle on the table…) or a delicious Grand marnier soufflé. The wine list is quite extensive without being excessive, with several interesting bottles starting at 24 euro: a very good Saint Romain from Alain Gras for 36 euro (lots of pinot in that wine!) or a white Chinon (unusual!) for only 24 euro. (Open lunch and dinner. Closed Sundays and Mondays.)

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Pascal Jolivet, Sancerre

>> Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pascal Jolivet, Sancerre

The Domaine Pascal Jolivet winery is just on the edge of the Sancerre village, at the bottom of the hill. He wines are full of character and quite full-bodied compared to many sancerres. They prove that sauvignon blanc can also make complex terroir wines. The secret, according to the winemaker Jean-Luc Soty, is to do very little débourbage (sedimentation of the must before fermentation). That gives the wine more power and complexity. He also thinks that it is important only to use the natural yeast (that is on the grapes). The sancerres from Pascal Jolivet all have finesse and minerality, good concentration and acidity. Sancerre Les Cailottes Blanc has a lot of terroir character with an underlying elegant and aromatic layer from the sauvignon grape. The Grand Cuvée Pouilly Fumé has grown on soil that is very rich in limestone. It is aged on the lees for nine months and has a touch of mushroom on the nose, lower acidity, more depth and a wonderful, long and intense flavour. They also make some of the best reds in the appellation.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Château d'Anglès, Languedoc La Clape

Château d'Anglès, Languedoc La Clape

La Clape is an appellation not far from Narbonne, on the Mediterranean. It’s a limestone rock that was once an island, mixed with red clay and stones, more stones than anyone would wish for. The area is a protected nature reserve that mixes the garrigue wildlife and vineyards. And it is one of France’s sunniest spots! You can find several excellent producers here. One is Château d’Anglès. It was bought by the Fabre family in 2001. Eric Fabre had worked as winemaker in the Médoc in Bordeaux but dreamed about having his own vineyard by the Mediterranean. Now he works with his son Arnaud and they make some very good wines. One is the white they make from they grape variety bourboulenc, typical for La Clape. Their red wine is full-bodied, partially due to a long skin contact. It has the typical aromas of herbs and spices (“garrigue style”), and ripe berries. A touch of mint, typical for La Clape.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


Welcome to the BKWine Brief nr 73, August 2009

What makes a good wine list in a restaurant? Various magazines and others have an annual prize for ”best wine list”. The most (in-)famous is no doubt the one from Wine Spectator who a year or two ago gave a prize to a restaurant in Italy that did not exist… (They were tricked by a scam devised by an Italian journalist.) But for us, personally, what makes for a good wine list? It is mostly a question of inspiration, intelligence and the joys of discovery. It is not a purpose in itself (or even necessarily positive) that the wine list is long. We’ve seen many long wine lists with, for example, an impressive number of different Burgundies, but all from the same depressing négociant house.

No, a wine list is excellent if you can find something interesting and exciting in each category, wines that match the food on the menu. It’s nice if the wines are a bit unusual and not necessarily the most well known, so that you have a chance to discover something new. It’s a big minus if the list only has Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne (in some markets this “boring wine selection” is replaced by e.g. southern Italy, South Africa and Australia). We’d much rather see a handful of inspired choices than a long list of “safe” names.

Having a selection of wines by the glass is of course also important. But that does not have to be very long either. It’s OK with a few inspired wines. What we definitely don’t like is when the wines by the glass are served in aquarium-sized glasses in portions of, say, a quarter of a litre. Too many restaurants / wine bars serve wines by the glass in so big portions that you’d hesitate to order a second glass. It is much better, we think, with reasonable glass sizes and it’s a big added plus if you can order small “tasting portions” of e.g. 8 cl, so that you can order several different wines to compare.

And then there are some basic “hygiene” aspects of the wine list: It must show who the producer is. A wine list that only says “Bourgogne Saint Véran” is really useless, just as meaningless as if it only said “Shiraz from Australia”. This is really a sore point on many wine lists! The vintage must also be indicated of course. And it should correspond to what is on the bottle… If, in addition, the wine list has a short description of the wine style and some words about the producer and about the wine region, then it is a very good sign! Those simple things will surely help the restaurant to sell more wines and give the customer a much better wine experience!

Britt & Per

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

Read the full BKWine Brief #73 here!


Book Review: Wine Politics

>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wine Politics
By Tyler Colman
Publisher: University of California Press Colman is perhaps better known under the name Dr Vino and is as such one of the most interesting wine bloggers in the US. This book is a result of his PhD dissertation in political science at Northwestern University. The book reads like a collection of historical/political essays on very different subjects around wine, mainly the recent (20th century) history of wine (and is perhaps not so much an analytical overview of wine and politics). It starts of in France and then goes around the world. Colman talks about terroir, the French appellation system, birth of the Californian wine industry and the American prohibition, the bizarre rules and regulations around wine distribution in the US, the impact of large wine corporations and the influence of (some) wine critics, and even organic and biodynamic wines. The strongest sections of the book are the one where Colman dissects the American wine industry and how, curiously, it is a business that is far from being open and competition driven (as one would have thought in the US) but is more marked by special interests, monopoly or oligopoly regulations and not-so-free a market. It is certainly a very interesting introduction to how the US wine industry functions and why it has become such a not-free-market industry. Some sections feel more out of place (and not always 100% accurate – French appellation, biodynamics). But in spite of this, it is an immensely readable and interesting book that we certainly recommend for anyone who wants to understand the US wine market better.

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


Wine journalists – an endangered species?

Sometimes that is indeed the impression one can get. But the question was posed by Jancis Robinson when she made a presentation to the Wine Communicators of Australia. And her answer is, well, it does not look too bright with less wine writing in daily papers and very tough times for all the press. And if you (as a wine writer) have not yet discovered the internet, then you are in even more dire straits. Read her whole lecture here:


Can you tell the difference between a cheap bulk wine and a quality wine?

>> Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rebecca Gibb is an English wine writer with, among other outputs, a nicely written and entertaining wine blog. She recently participated in a one day crash course (condensed from four) organised by the Australian Wine Research Institute to show English hacks how judging is done in Australia. All wines were tasted blind, followed by a discussion. Rebecca was getting a bit uncomfortable when the discussion came to a Nottage Hill Riesling (not a top-of-the-range wine, if you get the drift) that she had give very high scores to. But the embarrassment soon subsided when it turned out that also Jancis Robinson had awarded the wine a gold medal… In other words – don’t be embarrassed to stand up for your taste. Read the full story here:


Book on Japanese whisky by Swedish (!) author wins prize

Ulf Buxrud is a dedicated whisky fanatic. His latest (and second) book tells the story about Japanese whisky. It has been awarded third prize (sprits books) at the Gourmand World Cookbok Awards. His first book won first prize! Congratulations! You can read our book review here: Wine Book Reviews.


Big French wine retail chain for sale

Many visitors to France have seen the Nicolas shops, but you will find a much more exciting selection of wines in the Repaire de Bacchus ‘cavistes’. RdB is a chain with 35 shops, primarily in the Paris region. It is owned by CL Financial who also owns ChateauOnline, on of the leading internet shops for wine in France. The President of ChateauOnline, Eric Brousse, now wants to sell the retail chain, according to the journal LSA. It is, he thinks, the only way to get access to additional capital needed to continue to develop the business. The online one, one assumes he means.


Médoc Marathon & St Estèphe dinner

Every autumn sporting types can compete at the Marathon du Médoc, a challenging competition with a route through some of the most famous vineyards of the Medoc. Along the route there are tasting stations for those who need to fill up on liquid. The race is perhaps not entirely serious so one can win points both for speed and for style. In the evening after the marathon the runners can enjoy a dinner in Saint Estephe where they will have the possibility to taste virtually all the chateaux in the appellation. More info on the marathon, more info on the dinner: di-constanzo.catherine-at-wanadoo-dot-fr


World wine exports down marginally – Italy biggest exporter

>> Monday, August 24, 2009

World exports of wine was marginally down in 2008 to reach 89 Mhl, -0.4 Mhl compared to 2007. That follows a big increase between 2006 and 2007 of 5.6 Mhl. (Why world exports is bigger than world exports, with more than 5 Mhl, is a mystery. Perhaps the shipping containers leak or the sailors drink a lot?) Italy (17 Mhl) is the biggest exporter, in front of Spain (16 Mhl) with a small margin. France (14 Mhl) is only third causing Gallic frustration. The gap to number four, Australia (7 Mhl), is big though so there is not much risk yet to fall to fourth place. Europe accounts for 69 % of all exports, Asia a miniscule 0.5%, America 17%, Africa 5% and Oceania 9%. A commentary: Source OIV:

Country forecast 2008, ‘000 hl in %

  • Italy 17 200 -- 19,3%
  • Spain 16 475 -- 18,5%
  • France 13 703 -- 15,4%
  • Australia 6 985 -- 7,8%
  • Chile 5 885 -- 6,6%
  • United states 4 638 -- 5,2%
  • Argentina 4 141 -- 4,7%
  • South Africa 4 118 -- 4,6%
  • Germany 3 580 -- 4,0%
  • Portugal 2 866 -- 3,2%
  • World total 88 992


World wine imports slightly down – Germany biggest market

>> Monday, August 03, 2009

World imports shrunk slightly to reach 84 Mhl in 2008, down 1.4 Mhl from 2007. (2007 recorded substantial increase over 2006 with +4.6 Mhl). Biggest importer is of course Germany (13 Mhl) with its substantial consumption and modest production. It is followed by the United Kingdom (12 Mhl), USA (8 Mhl), and Russia (6 Mhl). Perhaps surprisingly, France is the 5th biggest importer (6 Mhl). The rest of the list is filled by affluent (and small) western countries. No developing market (apart from Russia) has yet made it onto the list. This will no doubt soon change. Europe accounts for 73% of wine imports, Asia 6%, America 16%, Africa 3%, and Oceania a tiny 1% (don’t the Australians and the Kiwis drink foreign wines?). Source OIV:

Country forecast 2008, ‘000 hl in %

  • Germany 13 707 -- 16,4%
  • United kingdom 11 871 -- 14,2%
  • United states 8 250 -- 9,9%
  • Russia 5 734 -- 6,9%
  • France 5 719 -- 6,8%
  • Netherlands 3 461 -- 4,1%
  • Canada 3 200 -- 3,8%
  • Belgium 3 118 -- 3,7%
  • Switzerland 1 845 -- 2,2%
  • Denmark 1 825 -- 2,2%
  • World total 83 580


World wine consumption down – France still leads, USA closes in

>> Sunday, August 02, 2009

The world-wide consumption of wine shrank somewhat in 2008 to reach 245 Mhl (down with 2.4 Mhl from 2007). Even if there is a gap between consumption and production we are far from the “wine lake” we hade some time ago. The difference between production and consumption is mostly absorbed by other uses (vinegar production, distillation). The biggest consumer is still France with almost 32 Mhl going down the throats (13% of world consumption). Not far behind is the USA (29 Mhl) that is expected to become the biggest consumer in one or two years. In third place is Italy. The fourth and fifth places are perhaps more surprising: Germany (21 Mhl) and China (13 Mhl). China has thus passed the UK (13 Mhl) in wine consumption, and Spain and Russia are not far behind. Europe accounts for 66% of all wine consumed, Asia 7%, America 22%, Africa 3%, and Oceania 2%. Source OIV:

Country forecast 2008, ‘000 hl in %

  • France 31 750 -- 13,0%
  • United states 28 516 -- 11,6%
  • Italy 26 000 -- 10,6%
  • Germany 20 747 -- 8,5%
  • China 13 671 -- 5,6%
  • United kingdom 13 483 -- 5,5%
  • Spain 12 790 -- 5,2%
  • Russia 11 000 -- 4,5%
  • Argentina 10 677 -- 4,4%
  • Romania 5 404 -- 2,2%
  • World total 244 897


World wine production shrinks slightly. Italy is biggest producer

>> Saturday, August 01, 2009

World wine production in 2008 is estimated to be slightly down from 2007: 269 million hl, which is 0.4 Mhl less than 2007. The world’s biggest wine producer in 2008 will be Italy with almost 49 Mhl, followed by France (41 Mhl) and Spain (34 Mhl). There is a big gap to number four that is the US. China is moving up to 7th place. Europe accounts for a hefty 66% of the wine production, Asia only 5%, America 18%, Africa 4% and Oceania 5%. Source OIV:

Country forecast in ‘000 hl for 2008 in %

  • Italy 48 633 -- 18,1%
  • France 41 429 -- 15,4%
  • Spain 34 630 -- 12,9%
  • United states 19 200 -- 7,1%
  • Argentina 14 677 -- 5,5%
  • Australia 12 431 -- 4,6%
  • China 12 000 -- 4,5%
  • South Africa 10 261 -- 3,8%
  • Germany 9 991 -- 3,7%
  • Chile 8 683 -- 3,2%
  • World total 269 018

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