This blog has moved to a new location.

You can now read it on BKWine Magazine.

Please change your bookmarks and RSS feeds accordingly.

And do subscribe to our free wine newsletter, the BKWine Brief!

All info on our wine and food tours are now on

Millésime Bio 2011 - organic wine fair on January 24-26

>> Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pencil in January 24 to 26 if you are interested in organic wine. That are the dates for the next edition of Millésime Bio, the wine fair dedicated to organic wine producers (and also including a number of biodynamic wine producers). Compared to e.g. Vinexpo or ProWein it is of very manageable size – and the exhibitors are primarily small, family owned producers. The wine show is primarily for professionals. An excellent occasion to find new suppliers. 24-26 January 2011 in Montpellier in the south of France. More info


Recycle your old corks, turn them into … sexy underwear

It might perhaps be a bit difficult to do yourself (but worth a try?), but a Portuguese designer has created a line of sexy (hmm, well) underwear made from cork. The sexy frills are created by hand in a limited edition and are specially designed to function well for strip-tease occasions… Cork is made by stripping the cork oaks from the outer cover so it is appropriate to use for things meant to be taken off, is the theory. However, it is not something that will be sold in your usual clothes shop (or even your usual erotic outfit shop). It is not really a serious effort to create a new fashion brand (you might have guessed). The intention is to raise money to help protect the world’s biodiversity (oak forests supposedly are among those with the biggest number of species). The sexy underwear will be sold on auction on eBay and the money will go to protected endangered forests. Read more, and watch the strip videos (both female and male versions available) here: and here

When will we see a collection of sexy screw cap lingerie (oops)?

Enhanced by Zemanta


BKWine TV: New video #2 The Future of Bordeaux

>> Friday, July 30, 2010

Just a quick note to let you know that there's a new video: the second part of the interview with Cesar Compadre on the future of Bordeaux.


BKWine Pick: Domaine Pfister, Alsace

Domaine Pfister, Alsace

Mélanie Pfister started to work with her father at the family domaine in Dahlenheim in northern Alsace in 2006. She is an oenologist with diplomas from the wine universities in Bordeaux and Dijon. She has worked both in Germany and in New Zealand. “In the New World they tend to consider the winemaker the most important person but for us, the most important work is made in the vineyard”, says Mélanie. Her first vintage was the rainy 2006. A challenging year to begin one’s career but the quality turned out alright. The Riesling 2006 Grand Cru Engelberg is a very good wine, very dry and fresh with citrus aromas and some minerality.

Domaine Pfister makes dry wines. All vintages are different, of course, says Mélanie, but the technical work in the vineyard aims at obtaining dry wines. The grapes are harvested ripe but not overripe. She never allows the malolactic fermentation to occur. The domain has 10 hectares, divided into 40 different plots. This is a bit complicated, admits Mélanie, but the positive side of it is that the wines get more complexity because different soil types are mixed in the wine. The terroir is important for her, but she still wants to keep the tradition of putting the name of the grape on the label. “The grape is part of the Alsace identity.”

Domaine Pfister is a very good address if you like your Alsace wines pure, clean and dry.

Click here for address and more recommendations.

Enhanced by Zemanta


BKWine Pick: Domaine Duseigneur, Lirac, Côtes du Rhône

Domaine Duseigneur, Lirac, Côtes du Rhône

Bernard and Frédéric Duseigneur at Domaine Duseigneur are convinced that you need a soil that is alive if you want to make a wine with quality and character. The domaine is certified organic and biodynamic. “This enables us to make terroir driven wines with a fine minerality”, says Frédéric. He uses the usual biodynamic preparations but he also experiments a lot with different plants that can help the vines and the vineyard to a healthier life.

Domaine Duseigneur is situated in the appellation of Lirac in southern Rhône, opposite Châteauneuf-du-Pape, on the other side of the Rhône river. The well-made wines include a fruity and fresh Lirac Rosé and a very good Lirac Blanc, packed with minerality. The grapes are bourboulenc, clairette and grenache blanc. The reds are more elegant than powerful. One of our favourites is Lirac Antarès made mainly with grenache, supported by syrah and mourvèdre. A great wine with personality and complexity.

Click here for address and more recommendations.

Enhanced by Zemanta


New issue: Welcome to the BKWine Brief nr 84, July 2010

>> Thursday, July 29, 2010

In this Brief you can read about the good effects of wine on yor health. It may even reduce the risk of obesity. Another way to loose some pounds may be to invest in the sexy underwear that we write about – made from cork, but that may be counter-acted by the wine-filled bra.

On the serious side, we have a few interesting producer recommendations for you, as well as some new wine videos. And if you want to exercise your brain a bit you can ponder why the 2009 vintage is so expensive. Or exercise your body with the wine lover’s yoga.

We also have quite a lot of information in the international wine market – something for those of you who like statistics and strategy.

We hope that everyone finds something of interest.

Do let us know what you think.

Britt & Per

Read the entire issue of BKWine Brief #84 here!

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them ! More on wine:
Guest writers on
Wine videos: BKWine TV
Wine photography


Two new videos on Bordeaux

>> Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A quick note to say that there are two new videos on BKWine TV:

[F] Quel future Bordeaux ? 1ere partie with Cesar compadre


[E] Denis Dubourdieu, winemaker and consultant #1

More on this later.


EU puts organic wine on ice

There will be no new rules on what is meant by organic (biologique / ecologic) wines in the EU. Today, the only thing that a wine producer formally can say is that his wine is “made from organically grown grapes”. There is, formally, no such thing as “organic wine” in the EU. Rules exist for what can be done in the vineyard but there are no rules for what practices or substances are allowed in the winery for the vinification.

For more than a year the EU has had a project with the aim to define this so that there would be a common definition of what “organic wine” means. However, on May 16 the EU agricultural commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, decided to pull the project, or at least put it on ice. The countries that have participated in the project have not been able to agree on what rules should be used for “organic wine”, what practices and substances should be allowed in the wine cellar. So instead of putting forward a watered down proposal the commissioner chose to cancel the proposal altogether. The major obstacle was, according to Vitisphere, the levels of sulphur that should be permitted.

Read more on and on

A great shame, we think, but perhaps not unexpected, considering the vastly diverging views on winemaking in the different EU countries and the very strong vested interests and protectionist tendencies that pop up as soon as agricultural policy and wine growing policy is discussed in the EU.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Much criticism against Bordeaux primeur prices

>> Friday, July 23, 2010

When the prices for the Bordeaux primeurs of the 2009 vintage started to be announced earlier this spring it led to quite a lot of criticism both from the trade and in the press. Are they over-priced? It is interesting to note that sales of Bordeaux fell dramatically in 2009 and most of the classed growths have released their primeurs with substantial, sometimes very substantial price increases. The reason behind this discrepancy is probably that the famous chateau, those who sell their wines as primeurs, live in their own world (or operate i a separate market segment), a world that is not really seeing much crisis. At least not yet.

Those who have lost ground are the Bordeaux producers selling their wines at more affordable prices. One thing they suffer from is the image many consumers have of Bordeaux wines as being very exclusive and very expensive – which is correct for the perhaps 2% (guessing) of the wines that sell as primeurs, and which have almost a monopoly on the attention from the press when it comes to articles on Bordeaux wines.

Read more about the reactions to Primeur Pricing on e.g. : ”Bordeaux 2009: high prices risk 'alienating' US market”, or on The New Bordeaux “Anti-2009 pricing sentiment", or “Is Bdx 09 pricing aimed at shifting unsold 08s and 07s” (an interesting idea: are the producers on purpose overpricing the 09s so that they instead will be able to sell unsold 08s and 07s left in the cellar?), or ”Are 2009 Bordeaux First Growths overpriced?” (a reasonable question with a price of €450 per bottle). As a consumer we can in any case find joy and solace in the fact that there are plenty of very good wines far below these prices, say in the range of €10-25 (from Bordeaux or from other regions), that in a blind tasting would show very well, but without the text Grand Cru Classé on the label.

Enhanced by Zemanta


The top UK wine blogs

>> Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cision is a marketing and press communications consultant company. They have created a top-ten list of the most notable wine blogs in the UK. We don’t know what criteria they have used and you don’t need to agree with their ranking, but the listing can certainly be a source of much further interesting reading as well as an inspiration for other wine bloggers. Here’s their listing:

1. Spittoon
2. Drinking Outside The Box
3. Jamie Goode's Wine Blog
5. Wine Conversation
6. winedr
7. Confessions of a Wino
8. Worcester Sauce
9. The Pinotage Club
10. bordeaux undiscovered blog

Which are your favourite wine blogs?


Google Street View in the vineyard! In South Africa

>> Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Google Street View is a tremendous resource to see how cities and various regions look. Google has with specially designed cars driven around almost everywhere and made pictures that anyone can see either on the internet with Google Maps or with the separate application Google Earth. Now, for the first time, Street View has ventured into the vineyards. Initially it is only 12 vineyards in South Africa that have been mapped but more will no doubt follow. Instead of the picture making car Google has used a specially designed three wheeled bicycle to map the vineyards.

Read more:

(No, that picture is not from the SA vineyards. So, where's it from then?)


Coteaux du Tricastin changes name to avoid nuclear contamination

>> Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Coteaux du Tricastin is a relatively well known appellation in the southern Rhone valley. However, it has now changed name to Grignan les Adhémar. Within France Tricastin is better known for its nuclear power plant and the wine producers have since several years campaigned for a name change of the AOC/AOP since they think the name has a bad image attached to it because of the power plant. INAO has now, finally, approved the name change. If it will be easier to sell the wine under the hardly easy-to-remember new designation we will have to wait and see (don’t they have any help from a marketing consultant that can explain that people have to be able to pronounce and spell a name to buy it? Or perhaps they don’t care about exports?). In any case wine enthusiasts will have to learn a new name.


Can you count to Châteauneuf-du-Pape?

>> Monday, July 19, 2010

Châteauneuf-du-Pape has over the last decade or two seen a tremendous development both in terms of popularity and more importantly in terms of quality of the wines (hopefully the two aspects are linked). It has also been named “Wine Village of the Year” by the Swedish wine tasting club Munskänkarna (with 20,000 members!). Some of you may think it is a bit tedious to remember all the 13 permitted grape varieties (or is it 15, or perhaps 22?). To make life a bit easier, it is interesting to see how important the different red grape varieties are in Châteauneuf in total (we’ve taken these statistics from Harry Karis’ excellent book on Châteauneuf-du-Pape, read our review here:

Total acreage: 3 231 hectares
- Grenache 2322 hectares
- Syrah 350 hectares
- Mourvèdre 214 hectares
- Cinsault 83 hectares
- Counoise 14 hectares
- Muscardin 10,83 hectares
- Vaccarèse 4,11 hectares
- Picpoul 1,80 hectares
- Terret noir 0,89 ha

So if you sometimes forget the picpoul or the terret noire you are forgiven!


Malbec consumption up 60%

>> Sunday, July 18, 2010

According to statistics from Nielsen in the USA sales of malbec wines (made from the grape variety malbec) have increased with 60% over the last year (Jan 09 to Jan 10). The stats show that it is the grape variety that has grown the most over the period. However, it is still far from being among the most popular variety. The top spots go, unexpectedly, to chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. The good results for malbec can no doubt at least partially be attributed to the various campaigns around the grape variety both from Argentina (which is the major source of malbec wines) and from the southern French region of Cahors. Cahors can be said to be the “origin” of malbec wines and has lately been vary active in marketing its wines and re-launching the district as a source of modern wines with slogans such as “the French Malbec” (an original angle, with the sous-entendu that this region, the origin of malbec, is an alternative to Argentinean malbec) and “the Black Wine”.

Read more

Have you tasted any malbec recently? What did you think?


The perfect furniture for your wine cellar, or the living room

What happens with all those wine barrels that are no longer in use? After three years or so the barrels are often discarded and replaced. May Douelle has come up with a brilliant idea: convert the old barrels to furniture! The have so far developed a small range including a lounging chair, a table and a wine rack. More to come. As far as we are aware they do not yet have any foreign distributors. See it here:


New trials with genetically modified grape vines

>> Saturday, July 17, 2010

The French agricultural research institute (INRA) has – again – planted an experimental vineyard with genetically modified vines. Out of the 500 vines in the test vineyard 70 have been genetically modified to see if that can counter-act the dreaded fan leaf virus disease (court noué). “Again”, since the started a similar trial a few years back but an environmental activist snuck into the vineyard and destroyed all the vines, which put an end to the test at that time. GM vines is a hotly debated subject in France, as in some other countries. Many see it as a big threat. Others see it as a possibility to perhaps counteract diseases like court noué and others against which the wine growers today have to spray with poisonous chemicals in the vineyard, and thus a way to reduce the use of chemical treatments (or in some cases there is no cure at all so the vines simply die). This time the INRA has put up a better fence, supposedly to protect the vines against wild animals. Read more on

What’s your view on GM? Should research on the subject be banned or permitted?


Who is Günther?

Since you read the Brief you may now have come to realise that bag in box wines are immensely popular in Sweden (and in the rest of Scandinavia). More than 50% of all wine is sold in the plastic bag in the carton. There is a magnificent spoof music video singing the praise of the plastic pouch in a box wine: "”Bag in da box”" (And if you look closely there is a very misplaced elder man amongst all the bikinis in one of the scenes). A must to watch for the wine enthusiast! We have no idea what is behind this video, but we hardly think it has contributed to the popularity of the BiB. (Or perhaps it has?) The creative mind behind the video calls himself CJ Westregård and we happened recently to find out that he has made another master piece in the music video parody genre titled Günter-Suntrip. This one contains both family holiday scenes and more bikinis (and is only just within the limit of being well behaved). But who is Günther?


What is quality wine?

>> Friday, July 16, 2010

Sometimes one wonders what this concept ”quality wine” means. Take the fact that half of all French wine is classified as “quality wine” (as noted elsewhere in the Brief). Formally this is defined by the EU with the concept VQPRD (vin de qualité produit dans une région délimité – quality wine produced in a specified region). In each country this is mirrored by a local category. In France it is the AOC/AOP. That category includes many wines classified as AOP but that you can buy for barely over a couple of euros. May be very debatable if much of that qualifies as “quality wine” in the way that the average wine consumer thinks about “quality”.

Now, it is not just France that is rather liberal with the concept of quality. In for example the USA and in Australia there is a similar confusion/inflation. Take an example: there is a category called “premium wines”. Premium – sounds nice, doesn’t it? Must be good quality! However, that is wines in the range of $5-8, not far from the e.g. cheapest Bordeaux that sell for a handful of euro and claim to be “quality”. This is then followed by “super premium”. Wow, one may be tempted to think. This must be top quality! Until you see that it is wines up to $13.99. After that you have “ultra premium” (!). But it does not end there. Then comes “icon wines”! (Example taken from Wine Business Monthly 2002 Perhaps there is an additional category, let’s say “ultimate premium”?

Sometimes one wonders about word magic. What does “quality wine” mean for you?


France made 47 Mhl wine in 2009 (a slight increase)

According to statistics from the French customs office (who collects such statistics) the total wine production reached 47 million hl in 2009. This is an increase from 2008 when only 43 Mhl was made. On the other hand it is substantially less than the average over the last ten years, and far below the record year 1999 when 62 Mhl was made. The production is split thus:

- 49% VQPRD, i.e. ”quality wine”, AOC/AOP
- 28% Vin de Pays / IGP
- 9% other (vin de table)
- 15% for cognac/armagnac-production

One can perhaps deduce that there is a certain inflation in the concept of quality wine.


New issue of the ezine Fine Wine available

>> Thursday, July 15, 2010

A new issue of the ezine Fine Wine is now available. You will find articles about an unusual producer in the Loire Valley, about the big wine competition (“Wine World Championship”) the Concours Mondial, white wines from Spain and other things. Download your own copy from their site:


Promote local grape varieties (2)! The Wine Century Club

There’s actually a club for people who have tasted more than one hundred grape varieties: the Wine Century Club. To become member you have to have tasted at least 100 varieties. And if you have been seriously bit by the wine bug (the wine louse?) you can even become double, triple, or quadruple member. The club organises wine tastings to help prospective members reach the magical numbers (and to entertain current members one assumes). Perhaps time to start a local chapter? On the site you can find a chart in the membership application document where you can start ticking off varieties to help you to get going! A quick count over lunch reached 140 for us. More info

So, now it’s time to start counting! How many grape varieties have you tasted? Probably more than you think!


Promote local grape varieties (1)! Autochtona 2010

>> Wednesday, July 14, 2010

As in most old wine producing countries there is in Italy a wealth of grape traditional varieties. Unfortunately they are often overshadowed by the “international” or even Italian grape varieties that have reach international fame (say, sangiovese or nebbiolo). In October there will be a wine fair only for these lesser known grape varieties: Autochtona 2010. (Autochtone/autochthonous signifies “of local traditional origin”.) If you want to broaden your grape variety horizon this definitely sounds like an interesting place to go: Autochtona 2010, October 25 to 28 in Bolzano. More info


World wine production is stable in 2009

If we look at world wine production it turns out that it is quite stable in 2009: only a slight increase on 2008 to reach 268 million hectolitres. Europe accounted for 68% of the total in 2009. At the end of the 80s Europe accounted for 78% of world wine production. Down with 10% of the total in other words. On the other hand, the figures for wine consumption show that at the end of the 80s Europe accounted for 74% of world wine consumption but in 2009 Europe only consumed 66% of the total. Down with 8% over the period, so the balance is quite stable. “The rest of the world” makes much more wine today but it also drinks much more!

The biggest wine producers:
1 - Italy, 48 Mhl (--)
2 - France, 46 Mhl (--)
3 - Spain, 35 Mhl (--)
4 - USA, 20 Mhl (++)
5 - Argentina, 12 Mhl (--)
6 - China, 12 Mhl
7 - Australia, 11 Mhl (--)
8 - Chile, 9.9 Mhl (++)
9 - South Africa, 9.8 Mhl (++)
10 - Germany, 9.2 Mhl (++)
11 - Russia, 7 Mhl (++)
12 - Romania, 6.7 Mhl (++)
(+ and - indicate change since 2006)

It is worth noting that even if China is today in 6th place of world wine production but it has actually decreased the output since 2006. Over a longer period, since 2002, it has slightly increased the wine production. The greater part of the massive increase in grape production does not go to wine, but to grape juice. And when it comes to selling the wine China is not (yet?) a success: in spite of the substantial wine production volume China is not among the world’s top 12 exporters of wine. (Source: OIV)


World’s grape production stable

>> Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The production of grapes was stable in 2009: 69 million tons were produced (for wine, juice, raisins etc). In a longer perspective the trend has been steadily increasing, albeit in later years stable. In 1995 production was only 55 Mt. The biggest producers were:

1 - Italy, 8.2 Mt (--)
2 - China, 7.2 Mt (++)
3 - USA, 6.4 Mt (++)
4 - France, 6.2 Mt (--)
5 - Spain, 5.5 Mt (--)
6 - Turkey, 3.9 Mt (--)
7 - Chile, 3.1 Mt (++)
8 - Iran, 2.9 Mt (++)
9 - Argentina, 2.1 Mt
10 - South Africa, 1.7 Mt
11 - India, 1.7 Mt
12 - Australia, 1.6 Mt (--)
13- Egypt, 1.6 Mt (++)
14 - Brazil, 1.5 Mt (++)
15 - Germany, 1.2 Mt

The by far biggest increase was in China that has double the production from 3.6 Mt in 2001 to 7.2 Mt in 2009. The biggest decrease was in France who in 2001 was in second place with 7.2 Mt and now is fourth with 6.2 Mt. Productivity has also increased steadily. In the early 90s average production was less than 7 ton per hectare, in 2009 (as in 2008) the production was 8.8 t/ha. (source: OIV)


The World’s vineyard area shrinks (a bit), China sprints

The statistics from the OIV always makes for a fascinating read. We start with the area planted with vines. In 2009 the acreage with vines has decreases slightly. Here are some details. The numbers may look surprising. Keep in mind that this is area for grape production, not necessarily destined for wine. You will see why.

- 7.66 M hectares of land is planted with vines in 2009, a slight decrease from 7.8 Mha in 2008
- Europe has the biggest plantings: 58% of the total, but percentage has decreases substantially since the 80s when Europe accounted for almost 70%.
- The biggest increases have come in Asia (from 16% of the total to 21% over that period) and in Americas (10% to 13%)

The biggest plantings can be found in:
1 - Spain, 1.1 Mha (--)
2 - France, 840 kha (--)
3 - Italy, 818 kha (--)
4 - Turkey, 505 kha (--)
5 - China, 470 kha (++)
6 - USA, 398 kha
7 - Iran, 330 kha
8 - Portugal, 243 kha (--)
9 - Argentina, 228 kha (++)
10 - Romania, 206 kha (--)
11 - Chile, 200 kha (++)
12 - Australia, 173 kha (++)
(+ and - indicates increasing or decreasing trend)

- Spain and Turkey have decreased their plantings with almost 100 kha since 2002, France and Italy with around 50 kha
- China, on the other hand, has increased its acreage with almost 100 kha over the same period.

Should the world’s grape growers fear a glut coming from China?


South Africa, part 7 (the last part): Other grape varieties – there is more!

There is a lot of different grape varieties in the South African vineyards. At Anura, for example, you can taste wines made from viognier, grenache and petit verdot. In their Viognier Barrel Selection 2006 there is a mix of spiciness and smokiness together with some honey. Dry, full-bodied and very nice. Grenache Signature 2007 (ZAR 120) made from grapes from the hot wine region Swartland. It is easy to drink, with aromas of herbs (did anyone say Languedoc?) and elegant. Petit Verdot 2007 (ZAR 90) is well balanced and very nice with a pronounced and refreshing acidity and red fruit. “A pure petit verdot is unusual”, says winemaker Johnnie Calitz, “but that variety goes very well with the climate and soil that we have”.


South Africa, part 6: MCC and bubbles!

>> Monday, July 12, 2010

We were very impressed by some of the MCCs that we tasted in South Africa. Behind this code (that you have to learn if you go tasting in SA) hides Method Cap Classic, meaning the “traditional” way of making sparkling wine with a second fermentation in the bottle. The MCC that Teddy Hall makes is complex and full of character, with four years on the lees (before degorgement). It has a toasty character that comes from the long aging. David Niekerk at High Constantia makes exceptional MCC in the Constantia region, with three years on the lees. The grapes come from high altitude vineyards and the bunches are pressed whole. “I only get 400 litres from 1000 kg”, he explains (in Champagne the extract around 630 l per 100 kg). The wine is dust-dry since he makes no dosage (adding of sugar). It has only 0.6 g of natural residual sugar.

At Anura, at the foot of Simonsberg, between Stellenbosch and Paarl, winemaker Johnnie Calitz applies the philosophy of not interfering much at all, “don’t mess too much with the wine…” he says. It’s a philosophy that generates excellent results. His MCC Brut with 40% pinot noir and 60% chardonnay (ZAR 180) has neither been treated with sulphur nor given any dosage, and it’s very good. Johnnie likes to experiment and he has been testing different yeast strains to see what difference it makes and to see the difference between “cultured” yeasts and “natural” yeast. Using different types of yeast strains gives added complexity to the wine he says.

Have you tried MCC?


South Africa, part 5: Cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux blends

Cabernet sauvignon is the red grape with the biggest plantings in South Africa, followed by its Bordelais cousin the merlot. Cabernet can make excellent wines on its own but more and more wineries have discovered that it can make even more interesting wines if you blend it with some other (Bordeaux) grapes.

At the Dalla Cia winery we meet one of the veterans of Bordeaux blends. More than so actually, Giorgio Dalla Cia can be called the “father” (godfather?) of South African Bordeaux blends. for 25 years he was winemaker at Meerlust and created a wine called Rubicon. It was the first Bordeaux blend in south Africa and is now one of the most famous wines from here. He’s now running his own winery together with his son George. George recently made a cuvée called Giorgio 2006 as a tribute to his father. The grape mix is 70% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot, and 10% petit verdot. The wine has been aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. It has a distinct French feeling to it, with hints of cigar box and a certain austerity. The tannins are distinct but soft. They also make a “pure” cabernet, but they add 10% petit verdot in this too. It improves the structure of the wine, says George. For many years Giorgio dreamt of making his own grappa (the famous Italian wine brandy) but until 1994 it was illegal to produce. But today the grappa is a big part of the Dalla Cia activity, as well as the restaurant Pane e Vino.

Next door to Dalla Cia you find another winery, Stellekaya with the winemaker Ntsiki Biyela, South Africa’s first female, black winemaker. Perhaps she’s tired of hearing that description repeated over and over, so let’s just say that she is a very talented young winemaker that creates wines with balance and complexity as well as personality. She only makes red wines and most of her wines are based on Bordeaux grapes. Some are quite unconventional blends. Hercules is made from sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon and is elegant, easy-drinking but with plenty of taste. Cape Cross is a mix of merlot, pinotage and cabernet sauvignon and has aromas of ripe fruit with a touch of oak, but not too much in spite of it spending 22 months in barrel. The wine is very well balanced and delicious. She also makes a pure cabernet as well as a merlot, both excellent. And let’s not forget her “simplest” wine, Boschetto that sells in South Africa for a very reasonable 40 ZAR. It is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, shiraz and sangiovese and according to Ntsiki “it can be had with any kind of light dishes”. Of course! It is a nice, fresh and mineraly wine. Watch our video interview with Ntsiki Biyela at Stellekaya here!

Talking about cabernet sauvignon – it is a variety that is often made with aging in oak. However, it need not always be so. David van Niekerk at High Constantia is experimenting with a cabernet cuvée without any barrel aging at all, simply because he wants to get even more fruit in the wine. We look forward to seeing (or tasting) the results of his experiments!


South Africa, part 4: Pinotage

>> Sunday, July 11, 2010

So, what’s the status of pinotage, South Africa’s very own grape? It’s a cross between pinot noire and cinsault, made some hundred years ago. These days it covers only 5% of the total vineyard area, a slight increase since 1998. The winemakers seem to agree. It is a difficult grape variety! Wynand Grobler at Rickety Bridge says that “pinotage is the most difficult of all grape varieties. Either you get hard tannins or you get banana aromas!” It can become too meaty, he continues, so you have to be careful. In particular, you must avoid over-extraction. He thinks it is a very difficult balance to find. In 2008 he made his first own pinotage. Judging from that he knows how to find the balance. The wine is very tasty, with dark, ripe fruit, some plums and quite a bit of spice. But he’s learnt a lot since then, he claims, listening to suggestions and advice from friends.

As a consumer one must agree – it is a difficult grape variety. You never know quite what to expect from a pinotage, there are so many different styles. From the simple, fruity, unpretentious version from Kleine Zalze to Groot Constantia’s powerhouse filled with spices and smelling of a freshly tarred summer pier.

(And if you're curious  - why that photo?)


South Africa, part 3: Sauvignon blanc

Chenin blanc is not the only white grape that gives good results in South Africa. A short drive south from Cape Town you arrive in the Constantia district. Here it is sauvignon blanc (pronounced [blanK] with a hard at the end) that is the big white grape variety. “We’re just five kilometres from the sea”, says John Loubser, winemaker at Steenberg, a vineyard that has attracted quite a lot of attention for architecture. “At Constantia we constantly have the sea breeze and since sauvignon blanc doesn’t like too much heat it like it here in this slightly cooler climate.” John harvests the sauvignon blanc and makes for example the excellent Magna Carta where he blends it with a bit of sémillon.

But also other regions in South Africa have been successful with sauvignon blanc. Dalla Cia in Stellenbosch (more about them later) makes a very good and complex sauvignon blanc with aromas of gooseberry and pineapple. “We want to make a French style sauvignon blanc, like Sancerre”, George Dalla Cia says.


South Africa, part 2: Chenin blanc

>> Friday, July 09, 2010

South Africa makes a lot of white wines. It is traditionally a big brandy producer (more about that at another occasion), so white varieties have always been widely planted. The premier brandy grape is the chenin blanc, previously called steen here in SA. “Chenin blanc is easy to grow in South Africa”, explains Teddy Hall in Stellenbosch, “hand we don’t have any problems with getting it ripe and produce clean healthy grapes. That’s why it’s always been popular with the brandy producers”. Chenin blanc is still the most common grape variety even if it has decreased in recent years, as plantings of red varieties have increased. (But last year, more white grapes than red were planted so maybe the trend is changing.) We just hope that the chenin vineyards don’t shrink too much! The grape can be used for not only brandy, but also excellent white wines, and more top quality chenins from South Africa will be welcome!

Like for instance the wines from Teddy Hall. Teddy is one of the best chenin producers in South Africa. He has travelled a lot in the “home country” of the chenin, in the Loire Valley, and in his view south Africa has a definite advantage: “Here in our wine regions the grapes ripen better and they also ripen all at the same time”. His dry and refreshing Chenin Blanc Summer has fermented quite quickly in steel tanks for ten days. It is a dry, refreshing, and clean chenin. “This wine shows the fundamental characteristics of chenin”, says Teddy. The Chenin Blanc Reserve has fermented in barrique and has been aged for one year before release. It has a different range of aromas, a touch of caramel but also the distinct chenin flavours of apricot and grape fruit. “It is a different style of chenin blanc”, Teddy points out, “almost sémillon-like in its richness”.

At Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek we talk with Wynand Groble, a young winemaker with a past at Rust en Vrede and Garden Peak. He has 6 ½ ha of old chenin blanc vines, planted in 1974. From these he makes some excellent chenin wines, for example his delicious rickety Bridge White Range Chenin Blanc 2009, with a good acidity, aromas of passion fruit and a very dry finish. Just like Teddy he experiments with both reductive (in closed vats) and oxidative (e.g. in barrels) vinification of the chenin.

By the way, what's your take on South African chenin blanc vs. Loire Valley chenin blanc?


South Africa, part 1: Not just football

There’s a lot of talk about South Africa these days (but less and less in some countries perhaps…) with the World Cup in full spin. But disregarding if we’re watching football or not, South African wines are becoming more and more popular. In Sweden, for example, it is the biggest supplier of wines to the monopoly and in England it recently overtook France in one market segment. Why is this? Is it because the wines are good, or because they are cheap, or that they are skilful marketers? Or perhaps it is a country that many visit for vacation and become so fond of the wines so they continue drinking when they get home? All of this has no doubt contributed!

The vineyards in South Africa cover around 100,000 hectares, slightly less than Bordeaux. The production is around 10 million hectolitres (quite a lot more than Bordeaux) which makes it the world’s seventh wine producing country. the acreage has not change much the last ten years. What has change very much is that more and more produces now make and sell their wines themselves, instead of delivering to a co-operative. And of course, the wines have become much more interesting. Today there is a wealth of different wine styles and grape varieties.


Vina Maipo and its Gran Devocion range

>> Thursday, July 08, 2010

We recently had the opportunity to meet with the winemaker from Vina Maipo, and taste some of his wines, when both he and BKWine happened to be on a flash visit to Stockholm at the same time. Max Weinlaub was in Sweden to launch the Gran Devoción range of wines (and BKWine was there to meet with book and magazine publishers). All red Gran Devoción is made from syrah, Winelaubs favourite grape, blended with cabernet sauvignon, carmenère or petite sirah. The white version is made from sauvignon blanc, a grape that Max Weinlaub thinks has great potential in Chile. “Consumers want wines with more freshness, without oak, which is what they get if they buy a sauvignon blanc”, he says. For the Gran Devoción he sources the sauvignon blanc from the western parts of Casablanca where the climate is cool.

Max’s ambition is that Vina Maipo will become a leader in Chile for syrah. There are today some 4500 ha syrah plantations and Vina Maipo has 183 ha. “In a very short time syrah has reached very good quality levels in Chile”, says Max. For the Gran Devoción it gives liveliness to the wines and red fruit and delicate acidity. “Since carmenère is harvested late the pH can become rather high, sometimes 4 or more, and then it is good to blend it with syrah that adds acidity”.

Four years ago Maipo started to plant some petite sirah and now they have 6 ha of this unusual variety otherwise mostly seen in California. “It’s an interesting crossing between syrah and peloursin”, says Max, “and it gives interesting aromas of dark fruit, tar, and black pepper. An in addition I thought it was fun to bring together syrah and petite sirah”.

Gran Devoción Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah 2007 is made from 85% cabernet and 15% syrah. Its dark colour comes from the very big temperature difference between day and night in Maule, Max explains. “That gives intense colour as well as round tannins”. The oak is present but well integrated which is exactly what Max strives for. He wants to have a lot of fruit and to keep the oak in the background; a good structure but no harsh tannins; a good acidity and not too much alcohol, which is not always easy in Chile.

Max also has other interesting projects in the pipeline concerning grape varieties from the south of France. He is a great believer in grenache which he thinks will be his next project. “The grenache wines made in Chile today are not very good, we have the potential to make much better”, he says. He also thinks carignan can have potential to become interesting in Chile. “Carignan came to Chile many years ago and it was blended with país (another variety) to give it a bit more body. So now you can find 80 year old carignan vines, beautiful old gobelet on good soil since it often was poor farmers who planted it and they did not have the money for fertilizer. Today the wine producers are very happy to work with these old vineyards”. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Just like the story in the Languedoc.

There are several wines in the Grand Devoción range. We tasted: Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (99 SEK in Sweden), with a good body and acidity, quite complex. The aromatic varietal character is slightly muted compared to Maipo’s cheaper Reserva SB. Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah 2007 (99 SEK): Dominated by dark fruit with oak in the background (30% new barrels). Soft, rounded tannins and ripe fruit with a hint of chocolate. Quire delicious. Limited Edition syrah 2007 (149 SEK): Good fruit and tannins giving a good structure to the wine, yet a wine with sunshine in the flavour where the fruit dominates. Very pleasant.

Have you tasted Vina Maipo Gran Devocion? What did you think?


Fake wines and forgeries

The wine business is in no way safe from fraud or fakes. You may remember the recent scandal when a wine producer in the south of France sold large quantities of pinot noir wine to an American customer. The problem was that he sold much more than what was made in the appellation… Or the Brunello wines that were suspected of containing grape varieties that were not allowed. And so on. Mike Veseth writes on his blog The Wine Economist about another type of fraud: someone who filled an empty bottle of chateau Mouton Rothschild 1982 (bough, full, for this purpose) with some other wine and included it in a blind tasting with “other” cru classé wines. Not surprisingly (really!) it was highly rated and some of the tasters even insisted it was the best wine in the tasting. Interesting story. Read about it and about other fake wines on the Wine Economist! The Wine Economist.


Faugères in Languedoc celebrating summer - 11 July

>> Wednesday, July 07, 2010

On July 11 Faugères will be celebrating summer with a village party where you will be able to taste a lot of different wines and meet the winemakers. There will also be jazz music, dance, oyster eating and lots of other fun. More info on:


Red muscadet? (Or genetic modification in real life)

What would you say if someone offered you a red muscadet? No doubt you would not believe it. Muscadet is made at the mouth of the Loire river from the grape variety called muscadet (or melon de bourgogne). It is well known as a not overly sophisticated refreshing white wine. But soon you may have the possibility to taste red muscadet. Red? Indeed. The winegrower Pierre Viaud has discovered a red variant af the muscadet grape in his vineyard. It all started when he noticed one vine that had one branch with white grapes and another branch with red grapes. Shoots were taken from the red side and there is now an experiential vineyard with some forty vines. One of the ancestors of muscadet is pinot noir so it is no doubt that which is making a come-back. An interesting example of genetic modification in real life! (Source: La Vigne)


Åsa's Wine of the Month: Trebbiano Spolentino

Trebbiano? No, Trebbiano Spolentino!

Wines made from 100% trebbiano can by thin and nondescript. This wine, Trebbiano Spoletino Bianco 2008, is also made solely from trebbiano. But it is a specific clone of the grape that has been used, coming from the area around Spolento in Umbria in central Italy. It was rediscovered by the producer Cantine Novelli after having been forgotten for hundreds of years. We wine consumers can be very grateful for this rediscovery – the wine is very fresh, with a good acidity, with mellow notes of almonds on the palate. The alcohol level reaches 13% and is a warm balance to the acidity. We tried it a warm summer day together with some ‘mozzarella di bufala’ (the real thing made from buffalo milk), succulent cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and some salt and basil. My suggestion this month, especially to those who look down the nose on trebbiano, is to try exactly that! Price around 13 euro. Web


BKWine Pick: restaurant La Part des Anges, Beaune

>> Tuesday, July 06, 2010

La Part des Anges, Beaune

In the centre of the small town of Beaune you find La Part des Anges. the interior is modern, designed (for being in rural France). Food is stylish French, but not Burgundian. It rather takes its inspiration from the Mediterranean region. Elegantly presented by a cheerful staff. Expect to pay around 35-40 euro for three courses. they have a selection of wines by the glass (Burgundy of course) from 4 euro and up. A tiny terrace to stand outside with a glass of wine if weather permits.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Restaurant Locanda Gulfi, Sicily

Locanda Gulfi, Sicilien

Locanda Gulfi opened recently and it is perhaps the best winery restaurant we’ve ever been to. The winery is called Gulfi and you will find it in the region Ragusa on in Sicily. The restaurant is on the floor above the winery and ambition is high, very high. They have recruited the chef Carmelo Floridia to run it. He is originally Sicilian but has worked e.g. at Four Seasons in Milan and in other places and made a name for himself.

This is haute cuisine à la sicilienne, made only with the freshest raw material. You can expect a lot of fish and seafood of course. We tried thin slices of swordfish marinated in olive oil and lemon juice, shrimps from Porto Palo (on the nearby coast), mackerel with a purée of green peas (not a lover of mackerel, but this was delicious!) stuffed with fennel, dried tomatoes and shallots, served with deep fried flowers of squash (zucchini) and a mousse of fennel. The bread is worth a chapter of its own, home made (need we say) with olive oil from the estate made from the tanda iblea olive. Starters cost around 10 euro, primi piatti 9-13 euro, and secondi 14-20 euro. Wines will be Gulfi’s own (of course!), for example the white Carjanti made from the local grape varieties carricante and albanello – dry and full-bodied with hints of peaches, or the red Nerosanlore, full of aromas and concentration from the nero d’avola grape. Gulfi opened only three months ago and they also have a small hotel with sven rooms.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Domaine Sainte Croix, Fraissé des Corbières

>> Monday, July 05, 2010

Domaine Sainte Croix, Fraissé des Corbières

Jon and Elizabeth Bowen decided to settle in the majestic region Haute Corbières in southern Languedoc. In 2004 they bought their own vineyards, starting with 14 hectares divided in 24 separate plots. They have 80 year old carignan and grenache vines growing on poor limestone and schist soil. We met them at Vinisud in February 2010 and were mightily impressed by their wines. They have an excellent white, La Serre, made from grenache blanc and grenache gris. a wine with complexity and personality; aromas of exotic fruit, full-bodied and with a distinct acidity. Almost steely! (~12 euro) The hand-crafted red wines are just as good. Le Fournas (8-9 euro) gets a long and slow maceration on the skins, 6-7 weeks, which gives a compact structure but also elegance. It has a lot of freshness (‘fraicheur’) for a wine made in the South. Thanks to the carignan, Jon claims. Sainte Croix Carignan shows that this grape (the carignan) can make excellent wines, provided it is put in the right hands. They expect to become organically certified next year.

Watch our video interview with Jon from Domaine Saint Croix here.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Château Rives-Blanques, Limoux

Château Rives-Blanques, Limoux

The view from Chateau Rives-Blanques is fantastic: the snow capped tops of the Pyrenees mountain tops. No wonder that Carly and Jan Panman decided to settle here in this majestic environment. Limoux makes a lot of white wines and Rives Blanques makes no reds at all. But they do make several different whites: dry, sparkling (both Blanquette and Crémant) and even sweet (plus a rosé). The traditional grape variety is mauzac and they use it both for the easy-drinking, apply Blanquette and to the still wine Cuvée Occitania, on of our favourites. With its flowery, apply, refreshing character Occitania shows excellently what mauzac can do on its own with skilful winemaking – exactly what Jan and Caryl wanted with this cuvée. Another wine to mention in their range is La Trilogie, made from the three grapes chardonnay, chenin blanc, and mauzac. Six months in oak gives it a certain body that is balanced by a refreshing lemony acidity and (again) apples. You should also try their Dédicace, made exclusively from 100% chenin blanc, a variety that thrives in Limoux.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


Welcome to the BKWine Brief nr 83, June 2010

At this time of the year many are thinking about the upcoming vacation, or perhaps you have already left for holidays (at least in Scandinavia, summer holidays often start in June). For many of us that means travel, perhaps to a country cottage, perhaps to a place close to the beach and the sea.

In the travel business, that is also ours, it is sometime difficult to live in the present. All the time you have to be one year ahead of time. For instance, we have just launched a new wine tour to South Africa for March 2011 (and will be launching more 2011 tours in September). It seems like an eternity to March 2011. But then, and we’ve barely noticed that the time passed, we’re there! Time passes quickly.

Time passes quickly perhaps because there are plenty of things on the agenda. In September we’ve planned a real harvest tour. We will be taking a group of wine enthusiasts to the Bordeaux vineyards, where we will put them to work in the vineyards. They will harvest the grapes; work at the sorting table (a very sticky job, I can assure you!); watch the wine ferment (more exciting than watching paint dry!); pumping over etc etc. The next day we will go to one of the top Sauternes chateaux and enjoy a five course meal (or should we say twelve course? Each course is actually a selection of three or four mini-courses). And all through the meal we will have sauternes, only sauternes. Sauternes all through a meal? Yes indeed. It might sound strange but I can assure you that it is a magnificent experience. Especially when the sauternes are top quality with a selection of different vintages. An food-and-wine matching experience worth trying!

That “the next day” is different is something that is true for every wine tour though. Even if you are travelling and visiting vineyards in one single wine region every visit will be a very different experience – because the wines are different, yes, but mainly because at every place there is a person that one meets, and it is the meeting with the people that really is the major part of the experience. Everyone has different ideas about wine making, wine style and how things should be done. In Champagne in October (another scheduled trip) that will certainly be made clear: a dozen or so wineries that we will visit tasting blanc de blancs, millesimés etc; and everyone will be a different experience, including of course a few memorable champagne lunches – coming back to the food part. That will be another occasion to try wine and food matching: champagne all through the meal! (Perhaps a touch less surprising than the sauternes lunch.)

And talking about food, in Veneto in northern Italy we will taste many amarones and Valpolicellas, but we will also go hunting for some of the local gastronomic specialities: the Parma ham and the parmesan cheese in neighbouring Emilia-Romagna.

In Piedmont in October we will go tasting the world famous Barolos and Barbarescos, made from the nebbiolo grape. Our visit there with a group of wine travellers coincides with the truffles season… It will be an occasion to bring home some of the revered white truffles for those who want to organise a gastronomic event at home later on.

Enough about the autumn perhaps.

In the summer we usually don’t do so much travelling as the rest of the year. But this year we actually have one wine tour scheduled in the summer: to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is actually the first time we plan a wine tour in the middle of summer. We’ve always thought that people are too busy sailing or enjoying the beach, but apparently not so: the Châteauneuf tour is fully booked. So we are sure to plan a summer wine tour for next year too.

But for now we wish you a very enjoyable summer vacation. In the Brief, you will find some summer reading.

Britt & Per

Read the whole BKWine Brief here!

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them ! More on wine:
Guest writers on
Wine videos: BKWine TV
Wine photography

The blog has moved. Here is the new location: BKWine Magazine Blog.

  © Blogger template Webnolia by 2009

Back to TOP