The first week of February. Finally, the sun is out and the days are becoming longer. It is still dark when I wake up, but the sun starts to rise the time I head to the office. That’s the thing about living here in the Nordics. Winter is a a bit of a grey and depressing time. However in the summer, it is sun all day round. I am so glad that we are heading towards spring. Cant wait for rose season to kick off. This week has been refreshing also from a wine point of view. On Friday I had the chance to get a tour at the newly opened Winery Hotel here in Stockholm, and M finally stopped with his silly wine-break. We celebrated his return to wine with a nice Mumm tasting at our cellar. Continue reading “Wineweek 65: Mumm and Friends”
Last weekend I attended the Nordic Travel Exhibition in Helsinki. I was there to market my home city, Stockholm, however ended up on stage talking about wine. How did that happen? Well that I will save for another post. But long story short, I was on stage interviewing two fun ladies who had been living one in Barcelona and one in Lisbon for a large part of their lives, on wine-travel. We discussed the wine culture in both cities/countries, wine opportunities and most interestingly where and how to do wine-travel. I thought I would share some of the highlights of that discussion with you today on how to organize a successful wine-trip. There are of course organized tours, but the recommendations below focus on if you want to plan your trip yourself (which I always do). Continue reading “Tips for Booking a Wine Trip”
While in Reims, we took up the opportunity to do some tours at the big champagne houses. Perhaps if it would not have been a Sunday or we would have had a car, we would have opted for something different; something more personal. However, with the restricted availability we opted for G.H. Mumm. The Gordon Rouge is one of the first champagnes I have tasted and we have rather liked the blanc de blancs, Mumm de Cramant. We also visited Mumm Napa while in California and remember it being, “ahem”, let’s call it a cheerful experience.
We booked the tour a few hours before at our hotel and off we went, secretly hoping that it would be a small group. It was not. However, the experience was quite well organized, so it worked even with the twenty something people. We started off by selecting the type of tasting we wanted to have at the end. There were three options:
- Basic glass of Gordon Rouge
- A surprise glass with an aroma set.
- The “Black and White” experience with two glasses of very different Mumm champagnes to compare different grapes: The Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs.
We were not that interested in the Gordon Rouge, nor was the surprise option very inviting from a control freak like me. So we chose tasting number three (3). The price was also a nice surprise, 25€ instead of 39€, as our hotel (Mercure Cathedral) had a significant discount for all of the tasting experiences. Sweet!
The tour started off from the cellars from the process steps when the grapes had already been pressed and made into wine. The guide explained the first and second fermentation, mixing of the wines and the removal of the yeast after maturation. She explained the process of quality control and “dressing”, labeling of the bottle. A fairly comprehensive introduction into the making of champagne. To our (mine and Ms) disappointment, we did not see much production equipment, however the guide used the help of pictures and videos to describe these parts. As it was a Sunday we also were not able to see the people at work at the cellars. Next time I will definitely come on a weekday. The tour ended in the tasting room, where our glasses were already being poured. After spending some time in the humid cellar, the glas(ses) of bubbly felt very welcome.
Even though I was not that enthusiastic about the surprise tasting, I was a little bit jealous when I saw what they were having. I guess I just expected the organizer to cheap out, but they had selected a decent bottle, a Vintage Mumm from 2006. They also had a few snacks, and seeing them made me increasingly hungry. The Black and White tasting was of course good, but the blanc de blancs I was already familiar with (review here), so it was more the 100% Pinot Noir that I was curious about (review here).
After the tasting we headed for the shop. This was perhaps the most disappointing part of our tour, the selection was just plain boring. I was hoping to have the opportunity to browse some vintages and perhaps see some rarer bottles, but the “factory shop” was nothing of the like. The selection consisted mainly of the Gordon Rouge and a few other bottles: the 100% Chardonnay and 100% Pinot Noir that we had tasted earlier. Additionally one could buy some Mumm labelled accessories.
Even though the tour was not perfect, it was in line with our expectations. We got what we came for which was to hear more about the producer and see the cellars. So if in Reims, G.H. Mumm is not a bad option for an activity. Kids were also welcome, so it is a great opportunity to have some family fun.
If you don’t count Monday, this has been a pretty quiet wine-week, at least when it comes to drinking wine. Perhaps we overdosed, in terms of tasting not drinking, in Paris and Reims, and this weekend we have just had a few glasses. However, I still have a lot to share with you from last Sunday in Reims and also some news regarding our company.
As Paris seemed to quiet down for the Sunday, we headed to Reims a day before the Terres & Vins event. A few big champagne houses had their doors open and we decided to take a tour or two, just to see how a big producer is organized, and well, to taste a few glasses of champagne. We basically had three, decent ones, to choose from: G.H. Mumm, Tattinger and Vranken Pommery. As Pommery charged close to 70€ for their tours with any decent tasting options, we opted for Mumm, one of my old favorites. Luckily our hotel Mercure also had a nice discount for the tours, so we got a significant reduction for the Blanc & Noir experience which was a tour through the cellars and a tasting of two champagnes: the blanc de blancs and blanc de noirs (25€ per person). We were already familiar with Mumm de Cramant, the 100% Chardonnay champagne (review here), so our expectations were high.
After touring at Mumm, we walked around in Reims admiring all the beautiful champagne houses and headed for afternoon bubbly at Les Crayeres, a beautiful mansion hotel with supposedly a great champagne bar. We had heard some good things, but after the disappointment of the much hyped about Bar 8 (Wineweek 22) we were cautious with our expectation. However, Les Crayeres did not let us down. The bar was absolutely beautiful with a lot of light and plush sofas. We had our drinks in the garden, which was like a scene from a movie with an international and happy crowd sipping wine. Les Crayeres also has a two Michelin star restaurant, which was to our disappointment fully booked (we tried making reservations earlier in the week). To compensate, we had to go to the town three star instead.
Sunday evening we headed to L’Assiette Champenoise, the three star restaurant of Arnaud Lallement. We don’t go to such extravagant places that often, but I have visited a few three star restaurants before this one. It is always a small investment to eat in such a place, but you pay not only for great food, but an experience. I will write more about the the restaurant later, but to describe the evening with a few words, the service was not as impressive as I have seen at many other starred (especially three starred) restaurants. Perhaps it was speaking English that made some of the staff uncomfortable. However it was nothing to really complain about and the food was out of this world.
That is about it regarding Reims, and now to some good news regarding our company. We will be taking in at least four new producers this spring: Rimarts (Cava), Quinta do Escudial (red and white), Antonio Madeira (red) and Quinta da Pellada (red, rosé and white). Orders to our Danish warehouse have been made and we will open for orders of these in mid May. This is a perfect time to stock up on wines to enjoy over summer vacation. We are also waiting for order confirmation from a fifth producer, but more about that when we have some certainty. It feels wonderful to be able to extend our selection. Of course we will also continue to have our trusted Llagrima d’Or and Peret Fuster wines for sale.