Weekly reflections of a wine lover – #60

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This year I feel like being back at my old school desk again. Although wine is a constant learning procedure it is also filled with sneaky pitfalls called prejudices. It’s easy to trumpet ‘I don’t like this or that’ and when you’re not keeping up with what’s happening within the regions one dislike, the prejudices grows stronger.

I have tasted my way around the globe several times. My passion has kept on for 15+ years and now when I’m going back I realize how much the wine world has changed. There’s much more to Chile than blackcurrant flavors, New Zealand is not synonymous with Sauvignon blanc, Australian wine is not flavored booze and classic European wine regions are not all about low alcohol and food friendly wines. Give the regions you dislike a chance, not only the cheap buy’s. Also pick up some within the same price range as you allow yourself when it comes to the favorite regions.

I’m almost feeling exhausted taking to me all the upgrades and discovering new favorites around the world. You are what you seek so please, for your own sake, extend the radar!

Thanks for reading my weekly mumbo jumbo reflections – #60.

 

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I consider myself a nice guy. Seldomly do I rack down on a wine on my blogs mainly because I prefer writing about positive experiences. I’m not a critic, don’t aspire to be and do not want to be. That doesn’t mean I only will communicate a perfect little world. Some issues do annoy me to that extent I can’t shut up. This time the unlucky guys are the border shops; in my specific case German border shops towards Denmark and the ferry lines connecting with Sweden.

Conscience is an unfamiliar phrase since the shops doesn’t give a d–n when it comes to loyal customers and what’s actually on the shelves. Now, I know, it’s in the customers own interest not to be tricked – and perhaps be a bit more oriented than they are – but the sales people are smart. They know the average wine buyer has a limited knowledge but recognizes famous wine regions or appellations such as Saint Emilion, Bourgogne or Brunello di Montalcino. The fact that it stops there; no domaine names or Chateau’s are familiar with the buyer, is also something the retailer takes advantage of.

So, expect to find a Saint Emilion, Brunello or other well-known wine for a great price – impossible to compete with in Denmark or Sweden. Also expect it to be a vintage the more serious retailers try to avoid as much as possible – when strict selection is the key to not fool your customers. Also expect to find labels or property’s no serious wine drinker has bumped into before.

I got a gift this summer – a 2005 Brunello di Montalcino from Duca di Croce. Bought in a border shop in Rostock. The Italians have a saying; ‘A cavallo donato non si guarda in bocca’ Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So yes, I should keep my mouth shut but it annoys me this ‘tricking the consumer’ is allowed to continue. 20 Euro’s for a wine that is not defect but just so uninteresting and dull it barely gets a 83-84 points score, is not acceptable. The scam continues; my mother was proud to have found a bargain on the Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc. The sales guy told her it was half the price from where she lived. He was right. He just forgot to tell her it was a six years old Sauvignon blanc…

Think twice before buying at border shops. And to wine producers; I know it’s tough to keep an eye on where your wines are sold, especially when they’re ,like in this case, probably purchased from a bankrupt retailer. But please try to do some google searching. It’s your good name that gets affected – not the scrupolous border shop!

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With the border shops in mind I can’t keep away from drawing parallell’s with the sale Wolfgang Weber had in the beginning of the summer. For a tener I got the Molino di Grace 2004 Chianti Classico and that is an outstanding wine soon at its very best.

We had it at three or four occasions during the summer and thinking of the dull Brunello this clearly shows how important it is to find a retailer you can trust. Wolfgang told me he won’t sell a wine he wouldn’t serve himself – and although risking I’m sounding like an advertisement – I must give the man credit. His portfolio isn’t the biggest but as always, quality should be the keyword and nothing else! (2004 Molino di Grace, Chianti Cl., 90-91 p)

 

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Beaujolais 2009! It’s time to tell you all about the seductive 2009 Beaujolais Vieilles Vignes from Alain Chatoux. This is hard to beat at £8,95 buying a case (£9,95/bottle). 700 meters above sealevel, in Sainte Paule, you will find Alain’s vineyards. Considering how many ordinary Beaujolais on the market that demands the same prices it’s easy to shout bargain, bargain!

Alain’s old vines are old – averaging 60 years of age – and that is for sure evident in the wine. The red berries, floral notes, humus, lead pencil and slightly banana feel on the nose is quite attractive. There’s a good intensity and concentration for an ordinary Beaujolais – if you can call a wine from that old vines ordinary – and as always, a bit chilled, it’s even more pure in its aromas. Good mouth feel with mouthwatering acidity, red berries, banana, a floral note and humus. Good grip and with our Carbonara it’s a tough one to beat. Although showing plenty of drinkability already there’s no hurry. Fine acidity, tons of fruit and a hint of tannins makes this good for short term cellaring, say two or three years. (2009 Beaujolais V.V., A. Chatoux, 88-89 p)

 

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This year is insane! First the coldest winter in ages with temperatures around -20 C and then we went to Madeira in February and March to find out a flooding had swept away houses, people and cultivations. Thinking we would be back in Sweden to spring was wrong – last day of March was still snowy! The cold weather continued for quite a while but the reward was worth it; a lovely warm summer! But then, in August, it started pouring down. Quite windy as well. Huge amounts of rain came. And in a sudden, the great summer was blewn away. Last Friday then, winter came. Snowstorm on the 22nd of October already! It will be a tough one to accept six months of darkness and cold. Boy, I miss my summer!

Saint Emilion is the shit…

Think my youngest daughter agrees…..she seems to be like her daddy – hates snow.

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My wandering palate has brought me to New Zealand. Not that I haven’t been following the wines before, oh no. It is just impossible to disregard the enourmos progress taking place! Pinot’s of great purity and a sense of origin, Chardonnay’s challenging the best from Burgundy, Pinot Gris’ the way I like them and also some really exciting Riesling’s. Recently the Daniel Schuster 2006 Omihi pulverized a Pousse d’Or Volnay tasted side by side and then shortly after I tasted a top Chardonnay from Felton Road – the 2007 Block 2.

When the NZ gang came to Stockholm I simply couldn’t miss the chance to taste through especially 2008 and 2009 for the reds and 2009 and 2010 for the whites. Without starting a bombardment of producers and their wines I can simply just applaud the quality demonstrated amongst all price ranges. I can get a great Pinot at EUR 15 with lots of character and origin (Waipara Hills and Seifried for example) or a world class ditto at 30-40 euro’s (Felton Road, the classic example).

But it doesn’t stop there; expressive Syrah’s, BDX-blends and crisp Sauvignon’s also impressed. New Zealand has found its identity and now it’s only for the consumers to understand what awaits them. When they do, it will be tough to go back to expensive and uninspring generic Burgundie’s at the same price as a Waipara Hills. I’m overwhelmed and if you’re one of my followers I hereby alert you; there will be a lot of kiwi postings coming up on my blog!

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Chilean wine producers are obviously on a tour around the world. They came to Stockholm on the 11th of October and I took the chance to see how Chile were performing at the moment. It’s still both ups and downs but some trends are most positive to report back on;

1. Chilean winemakers aren’t that keen with new oak anymore and:

2. the style of many wines are leaning towards a more restrained one.

I applaud their increased respect to the wine’s place of origin. Especially wines produced at higher altitudes has a fascinating structure, and the fact many are blessed with both ungrafted and 80-100 years old vines adds depth to the wines.

Really nice finds were for example Terra Noble in the Maule Valley. Splendid varietal wines and impressive premium wines as well. Keeping in mind all wines were young they still showed a restrained style and especially the Carmenère Reserva and Gran Reserva I liked a lot. It’s easy to pick on Carmenère due to its often green notes of pepper, but many of the wines tasted had fine tannins and acidity backing up. Beautiful and food friendly wines with lots of personality. The premium bottle of Terra Noble, 2007 Lahuen, was impressive at around 20-22 euros (91-92 points).

Miguel Torres Chilean adventures keeps impressing. Both the 2006 Manso de Velasco (93-94 p) and 2003 Conde de Superunda (92-93 p) are great wines. Funny actually, I think I could have placed the Manso de Velasco as the Penedès Mas la Plana! Both are Cabernet Sauvignon but when the Chilean version originates from 100 years old vines and spends 18 months on 60% new oak, that is not the case with the Spanish version (not as old vines, same age on oak but 100% new). Still, the similarities are there and the 2006 is a young wine in need of at least five more years of cellaring. It’s a great red and the bottle to pick up if you’re a sceptic. But be warned André van Rensburg! You risk ending up having to reevaluate your whole prejudiced view of Chilean wine.

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We can’t produce wine of interest in Sweden. The few wines emerging from here are well, well-made, but hysterically expensive and produced on boring grapes such as Rondo or Regent. But some things we can do! From the most southern parts of the country, where I come from, we have our very own version of olive oil – the canola oil. Cold-pressed canola from organic cultivations is just as healthy as the Mediterranean version but then it’s fun to support the domestic industry.

My family and I visitied Gunnarshögs Gård in August this year to find out more about their products. Since then I’ve hardly used any olive oil realizing how delicious the substitute were; canola oil and linseed oil. Also, I bought my very first bag-in-box! Beat that if you can; a 3 liters box filled with organic canola oil! To find out more about Gunnarshögs Gård their products can be purchased via e-shopping. Can’t wait to see the rapeseed fields flower again – that’s Skåne in a nutshell for me; at least the parts where I come from.

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Sticking to the edible section – have you ever heard of – or tasted – an anonas? I found them on the market in Funchal and thought they looked odd. Was it a vegetable or a fruit? Only one way to find out!

Did this taste delicious or not? Creamy and yet with nice acidity to the taste, these were easy to fall in love with and we had lots of anonas. Cheap also. I later found out they have an English name as well; apple custard, due to the custard taste. If you’re visiting Madeira don’t forget there’s more than wine to the island. A dozen different kinds of passion fruits and several different kinds of avokado’s is a good start to explore the edible part of Madeira!

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I never thought I was going to say it. I’ve tasted a Pinotage I like! Ok, so it was a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah as well but the fact remains; no burnt scents. Invited to taste the portfolio of the newly started Vinriket, a Swedish importer exclusively offering South African wines, I found myself being really impressed by the wines the two young guys had selected to start with.

Start cautiously is a smart move but the eight wines offered clearly shows good value from South Africa. Especially a most impressive 2006 De Heuvel Shiraz from Swartland (91-92 p). Still young but opening up beautifully in the glass. Rhone followers will not get disappointed on this one which resembles the style of a Saint Joseph a bit. At 159 SEK (around EUR 17) it outrivals many Rhone Syrah’s.

Another winner is the 2009 Knorhoek Two Cubs White Blend (87-88 p). Equal parts of Sauvignon blanc and Chenin blanc are perhaps an unusual marriage but here it’s most successful. Tasted blind (not the case here) I would not be surprised if I’d placed it in Loire and as a Menetou-Salon or Sancerre. Lots of mineral and green notes to this one. Refreshing acidity and a restrained palate. In Sweden, 99 SEK (around 10 Euros). It would be fun to battle it with a Loire wine!

What about the Pinotage then? Well, the 2007 Lindsay’s Whimsy (88-89 p) from Slaley Estate in Simonsberg-Stellenbosch is a real crowd pleaser. Perhaps a bit too oaky for my palate but still it’s pure in its fruit, well balanced and with refreshing acidity. It’s nice to kick out some prejudices – I’m doing it all the time now it seems.

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Next newsletter: an impressive and quite tannic Cote de Brouilly showing the diversity of 2009 Beaujolais!

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