Wineweek 147: August Favorites in Helsinki

This is one of those rare days I have almost nothing to say. Rare! No special reason, but compared to a summer on the move, its been very quiet for the past two weeks. I could mention the Santa Barbara Chardonnay that we had a week ago, or the rooftop bar I visited on Wednesday, but instead, I chose to add some photos from my quick trip to Helsinki a week and a half ago. They give a nice reminder that it is still summer, and life should be a little bit slow. Here are a few August favorites from Helsinki. Continue reading “Wineweek 147: August Favorites in Helsinki”

Helsinki’s Best Bars for Nature Wines

I had a quick look at my statistics last week, and one of the most popular posts of all time is my review of Helsinkis wine bars a few years back. All the places in that post are still relevant, I would go for a glass of wine at Latva, Vin Vin, Soil Wine Room and Sinne Helsinki any day. However, there are is a new genre of wine bar in town, that should really be mentioned – the natural wine bar. Nature wines are produced without any help from synthetic chemistry: pesticides or additives like clearing agents. They are usually unfiltered and can have some sediments that make the wine murky and thick in color. There is a skin contact-trend going on which means that you can also find orange, and amber-wines on the lists. Continue reading “Helsinki’s Best Bars for Nature Wines”

Wineweek 144: Places in Helsinki

The last two weeks have been spent in my childhood home of Helsinki. I come here every summer to spend time with my family, and to check out whats new in town. This time, I did not check out so much new, but rather revisited the old. I took long walks with my camera, and tried to capture some memories from childhood hangouts. One day I even had the pleasure of taking a photowalk with my mentor Tuulia. She has taken me from completely automatic to 100% manual photography within a matter of hours. I always learn something revolutionary about my camera when I am with her. For this week, I thought of combining a bit of tourist tips with my pictures – places in my childhood neighborhood of Töölö that I think are worth a visit. Continue reading “Wineweek 144: Places in Helsinki”

Grand Champagne Vol. 2 – Master Classes

Keeping my promise on writing some more about Grand Champagne. This time I thought I would be focusing on one of the juiciest parts of the exhibition, the Master Classes.

The Master classes are educational tastings organized at the Grand Champagne event. Every Master class had a theme; most focused on a specific champagne house, their story, style and vintages; the rest on topics like pairing champagne with food. The purpose of the Master classes was to be educational, but also a good tasting opportunities for rare wines. We joined two house-classes: Palmer & Co. and an all-time favorite, Charles Heidsieck.

The Palmer & Co. tasting was intimate. The room had space for around 20 people around a long table. We tasted four wines from Palmer: the entry level Brut and vintages 2002, 1998 and 1985. All magnums. It was lovely listening to the story of the house while tasting through a rich set of vintages. Palmer is an interesting cooperative of seven established growers bringing together their high quality grapes. Palmer wines are not too violent on the wallet either, so we have perhaps gone a bit crazy looking to buy a 1985 magnum to have in our cellar.

The other Master Class we attended was for Charles Heidsieck. It was a larger class but still quite pleasant. I really like the Heidsieck wines. The entry level cuvee has always been a favorite when it comes to big well-known brands. Along with Bollingers special cuvee of course. We already knew many of Heidsiecks recent vintages: We have tasted (and have in the cellar) both Millessime 2005 and Cuvee Millionaire 1995. So we attended mainly for the story of Champagne Charlie, and to be honest, the 1982 Jeroboam that was opened for the event. 1982 is my birth year, so I think its fun tasting champagnes that are as old as me. Heidsieck was the last tasting of the evening; we were already quite tired, and to be honest a bit tipsy. Heidsieck did not really cheap out with their pours, so it was a bit hard leaving some wine behind.

I think the Master Classes were definitely the main reason to go to Grand Champagne. Many producers had some rare vintages in the tastings, so just the opportunity to get a hold of those felt worth the price. Most master classes cost around 50€ per person and the entry ticket on top. Sounds a bit expensive, but totally worth it. A general survival tip though – do not book too many master classes per day, spread them out. Especially not following a press event where you anyway have been tasting wines all day.

xx Soile

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Comparing the colour of the 2005 and the 1982
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At the Heidsieck Master class
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Palmer 2002, 1998 and 1985
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Pouring the wine from magnums at the Palmer & Co. Master class

 

Grand Champagne Vol.1

When thinking about what to write about Grand Champagne, I really had a hard time keeping it short. There is just so much to share. So I decided to split the story in two, starting with the press event and professionals tasting on Friday morning. The second post will focus on the consumer event as well as Master classes. Continue reading “Grand Champagne Vol.1”

Wineweek 132: At the Champagne Event of the Year

Sun fun and champagne, those are the ingredients for a great weekend. And a great weekend it has been indeed; time well spent in Helsinki and the Grand Champagne wine fair. Grand Champagne is a one of a kind event. Fifty great names from my favorite wine region in France, all under one roof for three days, filling the glasses of the wider public. There are also master classes for those who are deeply interested. Continue reading “Wineweek 132: At the Champagne Event of the Year”

Wineweek 131: Grand Champagne Coming

This weekend has given me hope that there will be summer. Its been sunny all weekend and warm, well at least in the sun. You can suck in some of the Stockholm May madness in the pictures below. I have caught some kind of hay fever though, so no wine for me. At least not on Saturday. Its a waste to drink with a blocked nose. But on Friday I was still healthy and enjoyed a night out with a friend at Woodstockholm, one of the best wine haunts in the city.  Continue reading “Wineweek 131: Grand Champagne Coming”

Helsinki’s Hidden Pearl – Restaurant Grön

I would never have booked a table Grön, if a wine interested friend had not tipped me off. Regardless of its central location, its kind of unnoticeable; and the name somehow suggests that the place would be just for vegetarians (its not). Its one of these small bistro-types that don’t look like much from the outside, but there is heaven inside for those who know it. Continue reading “Helsinki’s Hidden Pearl – Restaurant Grön”

Customer Obsession at Restaurant Jord

Few past years in Stockholm, I have witnessed the up-rise of shopping mall-dining. There has been a general cleanup off course, and the old grease-pit style food courts are but a memory now. New, produce focused fast food chains and celebrity chefs have come in to grab the attention. Kortteli, the new, luxury food court on top of the Kamppi mall is the first attempt to pimp-up the mall dining scene in Finland (as far as I know). The fifth floor of Kamppi ticks off all boxes: specialty coffee – check, vegan offering – check, awesome brunch – check, and last but not least celebrity chef – check. Restaurant Jord, hidden in the back of the food court, is the little sister of Michelin-starred Ask, one of Helsinki’s most talked-about fine dining restaurants.  Continue reading “Customer Obsession at Restaurant Jord”

Wineweek 128: Easter in Helsinki

Spending time in Helsinki is great. It is not only my childhood home, but the city has developed into a mecca of food during the past five years. We come every other month or so to visit my family, and we always have new restaurants to try. Dining in Helsinki makes me suspect that the New Nordic kitchen is making a comeback (if it ever was on a downhill), and that the myth of dry Finnish service is indeed just a myth. So there is definitely something good cooking here in the capital of Finland, that the Michelin guide has totally missed out on. Only four one-star restaurants is a laugh, and many more places would definitely deserve a bib in my books. And what is a pleasure to see, is that the restaurants are thriving with many great places being fully booked even months ahead (still trying to get a table a Basbas), so more is bound to come.  Continue reading “Wineweek 128: Easter in Helsinki”