February 28, 2010
February 19, 2010
Åhus, where Absolut i located, has about 10000 habitants, I believe. Good, we do not have to drink all these liters...
February 18, 2010
From us here and south, the coast is referred to as the 'Eel coast'. During late summer and autumn, while on their way to the distant Sargasso Sea, the eel is caught and that is celebrated with special 'eel-fests'. Now, today, things are changing, as the eel is listed as endangered... But here is a photo my husband took, showing the eel traps.
However: The flat landscape with views as long as the eye can see and with the Baltic sea always close by is so totally the contrast to where I come from. While the open sea here gives you the feeling of absolute freedom, the cozy mountain-hills (ca 800 m) from the Pfalz give you the 'feng-shui-kind-of-protection-behind-your-back'-thing. (There is something about solidity, as in 'some things will always remain the same - in times of constant change' for me in those hills.) The vodka versus the wine. The quietness, sometimes melancholic atmosphere versus the year-around-winefest mentality.
I got so excited, I wanted both sides to each see the other. And what the two regions had in common, was that they both were more 'side-regions' of the bigger tourist areas, not widely known, both growing bigger in that aspect, though.
Together with some really fun and engaged people we started this 'tourism-exchange' project, which we called Wein meets Ål. We got the cooks of the Kurpfälzer Landpartie up here. (Still owing them all our gratitude!) They were cooking a Swedish-Pfälzisch dinner with some Swedish colleagues. The menue of the evening can be read here, the wine producers presenting their wines and wineries are found there too. 100 people came to enjoy that wonderful meal and a nice evening of cultural exchange. (Please note: getting 100 people to pay 850 kr for a dinner in small-town Sweden is not usual!)
It was through my friendship with Georg Wiedemann, the owner of the wellknown vinegar house Doktorenhof, that we together could find and mobilize so many people to get involved. We had some journalists coming with the group, which among others resulted in a full page reportage about Skåne in the German FAZ. (Some articles can be found here.) We connected the two local tourist offices, for them to work out a strategy how they could help each other market their areas. Even the political leaders on both sides got involved.
A few months later it was time for the Swedes to go down to the Pfalz and Heidelberg. We got wonderful, wonderful meals and wines everywhere we went to and everybody in the group is still referring to that invitation ever since.
After the two initiations it was a series of smaller events taking over. Some hunting events, where we once had the German Ambassador in Stockholm as a guest with us. We arranged the food for an Asparagus evening with the German-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Stockholm, where Holger Jacobs and his colleagues had taken the fresh asparagus from Pfalz with them in their luggage...
It took a few years, but now a bus is leaving for the Pfalz again. Two other bus trips have already taken place before, where we were not at all involved. And this is only the beginning. I know, people will fall in love and more busses will go south... So, today we can state: we made a difference! We did succeed in intoducing two regions for one another.
From our side, we continued the work up here with a Pfalz-winefest, which I will soon write about...
Skål. Prost. Cheers.
February 16, 2010
The food, the cheese, the wine...
That is it. We often used to drive over the border to Alsace, bought a fresh baguette at some little bakery, a whole salami or some dried ham and a bottle of wine. Then we would walk the woods or fields and when it was time for a break, we'd find a place to sit and relax and enjoy. Just breaking bits off the bread, cutting the salami with husband's pocket knife (always with him) and opening the wine (the same knife has the screw pull included).
Or spending hours at some brasserie at the town squares of Wissembourg and other smaller cities, indulging in simple pie, tarte flambée or other small food dishes. Always accompanied by some good wine, even if simple! Or, better said just the simplicity was so good... It wasn't until years later that I discovered, we were living the life of the wine/food magazines.
Moving to America, where I at first needed some time to get used to all the pre-processed food and all the plastic-airtight packing of meats, cheeses and cold-cuts, it was the Peter Mayle books about Life in Provence that kept me going. (Need to mention here that I loved living in the US! and with time, I found all the speciality delicatessen and wine stores that are also a part of USA.) Back to Provence: we have been there many times. And always loved to watch the local people spending hours over their pastis, just chatting away, living the moment. I could definitely imagine living there! (Not for the pastis, though, but for the wines...)
The book 'French women don't get fat' is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Mireille Guiliano, 20 years the spokes woman for Veuve Clicquot and the CEO of Veuve Clicquot USA, writes so beautifully about the 'French Paradox': the ladies eat the white breads, drink the wines, enjoy the minimum 3-course-menues (often 2/day) - and stay petite. (Well, for the most anyway!) Most of them avoid the gym, in accordance to her. But many are out there, running for the good produce, going to the different shops, buying fresh as much as they can. And yes! we all know the huge supermarchés France has to offer - but have you noticed how wonderful the displays are, besides the good quality of the food being offered? She writes smart and funny and it is certainly healthy to read what she has to say, it will at least open your eyes for some of the daily obstacles we all are facing in our struggles to get a healthy diet (without dieting). And the fact alone, that the opening of korks is music to Mireille's ears... makes her very sympathic to me, feels like I have been knowing her for years...
It all boils down to this golden rule: we have to enjoy what we are eating and drinking. To do it conciously, try to pick the best available of ingredients (is not always also the more expensive one, if you pay good attention), eat half the portion instead of 'light' (skip every other ice cream and eat the real stuff instead). And prioritizing the mealtimes. Taking time for the meals - plan them, prepare them, share them. Do the same with your wine and you will be fine. :-) Even if not living in France - not everybody is able to after all, right?
(And, of course, I cannot let be - I would be a bad Pfälzerin, if I didn't say this: The Pfalz which is bordering to the Alsace has a lot of similarities (ok, they have (at least had? it's been a while...) yellow street marks, we have white ones) and much of the good lifestyle to offer. Also we know for sure how to enjoy good food and wine and how to celebrate life. Ok, feeling better now, having said this.)
February 15, 2010
Markus Schneider, Pfalz, Germany
ca 13 € (mundus vini)
Markus Schneider is very successfull, selling his wines before harvest (what a dream?). He has gotten a lot of attention from the 'big guys' and we all will surely hear a lot more of him. I love the new, creative and modern style he has chosen and I am impressed by how consequently odd he presented himself and his wines for the public. A good example to show that a lot is happening in the Pfalz. I will want to go by and try his Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs as soon as I get a chance. Please, go to his homepage, it gives a nice impression of the winery, the land and the personality :-).
February 13, 2010
D.O. Empordà, Spain
Deep dark red color. Nose: Intensive, dried fruit (fig), spices and herbs (salvia), licroise, oak-tones, vanilla. Alcohol. Palate: dark berries, licroise, chocolate, spicy. Full bodied, good acidity, well balanced, very pronounced. Warming finish. 14,5 % abv. Grapes: Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Syrah (20%), GarnaxtaTinta (10%). Can be saved for some years.
This wine is done from one single vineyard (vino de finca) to reflect the terroir. Grapes were hand harvested and macerated on their skins for a long (?) time. The wine was maturing on new French Allier oak barrels for 14 months. Some 47.800 bottles of this particular wine were filled.
Empordà belongs to the region of Catalonia and lies in the north-eastern part of Spain. Here they have a winemaking history that goes back to the ancient Greeks. Cooperatives are dominating, but more and more smaller wineries are coming up. Traditionally, the wines made here were sweet, today the modern reds are gaining increasing attention. The area has a mediterranean climate, but faces strong winds of up to 120 km/h. The vineyard Malaveina covers 22 ha of red clay soils, with pebble stones giving good drainage.
The winery is big, making Cava and many other wines and is part of a group that sells a range of other products and services.
For more information
on Empordà, click here.
on the producer, click here.
This wine has a lot of a lot and needs food of rich texture and a good own character to match. We had it with a slow-roasted piece of beef with a good, dark, aromatic sauce. (But, really, I do not prefer such high alcoholic wines.)
February 12, 2010
Bernhart, Pfalz, Germany
8,50 € ex winery
Shining yellow color with green hints, rather intensive. Nose is rather intensive with notes of grapefruit, ripe citrus, some golden delicious, and mineral. Palate: Dry. Same fruits and the minerality, towards little creamy. With its high acidity very nice and fresh, at the same time very balanced. Medium bodied with a long lasting, fresh finish. 12,5 % abv.
I really like this wine a lot, the minerality adding a wonderful dimension to the fruityness. Not an expensive wine, it gave me a lot for the money.
I asked Gert Bernhart about how the wine was done. He was kind and wrote back to me (I have translated it from German): "2008 was a vintage with a long vegetation period, asking for a lot of patience. The Kalkmergel wines were harvested in 3 terms: end of September the first grapes for the base wines for Sekt. Middle of October the grapes for the lighter wines were taken in. 6th of November 2008 the last, small, golden-yellow grapes were harvested. The wines fermented slowly until mid of Dec., while remaining on its lees. Stainless steal tanks were used. Bottled in April 2009."
The Bernhart estate is a rather new member (since 2002) of the prestigious VDP. This information about the 'Weingut' is taken from the 100-year-book of the VDP:
Area of vineyards: 14,8 ha. Production: 110.000 bottles / year. Best vineyard site (Lage): Schweigener Sonnenberg. Grape varieties: Spätburgunder (German version of Pinot Noir), Riesling, White and Grey Burgundy, Chardonnay, Auxerrois, Cabernet/Merlot.
2/3 of the vineyards are situated in the neigboring French Alsace area, because they were in the family's possession since 1900. Cross-border wine culture, influenced by German-French history leaving its marks.
For more information, please go to: www.weingut-bernhart.de.
February 10, 2010
Ronda? http://www.winetourismspain.com/malaga/wine-route-malaga-2-wineries.php Maybe not too bad?
Sherry land? http://www.sherry.org/
February 09, 2010
NOW my job is to get together a trip that will suit 2 children that care about nothing other than a nice pool (not quite true, our son of 9 years wants to become an architect and is curious to see the Alhambra ☺). For a husband that is getting his Canon ready to get some wonderful nature shots in to that one. And for a wine lover (that would be me) that needs to get out to Sherry-land but also to 'other' wineries.
Problem: where to start?! I have been browsing the internet for 3 hours now and not really gotten that very far... But, at least, I have found the places I do not want to stay at. No huge 500 room hotel, yikes! But still, quality - that is a must.
If anyone of you readers happens to have any kind of advice for me, please leave a comment. As thank, I promise a nice photo from one of the great sites of Andalusia and some nice wine descriptions. (I know, it would be more interesting to get a bottle of wine...)
February 08, 2010
Not everybody really knows what it is and if you are like me before wine school, you graciously look over the word...
The days _I_ met the tannins were at school. Like with new friends coming to town: I did not know what to think about them... They invaded my mouth, took over and came to stay. After some 8-12 different wines (we were spitting!, do not worry), they had taken total control over me. The sensations around my gums (the areas holding the teeth) were shifting from a gentle prickling to brutal force. I felt like standing in a wind channel, the whole mouth area being pulled back, like some kind of extreme facial-lifting (nope, did not help, by the way), where my mouth was turned inside and out. The area in the middle of the gums was numb. Dead. And: while I was busy fighting off this total new 'mouth feel', my class mates already started describing the lovely fruits and aromas they detected in their wines. Ha! To me - there was nothing but tannins: Fruit: tannins, Acidity: tannins, Body: tannins, Finish: tannins. (So, really, I should go and buy home some of the first wines we tasted in school to see how the difference would be today!) Luckily, I got over it (took a while, though) and - like with new friends - first got used to them and now I like them (to a certain degree).
However, some people like to have wines with strong and tough tannins, other people want them softer and velvety and some do not like wines with tannins at all. All is possible and a lot (!) is of course depending on the food that is to go with a wine. Certain food will make the tannins of a wine appear less or/and softer than the same wine would taste with another dish (food-wine matching is a whole own topic...). That is why some wines are great to drink as a social-wine and others will get to their best when served with food.
But what is the tannin of a wine? Funny enough the word itself has its roots in the old German language: tanna = tree (you all know the Tannenbaum - Christmas tree, right?). They are natural organic, bitter and astringent compounds found in the skins, the seeds and stems of the grapes. They are further found in the wood of the barrels where some wines will be maturing in. Black grapes generally have more tannins than green ones and red wines are more often left to soak with their skins, sometimes even with the stems on, under a period of time. That is why a red wine is more likely to give the tannin-sensation compared to a white wine. These tannins you will detect with your gums (the parts holding your teeth, or whatever is left of them). The more distinct or/and stronger the sensations are, the more tannins are found in your wine. (It can be many tannins in a wine, but they can still be gentle. And there can be not so many tannins but they can be rough.)
Then there is the part of the wine's maturation in oak barrels, which further adds tannins to a wine. Also that is done to the largest extent with red wines. But there are a good number of 'oaked' whites out there, too. ('Typically' American Chardonnay, i.e.) Tannins from barrel ageing you will mostly feel with the middle part of your gums (the part which has close contact with your tongue...).
Tougher tannins will cause that astringent feeling, that will leave your mouth all dried-out (my wind channel feeling). Softer tannins will add a dimension to a wine, make the complete experience richer (if you like tannins in the first place), but will not take over and... will not hurt. Whether the tannins to you feel rougher or softer is highly subjective.
Tannins are also found in herbs, teas and more. I am sure there is a book 'The world of tannins' out there somewhere...
February 07, 2010
My wines tasted is a new page under 'Collections' in the menu to the right. To keep track of the wines I got and will get to taste along with this blog, I am archiving them on a separate list.
How do I pick my wines? Well... as I am so new to this whole world, I basically go along the shelves of the stores and look at the labels. Here at the monopoly they are organized after prices and then countries. I will mostly go to the shelves around 100 sek, that is where I believe it is getting interesting and still affordable. There may be some wines around 80 kr too, but then you need to know those. I still believe that many are plainly boring and mainstream. A Swedish winemaker (who has chosen to live outside Sweden since making wine :-) once said: 'Buy cheap, buy sh..t'. And I cannot agree more. I would rather not drink any wine before buying a 3 liters bag-in-box for ca 12€. Yes, and when I am at that around 100 sek price level shelf, I will look after the country - depending what I was out after in the first place. I am still picking wines to help me develop my 'nose' and 'palate' - real practice for the time after wine school, so to say. So, I am still training the grapes and regions, if you will say. To start looking into vintages will be next on my list, but I am taking it slow. I understand that I am still at the beginning and that there is no end in sight :-). Which is probably what makes it so fascinating!
And as I am trying to make up my own mind about wines, I do as rule # 1 avoid all the Mr and Mrs Importants that are telling me their points of views. Much rather I will like to read and hear what other wine-drinkers have to say. There is a difference between subjective opinion and rating-gurus. The first one much more of interest to me and allowing space for me to build my own taste around the wonderful drops. As soon as formulations become 'absolute' I get disturbed. Of course, there are the basic facts around a wine that can not be argued about. But the way a wine is perceived has to remain subjective.
But I will of course also read nice magazines, to learn about regions and winemakers.
The act of buying a wine to me is like buying nice clothes for other girls (ok, ok, I do that too sometimes...). I really do appreciate a nice atmosphere and can hold out looking at the wonderful shapes and labels for hours. I can often dream away, wondering about the people behind this bottle, the history of the land, the stories behind the old walls of many a winery could tell. (I can also get fascinated by very modern Spanish vineyards-architecture, of course.) But honestly: Strolling through a nice city and having to choose between a clothes-boutique or a wine-boutique - I'd clearly opt for number two (hoping to get back for clothes shopping some other time).
Of course, the nicest way to buy a wine is at the winery, but that you can only do when visiting the places. The 2nd nice way is to buy from the specialist store. People that have the deep knowledge about their area/areas. 2nd hand information, if you'd like. Last option in the 'free world' is the supermarkets that can have good and less good portfolios. These 3 options do not exist for a Swedish resident - not without traveling abroad, I mean. We are limited to one option plus the internet, which seems to be a growing industry. You can even get to-the-door deliveries, if you live central. But most people that I speak to love to have a monopoly, many adore it and think that the people selling the wines are so 'good'. Hello?! Everybody selling a range of products is supposed to be good, that is why we buy from them - normally. In this case though it is so easy to be 'so good', because there is no competition! Who should measure? I find it plainly speaking disgusting, it goes against all my senses of personal freedom. That is why I appreciate it big times, having the chance to get to travel quite a bit and buy some wines that way, too. ☺
February 05, 2010
Ruby red colour, medium intensive. Nose: wonderful aromatical with rose and violet tones, vanilla, herbal. Palate: dark cherries, chocolate, tobacco. Medium bodied. The tannins are plenty and significant but still kind of friendly. High acidity and nice finish - gives you time to enjoy. 13,5 % abv. Nebbiolo. For me definitely a to-go-with-food-wine.
(This recipe can be found in Swedish on my vinegar blog)
February 02, 2010
Arranged by Munskänkarna (the world's largest wine drinking club, will be explained later in this blog)
6 cheeses & 6 wines + 2 sweet wines
French, from the Loire Valley, Chavignol is situated near Sancerre, unpasteurized goat's milk, fresh taste with citrus aromas, read more
French, from Pays Basque (south-west of F), pasteurized cow's milk, buttery, nutty, eaten when fresh
3. Comté St. Antoine
French, from the Jura, cow's milk, best between 4 - 24 months, nutty taste that gets more intensive the closer you get to the wax (which is not edible), flavours of hazelnuts, salt, spicyness
4. Rossa Kittost Oviken (instead of Éspoisses de Bourgogne)
Swedish, from Jämtland, hard cheese from cow's milk, only 20% fat, but has a full taste that goes towards Münster cheese
1. Les Belles Dames, Sancerre, Gitton - 149 SEK
4. Finca Valpiedra, Rioja, Martínez Bujanda - 144 SEK
5. Chianti Classico Rocca Guicciarda Riserva, Barone Ricasoli - 139 SEK
Sangiovese, nose and palate: dark cherries, chocolate, herbal. High acidity. Soft tannins. Structure dominates.
Corvina, rondinella, molinara, nose and palate: dried fruit, dark cherry, licroise. Alcohol (=15% abv). Medium-fullbodied. High acidity.
8. Fonseca Bin 27 - 139 SEK
The notes of cheeses and wines are incomplete. Because I was too busy being social (you gotta have some fun) to be able to write it all down. The information that does appear, is a mixture from what was given in paper form and what made some kind of impact on me. Most important to me was to go home with some new inspiration regarding: which combination do I like so much to want to have it again. Mission completed:
Les Belles Dames with Crottin de Chavignol
(easy one, both from the same region, which often gives a safe result)
Pinot Gris Reserve with Tome Basque, Comté St. Antoine, Ovikens Kittost
(this wine really matched most cheeses in consistens/body and aromas, flavours - a safe bet)
Port and Stilton
(how boring old fashioned I can be... but some classics just remain good and true)
Moulin Tochais was my top-favorite of the evening - although I do not usually prefer sweet wines! It was so good, I never tasted any of the cheeses with it, just did not want to disturb the world of aromas and flavours it had taken me to. But I can imagine that the Comté would fit.
The red wines: I did not find THE combination here (although I do really like Chianti and many Spanish wines), possibly the Amarone with the Stilton (although I think that wine fits best with dried hams and salami)?
My nice friend's facit:
Så ska man ha det när man har det som sämst.
February 01, 2010
Barrique Réserve 2008
Light yellow color. Not too intensive a nose of (green) apple, pear, citrus (maaaybe some hidden tropical fruit, but....) and buttery notes. Palate: apple, citrus, nutty. Dry. High acidity. Nice smooth tannins from the barrel ageing. To me this is a medium-bodied wine (lable says full-bodied). A good, decent aftertaste.
I bought this wine together with the American Bonterra chardonnay - which I actually prefer to this one. To me, this wine here is rather "simple". I feel the fruit is too weak to stand up against the structure of the wine, so I do not see it having ageing potential either. But! I guess, for 99 SEK it is a good way to get a Burgundy.
We had this wine with salmon and a tasty, buttery mustard-dill-wine-sauce and it fit ok. Had I tried the wine beforehand, it would not have been my first choice to the creamy sauce, the Bonterra would have been a better match for just this dish. But it will go very well with fish dishes and seafood platters, fresh sallads.....
Laroche: I could not find any data-facts on their website, but agents all over the world. I could not even find this wine on their web. Maybe it is too late into the evening and maybe you will have more luck: http://www.larochewines-coorporate.com