Bubbles’n Riesling

Did you know that sparkling wine consumption per capita in Germany is one of the highest in the world? Local sparkling wines: sekt and schaumwein are extremely popular. When I think of German sparkling, I think of Rotkäppchen Sekt (the little red riding hood), the cheap supermarket sparkling that I bought during my many trips to Berlin around ten years ago. That was vile stuff, but no matter, it cost only a few euros and was available in every corner kiosk in town. Today, the trend with German sparkling is more towards quality and differentiation. Vintners often select individual, small, high quality batches of wine for their sparkling wine production and favor the traditional method of second fermentation in the bottle. Exciting! Continue reading “Bubbles’n Riesling”

Wineweek 119: February Favorites

For those who have been reading this blog:  you know I am not a winter person (I was clearly born in the wrong country). However, February is a month of hope. Days are getting longer, skies clearer, and they sell these awesome plush buns with whipped cream and almond mass in the middle. You eat them until the end of February when the buns have their own signature day: Fettisdagen (fatday).  With more light, there is a feel of having more time; and I am not so tired all the time. This week we did a lot of stuff at home. I even baked (bake-off croissants. Haha!), and got an inspiration for making some cocktails at home.  Continue reading “Wineweek 119: February Favorites”

Wineweek 110: Return to Matkonsulatet

There is nothing like finding a great new winebar. I guess when you live in one place long enough, you stop looking for new spots proactively. Or at least I get a bit lazy. We stumbled on Carotte almost accidentially. Well, not exactly, but the visit was mostly unplanned: Googled with an aim to find a spot for a glass in between our house and Matkonsulatet, the prime destination of Saturday night. Continue reading “Wineweek 110: Return to Matkonsulatet”

@ OX Helsinki

It is time for food porn again my friends, and plenty of it. Our recent visit to restaurant OX in Helsinki was a real feast for the eyes, as well as the palate. OX serves bistro style food from ingredients from the season and the wine list features small producers also from the biodynamic movement. The small restaurant is rather new in town, located on the edge of the center and Punavuori. Continue reading “@ OX Helsinki”

Discovering New York Wines

Finally I am writing from home. I have time, I have good pictures, I also have a jetlag…but I will write something anyway. I have been super excited reading up on two new wine regions (new for me) in New York county. When traveling we always aspire to try wines from the area. If there are some. I did not expect New York to be anything special, but was proven wrong when trying produce from Finger Lakes  and North Fork of Long Island AVA (American Viticultural Area). We ended up gulping up wines from the region all trip long and bought a bunch of great bottles to take home (only 16 bottles this time). Continue reading “Discovering New York Wines”

High-flying Wines: Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm to New York

A few years back M and I made a decision: we would no longer do the cramped cattle thing on long haul flights. If we were to fly for over 6 hours, we would do it comfortably or not at all. Not to say it would have to be Business Class, but at least economy extra with a proper leg space. Up to this date, we have not yet paid for one pair of business class tickets, but always flown in comfort. We have used points and vouchers, traveled on dates inconvenient for others, whatever has been at that time the best way to secure leg space. So today, an eight hour flight does not really sound like such a bore. It is actually an extended part of the vacation as it is enjoyable. Continue reading “High-flying Wines: Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm to New York”

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”

Classic Dining at Carelia – Helsinki

Last Sunday I was (shortly) writing to you about Carelia, a restaurant and wine cellar in Helsinki. Carelia is one of those places that has been where it is for a long time. It is an old apothecary turned restaurant almost 20 years ago located in my childhood neighborhood of Töölö. A popular venue among opera-goers and athletes as it is located near to the stadium and the Opera of course. I can’t believe that this was the first time I visited as it for sure will not be my last.

Today I will be mostly concentrating on the restaurant part, but just so you know Carelia also rents out a private wine cellar. There are several tasting rooms you can use if you are a member and catering can be arranged from the restaurant kitchen upon request (basically you can just order of the menu). What a perfect concept to be able to enjoy your own wines with some classic food.

Restaurant Carelia Helsinki
The restaurant and bar
Restaurant Carelia Helsinki
Old apothecary deco
Carelia Restaurant Helsinki
Decorations at Carelia

We were invited for dinner by an old friend of mine, Iisa, who is also the sommelier of the restaurant. She had picked an aperitif for us, a bottle of Pierre Gimonet Oenophile Premiere Cru 2008. We don’t often see each other with Iisa, but it is like she read my mind with selecting a 2008 (one of my favorite young vintages) and a non-dose. It tasted like yellow apples and brioche and was absolutely perfect for the start of the dinner. I peaked at the menu and noticed another Gimonet (Cuis1) only around 13 euros for a glass, that is a definitely a fair price here in the Nordics. For food (starters) we ordered the beef tartar and asparagus with Hollandaise accompanied by some semi-sweet Riesling. Both dishes were very good, but I must say the asparagus was perfect, a simple dish with no compromises.

For mains we had the classic entrecote with Bernaise, fries and salad, and some tasty small chicken (why is it that the smallest are always the tastiest?). The meat was wonderful and made exactly like we ordered, medium rare (almost mooing). To accompany the mains Iisa selected a nice Pinot Noir from Chambolle-Musigny. For dessert we shared a platter of cheese, the rhubarb sorbet with almond and rosemary sauce and the Tarte tatin.

Restaurant Carelia Helsinki
The beef tartar
Restaurant Carelia Helsinki
Tarte Tatin
The Carelia Sommelier Iisa showing us around the cellar
The Carelia Sommelier Iisa showing us around the cellar

After the dinner things started getting “out of hand”. I am not talking drunken wild, just that we ordered a great many wines for tasting (we ordered one glass of each and split them by four people). We tried several Rieslings from Auslese and a Muscat de Rivesaltes Grand Guilhem. The Rieslings were served from beautiful Magnum bottles and tasted fresh and fruity. The Muscat was interesting with light notes of port wine but a very low alcohol content. A nice dessert wine. We also took a “short” tour down stair in the wine cellar. A friend of ours was arranging a tasting there and we stayed a bit. To end the evening, we moved to the bar (to get out of the way from hungry opera goers) and ordered a bottle of Blanc de Blancs (2007) from Lilbert & Fills.

All in all Carelia is a beautiful restaurant. The wine list is awesome with closer to 30 different champagnes and prices are not a rip-off. Of course champagne is always quite pricey, but Carelia has clearly positioned its self as a place for wine-lovers, and most wine-geeks will stay home and drink from their cellar if the restaurant aims to rob you blind. I must say I had similar feelings or reasonable pricing at Sinne Helsinki (review here), so it seems like the Helsinki wine-scene is really starting to get on its feet. The food is nothing innovative (it does not aim to be), but it is classical dishes made extremely well. My salute to the kitchen! Last but not least, the sommelier at the place is really something, so if you visit, I recommend leaving your wine-adventure into her capable hands.

Wine bar review: Monvinic, Barcelona

Monvinic is a lovely wine bar located in the Eixample neighborhood in Barcelona. It looks really sleek and classy from the outside and the feeling is the same when entering. The entire place is designed by interior designer Alfons Tost and it does feel like it is a fitting design for an upscale wine bar. I must however say that while it looks nice the chairs at the tables are not very comfortable so I always prefer squeezing together in the sofa instead.

There is an extensive wine library along one of the walls and it is from what I understand fine to browse the books. I have never really found a reason to do it as I have most of the wine books I want at home. While the books are impressive the reason to come here is the wine list. The wine list by the glass is constantly changing. Most of the time there are around 30 wines available by the glass and several hundred more by the bottle.

The list by the glass is a nice mix of both Spanish and International wines. There is usually three different sparkling wines, around 10-15 reds and whites respectively and then some sweet wines as well. The wine list is presented on tablets (not iPads but some other brand) and that is of course nice but I do wish they would have made better use of the technology. There is very limited information on the wines and the producers and it would be so easy to have something more there when they have the tablets. The use of tablets does however make it very easy to change and update the wine list and that means that they sometimes change the wine list by the glass during the evening.

All the waiters serving are also trained sommeliers so it is always possible to get knowledgeable service. Or I would rather say that it should be. At times Monvinic gets very busy and it is then sometimes not possible to really get the attention of the staff. It did not really use to be like that but since the Wall Street Journal piece on Monvinic it does seem like the place also draws in more people (and to some extent more the people that want to appear to be interested in wine). I would recommend coming either a bit earlier (before 19) or a bit later (after 21.30) to get the best service. The wines are usually interesting and the prices by the glass are decent. What i really like is that it is possible to order half-glasses. It gives a good chance to sample more wines and since many of the half-glasses are around €3 it does not have to be very expensive.

Recently I sampled some interesting wines from South African Mullineux (the white Kloof Street as well as the red Mullineux) as well as some great sparklings. Amongst them an Italian sparkling, Faccoli from Francacortia (if this was a blind tasting I would have picked it as a Champagne) alongside some, while not bad, more disappointing champagne from Pehu Simonet and cava from Albet i Noya. The international selection is pretty impressive but I would actually have expected more from the Spanish wines. There are however some interesting local wines there and I have on previous visits sampled lovely wines from Castell D’Encus (they make some lovely unusual Spanish wines in the Pyreenes, their Acusp is 100% Pinot Noir and the Ekam is a 100% Riseling).

Monvinic also serves food and while the quality is pretty good I must say that prices are rather steep for it. The food is a mix of set tapas menus and some larger dishes. I often struggle to find any set menus I like (as they usually contain something I do not want/like) and as I have come with the purpose to sample some wine I do not want a full main course so prefer to eat elsewhere. All in all I do however love popping into Monvinic for a few half-glasses, some wine talk with the sommeliers and then head elsewhere for dinner. It is without a doubt one of the best wine bars in Barcelona. I may not agree with the Wall Street Journal that it is the best in the world but it is clearly a good place for a glass or two.

Wine Review: Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Nahe 2012

I must admit, I rarely open a bottle of white wine. Perhaps I have replaced it by having sparkling and also the absence of fish (and vegetarian) food from our diet might have something to do with it. However, when I go for a white, it is often a Riesling. And I definitely do not regret opening the bottle of Emrich-Schönleber as it was well worth the try.

Emrich-Schönleber is a true family business. The father Werner Schönleber is focused on the vines and that they thrive as they should. The son Frank has his main responsibility over the cellar and follows the process from wine to bottle. The mother of the family (Hanne) and Frank’s wife Anja are managing the customers. So the entire family is involved.

They are focused on high-quality single vineyard whites and are in the market to make an impression. They focus on bringing out the distinctive flavors and characteristics of the grapes and terroir and making wines with a personality. They mainly have Riesling (85%) but also Grauburgunder, Weißburgunder and Müller-Thurgau in their vineyards.

The dominance of Riesling can be seen in their production but with this high quality Riesling’s I am not objecting to that. They have won numerous awards during the years so it is no doubt that they are a high quality producer. Producing around 130 000 bottles a year they are not small but still not huge either. Still the benefit of this level of production is that their wines are reasonably easy to find.

The wine we tasted was their 2012 Riesling Nahe. We had opened the bottle already in the summer with the Coravin (more on the Coravin to come in separate post but for now we will just say that is does what it is supposed to), but it did not show any signs of oxidation when opened six months later.

The color was golden yellow and the initial impression on the nose exotic with fruity elements. When tasting the wine I expected something sweeter but instead was met with a fresh mouthfeel, nice citrus zest and clear and distinct notes of mineral. Not surprising with the mineral but more interestingly there were hints of cucumber and saffron (!). Very exotic indeed. It felt like a cool and humid summer morning  (like the ones we have here in the Nordics). A truly wonderful wine experience, have it with food (could go well some seafood or chicken) or just as it is. I would rate it as a 4 for quality and at 179 SEK (around €20) at the local monopoly it is also a solid 4 for value for money.