Wineweek 51: Preparing for the Holiday Season

I love Christmas! Its one of my favorite times of the year. Bright lights and candles, great food and presents; not to forget a good excuse to buy some great wines (as if I need an excuse). However, every year, Christmas starts too early if you ask me. Who wants to bring out the decorations already in rainy and gray November? As a business owner, you realize that you kind of have to. Continue reading “Wineweek 51: Preparing for the Holiday Season”

Wineweek 41: The Last of Summer

As the heading reveals, it is the last week of summer here in Sweden. After a disappointingly cold and rainy July, August gave it’s best with plenty of sun and warmth. Next week we will take out the coats and umbrellas again, and I will move from crispy dry Rieslings to nice and inviting Portuguese reds. I do like the fall. Evenings get cold and dark, but that’s ok, I bring out the candles and blankets, and settle myself on the sofa. Thats as good of an environment to drink wine as any.

September has always felt like the beginning of a new year; It is full of possibilities, new adventures and new wines. We will have quite a tight agenda with our upcoming fall and Christmas tastings, Cavatast in the beginning of October and a trip to Tokyo to check out the wine scene there. Our friend Ali has really fallen for Sake, so I am quite intrigued to do some tastings. I am also quite pumped up about Cavatast as we will have the chance to meet up with some fellow winecurious from Finland and the UK. Not too late for you to join as well (just give us a shout)!

But going back to this week, we have made some progress. If you recall, last weekend I was complaining about us being procrastinators. Well that came to an end with a new burst of energy going into the actual business, not only drinking wine. We made all the necessary arrangements for the falls first open house tasting that will take place on the 12th of September in Stockholm. We booked the space, sent out invites and now we are preparing all the materials. We also did some much hated bookkeeping as well as reminded our warehouse manager to send us some long overdue information (that guy just seems to be on vacation all the time!). And last but definitely not least, we took around some sample bottles to wine bars that we feel could be interested in our wines. Let’s hope that all these efforts bare some fruit.

Friday evening we were so exhausted that we just made camp at NoFo wine bar and sat there all evening. Erik, the owner, is a really nice guy, and knows plenty about wine. We congregated at the bar, chatted with him and some other guests basically from five to nine downing a great bottle of Julie Balagny’s Chavot 2014. We also ate meat and cheese for dinner and invited half of the bar to our tasting. Great times! On Saturday we popped by Johan & Nyströms coffee festival at Södermalm and in the evening we relaxed with a glass of Guillem Carol Extra Brut cava.

That was it for wineweek 41. The numbering reminds me of how time flies by. I cant believe it has soon been a year since I started writing this blog.. Have a great (wine)week you all!

Attending the opening of Asplund apartment hotel.
Attending the opening of Asplund apartment hotel.
Relaxing with some red from Beaujolais
Relaxing with some red from Beaujolais
The meat board at NoFo
The meat board at NoFo
Yes we do! Visiting the Coffee Festival at Södra Teatern
Yes we do! Visiting the Coffee Festival at Södra Teatern
Drinking free coffee at Johan & Nyströms Coffee Festival
Drinking free coffee at Johan & Nyströms Coffee Festival
Guillem Carol Extra Brut Cava. An excellent choice for Saturday evening
Guillem Carol Extra Brut Cava. An excellent choice for Saturday evening

Wineweek 38: The End of Summer

The first full week of August is almost gone (there are only minutes left), and so is my “so called” vacation. I have what they call, restless feet. I always need to have a project going on (while I dream about a completely project-free vacation). This summer I have been writing my Stockholm travel guide, and I am almost done. This is my friends one of the reasons this blog has been slightly quieter lately. The second reason is, I seem to be nearing the one year crisis. Every relationship has one; a point where small things start getting on the nerves or you tire, and it is the memory of the good times that keeps things alive. Perhaps they are coming back, perhaps they aren’t. Blogging about wine, food, coffee and all kinds of experiences has been great and rewarding, but with all my other “little projects” I don’t always have the energy to keep up the quality. I have been concentrating a bit too much on restaurants and too little on wine. So let’s see. Either the blog will have a face-lift in the fall, with more posts about the business, discovering wine and prominent producers, or I will have to scale it down significantly. One thing is for sure, I will be concentrating on quality more than quantity.

Enough chatter about feelings. What have we been up to his week with wine? We had some (very) winecurious guests from Finland, so it was a good opportunity (excuse) to open up some of our nicer bottles of wine. I always love it when I have people over who can appreciate the bottle. It makes the drinking experience more fun. We finally decided to try a bottle of Agrapart & Fils Mineral. Agrapart is a medium-sized grower producer and an interesting house to keep ones eyes on. The bottle of Mineral was fantastic btw. fresh, but with some nice complexity. We also opened a Tarlant Cuvee Louis and a Savart L’accomplie. Both were absolutely wonderful, especially the Tarlant.

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Savart L’accomplie, a fresh start to Tuesday evening. Why not!
The wine tasting experience at Gaston
The wine tasting experience at Gaston

We also visited a few wine bars this week. Gaston has a new great concept, the sommeliers tasting menu. It costs 120 SEK and includes three small glasses of wine (3 x 4cl). The choice of the wines will be made by the sommelier our of the menu for wines by the glass. Basically, I told the sommelier which wines in the menu interested me and she picked the ones she would be best together. We were a party of four and everyone got a tasting tailored to their preferences. What a great concept.

On Saturday, we visited Nook, a restaurant serving Scandinavian food with a Korean twist. The food was yummy and beautiful, and actually wonderful value for money (not common in Stockholm), and the sommelier had over 40 glasses of wine by the glass. My only disappointment was that I could not browse the list as it was in his head. So I had to rely on the sommelier for the wine pairings. I had some wonderful white Bourgogne and white Burgundy, and M had some Riesling from Pfaltz. All good selections and went great with the food. So the restaurant is forgiven for the missing wine list. After we were done at Nook, we wen’t to enjoy the last warm days of the summer to the terrace of NoFo (review here). It was a perfect warm summer evening with a warm wind, the wines were well chilled, and the courtyard of NoFo was peaceful. Perfect!

Some White Bourgogne and Riesling by the glass
Some White Bourgogne and Riesling by the glass
The beautiful dessert
The beautiful dessert
Warm summer evening in the courtyard of NoFo
Warm summer evening in the courtyard of NoFo

To these pictures I end this wineweek. Next week will be busy. We will be traveling to Finland for the weekend to attend Restaurant day. It is a day when anyone can open their own restaurant, so the parks of Helsinki will be filled with food stalls and the whole town will be snacking. We have been meaning to go so many times, and finally this August we were able to keep the weekend free. There will not be any wine served on Restaurant day, but I am sure I can sneak some in before Sunday.

A Friendly Wine Bar North of Folkungagatan, Nofo Stockholm

There are only a handful of wine bars in Stockholm that I take seriously (or any city for that matter). I suspect that there is just not enough wine crowd here in Stockholm to keep that many places profitable. As Talk-A-Vino wrote in his blog recently, people seem to think that wine requires some special kind of knowledge for people to feel comfortable about enjoying it to the full. At a wine bar you are inevitably asked how you like the wine (as is per good manners from a good bartender or sommelier), and perhaps this is daunting to some. It really shouldn’t be! Wine, like any other food or drink, is a matter of taste, and it is ok to disagree about the wine with someone more knowledgeable. What a sommelier really cares about is whether you liked the wine or not. So all you winecurious out there, go wine tasting, share you opinions and perhaps we can see an escalation in the number of good wine bars in town.

A glass of Chardonnay from Loire
A glass of Chardonnay from Loire
The inner yard, for summer use only
The inner yard, for summer use only

Back to Nofo then. There were two things that really made an impression on me: the friendly service (they even helped me carry some heavy stuff in) and the champagne list. There were only three champagnes on the list and only sold by the bottle (a minus on not having any champagne by the glass), but they were good champagnes, with a capital G. Larmandier-Bernier, Francis Boulard and Olivier Horiot, wonderful producers all of them. And the most expesive bottle (Horiot’s Sevé) was 700 SEK, that is a very good price level for Stockholm.

As the only sparkling by the glass was a Prosecco, I opted for a glass of white wine, a Chardonnay from Loire. For the bar’s defense, the Prosecco was at least not main stream, but it still had the overly fruity taste that I personally find a bit disturbing. It was not bad, but just not my style of bubbly. I encourage others to of course try it. And try you can! The bartender was friendly and professional enough to let me taste the wines before making my choice. My Chardonnay was served to the table, perfectly chilled and in a nice glass. We are not talking Zalto, but decent glasses nevertheless. Otherwise, there were around three whites and reds and one rose wine by the glass. This is not that many, but as long as the choices are good, I don’t mind.

The interior at Nofo is not that exciting
The interior at Nofo is not that exciting
The bar at Nofo
The bar at Nofo. The hanging glasses look like chandelliers.
I wouldn't mind this kind of decorations in my own office
I wouldn’t mind this kind of decorations in my own office

As for the ambiance, the place does not stand out that much. I really like the bar, with all bottles nicely presented on the table. It kind of feels like being invited to someones kitchen. I also like the inner yard. The problem with that is only the Swedish weather, but on a nice day it is fabulous.

All in all, I am pleased by the new, friendly addition to the wine-scene in Stockholm. Nofo is definitely a place where I will bring my friends in the summer when they are visiting. Then I will perhaps be able to have some of the wonderful champagnes by the bottle.

Wineweek 37: The last days of July in Stockholm

Summer in the Nordics is always short. This year it is even shorter. The weather has not been great for me all July. Wherever I have traveled, plus 15 (C) and rain has followed. Or at least that is how it feels to me. I am actually looking forward to the fall, as then I know at least that Cavatast is coming (2.-4.10).

Regardless of the rain, it has been a productive week. I have been working on my “secret” project, which I can now reveal to you is a travel guide to Stockholm. Now that I have enough content ready, I dare to go public about it. So to all you Finns (as the guide will be in Finnish) out there, the Tripsteri Stockholm guide will open later in August, unless I run into some serious technical difficulties. My linguistic targets have already been reached. I must confess, I was very nervous about writing in Finnish, but as this blog, the text started coming out after a while.  This is something completely new to me, so be gentle (but honest) with the feedback.

I also found a wonderful new wine bar this week in Stockholm. This is all thanks to my friend Agnes at Yelp, who arranged a social night for all those interested about wine (or just afterwork). Nofo Wine Bar is located in Södermalm and is in connection with the Nofo Hotel. It is a friendly place with a comfortable bar and a courtyard where one can sip wine and eat charcuterie. I will review the place in coming posts, but I must already say their champagne list made an impression. It was short (three different champagnes) but the bottles were all from great producers, like Larmandier-Bernier, Francis Boulard and Olivier Horiot. Boulard and Horiot are some of my favorite grower producers and a place that offers them cannot be bad. No way. The only downside was that none of these were offered by the glass, so I need to go back the coming week with a group (or by myself).

Talking about champagne, we opened (me and M) a bottle of Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve on Saturday and concluded that we have a clear winner for the years value for money champagne. It tasted of mature yellow apples, brioche and fresh citrus. What a wonderful wine and you can order it for just 300 SEK/bottle (if it would not be sold out at the moment) from Gaston. I will for sure be getting some more of these babies when they come back into stock. We also tried a red wine, Selecta, from Almeida Garret, a Portuguese producer we are considering adding to our collection.  We have really been impressed by the quality of their wines, even though they are fairly new in the trade (think of what they can achieve with some experience). The Selecta was not necessarily one of my favorites, but I suspect it is due to just not being my style. The taste profile would complement our selection very nicely, so we will keep it in mind. Even though we have been very keen on having solely wines that we like ourselves, it is perhaps not in the long term the best road. We have quite specific tastes.

That was it for this wine week. Enjoy the pictures! I will now retire on the sofa with a box of ice cream and a brainless TV-series to finish of the Sunday with style.

My office for the week, Coffice in Södermalm
My office for the week, Coffice in Södermalm
Stockholm Pride did not wear off even with masses of rain
Stockholm Pride did not wear off even with masses of rain
New wine bar in town
New wine bar in town, Nofo
I wouldn't mind this kind of decorations in my own office
I wouldn’t mind this kind of decorations in my own office
Almeida Garret Selecta Red, a candidate for our selection
Almeida Garret Selecta Red, a candidate for our selection
New Mochi ice creams in the supermarket. They look good, but are they?
New Mochi ice creams in the supermarket. They look good, but are they?
Perhaps one of the best value for money champagnes ever, Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve
Perhaps one of the best value for money champagnes ever, Bereche & Fils Brut Reserve