Wine Review – Sandhi Santa Barbara County Chardonnay

A wine review at last. It has been ages since I have written one. Not that I haven’t had good wines, but perhaps not that much worth singling out. Sandhi Santa Barbara County Chardonnay was such a bottle. We bought it on our last trip to New York a year and a half ago. It was one of those bottles worth flying over the Atlantic.  Continue reading “Wine Review – Sandhi Santa Barbara County Chardonnay”

Grape Love: Pinot Noir

When people ask me which is my favorite grape, I hesitate saying Pinot Noir. It might be because of Sideways. I don’t really want to be mistaken with getting my wine inspiration from a movie; although in reality I don’t really care. I love light red wines with subtle herbal and mineral flavors, and I love full blanc de noirs champagnes. I love French Pinot from Bourgogne with some age and complexity in them, and I love fresh young and slightly salty Pinot from the US west coast. A Pinot seldom lets me down, although it is often quite pricey. However, there are some good exceptions: German Spätburgunders (late harvested Pinot) are on the rise and very good value for money. The price represents the effort that goes into growing Pinot, so I thought I would do a dip into the basics.  Continue reading “Grape Love: Pinot Noir”

Broc Cellars

I have perhaps chosen the best venue there is for writing about wine – a wine bar. I am in warm and sunny Copenhagen, the sky is blue, thus it is empty inside my favorite wine hangout Ved Stranden 10. This is the kind of place you can stroll in, say you just want something interesting, and you know you will get something truly interesting. You can trust the staff to read your mind. This is the perfect place for killing time, reading and writing about innovative winemaking. Today I am catching up on something I should have done long ago: writing about Broc cellars, an urban winery beyond the Atlantic, in San Francisco. Continue reading “Broc Cellars”

Perhaps the Best Pinot in the World?

Situated in the Chehalem Mountains (Wilamette, Oregon) at an elevation between 400 and 500 lies Vidon Vineyards. There, physicist, farmed and winemaker, Don Hagge grows and crafts perhaps the best pinot in the world. At least the best that I have ever tasted. VIDON produces 7 wine varieties and uses 100% own grapes.  Although the emphasis is on 5 clones of Pinot noir, the Hagge family have small blocks of Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Viognier, Tempranillo and Syrah. The winery is LIVE certified sustainable vineyard and winery. Don believes in minimal intervention in the winemaking process ( a little bit like Anselme Selosse). And the best part is, we are discussing with Don to bring his wines to Sweden and Denmark. So exciting! Continue reading “Perhaps the Best Pinot in the World?”

Dinner at 11 Madison Park

Even though I am physically in France, my mind still wonders back to New York and 11 Madison Park. It was definitely one of the best dinners of my life. So I really want to write something about it. Unfortunately, I was too shy to take a proper camera with me, so the photos are taken with an iPhone (thus they are barely mediocre). After buying the Nikon D5500, I have been completely obsessed with taking all my photos with it. The camera does most of the work. Continue reading “Dinner at 11 Madison Park”

Wineweek 80: Pictures From New York

Finally I have a chance to post some proper pictures. I was running around with my camera all week in New York, however, was not able to edit them before returning home. The only place I skipped having the camera was 11 Madison Park. I felt it was slightly inappropriate to hover over all of the nice dishes with my heavy Nikon. I will spend some time writing more about wine bars and restaurants during the coming week. Until then, enjoy the photos! Continue reading “Wineweek 80: Pictures From New York”

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”

Wineweek 78: A Touch of Summer

The weather is amazing. Plus 25 celsius and no clouds in the sky. This is how Sweden is in July. Of course we know it will not last. This kind of warmth in May is just a tease. The temperatures will for sure drop back to +10 and there will be rain. Lots of rain. Nevertheless we have enjoyed the great weather by walking around, taking some photos and drinking cava. Lots of cava. We still have quite a stock left over from our previous visits to Cavatast, so wed better make an effort to empty it.  Continue reading “Wineweek 78: A Touch of Summer”

Planning for the Big Apple

New York, New York! I am counting the days. You know, we got married there. It was just us and an officiant in Central Park. So the Big Apple will always have a place in my heart. But my marriage is not the topic of the post. It is the wine planning I we are doing for the trip. And I would really appreciate to get some help from you. Continue reading “Planning for the Big Apple”

Honest Flavors at Soil Wine Room, Helsinki

Yesterday evening I was doing some Googling on Paris wine bars, guess how many hits I got? Hundreds! In Helsinki the number of (good) wine bars can be counted with two hands. Perhaps it is the relatively high price of wine, the dominance of beer or the cold weather keeping the Finns locked in their houses, but proper wine-hangouts are scarce. So I was quite excited to see this new place, Soil Wine Room, opening close to the center.

Soil occupies a cozy small space on Fredrikingkatu. I have seen several cute restaurants rise and fall in this same location. It is an expensive street to be on and there is not that much space for quests, so the concept needs to be exactly right for a restaurant to thrive. A wine bar with some simple dishes like Catalonian tapas, might just be the thing to make it. I hope so at least. Also there is a pretty impressive group of guys behind the restaurant, one being no other than Tomi Björk, the star of the Finnish restaurant scene (Farang, Gaijin, Boulevard Social and Bronda).

The entrance
The entrance
The wine selection on the wall
The wine selection on the wall
The bar
The bar

The focus seems to be on wine, the tapas being a nice plus, but you can have a proper meal there. We made sure to go hungry as I am a fan of Catalan cuisine, and the list did not disappoint. The menu had all the traditional stuff: Padron peppers, Pan con Tomate and some Iberico ham (different grades). All very well made or selected! Additionally I saw some interesting new dishes like cider marinated chorizo and Iberico ribs. Both good but not as great as the traditional dishes. A Catalan meal would not be complete without some Bikini toast. Unfortunately the Soil version could not compete with the Bikini at Matkonsulatet (nothing has so far been able to beat that), it is perhaps the truffle butter that was the missing ingredient. All in all I did like the food!

And to the main part of our review, the wine list. Soil Wine Group, the owner of the Wine Room is an importer of wines, so they have a nice selection of their own producers on the menu. I was not very familiar with the Champagnes they had, but a glass (of whatever they have open that day) costs around 12€ and I think that is a very decent price to try out something new. They work with A.Robert, Charles Ellner and Dosnon & Lepage Champagnes. The Cava list looked much more familiar with one of the producers being Naveran, a Cava house that we have been wooing as well. The Naverans are not best in class but looking at the price, they are very good value for money (you can bag a bottle in Barcelona for 5€). We tried out a Jaume Giro I Giro Cava, a Brut Nature Reserva (min 15 months) made from the traditional mix of grapes: Xarello, Parellada and macabeo. It was not the best Cava I have ever had, perhaps just lacking depth, but a well made Brut Nature with fresh and honest flavors from the region. Sometimes that and some Bellota ham is all you need to make the evening perfect. We had a peek also at the reds and whites, but to be honest that is really not my forte, so I will leave that up for someone more knowledgeable to review. We all had a glass each of the Esser 2012 Pinot Noir from Monterey, California. Not bad, but perhaps a bit uninteresting compared to all the other exciting stuff we have tasted from the region.

IMG_3843
The Bikini toast
IMG_3845
Iberico Bellota
IMG_3839
Jaume Giro I Giro Brut Nature Cava Reserva

What I really enjoyed at Soil was the service. The guys were well prepared for winecurious customers and offered to sample all the wines by the glass before having to make a final choice. They also offered to sell wines by the glass that were on the menu only by the bottle in case we ordered minimum three glasses. As we were a party of three that worked perfectly. Food came at a good pace (not too fast and not too slow) and plates were picked up promptly after they were finished. That is perhaps the upside of the small space, the restaurant staff really have a good overview of the tables.

So if you are in Helsinki, and in the mood for some wine, make a reservation at Soil Wine Room. You won’t be disappointed (at least not after you have tasted the Bellota).