The day is here!

Congratulations Sweden! This is the day that all of our hard work is rewarded, Llagrima d’Or is once again available for purchase. It was a long journey to this point with change of company structure, country and logistics, but it feels great to have reached this point.

Our webshop opened this morning and will close on the 12th of April. After that the precious Cavas start their journey from our warehouse in Denmark to Sweden and to your doorstep. Have a peak at our website on whats available and remember quality is not a coincidence! With the right kind of care, love and craftsmanship (and of course Cava-talent) good Cava is a given!

Llagrima d'Or Brut Nature Cava
Llagrima d’Or Brut Nature Cava

Wineweek 14: Back to Business

This week the scenery ha changed. Colorful and tropical Singapore has changed to good old grey Sweden. I tried to take some pics from outside, but they where all too depressing. Not that I don’t like Stockholm, I love it, but this time of the year is always a bit colorless (like Helsinki, where I am from). Soon February will change to March and the anticipation of spring (with all it’s disappointing cold fronts) will lighten up the town. I expect we will be facing some cold setbacks up until the end of June, it is almost a national sport to put away your winter clothes too early, but at least there will be more light. But one thing I can say makes me extremely happy to be back, is our wonderful wine collection. After five and a half weeks of mostly disappointing (bad or too expensive) wine, I am ecstatic about all the lovely bottles at hands reach. Unfortunately M caught a cold on the flight back, so we did not really have any sparkling this weekend.

Looking back at the week, we started off well with a nice and anticipated dinner at Burnt Ends, a much talked about restaurant in Chinatown (Singapore). The service was very disappointing, and that was really a shame as the food was wonderful and that good food does not at all deserve to be paired with such sub-standard service.  A review will follow. We also continued our cocktail-tour at the Black Swan and 28 Hong Kong Street. Even though it was a Monday both places were full of life.

On our way back to Sweden we checked out the duty free selection at Frankfurt airport. The Champagne selection was a bit boring, but we picked up a few German sparkling wines to try out. Germany as a wine-country is developing in an interesting direction with a new generation of winemakers taking over the reins. We visited a wonderful shop, the Winery (review here), in London around New Year focusing mainly on German wines, and found ourselves drooling after Pinot Noirs and Sparklings alike.

After resting off the mild jet lag, we sat down on the couch, opened a bottle of red (Kloof Street Vintage 2012 from South Africa), and started looking into the future. It is time to get our business up and running. It’s not like we have been procrastinating, but our Cavas have now been sitting in the warehouse for enough time. It is time to get the sales going. So next week will be all about finalizing the paperwork. Also, it is only a week until M leaves for Portugal to meet some new producers (I will follow later for the weekend), so there is a lot to plan. After several months of communicating by email, we will finally be meeting our friends at Vieira de Sousa. They have a lovely range of Port wines we would love to add to our selection. Also, I am getting a bit hyped up after reading about some Portuguese sparkling wine producers. The grapes are new to me (Baga, Bical and Bairrada), but the production good old method Champenoise.

Discovering Port

When planning the founding of our company, we had an idea of concentrating mainly on bubbly. What a surprise! We had identified a gap in the market here in the Nordics for high quality sparkling wine other than Champagne, and a base of consumers, who were increasingly curious about these wines. Maybe it was Christmas coming with dark, candle-light evenings calling for something different than a fresh bubbly, but soon ideas started flying around to include some other categories of wines, like “interesting” reds and also Port wine. Then a friend of us from Denmark introduced us to Luisa de Borges, a young and passionate winemaker from Viera de Sousa wines, and we suddenly found ourselves, arranging for boxes and boxes of Port wine from Portugal.

Port wine was a new area for both of us. Yes, we have both tried Ports before, but I at least didn’t know much about them. What is Port? How is it produced? And most important, what kind of food could it be paired with? We thought that it would be wise to take a deep-dive into the subject. So where else to start these days but google, and so we started surfing to find out more about it. Here is what we found out:

Port is a fortified wine, a wine to which a neutral grape spirit, similar to brandy is added, and it originates in Portugal. Port has been produced in the Douro Valley region for centuries. It’s typically enjoyed as a dessert wine, but there are countries which serve it as an aperitif or choose to use it for cooking. It pairs beautifully with a variety of dessert dishes and cheese. Port ranges between 19-21% in alcohol.

There are two main types of Port; wood-aged and bottle-aged, with many sub-categories of each. To keep it simple, the Port types have been broken down into white port, ruby port, tawny port and Garrafeira port. While most use the same type of grapes, the way in which they are selected, vinified, stored, and aged are very different. The five key grapes used for the majority of Port types are: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão (Completely new grapes to me). Of course there are many other grapes that can be added to the blend and each grape adds a unique touch to the wine. Port,like any other wine, changes and develops with age. So you can store them (in the right conditions) and have some beautiful vintages to enjoy after some years of patience.

Some pros and cons of Port I have thought of along the way. Port is quite a strong wine, so finishing a bottle is not something at least I would do very easily. In a household of two, its requires a larger group of friends to open one of those beautiful Vintage Ports, that are at their best only for a few days after opening. However, some Ports, like Tawny Port, can keep its quality up to several months after opening (if stored correctly); so that’s kind of nice, sipping through a bottle during Christmas holidays as a dessert. Another feature that requires some work is the decanting of Ports. Some Ports, not all, require decanting before you can serve them. Bottle aged Ports have the dead yeast (“sediment”) left inside, and that is something you really don’t want to drink. There is a lot of writing about the rituals of decanting port, but it really doesn’t need to be a complicated process. It just requires a small effort. Here is a link to some good instructions I found. Last but not least, Ports, especially young Vintage Ports, require some airing before they reach their prime, and that can be up to 12 hours. So if you want to get the most out of your Port, it’s an event you should plan for. Port is not an entirely spontaneous drink.

This was just a scratch on the surface of Ports. If you are interested in reading some more, I found a pretty good site I would recommend to visit, here is a link for For the Love of Port. Let’s see where this road leads to. But for now, we are planning a trip to Portugal to meet Luisa and see her wonderful vineyards. Perhaps, if we are lucky, her ports will be available through The Winecurious for purchase in 2015.

Training the nose – Le Nez du Vin

This sounds like a weird topic, or perhaps not if you are nose deep in the business of wine. Describing a wine based on its scent is a part of the trade. Why? Well everyone can have their purposes, but what I would like to achieve, is to be able to describe what kind of wine I like using a common language that is shared by wine professionals, enthusiasts and hobbyists around the world. Le Nez du Vin is like my “workbook” or “dictionary” for learning to speak wine.

Le Nez du Vin is a product that you can use to train your nose. It is a collection of small bottles containing different aromas that you can use to train your brain to recognize the most common scents you find in wines. Quoting the creator of this product “to fix aromas in your mind is to give yourself the chance to recognise them”. I like the sound of this! Additionally, you know those moments when you are inhaling the aromas of your wine and you just cannot put your finger on it what the scent is? Well, Le Nez can help you verify that. Off course scent as well as taste are individual things, but Le Nez can get you started. And it is not like this is it, this is the pallet of scents you have, there is always more. But the 54 bottle Master Kit is a pretty comprehensive set and will get you far.

Le Nez offers several different collections or “kits”: for the reds, the whites and even for faulty wines. So you don’t have to go for the full 54 scents, you can start with a light collection of 6 and work your way up from that. Le Nez du Vin is also only one brand for such a product. There are not that many on the market, but a few different ones. So if you are shopping have a look around also for other names than Le Nez. They also have aroma sets on the market for coffee and whiskey, omnomnom (that spontaneous omnom was targeted towards coffee, not whiskey) if you are in to other drinks than wine.

I have done my fair share of desperate attempts with sales people and sommeliers to describe what I like, and though I do get better over time, I really want to be able to take my reviews and descriptions to the next level. If for nothing else, then to be able to order exactly what I want in a restaurant. I am just not experienced enough that the name on the wine-list would tell me enough; especially when it comes to reds and whites (I am pretty fluent in speaking bubbly)! And I hope this helps. If not, at least it is quite fun to play with the set while drinking wine. It makes for a fun activity.

A Few Weeks Down the Road

One of the main reasons we started this blog, was to talk about our journey on discovering wine via the founding of our own business: The Winecurious wineshop! This topic has not been that much in the spotlights yet, as I got carried away with tasting and reviewing. Wines and restaurants are a part of my weekly hobbies, so I guess it was very easy to start talking about that. But the idea of this blog is also for you to follow what is going on behind the scenes in a start-up wine-business, so I will now take the opportunity to write about that.

Let’s start from the beginning!

We started our company in Denmark, a country foreign to both of us, but with a reputation for being very straightforward for running a small business. Why not Finland or Sweden? One word: state-monopoly. So Denmark was the closest to the culture we are used to that has a free market. Not as easy as was advertised though. Registration papers were all in Danish, electronic identification only for Danish residents, and the tax authority’s phone lines only open from 9am to 2pm on weekdays (wtf). So we had to do it the old fashioned way, filling in paper forms and posting them by snail-mail, and calling afterwards to check if they had been received. It all worked out though, with the help of Invest in Denmark and a local accountant, we made it happen; and about a month ago, we received our registration number. That moment was intensely celebrated with bubbly.

But that was just the first step. Next in line was to register for a VAT numbers (Danish and foreign), distant sales licenses, and to sign contracts for warehousing and logistics. We both work in procurement (buying of things), so making these kinds of contracts is every day business for us. However, it is a completely different thing negotiating as a start-up company than behind the business card or a larger corporation. The key was to find the right size of a partner, someone who was interested to listen to your plans of growth and to give you a chance as a customer. Someone who also understands that the tables might turn someday =). So with some patience from us and our suppliers, contracts were signed and VAT numbers received. The great thing about family vineyard is that you are discussing with fellow entrepreneurs, who understand the obstacles that one has when starting a business.

And now our first wines are ready to be loaded on a truck to take them from Spain to Denmark. After months of paper-hell, our beloved Llagrima d’Or and Peret Fuster Cavas are finally ready to be dispatched. We hope to have them available for home delivery before Christmas and New Year, but we still need to wait for a distant sales license to our primary focus market, Sweden. Let’s see if the Swedish tax-Santa grants us our wish and handles the registration on time. If not, well, then we just suck it up and wait for the January “detox” to pass.

Perhaps a bit off topic, but someone who has started reading the blog from the beginning might be by now wondering why on earth am I reviewing and complementing products that compete with the ones we will be selling. The answer is very simple: I also love other wines, and want to complement quality. I appreciate a large selection, and believe, that the more people know about quality wines and the options on the market, the more there will be interest in the topic in general. So I am aiming to stimulate the overall interest in wine (especially cava) and food, not only focus on my wines. This is why I went to business in the first place, to widen the selection.