Visiting Monsoon Valley Vineyard in Hua Hin

110 hectares of sand and slate terrain in the mountains of Hua Hin, international awards and a restaurant serving dishes made from ingredients grown at the local farm (they even have their own pigs). Sounds good right? Well, in all honesty it’s not as great as it sounds. The vineyards are beautiful with a picturesque restaurant building on the top of the hill and the wine decent taking into account that this is Thailand. But the rest of the experience feels like a bit of a tourist trap. I was surprised. With the above-mentioned features, how can you fail? Read on to find out…

Continue reading “Visiting Monsoon Valley Vineyard in Hua Hin”

Gin from the heart of Stockholm – Stockholms Bränneri

Gin – my second favorite topic after wine. I don’t know if I have mentioned where this obsession started from? London of course. It was there, under the railway arches in Bermondsey I had my first taste of small batch “boutique” gin from a Danish ginmaker called Jensen’s. I was expecting to grimace after a sip of raw gin, but to my surprise the taste was soft and silky. It was one of those aha-experiences, where I realizes that the gins I have been drinking before have just been questionab quality. That day, spirits went back on the shopping list again, but only quality spirits. And I am happy to announce that I have found a local favorite here in Stockholm: Stockholms Bränneri. Continue reading “Gin from the heart of Stockholm – Stockholms Bränneri”

Tasting Taittinger

Taittinger is a rare beast for a Champagne house, it is owned and managed by the family whose name is on the label. Founded in 1734 they are one of the oldest houses in the business; and biggest with production of over six million bottles a year. The house is owned and managed by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger and his two children. I have never been drawn to the big houses (except to Bollinger), but as I learn more about their history and wine making, I always have a bit more of an emotional connection to them. About a week ago, we took part in a small Taittinger tasting, and chatted with a representative of the house.  Continue reading “Tasting Taittinger”

Broc Cellars

I have perhaps chosen the best venue there is for writing about wine – a wine bar. I am in warm and sunny Copenhagen, the sky is blue, thus it is empty inside my favorite wine hangout Ved Stranden 10. This is the kind of place you can stroll in, say you just want something interesting, and you know you will get something truly interesting. You can trust the staff to read your mind. This is the perfect place for killing time, reading and writing about innovative winemaking. Today I am catching up on something I should have done long ago: writing about Broc cellars, an urban winery beyond the Atlantic, in San Francisco. Continue reading “Broc Cellars”

Hard Work and Tradition at ARPEPE Winery.

When planning our recent trip to Italy, we were quite late in the game. We had only scheduled to spend a day at Mamete Prevostini, and the rest of the trip was just open. wide open. No visits no restaurant reservation, nothing. Does not sound like us at all. However, as it turned out, being spontaneous was not a bad thing. The trip to Valtellina was one of the highlights of the year. Following a tip from a friend, we were lucky enough to be able to book a last minute visit to famous local nebbiolo producer ARPEPE. Thank you Atte for the recommendation!

ARPEPE winery was started in 1984 by Arturo Pelizzatti Perego, who took on tending to his familys beautiful, but challenging terraced vineyards in the valley of Valtellina. As I have written before, the hills in Valtellina are steep and rocky. All of the work is done by hand: picking as well as carrying the grapes in small baskets downhill to the winery. Arturos idea from the start was to focus on growing high quality grapes and long aging of the wines. For realising his vision, he needed patience. Arturo waited for six harvests before releasing his first wine. Today the ARPEPE is managed by Arturos children: Isabella, Emanuele and Guido.

It was a sunny morning when we pulled into the driveway of ARPEPE in the village of Sondrio. The facilities appeared to be in the middle of the town, but when arriving we were face to face with the steep vineyard, rising up the north hill. We were greeted by Arturos daughter Isabella, who was our guide for the morning. As we were late in booking, we did not really have a lot of time for touring in the production, but we were able to peek in quickly. The winery is actually located under the vineard, carved into the rock on the base of the hill. The most noticeable feature in the winery was the fermentation vats or rather barrels. They are large wood vessels holding 50 HL of wine. The mix of oak, chestnut and acacia is the same as is used for the aging (barrels) of the wines. Isabella also told us that they are extremely picky when it comes to what wine is made from each plot and harvest. Some years ARPEPE has only made their entry-level easy to drink table wine Rosso di Valtellina, as the output has not reached the quality or yield for making a suitable vintage.

ARPEPE has vineyards in three of five parts of Valtellina: Inferno, Sassella and Grumello. All areas have a differing terroir, thus resulting in a different type of wine. Another interesting detail is that ARPEPE has at least ten different clones of nebbiolo growing in their vineyards. They like trying out new clones to see how the vines develop in the challenging high-altitude environment. Christina and her brothers replace one vine at a time, so the diversity in the fields is rich and the siblings believe it contributes to the richness of the wine. More about the terroir in my post on Wineweek 90. ARPEPE makes a separate vintage from each area. The type of vintages they make depends completely on the assesment on the harvest harvest. The younger vintages are released five years after the harvest and the old ones after nine. ARPEPE chooses which (youg or old) the yield is used for, it is one or the other (or none). Not both.

After the tour we moved into the beautiful building next to the vineyards, which is the ARPEPE office and tasting room. It is designed by Isabellas architecht husband. The interior is seemingly bathing in light. I really loved it (and the light was perfect for taking good pictures). We tasted alltogether four wines: the Rosso, the young Grumello Rocca de Piro 2011, the Grumello Buon Consiglia 2007 and the il Pettirosso 1999. What really took me was the freshness of all of their wines. Amazing that even the -99 had no signs of stuffiness what so ever. From young to old, the nebbiolos had a nice light and spicy character, that I now recognize as the signature style of Valtellina. Prices we felt were very reasonable, ranging from around 15€ for the entry-level Rosso to ~40€ something for the Ultimi Racci which is the sforzato-type (but not a sforzato!) intense top of the line bottle. We walked out with a nice mixed box to take home.

I am very keen on writing more about the ARPEPE wines, but I will take rather as proper reviews as opposed a quick walk through in this post. Each of the ARPEPE wine deserve to be in the spotlight. If you are interested in a visit, ARPEPE is happy to receive guests as long as you give them a few weeks notice. You can find the contact details for the winery at their homepage.

Thank you ARPEPE and Isabella for the wonderful visit.

xx Soile

Arriving at the ARPEPE winery
Pouring the Rosso
Beautiful bright color
Close to the nature at the office of ARPEPE
Vineyard view from the ARPEPE tasting room


Visiting the Vineyards of Mamete Prevostini

It was last Thursday mid-day when we pulled into the driveway of Mamete Prevostini, a producer of high altitude nebbiolo wines in the valley of Valtellina. We had been driving all morning from Milan to reach the head office of the famous winemaker. It was a disastrous drive as our GPS had not been updated in years (damn rental car companies). So we took the wrong road several times. Luckily we arrived twelve sharp as agreed.  There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky and the sun felt roasting hot. I was grateful to step inside into the air conditioned shop. There we were greeted by Miriam, who handles the logistics of the wines and Alessia, who is responsible for sales. The purpose of our trip was to agree with the winemaker how to organize the exports to Sweden, as the interpretations of EU legislation by both countries is from opposite ends of the spectrum. Continue reading “Visiting the Vineyards of Mamete Prevostini”

The Seven Varieties of Laherte Frères

It is a calm and humid morning in Champagne as we climb into a car taking us to Chavot. We have a booked tour and tasting at Laherte Frères, one of my favorite grower producers in Champagne. I say favorite so often, that what is special about this one? In addition to having some excellent entry level champagnes, Laherte Frères has a fairly rare cuvée in their selection, Les 7. It is a blend of all seven grapes allowed to be used for champagne. Continue reading “The Seven Varieties of Laherte Frères”

Tasting Biodynamic Champagnes at Larmandier-Bernier

It is already a month since our visit to the heart of Champagne, Epernay. It was really the perfect place to stay as a group without a car. We were able to reach many smaller towns within 15 to 20 minutes by cab. The cost was reasonable as we split it six-ways. One of the houses we visited was Larmandier-Bernier, a champagne producer in Vertus known also for its biodynamic practices.  Continue reading “Tasting Biodynamic Champagnes at Larmandier-Bernier”

Perhaps the Best Pinot in the World?

Situated in the Chehalem Mountains (Wilamette, Oregon) at an elevation between 400 and 500 lies Vidon Vineyards. There, physicist, farmed and winemaker, Don Hagge grows and crafts perhaps the best pinot in the world. At least the best that I have ever tasted. VIDON produces 7 wine varieties and uses 100% own grapes.  Although the emphasis is on 5 clones of Pinot noir, the Hagge family have small blocks of Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Viognier, Tempranillo and Syrah. The winery is LIVE certified sustainable vineyard and winery. Don believes in minimal intervention in the winemaking process ( a little bit like Anselme Selosse). And the best part is, we are discussing with Don to bring his wines to Sweden and Denmark. So exciting! Continue reading “Perhaps the Best Pinot in the World?”

In the Cellar of Anselme Selosse

It was supposed to be the highlight of our trip to Champagne – the tour and tasting at the famous Jacques Selosse Cellars. The tour guide was the famous winemaker himself and the tasting included both vins clairs (the wine before it is made into a champagne), as well as a hefty range of the finished product. We were very excited that we were able to book a tour. However, the tour was not exactly what we thought it would be.. Continue reading “In the Cellar of Anselme Selosse”