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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

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