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South Africa’s biggest export markets

>> Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Here are the top export markets for South African wines:
  • UK 104 million hectolitre
  • Germany 72 Mhl
  • .......
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Half a million hectares of vineyard land for sale

>> Monday, August 08, 2011

If you are really aiming to be a volume producer this might be your chance. 989,000 acres, around half a million hectares, of land is for sale in Argentina. It is claimed that it is the biggest patch (patch?) of land ever for sale, but can that really be true? Were not some of the US states incorporated into the nation through sales for example?......

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So how did the Bordeaux primeurs 2010 taste?

>> Friday, August 05, 2011

Tasting primeurs is not as difficult as it is sometimes said. Wines that young, just barely six months after harvest (tasted in April), can be wonderfully attractive: lots of fruit, hopefully ripe tannins and not too much wood (they have only spent six out of 18-24 planned months in barrel). But there are three things that are very difficult: having the stamina to go taste all the wines (no one can), being able to write something descriptive and useful about it (only a few does), and above all being able to make some judgement on the future of the wines you are tasting.

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2,000,000 visitors on

>> Friday, July 29, 2011

Congratulations dear visitor number 2,000,000 on The site recently counted its two millionth visitor!

Statistics on the internet is always a bit tricky. First, there is not really and totally (totally!) accurate way to measure web statistics. Secondly, most statistics is “private” so you just have to trust those who talks about their stats. Or not. There is no way to check and no “official” numbers.

In our case, at BKWine, we use among other things...

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10 microbes that you may (or may not) want in your wine

>> Monday, July 18, 2011

There are many different types of microbes (minuscule organisms) that contribute to making the wine into what it is. Many of them are desirable and even essential to the making of a wine. some only exist during the vinification process while other may survive into the bottled wine.

Many microbes have been studied in detail and it is well understood what they do, but for others their roles and effects are less clear. And in many cases it is not a clear cut answer if they are good or bad. Some may be both good and bad, depending on the situation and depending on your tastes. As often in the wine world things are not so easy as black and white. [...]

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Le Bistro de l’Hôtel de Beaune – BKWine Pick

>> Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A newly opened bistro-chic owned by Swede Johan Björklund, previous owner of London based wine company Cave Cru Classé. But Johan started his career as a chef and now he is the happy owner of this high-class bistro and luxury hotel with seven rooms in the center of Beaune. The food is well prepared and [...]

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Midsummer – the peak of Scandinavian boozing

>> Saturday, July 09, 2011

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La Chablisienne – a high quality cooperative

>> Thursday, July 07, 2011

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Vine planting rights: a return to protectionism?

>> Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A few years back all EU countries agreed to a reform of the agricultural policies concerning the wine sector. One element was to abolish the existing system with planting rights, that decrees that a grower has to ask for strictly controlled planting rights from the authorities. One consequence is e.g. that a successful producer cannot expand his production, unless he can get some strictly limited planting rights. Earlier this year the AREV (an organisation that often is against progress and liberalisation in agricultural reforms) started a campaign to change the agreement to abolish the planting rights. They have managed to get the French minister of agriculture to support their view (France doesn’t exactly have a history of supporting an open market for agriculture) as well as nine out of 26 countries, according to Vitisphere.

To keep the system with planting rights would be, as far as we can see, primarily a way for the established producers to get protection from new competitors and from more dynamic producers. It would certainly be a step against a market economy and liberalisation – badly needed in the wine sector. And it would hardly benefit the consumer who can expect wine prices to be kept higher.

At La Vigne they have published a few interviews with a few advocates of the planting rights, but they don’t make us much wiser. At least it is apparent that their primary concern is not the wine consumer, or increasing the competitiveness among wine producers. Rather a question of keeping competition out.

- An interview with Christian Paly from the CNAOC

- Interview with Catherine Vautrin who has written a report on planting rights, that is certainly confusing (or totally confused), since she seems to mistake planting rights for the AOC geographical delimitations.

We certainly hope that the EU sticks with its agreement to abolish the planting rights and make the wine sector more open to competition, thus paving the way for a healthier wine industry with better conditions for the growers as well as for the consumers. Instead of a return to protectionism.


Mas du Soleilla, La Clape, Languedoc

Soleilla means sun in Occitan, the ancient language langue d'oc. Mas de Soleilla is beautifully situated, close to the sea, in the region of La Clape in Languedoc, not far from Narbonne. The climate is hot and dry, the soil very chalky and stony. The wines, which are both red and white, are generally of good quality. There are a total of 24 estates here in La Clape and all of them can find traces on their properties that go back to Roman times, "says owner and winemaker Peter Wildbolz at Mas de Soleilla.

Mas de Soleilla was created in 2002 by Peter and his wife Christa Derungs, both from Switzerland. Peter worked at the time already as a wine maker. When he found an isolated vineyard of 8 hectares in the middle of the garrigue in the La Clape area, he knew he wanted it. 2002 was the first vintage and now the surface has increased to 22 hectares.

The white wine in La Clape is made of a minimum of 50% of the unusual grape Bourboulenc. There are only 500 hectares world-wide of this grape and 300 of them are here in La Clape. Mas de Soleilla Sphinx Blanc is made with Bourboulenc and 30% Roussanne. It has a lovely aroma of flowers, apricot and a little honey and the oak is well balanced.

For the red wines Peter uses Syrah, Grenache and a little Mourvèdre. I particularly like Mas de Soleilla Les Chailles, a fresh, fruity wine with no oak ageing. Grenache dominates and the aroma of black berries, spices such as mint and rosemary and the good structure makes it a superb wine to combine with Mediterranean food. Mas de Soleilla Les Bartelles has been 15 months in oak barrels and here the Syrah grape is very evident on the nose. A complex, high class wine. Clot de l'Amandier is a blend of syrah and grenache. Full-bodied, with pleasant spicy aromas and with a good balance. A wine to be enjoyed with lamb, duck or game, says Peter.

Languedoc La Clape Mas du Soleilla - stock photo samples - Images by Per Karlsson


Well-crafted writing online on wine: Born Digital Wine Awards

>> Friday, June 03, 2011

The Born Digital Wine Awards is a “competition” for writers, and video producers, professional or not, on the internet. The first edition of the BDWA has just been completed and the winners were announced a few days ago. Congratulations!

- Best Wine Tourism Feature: Wink Lorch Wine Days Out in the French Alps
- Best Editorial Wine Writing; Tim Atkin Towards a New Chile (Part 1)
- Best Winery Self-Produced Content: Randall Grahm On a Mission: The Germ of an Idea
- Best Investigative Wine Piece: Richard Ross Phylloxera– the English connection
- Best Wine Themed Video: Jay Selman (Directed by Mark Ryan) The Scent of Black

(We too participated in the BDWA, in the category Best Investigative Wine Piece, with an article called “VinNet: An exciting new news site about wine?” (translated by BDWA from Swedish). We were shortlisted but did not win…)

Why not participate yourself if you write about wine?

More info on BDWA. The listing of all category winners an runners-up:


Interesting interviews with top chateaux in Bordeaux

I’m not quite sure why they have done it but it is a very ambitious effort. The Swedish wine importer Hjo Grosshandel has published a dozen video interviews with a handful of the great and glorious chateau in Bordeaux. The interviews were done (it seems) at the primeur tastings earlier this year, and the main theme is the 2010 vintage. They have managed to get a quiet moment with the heads of each chateau and the result is exceptionally interesting (and ambitions) compared to much of what you see on wine online. Well done! You can see all the videos on Hjo Grosshandel’s YouTube channel. (And, yes, they are in English!). These are the chateaux they cover:

- Château Pontet-Canet
- Domaine de Courteillac
- Château Margaux
- Château Pichon Longueville comtesse de Lalande
- Château Cheval Blanc & Château d´Yquem
- Château Mouton Rothschild
- Château Beychevelle
- Château Picque-Caillou
- Château Cos d´Estournel
- Château Pétrus
- Château Pichon-Baron
- Ets. Jean-Pierre Moueix


Vineyard area in Austria

>> Thursday, June 02, 2011

Austria has around 46,000 hectares of vineyards. That is roughly one third of Bordeaux (and some). There are four main regions: Burgenland, Niederösterriech, Steiermark and Wien. Niederösterriech is by far the biggest region with 60% of the total. Here are the details for all the wine districts in Austria:

Wine Growing Region: Surface in ha, % share

- Südburgenland: 498, 1.08%
- Mittelburgenland:2,117, 4.61%
- Neusiedlersee-Hügelland: 3,576, 7.79%
- Neusiedlersee: 7,649, 16.66%
Burgenland: 13,840.00, 30.15%

- Traisental: 790, 1.72%
- Carnuntum: 910, 1.98%
- Wachau: 1,350, 2.94%
- Thermenregion: 2,196, 4.78%
- Kremstal: 2,243, 4.89%
- Wagram: 2,451, 5.34%
- Kamptal: 3,802, 8.28%
- Weinviertel: 13,356, 29.10%
- so. NÖ: 30, 0.07%
Niederösterreich: 27,128, 59.10%

- Süd-Oststeiermark: 1,400, 3.05%
- Südsteiermark: 2,340, 5.10%
- Weststeiermark: 500, 1.09%
Steiermark: 4,240, 9.24%

- Wien: 612, 1.33%
Wien: 612, 1.33%


Italy world's largest wine exporter, followed by Spain and France

According to the latest statistics from the OIV Italy is the world’s largest wine exporter. 20.6 Mhl went to the international wine market in 2010, an increase with 7% from 2009. The second biggest exporter is Spain with 16.9 Mhl, up 15%. France is in third place in the wine export league with 13.5 Mhl on export, which is an increase with 7%, just like Italy.


High Constantia, South Africa

>> Wednesday, June 01, 2011

At High Constantia winemaker David van Niekerk makes an exceptional Cap Classic (sparkling wines made by the traditional method) that gets at least three years of ageing on its lees (sur latte). The grapes grow up in the mountains where the climate is fairly cool. Whole bunches are pressed and he gets 400 liters out of 1000 kilos of grapes. The wine is a Brut Zero, no dosage is added.

David has 14.5 hectares in total and makes also very interesting red wines. He likes to experiment. He looks for balance in the wines and he works hard to avoid harsh tannins. In order to emphasize the fruit, he is experimenting with unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon, which is unusual when it comes to high-quality cabernet. The region of Constantia is known for its Sauvignon Blanc and David's Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Nova Zonnestraat, with its lovely citrus flavors is a good example. In addition to MCC (Méthode Cape Classic), Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, David also makes interesting Viognier and Cabernet Franc.


Welcome to the BKWine Brief nr 94, May 2011

The competition in the wine world today is tough whatever the price segment. It means a lot to have your wines or your domaine mentioned in the press. But that means capturing the interest of a journalist. Just a short while ago it was the organic wines that got the headlines. Today it is not enough to be organic. You should be at least biodynamic as well or producer of so called natural wines. Given that these wines represent just a tiny fraction of the world wine production they get a lot of attention from the journalists. And what is the moral of this? Well, you should not be like everyone else. It is not enough to make a good, or even very good, affordable wine, you must also be different. Maybe putting up a solar panel on the roof or hiring a horse for ploughing every now and then will do the trick. Knowing how to promote you wine is as important as knowing when to harvest.

You will read more on organic wines (and the various cousins) here in the future, as well as on marketing.

And we also have to mention that it is urgent to act if you are interested our autumn wine tours:

- Bordeaux, October 5-9
- Burgundy October 19-23

Register NOW! Don’t wait. Otherwise it might be too late.

Britt & Per

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them !
PS2: Read the wine newsletter here


A short story on travelling in Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy

>> Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quite a few kilometres over three days, that’s what you get if you come on our “Three Classics” tour. And quite a few wine producers and wines to taste too! We have written a short story on what we do on that kind of trip, based on the Three Classics we did in April: visit to a few champagne houses, with a delicious lunch at one of them (with some ’04, ’03, ’02, and ’00 for lunch, the ’00 being the famed Grand Cru Clos des Goisses, so you can guess where we were!); a day in Chablis, with dinner at a Michelin star restaurant; and a day in Burgundy. Our favourite quote from the trip was the Burgundy producer who said “we only have 12 bottles left of our 2003 Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru. When you leave we will only have 10”. It was very good! Read the whole story here: Three classic wine regions in three days: summer weather in Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy


Why we don’t see more videos with Jancis Robinson, or wine tasting is not a spectator sport

>> Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jancis Robinson is one of the wine world’s super-stars. She recently published a new video with herself, one of only two she has made with herself. And the whole point of the video is to explain why she does not do more. “Wine tasting is not a spectator sport” she says, explaining that watching someone sniffing, spitting and talking about a wine is not her idea of an interesting wine video. Watch the video with Jancis Robinson here! We absolutely agree. Is it really interesting watching others taste wine? Jancis says she rather lets the wine makers talk about what they do. Great, we say! Totally in line with our philosophy with BKWine TV, where we primarily publish interviews with winemakers and reportage from wine regions. Watch our videos here: interviews and reportage from wine regions with BKWine


The US overtakes France as the biggest wine consumer

>> Monday, May 23, 2011

As expected, the USA as overtaken France as the biggest wine consuming nation in the world, according to a report by Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates. According to GF&A 330 million cases shipped in the US last year, compared to “only” 320 million cases for France. If you count in consumption per capita the US is still lagging far behind the big consuming nations, France included. GF&A estimates the size of the US wine market to $ 30 billion in 2010. But perhaps it is only a question of time before the US is overtaken by China? Read more:


New Zeeland: bigger volumes, lower prices

>> Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The latest statistics show that New Zealand is producing more wine but getting less money for it. That is perhaps a confirmation of the fear that new plantings risk leading to an over-production and a glut of wine. Total production for the recently finished 2011 harvest was 310,000 tonnes, an increase with 15% and a new record. (That would be around 2 million hl of wine.) But prices are falling: in 2010 1.56 M hl was exported to a value of 550M euro. the average price was NZ$ 6,90 per litre (around 3.78€) which is a price decrease with 12%. Can we expect further falls in the prices following the big harvest? More info


Sangiovese to be planted in Languedoc

>> Monday, May 16, 2011

One of the effects of the wine sector reform that has recently been done in France is that it will become somewhat easier to plant unusual or untraditional grape varieties. According to 40 hectares in Languedoc will be planted with sangiovese. The Italian vine nursery Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo (VCR) has sold some 150,000 vines to a buyer in the Languedoc (whose name is not disclosed). The motivation is that sangiovese has a better resistance to dry climate and a higher production, according to the sources. Read more


Wines from Istria in Croatia, part 5: An Austrian in Istria explains

Guido Schwengersbauer has lived in Croatia for many, many years. Today he runs a charming small hotel called La Parenzana in the small village of Buje on the Istrian peninsula. One of his passions is the Istrian wine and food.

We met Guido recently when we were travelling in Istria and talked about the Istrian wine and food the he so loves. Watch the video interview here: Guido talks about wine and food from Croatia

(BKWine organises a – bespoke – wine tour to Istria in the autumn of 2011, including a fabulous truffles lunch.)


Wines from Istria in Croatia, part 4: with an international reputation: Markezic and Degrassi

>> Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One of the most established and well known producers in Istria is Marino Markežić at Kabola. He wants to go back to the roots. And his way of doing this is to ferment and age his malvazija in clay amphoras with the skins. “The wine breaths and because it stays in contact with the skins for seven months you get everything out of the skins!" It is definitely an interesting wine, as are all Kabolas wines, it is very dry, nutty and powerful and it has a beautiful amber colour.

Moreno Degrassi is also quite well known. He wants to show the world that it is possible to make wines in Istria from other grapes than malvazia och teran. Therefore he grows 16 different varieties: Chardonnay – quite exotic and fruity – the only Viognier so far in Istria, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, pinot noir, petit verdot and many more. He likes the local varieties however, and he thinks Istria must keep its special terroir style to be able to compete. But the wines should be made in a soft and accessible style, he thinks. The temper of Teran in tamed with oak ageing, “it softens the acidity”, he says. You can tell that he adapts to the international market. His wines are very well made but not as typical Istrian as the wines from Tomaz, Matosevic and Kozlovic. For the moment he sells most of his production of 130 000 bottles in Croatia but more and more bottles are exporter.


Wines from Istria in Croatia, part 3: Breaking new ground; Kozlovic & Tomaz

>> Monday, May 09, 2011

Gianfranco Kozlovic is also experimenting with acacia wood. His Acacia malvazija is aged for nine months and he likes the result so far. And he thinks it is important to do something different. The wine is very good, it has personality and character. And an incredibly long aftertaste. And the acacia is there, definitely, but if it comes from the barrels or from the grape…He also makes a malvazia with 12 hours of skin contact. It is more powerful, of course, with hints of peach and ripe apples, but the freshness and the flowers are still there. I love the high acidity in these wines. malvasia could easily become my favourite white grape, a shame that it is so difficult to get outside of Croatia.

It has not been easy for the young quality-minded growers in Istria. “I didn’t start at zero”, says Klaudio Tomaz in Motovun, “I started at minus 20! The big coop here has made a lot of damage to our reputation.”

Klaudio and Daniella Tomaz is a young couple with 8 hectares of their own and another 10 on lease. The town of Motovun has a long wine tradition but for a long time the coop only focused on mass production. The Tomaz couple makes quality wine and they want to make their personal style of Malvazija. “We have a different climate and soil here, compared to other places in Istria”, says Klaudio. His basic Malvazija is very pleasant and floral, quite powerful and very fresh and dry. He also makes another Malvazija, with two weeks of skin contact, which is a traditional way of making Malvazija in Istria. This wine is aged in mulberry wood (!). His sweet Malvazija is a remarkable wine. The grapes are dried for 100 days after the harvest. They are pressed and the must ferments slowly in 2 year old oak barrels for 3 months. The alcohol reaches 16,8 % and the nose is smoky with a certain bitterness and aromas of dried figs. Definitely interesting!


Wines from Istria in Croatia, part 2: Acacia and Ivica Matosevic

>> Saturday, May 07, 2011

Ivica Matosevic is the first one to make wine in his family. “You can’t make a lot of money in wine” he says, but it is a nice job! And people like my wines, think they are very drinkable.” He used to work as a landscape architect and 1996 was his first vintage. He is, as most producers in Istria, specialized in malvazia. But he also makes good red wines from the local Teran. Like malvazija, this is a grape with a strong personality and he prefers to blend it with Merlot to get a better balance.

His bestseller is the clean and fresh malvazija Alba. It is bottled early after fermentation on stainless steel tanks. “I want to keep the freshness, this should be an easy-drinking product”, he says. It expresses beautifully the fresh and floral character of malvazia. There is a pleasant bitterness at the finish, also very typical.

Another typical aroma of the malvasia is the acacia flower. Maybe that is why Istrian producers are experimenting with ageing in acacia wood. “We have a local cooper who works with acacia wood, it is quite hard to work with and it gives a strong taste”, says Ivica. “I use 15 % of acacia barrels but never new wood. The acacia gives smoky notes to the wine and also some honey but it allows the wine to keep the extraordinary freshness that Malvazia is capable of.”


Wines from Istria in Croatia, part 1: Magnificent Malvazia

>> Friday, May 06, 2011

Are you looking for something different, out of the ordinary? Wines that don’t taste like everything else? Go to Istria and taste their extraordinary malvazia (that can also be written malvazija or malvasia)!

Istria is a coastal region in the north of Croatia. Italy is just around the corner and you can’t help noticing. For one thing the whole of Istria is a bilingual region, so everybody speaks Italian and Croatian. You also have a strong Italian influence in the gastronomy and the architecture.

Istria has a long wine tradition but during the time of Yugoslavia good quality wines were not the order of the day. New producers and a new generation are now struggling to make the world realize that the quality has gone up. Most of the Istria wines are still sold in Croatia but export is increasing. We wish them luck because their wines are really worth it! Istria has 5000 hectares of vines (approx. like Saint Emilion) and around 120 producers. “Many of us are young, small producers from same generation and we all look for quality”, says Ivica Matosevic who has a vineyard outside the town of Pula.


Germany’s most grown grapes

In our last Brief we wrote about the most popular grape varieties grown in Germany. The figures came from a print magazine but after looking at them a little more closely we thought they looked a bit peculiar (as did some of our readers!). So we checked instead the statistics from Deutsche Weininstitut:

These figures are from 2008 and in % of total area.

-- White grape varieties
Riesling: 21.9%
Müller-Thurgau 13.4%
Silvaner 5.1%
Ruländer 4.4%
Weissburgunder 3.6%
Kerner 3.6%
Bacchus 2.0%
Scheurebe 1.6%
Chardonnay 1.1%
Gutedel 1.1%

Total area for white grapes: 63.6%

-- Red grape varieties
Spätburgunder 11.5%
Dornfelder 7.9%
Portugiese 4.3%
Trollinger 2.4%
Schwarzriesling 2.3%
Regent 2.1%
Lemberger 1.7%
Acolon 0.5%
Merlot 0.4%

Total area for red grapes: 36.4%


FINE The Wine Magazine free to readers of the BKWine Brief

>> Thursday, May 05, 2011

FINE Magazine is a super-exclusive magazine on wine. It is enough to look at who their advertisers are and you understand: Aston Martin, Brioni, champagne houses, auction houses, Piaget etc. And it costs 120 euros to subscribe to four issues (or 60€ for the electronic version). The articles are in the same category. In the latest issue: Angelo Gaja, Bordeaux 2003, Chateau Palmer 1870-2006, Dom Perignon Rosé 1959… But it is not any superficial pieces, on the contrary. A lot of contents, a lot of text. And many beautiful pictures. As a reader of the BKWine Brief we can now offer you the latest issue for free. You can find it here: FINE The Wine Magazine


Born Digital Wine Awards shortlisting

>> Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Good news! We're shortlisted for the "Investigative" category for the 2010 Born Digital Wine Awards.

It's for a piece we wrote on what seems to be a wine importer that deliberately is disguising marketing and advertising as as journalism in what apparently is a  blatant effort to deceive consumers.

The article was titled "VinNet: Spännande ny nyhetssajt om vin? Eller olaglig marknadsföring?" (so it's in Swedish - but Google Translate works fine!), which means "VinNet: Exciting new news site on wine? Or illegal marketing?". it was originally published in our December 2010 newsletter.

There was a follow up article called "”Nyhetssajten” Vinnet: när saker inte är som de verkar. Eller är de? Journalistik eller reklam?", ("The 'News site' VinNet: When things are not as they seem. Or are they? Journalism or advertising?")

Now we're just waiting for the 18th of May when the winners will be announced!


Cognac makes new sales record: 1.86 bn euro

Things are apparently going well for cognac, in spite of the financial crisis. 2010 was a record year for cognac sales: 1.86 billion euro in sales, which is an increase of almost 30% compared to 2009 (which was a bad year though). That means shipments of 153 million bottles, which is an increase of 18%. The best performance is in the premium segments: VSOP and XO. They now account for more than half of all sales (54.5%). According to the press release frowm which thse numbers come cognac is drunk less and less as a digestif, after dinner with coffee: 70% of all cognac ends its life as a component in drinks or on ice. 97% of all cognac is exported from France (cognac is only produced in Cognac, in a small region north of Bordeaux called Charentes). Asia is now the biggest market with 33.2%, marginally ahead of N+S Americas (32.2%) and Europe (30.5%). Where the remaining few percent goes is not specified. (Angels’ share?)


Ten year anniversary for Champagne des Vignerons.

Traditionally champagne is made and marketed by the big ”houses” in the region, with all the well-known champagne brands. Quite few champagnes come from individual growers and bottlers. Some say that the fabulous success of Champagne in recent decades can be attributed to the dominance of the houses. Others say that they mainly produce rather average wines without too much individuality. Ten years ago the individual growers created a sort of “umbrella brand”, called Champagnes des Vignerons (“growers’ champagne”), to be able to better collectively market their wines. In other works, this years marks the tne year anniversity of this brand. today almost a third of all champagne is made and sold by individual growers. Read more on Le Journal du Vin. Congratulations!


Asa's Wine of the Month: Paolo Scavino, Barbera d´Alba 2010

>> Tuesday, May 03, 2011

We recently did a wine tour to Piedmont and visited Paolo Scavino. He makes many interesting wines: Barolo, Langhe Nebbiolo, Barbera etc. Most (or all) would merit a mention under WotM but I will choose one that is a good food wine.

Most Italian wines are made to go with food rather than as “cocktail wines” (drunk on their own as a social drink). Scavinos Barbera d’Alba is a good example. It is also very affordable, around 15 euros. The acidity is quite high – a characteristic of the barbera grape. But it is balanced by a good fruit and good structure. It is quite low on tannins but is very refreshing and goes excellently with some “simpler” Italian dishes, like pasta and charcuteries, for example the dried prosciutto ham or a slightly spicy salami.


5e Cru - Cave à Vin & Table d‘hôtes, Paris 5e

It looks like a wine store and it is a wine store. But also a very inspiring place for a lunch or a dinner, amongst wine bottles and wine cases. The selection of wines is amazingly good, if you – like us – like small, ambitious producers with a penchant for terroir and organic viticulture. For lunch there is a small menu, you can choose between two or three courses (entrée and main course is 13,90 euro). Nothing fancy or complicated, but very good and well prepared.
For dinner there are mostly charcuteries and cheeses but also foie gras and various patés and terrines. And desserts. You will have no problem in finding a wine to go with your meal. Just to mention a few of my favourites: Morgon from Jean Foillard, Moulin-à-Vent from Paul Janin, La Clape from Domaine d’Anglès, Chinon from Philippe Alliet and Vacqeuyras from Domaine Monardière. Very nice atmosphere and service. Booking recommended for dinner.

5e Cru - Cave à Vin & Table d‘hôtes
7 rue du Cardinal Lemoine
75005 Paris
tel : 01 40 46 86 34


BKWine Pick: Champagne Tarlant

>> Monday, May 02, 2011

You find Champagne Tarlant at the top of the small village of Oeuilly, a few kilometres west of Epernay. The view from their house is magnificent, as is their champagnes. Not only are they of high quality, they also have personality. “It is thanks to our passion for le terroir”, says Benoit Tarlant, the winemaker. The family Tarlant has in total 14 hectares of vineyards but everything is not in one single plot, on the contrary. They actually have 60 different plots, which means a lot of different types of soil and terroir. And this adds complexity to their champagnes. “It is important”, says Benoit, “to point out that champagne is actually also a wine, not only a drink for festivities”. He makes a great deal of effort to obtain a base wine of high quality. “Normally we have an alcohol degree between 10.8 and 11 % in the base wine and a high acidity, 8 grams per litre. The acidity should be high, it gives a back bone to the wine”, he says.

Tarlant’s best seller is something unusual. It’s a Zero Brut, admittedly something that is in fashion right now, but for most producers the Zero Brut is a special cuvee, not their volume champagne. Champagne Tarlant Zero Brut Nature is made with a third each of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. It is a lovely fresh champagne, with hints of citrus and it goes perfectly with shellfish or just on its own, as an aperitif. I also recommend La Vigne d'Antan from 100 % Chardonnay from non-grafted vines. The Rosé Zero is also very unusual and something you must try if you are a rosé champagne lover. Tarlant was actually the first to make a totally dry rosé champagne. I also have to mention the complex and full bodied cuvee prestige Cuvee Louis, a champagne that spent ten years in the cellar on the lees.

Web site:


Chateau Grillet, a mythological appellation and chateau, sold

Chateau Grillet is one of these French appellations that most wine lovers have heard about but few have tasted. It is sometimes said to be France’s smallest appellation (it depends on how you count) and it is one of the rare districts where all wine is made by a single producer. Both the appellation and the wine estate are called Château Grillet. For many generations, since 1830, it was the property of the Neyret-Gachet family but they have now sold it. The new owner is already a winemaker. His name is François Pinault and he also owns Château Latour in Bordeaux. Winemaker is perhaps an exaggeration. He is one of France’s richest persons, owing e.g. PPR. Chateau Grillet is a region in the northern Rhône Valley. the vineyard is 3.5 hectares, planted exclusively with viognier grapes, making an aromatic but full-bodied white wine. Just like its neighbour Condrieu. Read more:


The Indian wine magazine Sommelier India writes about BKWine’s wine tours

Sommelier India is a glossy (in the nice sense of the term) wine magazine that also has a web site full of wine information. They recently ran an article called “Information You Can Use – Wine Tours” where they show-case three wine tour operators. And one is BKWine! Anther tour operator they talk about is Shivani Dogra who organises wine tours in India! Read the full article here


Welcome to the BKWine Brief nr 93, April 2011

>> Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our new site on wine travel is now up and running. All information about our wine tour activity will in the future be found on Our wine tour programs will of course be published there (take a look at Bordeaux and Burgundy!), but we will also publish a lot of other travel-related information on that site. First we have a “Travelog”, or travel blog, that talks about things that happen on our wine tours, visits we do, people we meet etc. But it will also talk about other things that have to do with wine travel. On that site there will also be various other “useful” information, for example city guided to some of the places that we visit on our wine tours (e.g. Beaune in Burgundy), or short introduction to the wine regions that we travel to. You can find all that under the menu ‘resources’.

If you want to be up to date on what we do on the travel side it is a good idea to subscribe to the RSS feed for, or specifically to the RSS feed for the travelog.

(There will be quite a lot of talk about travel in this Brief and elsewhere – as you can imagine, we have been quite immersed in travel things having launched our two new sites (one in Swedish too) and also finalising this autumn’s program.)

The wine travel season has now started in full speed. You can for example read more on Istrian wines in this Brief – we were in Croatia not very long ago.

We have also been to Champagne, Chablis and Burgundy (our “Three Classics” tour). We enjoyed a weather that was almost like summer and we visited several interesting producers – and tasted many wines. And then we went to northern Italy, both to Piedmont (amazing how many different styles of Barolo and nebbiolo wines there are!), to Soave and to Valpolicella. Interesting mix!

At this time of the year the activity is low in the winery but in the vineyards things are very busy. Buds are bursting so that you can almost hear a pop-pop-pop among the vines. And soon you have leaves and tendrils everywhere. Apparently, a vine can grow 20 or 30 centimetres per day when it is as most vigorous. This time of the year is really a wonderful time to come out into the vineyards: there are different shades of pale green everywhere, fruit trees are blooming and even between the vines you often see flowers. These days growers often let the grass and other plants grow between the vines so you can sometimes get amazingly colourful patterns in the vineyards. Another big advantage of travelling at this time of the year is the long and bright evenings!

Weather has been excellent (amazing!) in many parts of Europe so far this spring. In Paris we have had two weeks of summer weather – with lunches on the balcony. Some wine growers tell us that the growing season is two weeks ahead of normal. One producer said pragmatically “well, we just have to adapt”. How true. However, in some wine districts it has not been so fun: in Sauternes they had hail. How much damage it has done, or if the vines will be able to recover, we don’t know. We will have to wait and see – just like always with wine.

Britt & Per

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

Read the full BKWine Brief here!


Wine tours brochures now available for download

>> Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The wine tours this coming autumn have now downloadable e-brochures. You can download the pdf and print it or share it with your friends on email.

You can find the list of wine tours (Bordeaux, Burgundy) here.


A six-Michelin-star dinner!

>> Friday, April 22, 2011

I went to a very interesting dinner the other day, the Dîner des Chefs at Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme. The dinner was organised for the 6th time (and always during the Paris Book Fair), by the publishing house Glénat. One of the specialities of Glénat is cook books and books written by famous chefs, so for this dinner they had gathered 5 different French chefs for an extremely creative dinner who together had six Michelin “Red Guide” stars!

A creative dinner, yes. What we were served was French cuisine haute couture. Fascinating, delicious but, as often is the case with haute couture, sometimes a bit too complicated and even strange. Read the details on this Dîner des Chefs på Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme



France’s best sommelier competition now open for entrants

Every two years the French sommelier organisation (UDSF, l’Union de la Sommellerie Français) organises a competition for young wine waiters, open to anyone who is working with or studying sommellerie and is under 26.

Anyone who wants to participate should register before April 25 by contacting the l’Union de la Sommellerie Français. The competition is sponsored by Champagne Duval Leroy and the finals will take place at their winery on 27 and 28 November.


CIVB on the 2010 vintage in Bordeaux

>> Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beautiful and sunny summer and an exceptional autumn gave us a very successful vintage in the whole of Bordeaux. Good maturity and fine, healthy grapes. 2009/2010 is now being compared to the successful duo of 1989/1990.

White, dry wines

The sunny days with cool nights kept the acidity and the freshness in the grapes. Sauvignon Blanc started to be harvested end of August and Sémillon, always later to mature, in the end of September. The wines have a fine balance.

Red wines

Merlot was picked from September 20 and Cabernet Sauvignon from end of September and all through October. All grapes reached a very fine maturity and a good acidity. The ageing potential is very good. The year is also characterized by soft and ripe tannins and high alcohol levels.

Sweet wines

Very good and even botrytis. The firsts grapes were picked end of September and the harvest continued until end of October. Sémillon, especially, had very concentrated and intense flavours this year. An exceptional year for this grape.


Bordeaux plans for the future - CIVB's view

>> Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Georges Haushalter, the president of the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux) was in Paris recently to talk about the new vintage 2010 and also in general about Bordeaux’s plans for the future.

Bordeaux has more or less recovered from the crises of 2008/2009 when they lost about 20 % of their sales. But the crisis is not totally gone. Some chateaux still have problems, especially many petit chateaux – small, unknown chateaux in (mainly) AOC Bordeaux – and some of these will probably soon disappear from the scene. One of CIVB’s priorities is to reorganise the sales in bulk to be able to more effectively fight against low prices that harms the image of Bordeaux and, of course, harms the financial situation of the winegrowers. The beautiful vintage 2010 will help to us to take one further step out of the crises, says Georges Haushalter.

Bordeaux is a wine region with enormous differences in prices. You have everything from very simple wines that nobody wants to pay for; to the extremely expensive ones that are more like luxury products comparable with a Louis Vuitton handbag. If you have wines that nobody wants to pay for, well, then something has to be done. The only way to fight against low, image harming prices, however, is to make the wines more attractive, in taste and in presentation. If you can’t do that, stop making the wines.

Georges Haushalter also wishes to make Bordeaux more accessible, to make people understand that they don’t have to be afraid of Bordeaux. This is probably a very wise way of thinking. Too many people think of Bordeaux as a region with high prices and prestigious chateaux and nothing more. It is important to make people realize that Bordeaux has so much more to offer, in very reasonable prices. In Great Britain a marketing campaign is running at the moment, with the slogan "With good food we drink Bordeaux”. More campaigns to stress the fact that Bordeaux is the food wine par excellence (so true) is being planned.

Georges Haushalter also wants to make Bordeaux easier to understand. ”We have many different appellations”, he says, ”around 50, and that is our richness and strength and we don’t want to change that, but we need to make it more easy to understand.”

Easier said than done, but then that goes for the whole of France.


The strange story of the Languedoc classification

>> Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is the purpose of a classification to benefit the consumer or to benefit the producer? That is one of the questions one can ask when reading about the new (yet to come) classification in the Languedoc. It was recently launched officially at a trade event in the Languedoc. The answer to the question seems to be the producer, but only the incumbent and well behaved.

Here are the principles.

There will be three levels in the classification:

-- “plain” AOC Languedoc wines costing 3-4 euro per bottle

-- mid-range wines costing 3.5/4 to 7/10 euros per bottles. This will include the appellations Corbières, Minervois, St Chinian, Faugères, Picpoul de Pinet, Malepère, Cabardès and various sub-appellations such as Languedoc St Georges d’Orques and Languedoc-Montpeyroux

-- expensive wines, above 7/10 euro per bottle, including Corbières-Boutenac, Minervois La Livinière, La Clape, Limoux blancs, St Chinian Roquebrun and Berlou as well as Languedoc -Grès de Montpellier, Pézenas, Pic Saint Loup and Terrasses du Larzac

If we recall correctly, the mid range is to be called Grand Vin and the top level Grand Cru. Or was it the other way around? Is the distinction obvious to you?

We fail to see the point in this. If the classification is just a function of the prices, what good does it do? Is it difficult for the consumer to look at the price tag? What if someone in Saint Chinian makes a very ambitious wine, costing more than 10 euro, what will happen? Or if someone in Terrasses du Larzac chooses to make a rather simple volume (or makes a promotion to get into a market) wine for only 3 euro?

The CIVL (the producer control organisation) says, according to Vitisphere, that they have no means to sanction those producers who don’t respect the price levels defined. At the same time Jerome Villaret responsible at the CIVL says, according to Vitisphere: “we will only give promotional funds to those who respect the rules”. More from Vitisphere

Languedoc is one of the most exciting and most dynamic wine regions in France and this classification scheme seems designed to stifle that dynamism. To us this seems just another way of trying to do collective price fixing. Is that really acceptable today with EU open market and competitions rules (banning e.g. price fixing among competitors)? And it also seems to be a way of confusing the customer, rather than making it more transparent. And at the same time putting up artificial barriers that will make it more difficult for innovative and entrepreneurial winemakers to succeed. But perhaps we have misunderstood the point?

Update: After we wrote the above we found some more information on the Love That Languedoc by Ryan O'Connell (with an interesting but hard to understand video). But it just seems to confirm what we said. First they create a labyrinth of appellations, sub-appellations, terroirs etc. Then they hope to “simplify” by creating yet another layer of terminology, thinking it will simply for the consumers. Read our more detailed comments on the O’Vineyards blog


Champagne Brut Nature – the new trend?

>> Monday, April 18, 2011

Dry champagne goes under the name of ‘brut’ (French for raw, unprocessed). Half-sweet and sweet are, confusingly, called sec and demi-sec. Even if ‘brut’ linguistically means “in its original state, sugar has been added to the brut champagnes, at bottling with the so-called dosage. Up to 12 grams per litre for brut. (12 grams is around 2 table spoons of sugar, or a half filled espresso cup) Perhaps more than what one would think? In recent years a new category has entered the champagne scene: ‘brut nature’, sometimes called brut zero, brut integrale or other things. The most extreme variant of this is when no sugar at all is added. It has even become a bit of the in thing to ask for. “The drier the more luxurious”, “the sugar hides the quality” etc. To some extent it is true, excessive sweetness can hide defects, but a bit of sugar can also give a more balanced and harmonious wine, especially if the acidity is very high. So one should not exaggerate “totally dry is best”.

Ideally one should taste (blind preferably) and decide for oneself. But even if it has become trendy with brut nature it is far from being a big seller. Yet. In 2003 shipments to the UK of brut nature was 180 bottles (according to CIVC). In 2006 it reached 474 bottles and in 2009 a dizzying 4,770 bottles. But it is a hardly noticeable drop in the champagne ocean compared with the 32 million bottles of brut shipped in 2008.


UK is biggest export market for South African wine, Sweden in third place

The United Kingdom is by far the biggest market for South African wine exports. A bit more surprising is perhaps that Sweden, with only 10 million inhabitants, is the third biggest market, far ahead of e.g. the USA. South Africa is actually the biggest supplier of wines to the Swedes. Here are the top-ten export markets for South Africa (May-09 to April-10, source: Drinks Business and DOAFF/SA):

- UK: 121 million litres
- Germany: 72 Ml
- Sweden: 39 Ml
- The Netherlands: 28 Ml
- Denmark: 16 Ml
- USA: 14 Ml
- Canada: 12 Ml
- Belgium: 9 Ml
- France: 9 Ml
- New Zealand: 6 Ml


The French catch the bag-in-box bug: 25% of wine sold in Bib

>> Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2.23 million litres of wine was sold in bag-in-box in the big retail chains in France in 2009. This represents 24.4% of the volume! It is an increase of 17.5% compared to 2008. Evidently the bib wines are getting more expensive: the value of sales reached 530 million euros which was an increase with 20%.

The figures include sales in “grandes surfaces” and excludes direct sales and specialised wine shops. Grandes Surfaces represent the majority of the sales though. (Source: La Vigne, France AgriMer)


Lavinia opens new shop in Paris

It is not an exaggeration to say that Lavinia has revolutionised the wine shop scene in Paris. Their wine shop is very centrally located, close to Place de la Madeleine. There you can find 6000 wines and spirits (for comparison, three times as many as the Swedish monopoly Systembolaget offers). The shop extends over three levels with 1500 m2 surface. Around 2000 of the wines are non-French!

Lavinia has recently opened a new shop in Paris, this time in the business district La Defense. It is a much smaller shop, but still has 260 m2 and some 1000 references. There is even space for a small tapas restaurant where you can drink any wine from the shop at no extra charge (over shop prices). They also have a wide selections of wines by the glass, served in 3cl, 5cl or 10 cl portions. A must for a lunch time pause if you are in La Defense!

More facts about Lavinia: Lavinia France turned over some 13 million euro in 2010; the whole group 40 M euro, with 200 employees (49 in France). They have a wine club with 6000 members – the members account for 50% of the shop’s turnover. They have shops in Paris, Geneva, Barcelona, and Madrid, and franchises in Kiev and Odessa.


Three new French appellations: Fiefs Vendéens, Côtes-du-Brulhois and Gros plant du Pays Nantais

>> Monday, April 11, 2011

The story starts with the reform of the French appellation system. Since a long time back there has been a small intermediate group called VDQS, just below the highest quality category AOC.

VDQS stands for Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure. The new rules will eliminate the VDQS category by the end of this year. In February the INAO, who sets the rules, decided to ‘upgrade’ three current VDQS to appellations. Not to AOC but to AOP. (AOC changes name to AOP…)

The three new appellations are: Fiefs Vendéens, Côtes-du-Brulhois and Gros plant du Pays Nantais. There now only ten VDQS to be dealt with before the end of the year. Read more in


Growing Gruner - part 4: Still not a sign of life...

>> Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Still not a sign of life on my cuttings from gruner veltliner that I got at the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna last October.

Here is how they look now:


In contrast, here's how another vine looks - from a cabernet franc (or merlot?) from our balcony. I put this one in water just a little bit before the GV!

Shall I give up? Or give it another week or two?


Bordeaux Primeurs, part 4: tasting notes on some 2010s

Some interesting wines of vintage 2010. Some new names, worth remembering.

Château Puygueraud, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux
Very fruity, really easy to taste and juicy.

Château Puygueraud, Cuvée George, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux
This wine is made of 45 % Malbec and 35 % Cabernet Franc (the rest is Merlot) so an exciting and unusual Bordeaux blend. The wine feels a bit old fashioned with a somewhat rustic feeling to it (but in a positive sense). Quite tannic and structured.

Château La Prade, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux
A very fine structured wine full of finesse from 6 hectares of old Merlot.

Château Gigault, Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux
Cuvée Viva. Very fruity and stylish from an very good terroir in Blaye.

Château Magdeleine Bouhou, Blaye-Côtes de Bordeaux
Good structure, soft tannins, classic style with 90 % Merlot and 10 % Malbec.

Château Clarisse, Puisseguin – Saint Emilion
The very first vintage for this chateau with a 5,30 hectare vineyard.

Château Haut Ballet, Fronsac
Generous fruit in this wine with a 100 % merlot.

Château Saint Paul, Haut-Médoc
Closed on the nose. Full of flavours and structure on the palate.

Château Vrai Canon Bouché, Canon-Fronsac
Fine fruit, elegant, good potential.

Château Côte Montpezat, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux
Cuvée Compostelle
“An exceptional vintage med good balance and freshness that makes you want to have another glass”, says owner Dominique Bessineau. And thhis wine is just like that, soft, round, fresh and with a certain elegance.

Domaine de l’A, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux
Very ripe, dark fruit, a bit sweet, seems very extracted.

Château des Fougères, La Folie, Graves
Nice fruit, easy to drink and elegant – the cool nights preserved the aromas and the freshness, in the whole of France, says owner Benoit Labuzan.

Château Berliquet, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé
Good, classic Bordeaux style.


Bordeaux Primeurs, part 3: A head start with Stéphane Derenoncourt

We tasted primeur wines already this week (last week, when this comes on the blog) here in Paris. Monday this week Bordeaux consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt invited to a tasting of 2010 from all the chateaux where he and his team work as consultants, in total over 100 chateaux and some domains from outside of Bordeaux and France. It is an impressive selection of big, famous names and less famous but very high class chateaux.

Stéphane Derenoncourt about 2010: “It was a year with a long and balanced growing season, giving grapes with aromatic intensity, good acidity and an exceptional ripeness. The only problem in the vineyard turned out not to be a problem at all. The cool weather during the flowering caused some coulure to occur but in the end that was a good thing because it naturally lowered the yield.”


Bordeaux Primeurs, part 2: wines difficult to taste

It is not easy to taste the primeur wines and judge the potential quality and taste. Bordeaux is a wine blended from different grape varieties and at the moment they are kept separately in the barrels. For the primeur tastings the cellar master makes a blend that resembles as much as possible the final blend (although some say that they instead make a blend that is easy to taste, but we don’t really know if that is true). The malolactic is sometimes not finished, or just finished, which doesn’t help and furthermore, the wine at this stage is not always very stable so it can matter when, during the week, you taste one particular wine.

But all these difficulties apart, of course you can get an idea of the quality and the characteristics of the vintage (maybe more difficult when it comes to individual chateaux). Anyway, for 2010, really all you have to do is read about the weather conditions and you know the vintage is successful.

And then you buy your favourite chateaux (if you can award them!)

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