Wineweek 151: The Opening Weekend

The leaves are starting to fall. There is only two weeks left of September. The winter is coming. In a week, we will escape the cold weather to Barcelona. Unless the cold weather is waiting for us there. I have heard concerning weather reports from past weeks. There is also another reason for concern, which is the Catalonian referendum. The closer to the date we come, the more unrest is to be expected. I’m trying not to think too much of that, and this weekends events have been the perfect escape: Wine at the cellar, making cocktails at home and opening party of the new Johan & Nyström concept store in the center. Continue reading “Wineweek 151: The Opening Weekend”

Wineweek 148: Fall Winds

It still looks like summer outside, but one can feel the fall coming in many ways. First and foremost, the evenings are cold and crisp, and second, I have caught a cold – great. Last, but not least, my birthday is in a few weeks. The fall never comes without it. Yes, my 35th birthday is approaching, and that always implies I will have some good food and wine. I have no idea what is in store for me this year, however, I have been marketing very hard that 35 is a “round number”, and should be celebrated heavily. Its half way to 70 after all.   Continue reading “Wineweek 148: Fall Winds”

Wine Review – Sandhi Santa Barbara County Chardonnay

A wine review at last. It has been ages since I have written one. Not that I haven’t had good wines, but perhaps not that much worth singling out. Sandhi Santa Barbara County Chardonnay was such a bottle. We bought it on our last trip to New York a year and a half ago. It was one of those bottles worth flying over the Atlantic.  Continue reading “Wine Review – Sandhi Santa Barbara County Chardonnay”

Finland Celebrates 100 Years of Independence with Champagne Ayala

2017 is a special year for all Finns. The country celebrates 100 years of independence on December the 6th. It’s actually quite overwhelming that the time finally here. I remember Finland turning 90, and the countdown to a round hundred has been going on ever since. So there is a lot of celebration to be done, and what I find impressive is that Finland has chosen champagne Ayala for making an iconic 100 year celebratory drink for them. Actually this post will be mostly about Champagne Ayala: who they are and what kind of champagne do they make etc. However, what I am hoping for is that it builds some interest and trust in the Finland 100 bubbly. It is not always these marketing things come out good you know.  Continue reading “Finland Celebrates 100 Years of Independence with Champagne Ayala”

My Three Favorite Wines of July

July is the hottest month of the year for us in the Nordics. To be honest its seldom actually hot.We are lucky if we hit 25C. Regardless of the mild weather, the summer has an effect on my diet. And now I don’t mean just food, but wine as well. I like my wines light in July. Ok, so I like my wines always quite light. However, I could not gulp down any heavy Barolo or Cabernet in this weather. Those I reserve solely for cold fall or Christmas evenings when I actually feel like something thicker. As I have tasted some great new stuff this July, I thought I would share with you my favorite new discoveries.  Continue reading “My Three Favorite Wines of July”

Wine Review: Maison Nicolas Potel Chassagne-Montrachet Vielles Vignes 2007

Recently I have been talking a lot about white Burgundy (recent post here). It is the wine-obsession of the year. So last weekend we took out a recent acquisition from the cellar to enjoy with food. The bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet from Nicolas Potel is a 100% Chardonnay from Côte de Beaune, so we reckoned that it could hold its own with a mushroom risotto. How right we were. It was a perfect match.  Continue reading “Wine Review: Maison Nicolas Potel Chassagne-Montrachet Vielles Vignes 2007”

The First Wine Review of the Year: Vang Dalat Excellence Chardonnay

Happy New Year! What better way to start a new year of blogging than a wine review. I haven’t written those in a while. This time you are in for a treat as I have been tasting some Vietnamese wine. Yum yum…perhaps not, but interesting nevertheless. We picked up two bottles at Saigon airport just before departing to Singapore and a few days ago mustered up the courage to open a bottle. As white wine seemed like the safer choice we decided to open the Vang Dalat Excellence Chardonnay.

Like with most other Asian countries, wine is not the first drink that comes to mind when thinking about Vietnam. Nevertheless, Da Lat city, with its cool central highland climate and strong French heritage is an anomaly producing wine. The grapes come from nearby Phan Rang which is Vietnam’s main grape-growing region. The wine is said to be made according European wine making practices, but I did not find very much information about it online.  What is nice is that the wine is made affordable for locals, but this specific bottle of Chardonnay was produced for the export market and set us back 13 US dollars at the duty free.

20151230_185148.jpg
Tasting the Vang Dalat Excellence Cardonnay
20151230_185642.jpg
The seal of approval for Vietnamese wine

The wine was straw colored and the initial sniff fresh. The nose of the wine was actually quite pleasant in this hot weather with tropical fruits, lemon and honey. The taste of the wine had white fruits and lemon, accompanied by that oxidized taste of cooked fruit that I associate with spoiled wine. It was faint, but nevertheless it was there. I cant really put my finger on it where it comes from. Perhaps late harvest or over heating during the fermentation process. It is however quite common, and as I have understood it even preferred by locals in China and Vietnam. Taste is taste, what can you do.

Vang Dalat, is available in most cities and provinces in Vietnam and its exported to China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Cambodia and Switzerland. It is also available to buy in Germany, however the price tag really does not match the quality (~20€). I would not recommend buying it for the quality. However, many decisions these days come down to interesting versus delicious. So if you are into new things – why not!

Although I would like to give some points for a good attempt, I just cannot do that. Otherwise I would not be true to the scoring system. So both quality as well as value for money get one point out of five (even that is a bit generous). We drank one small glass and poured the rest.

xx Soile

Wine Review: Benoit Badoz Cremant du Jura

I always get excited when I find an excellent value for money -wine to share on this blog. That is kind of the purpose of it all, to build a wine-community and share ideas and information. There are thousands and thousands of wines out there, how to otherwise know which one to pick of the shelf?

“Domaine Badoz” is located in the town of Poligny, in the heart of the Jura region. Its origins date back as far as 1659 and Benoit Badoz represents the 10th generation of winemakers at the family domaine. He cultivates 10 hectares of vineyards with the aim of maintaining a natural ecological balance; grass is planted in every other row and no chemical are used in the fields. The production process, grape reception, vinification and aging are also efficiently organized and environmentally friendly. The wine is not classified as ecological or bio dynamic, however the focus is on making great wines by taking good care of the land and grapes. A good grape will speak for its self, and the Benoit Badoz Cremant du Jura is proof of that.

A simple but elegant label
A simple but elegant label
Light golden color
Light golden color

The wine is made from 100% Chardonnay and it has a lemony and sweetly refreshing nose. The taste is crispy, with yellow apples, pear and minerals. The sweetness in the aroma is deceiving as the wine its self tastes very dry. The wine has a persistent stream of teeny tiny bubbles contributing to a pleasant creamy mouth feel. All in all a very refreshing appetizer.

I got this wine from last years Christmas wine calendar (remember that? I hope I will get one this year as well) so I am not sure what price was paid for this specific bottle. After some (google) research I found the wine available in the producers web-shop for 8,90 EUR (!!).  That, I must say, is a great price. For pure quality, I give this wine a 3 (it’s good, but nothing amazing), but value for money I would say is a 4.5. I wonder if they deliver to Sweden…

Wine Review: Rimarts Reserva Especial Chardonnay

Being a wine merchant, you seldom drink your own wines. You take a sip in tastings to make sure the wine you are serving is ok, but you do not open a bottle that often to relax. It’s a bit silly, as the wines in our selection are some of the best I know. Perhaps it is just the continuous thirst for new things that seduces me to open something different every time. Last Friday we stayed firm and cooled down several options from our own lot and the one that called out to me most was the fresh and pearly, Rimarts Chardonnay.

The Rimarts label design is crisp and simple
The Rimarts label design is crisp and simple
The black cava-label is a guarantee of  a long ageing.
The black cava-label is a guarantee of a long ageing.
Light straw color with lively bubbles.
Light straw color with lively bubbles.

I have written to you about Rimarts before (story here). The cava house is owned by two brothers and they do everything by hand. Rimart’s produces true artisanal cavas. They source their grapes from trusted growers and handle the rest of the process by themselves (with a little bit of help from their mother). Bottles are aged to their peak and disgorged (re-corked) upon order. The Rimart’s cavas are perfect to drink now and require no additional maturation. The Reserva Especial Chardonnay has been aged for minimum 40 months and is a Brut Nature with less than 2g/k residual sugar.

Chardonnay is not an indigenous grape to Penedes. It has however become more popular recently with the growth of specialty cava as a premium drink. Chardonnay is a grape often used in the production of champagne, so it’s reputation has made it an attractive option for adding as an ingredient also in cava. Chardonnay, when aged properly, gives sparkling wine some of those brioche and nutty flavors that is one of my favorite characteristics in a good bubbly.

The Rimarts Chardonnay has a fresh nose with some citrus, green apple and baked bread. The taste is bone dry with light acidity and mineral freshness. After some time and air the wine gains some body and the yeast and brioche flavors take over. It is almost worth the price of some bubbles waiting for the wine to breathe. This is a wonderful cava and it resembles more champagne in the taste than other sparkling wines. I would recommend pairing it with some lightly salted snacks, charcuterie or hard cheeses (parmesan, comte or gryuere).

All in all, I give the Reserva Especial Chardonnay a 4 in pure quality and a 4.5 in value for money (242 SEK per bottle/ 1450 SEK per box), from our webshop of course. Our customers seem to agree with me as we actually sold out of this wine immediately when we received a shipment in May. It is a real star in our collection and a given favorite for years to come. Thank you Ricard and Ernest for making such a wonderful wine!

Wine Review: Quartz Reef Chauvet Method Traditionelle

Quartz Reef is a winery in the Central Otago part of New Zealand. The slightly odd name is taken from the largest Quartz rock deposit in New Zealand that lies below the winery. As many Otago wineries they are strong with Pinot Noir but in this instance I sampled their Brut Sparkling wine. The winery was formed in 1996 by Rudi Bauer an experienced winemaker who has worked in Germany, Oregon and Champagne. He was also one of the people behind creating the Central Otago Pinot Noir celebration and he has multiple Pinot Noir wines available. I must try to sample some of those as well in the future. The winery has around 30 hectares near Cromwell in Central Otago. In addition to several clones of Pinot Noir they also have Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

Back to sparkling wine though. Rudi was one of the pioneers of sparkling wine production in New Zealand. He made his fist attempts with sparkling wine in New Zealand in 1990 and before that he had spent time in Champagne with Champagne-maker Clotilde Chauvet and Jacques Peters of Veuve Clicquot to master the process. I am not sure if that is where he learned all of his skills but I was impressed by his wines. The fact that more than 70% of the total production for them is sparkling wine suggests that consumers also like it.

The one I sampled was the Quartz Reef NV Brut Method Traditionelle. It is blend of 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay, it has been aged for 24 months and has 8g of residual sugar per litre.

The wine has a nice nose of lime, melon, brioche, lees and fresh green apples. It is refreshingly dry with clear acidity, pleasant if that is your thing. There are clear notes of citrus and the finish is full of mineral and chalk.

A very good wine that I would not hesitate to have again. It makes me want to sample the rose as well as the vintage sparklings. It is in between a 3.5 and a 4 in quality rating but being generous I give it a 4. I had a glass at the excellent wine bar Monvinic in Barcelona and there a bottle was a bit more than €50 and a half glass was €6.5. From the producer it is possible to buy it for 30 New Zealand Dollars which is about €21 and that would be really great value for money. In Europe it is likely to set you back a bit more (if you can find it) but I have seen it available for around €25 from Winedirect in the UK and that is great value for money. Very good value for money at €25 so a 4 for that.