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December 31, 2009

Italian delicatessen & wine

Buying wine at the delicatessen shop in Neustadt. How nice!!! Real. Authentic. Tasteful. Stimulating. The owner, Domenico Ferrari (!), comes from Calabria in Italy and he proudly presents us some wines from his region, besides the Barolos, Chiantis, etc. I will get back to those when trying them later on during 2010... For now let us just enjoy the mouthwatering sights at this little store of some squaremeters in the heart of the old town of Neustadt. You can always drop in for an espresso or a little lunch, snack. It is worth it! www.ital-feinkost.com



12/30 Mundus Vini

is the name of an academy here in Neustadt/Weinstrasse (=Pfalz) where famous international wine awards are given, lots of seminars being held and more. It is the daughter company of one of Germany's oldest publishing houses. (www.mundusvini.de/145--~en~mundus_vini_gmbh~info.html) for more information. Since a few years they even have a nice restaurant, winebar and lounge, which we always visit when coming to the area. So we did yesterday, middle of the day. I just have to have my glass of von Buhl's Riesling Sekt brut, which tastes so crisp, clear, fine and delicate that it can always stand up against many Champagnes - especially at a price of 8 € per bottle 75 cl.
Besides the perfect flair of the winebar (http://www.mv-vinothek.de/ - note: not all their wines are on the website!), with a view out over the picturesque market square with the church to the side, the houses' concept makes us happy: Ca 200 different wines from Pfalz, Germany other, Europe and New World can be enjoyed at the place or bought home. Served @ table per bottle will cost 10€ over the list price - no matter if it is a 8€ or 50€ wine. 10€ is the service fee. Easy to understand for every one! And while we are sitting there over sekt, Riesling wine (my husband) and a mediterranean platter (shared), thanking god for being so kind to us and giving us that luxury feeling of being priviliged once again, people come in and buy home some wines as presents and to themselves. We left the place with some Grosse Gewächs from Pfalz, some more Riesling, Sekt, South African wine and headed to the Italian delicatessen-store to shop for some Italian wines to take home to Sweden. Nothing beats buying wine from authentic sources!


Riesling Sekt Reichsrat von Buhl & Riesling Kabinett Dr Deinhard

some of the wines at mundus vini


December 28, 2009

Château de Fesles, Loire

2006 Château de Fesles
La Chapelle, Chenin Sec
Loire, Frankrike
172 kr ♥♥♥
Brilliant yellow. Nose: fully ripe pear, citrus, hazelnuts. Palate: ripe pear, honey melon, citrus, almond paste. A dry, medium-fullbodied wine with high acidity, the alcohol adding its part. 13,5% abv. 100 % Chenin Blanc Drink now or keep some more years.

The château was built in 1070, one of the oldest of the area around Bonnezeaux. I want to go there... Check out the website: http://www.en.fesles.com/

This wine goes well with i.e. fresh dishes with fish, nice salads (I am thinking salad with vinaigrette). Or just with some nice bread! Wein und Brot - so lecker. We had it with the marinated salmon (X-mas left-overs) and even to the herring it was really good. I had made the French style country bread that my dear stepdaughter has on her blog: http://sleepingdogbakery.blogspot.com/2009/02/simple-country-bread.html











December 27, 2009

Spätburgunder trocken Pfalz

After all this Swedish specialities it was time to 'go home':

2007 Spätburgunder trocken, Pfalz
Weingut Mugler VdP
ca 8,50 € (ex winery)
♥♥♥
Light red colour, nose with nice earthy tones, some spices and red fruit underlying. Some alcohol is detectable. On palate: cherry and redcurrent, some spicyness, juicy. Good acidity. Tannins are very subtile, very velvety, almost not there. A medium-bodied wine. Elegant. Drink now, keep for a couple of years. 13,5 % abv.
We have always bought our wines from this winery when still living in Germany. Today, when going home for a visit, we will go by and buy some more bottles. Susanne & Harald are nice and fun people, took over from her dad and run this in the xxth generation. Very nice rooms can be rented here too! http://www.weingut-mugler.de/

If you only want bold, heavy wines with lots and astringent tannins, this is not your wine. But if you like to have a perfect partner to the right food - try it!

We had it with very good (organic) entrecôte (done the pfälzisch-way, with roasted onions), rosmary fried potatoes and a fine wintersalad with a dark Cleopatra vinaigrette.
Life is good!

December 26, 2009

Aquavit

Aqua vitae - water of life. National drink of Scandinavia.
Spirit made of grains or potatoes and flavoured with caraway or/and dill. Min. 37.5 % abv.

We have two favorites which we drink twice a year, at midsummer and at Christmas. Both are members of a 18-product-family, marketed under the name Reimersholm.

Herrgårds Aquavit: (my personal favorit)
Besides caraway and dill, this has also some parts of Whisky and got additional complexity and flavours through maturation in old Sherry casks. At the same time it is mild in taste. 40% abv. Careful!

O.P. Andersson:
Sweden's oldest (116 yrs) and most sold sort. Caraway, anis, fennel give intensive flavour. 40% abv.
Again: Careful!

Swedish Christmas Food

Ok, this entry is boring for Swedes, because almost everyone (at least the people I know) eats the same type of 'julbord' (=literally Christmas Table). Which I think is very neat, considered that we have so many different regional traditions in Germany, so there is no 'real German x-mas food'...

Of course, there are variations of recipes and compositions around the Swedish julbord. I have pretty much adapted my mother-in-law's style. Because her's was the first I got to taste - and love - quite some years ago. It is served buffet-style, which sees to that we get some workout and do not only sit still during the whole procedure - kind of needed with this calorie-rich-rich food!


We usually start with fish, which is different styles of herring and salmon. We have mustard-, gourmet- (=creamy), Brantevik (named after a village in the south of Sweden, rather sweet, sugary plus onions) herring. (Schwedenhäppchen we call those in Germany...)
And three variations of salmon: gravad (dill,sugar,salt,pepper-marinated), smoked and warm-smoked (middle on photo).

Two different sauces come with this: Gravad-sauce (hofmästersås), made of mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, dill, oil and goes really nice with the same-named fish. The other one is a creamy sauce with swedish kaviar (löjrom), served with the smoked salmon.
Boiled potatoes and bread go with this, so does Jansson's temptation. Oven-baked potatoes (cut in sticks) with anjovies and onion cooked in a milk-cream (again) mixture. So yummy.

After that you are allowed to move on:
The center piece is the ham. Julskinka. Goes back to the old days, when the pigs were at their best around this time of the year, after being fed during summer and fall. But, with the upcoming winter not having enough food to keep them that way, the best was to slaughter them now - at their best. (So I learned from my husband.) (Today: imagine when some 9 mill Swedish inhabitants -minus vegetarians and swine-free religious individuals- run for ham: you better be early...
This one is organic, so I hope it had a happy life before we had it. The flavour was, (well: is, we still have half of it left) very intensive and really good. The crust is done with a paste of egg, mustard and breadcrums. A few cloves give some extra spice. The fat we do not eat.

Further, you will find the typical köttbullar (Swedish meatballs) and different kinds of sausages. Fried, smoked, cooked ones. Brussel sprouts, red cabbage, potatoes, cheeses and breads round up the whole thing.
Drinks are decided - no discussions! Aquavit is served, the 'snappsvisa' (Swedish schnapps songs) obligatory. And beer. I prefer very light beer, because the Aquavit already provides remarkable % abv...

And as every year: it was good!

December 25, 2009

A nearly tasteless X-mas day

I have got a cold!
What a timing!
Taste buds numb!
Now!
At Christmas!
Good thing, we did it the Swedish way with serving (to the Swedish X-mas food) aquavit , which is strong enough and has spices enough to come through somehow. Any wine would have been a pure waste. And my Ginger Balsamvinegar, which I am drinking to take the edge off the cold. That has so much flavour - no cold hard enough for this one! (Actually, this is a wonderful ingredient in spicy, Asian or other exotic dishes - it is absolutely unfair to only use it against colds, even though it helps a lot!)


Yesterday I started my tasting of Pol Roger Champagne, but it got meaningless to continue. Good thing I have this r-e-a-l tight champagne bottle stopper. I think, I will be able to still enjoy it tomorrow, even if it won't be at its very best longer. (And I would not offer it to guests anymore...- so do not worry)

Award cup!

You just have to agree: this the funniest present!? The whole family was having much fun, when this came out of its wrapping... And who sent it? Yes, of course, my girlfriend Geli from back home in Germany. Only she can come up with such a fun and at the same time heart-warming gift. :-) To remind me of that great time of the year 2009.
But, I got other wonderful presents, too - hope you too!
More of that later, can't be sitting with my computer today - it is Christmas day after all!



December 24, 2009

Bollinger Special Cuvée, Champagne

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée, Brut
(375 ml) 229 SEK
♥♥♥
Light golden colour, baked apple and brioche nose. Dry, fresh (well, I guess most sparklings are...), high acidity, medium-full-bodied. Also on the palate: baked apple (like from grandma's tile-oven-baked) and some toast. The bubbles are small, fine and plentiful.
60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier
Drink now or within 2, 3 years.
The grapes come from ca 30 different Crus, 80% from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. The wine spends minimum 3 years on the lees (to be called champagne, 15 months are required) (3 yrs is the minimum for vintage champagnes).

Serve it as apéro or even to certain food, like fish and chicken dishes if you'd like. _I_ drink it as it is, no need for me to combine this with anything!
For me, the art of blending champagne is incredibly fascinating. From countless numbers of reserve wines (wines from previous vintages) plus from the recent vintage the blender creates these fine drinks, that are keeping the once defined style year after year. No problems with tastebuds and nose for these people...
www.champagne-bollinger.com
Merry Christmas! God Jul! Frohe Weihnachten!

December 23, 2009

Diamants are a girl's best friend?

Girls are supposed to wish for jewelry for Christmas. Watches, bracelets, rings. Fancy clothes. Shoes.

I go and sneak a peak at the wonderfully wrapped packages under the Christmas tree.... Hoping to find some wine-related book tomorrow, when we are finally allowed to open them. And I cannot let be wondering if Lars perhaps passed by one of this great wine stores at the Beijing airport, last week........ What if not?! Well... the almost control-freak that I am... there are a couple of yet unread wine books in my own shelf. So: whatever - Christmas day will be just fine!

December 22, 2009

Mme Bollinger on Champagne

I drink my champagne when I am happy and when I am sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it when I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I am thirsty.Madame Jacques Bollinger, 1961 Quoted in Daily Mail, London

What a wise lady!
I found this on the Bollinger website, you HAVE to go and browse it, it is so nicely done! For me who loves to read biographies (besides drinking Champagne) this just makes me smile happily. www.champagne-bollinger.com

As said before, I love sparkling wine and champagne, but I will now make an effort to understand WHY I like certain ones better than others... Currently sipping my Bollinger, which will be by next entry.

December 20, 2009

Chateau Haut-Canteloup, Bordeaux

2006 Chateau Haut-Canteloup,
Premières Côtes de Blaye, Bordeaux, France
109 SEK
♥♥+
Ruby red. Nose and palate: plum, blackcurrant, oak, little green bell pepper. Medium bodied. The structure of this wine with its acidity and tannins (both fruit and from the oak) are dominating, but for me, it still is elegant. Rather good length. Drink now or save. 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet sauvignon, 5 % Cabernet franc. 13,5 % abv

A classical Bordeaux blend at much lower price, as it comes from the lesser known AC Premières Côtes de Blaye. Internet: www.chateau-haut-canteloup.com

Goes well with all the dark meats, of course (on bottle it even says 'goes with any food(!)(?)').
We enjoyed it with a wonderful roast of beef with a delicious sauce, that I hade made entirely from pure ingredients (so: no soy sauce or fond or else what...)

A nice Sunday-before-Christmas.

Blossa Glögg 09

Blossa Glögg 2009
Vin & Sprit, Sweden
89 SEK
♥♥♥
Golden colour. With the typical christmas spices, come mandarin and citrus, both on nose and palate. Full-bodied, sweet,
but still kind of fresh. Balanced. Drink warm. Drink cold. Drink on the rocks.
Done with white wine. 15% abv.
My favorite of the glöggs we have tried. (We drink it warm.)


The company's concept is cute. Besides several types of glögg there comes a yearly taste - this year it is mandarin (evidently). A design agency gets the pleasure to design a nice little bottle and off it goes to the happy customers. Check out the website www.blossa.se (does not work while I am typing this, but I assume it will get back on again).

December 18, 2009

+-♥♥♥♥

These symbols reflect my P-E-R-S-O-N-A-L fondness of a wine and are to help me 'categorize' and memorize them. It is in no way any kind of quality rating, nor am I looking what the 'big guys' say about the same wine and last, but not least: I am not trying to influence anyone else's feeling about a certain wine. Remember? Wine IS of subjective matter!

Mill Race, Stellenbosch

2005 Mill Race, Vergelegen
Stellenbosch, South Africa
107 SEK ♥+

Medium-bodied red wine with dark red colour. Medium intense nose with black current notes and green capsicum, some chocolate. Alcoohool. Palate: black current, the same green capsicum. Tannins are little rougher. It gets warm (the alcoohool). The finish is green....eucalyptus...green... and lasts a while...still green...still eucalyptus. Perhaps a somewhat rustique wine?
14,5 % abv. (yes)
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Drink now.

Serve with stews, red meat. We had it with a taco-cake, which our daughter Nathalie had prepared for us.


Photos: Lars Larsson
This winery means something to us, because we first heard of it while sitting at the open fire at our camp in Kruger Park. We had another good wine from Vergelegen that night and the Mill Race was mentioned. Once in the Stellenbosch area, we went to visit the place, which is situated with wonderful surroundings and has lots of history to tell... Read more: http://www.vergelegen.co.za/

December 17, 2009

El Pedrosal, Ribera del Duero

2007 El Pedrosal, Bodegas Pérez Pascuas
Ribera del Duero, Spain
87 SEK ♥♥+

Medium-bodied red wine from Tempranillo, Spain's signature grape. Dark blue-red colour. Nose with red cherries, vanilla- and herbal tones. Palate: red cherry, spicy. Tannins: yes, little firm, but still niiice. Elegantly simple. Drink now.
My guess: some Cabernet Sauvignon in this bottle, too.
13,5 % abv
I would love to try their higher class wines!


Food: dark meat, chewy meat, but not too spicy food, please. We enjoyed it with filet mignon, topped with home-made herb-butter, served with oven-roasted, rosemary spiced carrots and red beets. A nice Saturday it was.
Not the smallest bodega: ca 120 ha, with some vines over 25 years old, even 60 plus. The area is situated at 800 m altitude. Hot days, cold nights give very good results for grapes growing here. Check the website: http://www.vinapedrosa.com/english/inicio.htm

Chianti Classico Brolio Ricasoli

2007 Chianti Classico DOCG, Brolio, Barone Ricasoli ♥♥♥+
115 SEK

Tuscany, Italy.
Made primarily from Sangiovese, Italy's signature grape.
Full-bodied red wine, with good acidity. Rich black cherry nose with earthy tones, found also on the palate. Plenty of tannins, but not at all too challenging, though somewhat more so than other Chiantis we have tried. Good length. Enjoy it now, or save it for some years.
13.5 % abv.

Very nice to match with food, like steaks, stews of red meet, lamb. As this wine has a good acidity, it is a nice partner for aromatic dishes with fine vinaigrettes (well... think Italian food!).
We had it together with a very tasteful machésallad (Feldsalat in German) that had a mild, aromatic Doktorenhof vinaigrette, roasted bacon and onions plus champignons. A home made garlic-herb-butter baguette completed the serving. And we were all happy. (Kids drink mineral water.)

Previous years of this wine have achieved lots of prices and points at famous and not so famous wine ratings.
Ricasoli is not really a small winery: total some 970 ha, including 200 ha around the castle 'Brolio' alone and some areas of non-vines. It has a long, long history though and it is fascinating to read about all the investments they have done under the recent decades. The good thing: this wine can be bought in many places on this globe. Read more and see the beautiful pictures at: http://www.ricasoli.it/

December 16, 2009

Snälleröds Glögg


Snälleröds Glögg ♥♥+
Organically grown grapes and spices are used for this Swedish Glögg (a form of mulled wine). It has 15% abv, which is achieved through adding spirits (i.e. aquavit, vodka...).
It includes the typical christmas spices, like cinnamon, cloves, ginger (they do not tell it all) and is sweetened with acacia honey. Ca 75 SEK It is not as sweet as some other brands and
reminds me little of German glühwein.
Served warm (not to be boiling, while heating up) in small cups or glasses together with peeled almonds and raisins. Typically together with Swedish gingerbreads (pepparkakor).

It spreads this lovely aroma of sweet spices through the house and makes everyone feel warm at heart.

Nice to have around Christmas after a long walk along the wintry beach, where the winds are bloooowing. But: you don't have to walk the beaches before drinking this.

If you live outside Sweden and close by a Ikea store, you most likely can buy some glögg made by this company. Read more: http://www.snallerods.se/index_eng.html

Typically, when served at daytime or at public places like Christmas-markets here in Sweden, you will find glögg without alcohol. That is of course considerably lighter in body :-).

Background

I grew up in a wine area, but never worked within the wine industry. (Car industry was my home. Educated in industrial economies and a marketing degree). The endless rows of vineyards never really impressed me. They had always been there. Yes! Sure, I found it very cozy and idyllic, and the views were pretty romantic at times, of course! But no, I never heard the grapes growing. Was maybe annoyed during harvest time, when all the tractors slowed us down on the roads. But I loved the winefests, oh yes! And I drank wine. Obviously.

I never really thought about wine. It was just there. My passion for wine started through living in Sweden.

It is here my wine-world was turned up-side-down. Suddenly there was a lot of talk about wine and alcohol in general. Suddenly, after having grown up with wine all around me, wine became something exciting! There came tons of rules with it, too!:
* You can only buy it at the monopoly (me who always thought that was just the name of a game). And only until 6 p.m. in the evening during weekdays. Saturdays until 2 p.m. (So, god forbid you get spontanous guests at 6.05 p.m. and you have nothing to drink at home!)
* You need to know the number of your wine.
* You do not drink it during the week.
* It is officially ok to drink Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays I am not totally sure, yet.
Some more could be mentioned... From the very beginning I felt my personal freedom was being limited quite considerably, but...

German wines are well known among wine connoisseurs, but, sadly enough, the average consumer here (and maybe in many other countries) does not really have any interest in them. Though the trend is changing! To give my little contribution to that, I, with the help of other wine enthusiasts, started a small winefest in our area. For a few years, we had some good days with lots of work and happy guests. During that 'adventure' I understood that I knew too few facts about grape growing, wine making, wine styles, etc. etc. So I decided to get educated. That is how I got to the sommelier school for one year. And now I understand how much more there is to learn! Don't you love it.

December 15, 2009

Riesling Brut Kassner-Simon

Riesling Brut Kassner-Simon ♥♥♥
ca 12 €
Pfalz, Germany


Extremely fresh, crisp, appley, clean. Dry (brut=0-15 g sugar). Nice small bubbles, through the traditional method (klassische Flaschengärung = 2:nd fermentation took place in THIS bottle and the wine remained for at least 9 months on its lees).
As mentioned before, I love sparkling wine and here is one that I really like. But I am not alone: it got the gold medal of the 'DLG' (read below), one of Germany's best in 2004. Actually, sparkling wine is usually at its best when leaving the winery and should be enjoyed soon. But, I was lucky with this 'older' bottle - it was still in good shape! :-)
A wonderful girl-friend wine. Just drink it as it is! And chat along. Skype anybody?
Food: of course the classical smoked salmon canapé - old but always perfect! The saltiness will go just nice with the crisp acidity! Hard cheeses will do fine, too.

The winery is rather small (ca 15 ha), family-owned and situated in picturesque Freinsheim, a city with old stonewalls from the medieval age.
www.kassner-simon.de/ for further information. They even have a nice, ****-hotel by the way.


from the DLG website: The DLG’s German wine awards are the only official wine awards at national level. Only wines that have previously passed the Official Examination and won a Regional Award can be submitted for testing. Experts test the wines from all growing areas in Germany. The wines are first rendered “incognito”. Depending on the score achieved, the wines can win a DLG Medal in Bronze, Silver or Gold.Wines and sparkling wines that score top marks in the assessment compete with each other again in a supplementary sensory test. The winners receive the top prize Award in Gold Extra (TOP 50 wines).

Elise Lebkuchen

Yesterday I received a package with the mail. From Germany. From my best (since we were 12 yrs old) friend Geli (Angelika). We had been on the phone some 3 days ago and I mentioned how I was missing the REAL 'Lebkuchen'. Elise. The one and only. Whoops - here they came! I love you Geli and will enjoy every little bite of them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebkuchen for you who want to learn more about this old, old German traditional speciality.
Of course they are at their best served with Glühwein, but they are just as good with a nice warm cup of coffee. Time to start the machine!

December 14, 2009

vinum diligo

My husband Lars and I love to share a good glass of wine. We are no wine snobs and we are not really following any standards (which we hardly ever do anyway), in terms of 'important names, years, etc'. Rather we are exploring the wine-world at own terms, just loving to enjoy what's in the glass. Taking advantage though of the knowledge I was allowed to gather through my wonderful teachers at the Gustibus sommelier school in Malmö. http://www.gustibus.se/ for you who want to know more.

Our first common favorite grape variety was and is: Riesling. Lars was always a Chianti (a wine style, not a grape variety) fan, I was never 'in to the reds'. Since our trip to South Africa his 2nd favorite green grape is Chenin Blanc.

My past was firmly and consequently filled with sparkling wine. I love sparkling wine.

Before I got married, I used to have a job and with that I had 'Feierabend', the end of the working day. I also had some real fun girl-friends and we all had cabriolets. After work - for us that was a (or two) glass(es) of sparkling wine at the pub. Further, we would NEVER visit one another without the host opening a bottle of sparkling (no matter the hour of the day). Good Riesling Sekt from either Schloss Wachenheim or, more and more so with time, from a nice smaller producer somewhere along the Weinstrasse. Did I mention, I grew up in the Pfalz?

Back to the sparkling: I thought we were special. Nope. Germany consumes almost 25% of the world's total volume of sparkling wine, so you can read on different statistical internet-pages.

December 13, 2009

No time for blogs

But some kind of desire to write about things. Wine? Food? Life?

Just finished (successfully) a sommelier school here in Sweden, where I currently live... I do not work at a restaurant and I most likely never will. But, somehow, I need to keep learning about wine & food, and somewhere I need to be collecting what I am learning, so maybe a blog is a good thing after all. (But who the heck is going to read'em all, these blogs?)

Language: I am German, and speak rather fluent Swedish and English, my French is not worth mentioning, so I don't. I choose to write in English, because that is the language I like using most, I figure. So, the spelling perhaps will add some extra excitement.