There are great wine bars and then there are Great wine bars. Wine, as many other things is a matter of taste, so what is great is always subjective. What tickles my fancy is a nice ambiance, genuinely friendly staff and first and foremost a long and delicious list of wines by the glass. It is not often that you find a perfect match, especially since I am into weird things, like methode ancestral sparkling and orange wines. But BasBas & Staff wine bar ticked all of the above boxes. It was just a fabulous experience. Continue reading “Peek into BasBas & Staff Wine Bar”
I am not a fan of January. It’s dark, cold and long until spring and summer. This weekend it paid off though, big time, as there were not that many people going out in Helsinki. I was finally able to visit BasBas (or at least their wine bar), the restaurant I have been raving about for over a year, yet not been able to get a reservation. Continue reading “Wineweek 116: Unprepared in Helsinki”
What a week we have behind us. Now sitting home in cold Sweden, I am reminiscing our time in Barcelona. The weather was not great to be honest. Last two days it was around +14 Celsius and rain. But we found these amazingly cozy spots for wine, where one could just forget about the world outside, or even enjoy the moist weather. Continue reading “New Wine Finds in Barcelona”
Saturday early evening, the weather is typical for Swedish summer. Warm, but rainy. We have to make a run for it if we want to be sheltered from the storm. We find our way to the wine bar on Moseback torg. It has been set up for the summer in the furniture store of Woodstockholm. It is dark and cozy inside. Just one long table with candles and a few random people sitting enjoying a glass of wine. We are greeted by the bartender with a wide smile. I feel we have come to the right place.
I think I have mentioned Woodstockholm a few times. It is a furniture store and restaurant, and now in the summer also a wine bar. The bar has been set up in the section that is normally the furniture boutique. The space is small, but in efficient use. There is one long table with chairs on both sides. The sommelier walk around and there is a kitchen in the back. The kitchen makes a set of small plates for being served at the wine bar. Perhaps they even help out with some cold dishes for the restaurant. I don’t think there is any cooking done there in the back room.
The house champagne that night was a Laherte Blanc de Blancs. Even though I have had it before, I am pleased with the grower choice. Later I learn that the wine list changes quite often, including the house champagne. M takes a glass of Chardonnay from Jura. It is so good with notes of vanilla and butter. The wine has clearly been in oak, but not for too long. The oaky flavors are quite delicate. The white is so good that I negotiate a half/half deal with M (I get half of his and he gets half of mine), which s nothing unusual when we go out for wine.
The second round is a tougher choice: Should we go for the Mencia from Bierzo (made by a lady that has worked for Domaine Romanee Conti), the bourgogne blanc, a spanish white from Galicia or the sommelier recommended charismatic white Chateauneufdupape. We stick with whites: Galicia and Chateauneufdupape, and luckily get to have a small taste of the Mencia later. We also order some small snacks: whipped pork (Genius!) and cow tartar with chorizo. Both taste very good, but the whipped pork is the real star. Just the concept of it is awesome.
It has stopped raining (a long while ago) and it is time for us to move on. The bill is very reasonable. None of the wines were really expensive (100-150 sek a glass), and the food cost around 65 each dish. This is Stockholm, so that is what you pay. I feel we have received value for our money. We will come again. The summer wine bar is an experiment Woodstockholm are running, and I hope it will stay.
Address: Mosebacke torg 9, 116 46 Stockholm
Public transport: Metro (Tunnelbana), Slussen
It is the peak of the Nordic holiday season. The office is empty, restaurants are empty, the whole city is empty. I love it! It is the best time of the year to be in Stockholm. There is no traffic and terraces have space. The only place with some noise and racket was the Tele 2 football arena. M, our loyal football fan, noticed that the Swedish league, Allsvenskan, has started again. Good that we didn’t have to go a day without football (yes, that was sarcasm). At least the game was followed by good wine. Continue reading “Wineweek 87: Stockholm Calming Down”
For those who are already sick of my post on Bangkok, this is the last one I swear. For this year at least. However, since this time around we found much better places for wine in the city, I don’t think it’s fair to keep them all to myself. Quince Eatery & Bar is a very typical expat hangout right inbetween Thong Lo and Phrom Pong sky train stations. The look is early hipster: modern bistro with some edgy industrial details – a look you have seen a thousand times in London and Scandinavia. But we did not come to Quince for the decor, we came for the wine list. Continue reading “Hanging out at Quince BKK”
Early morning or late afternoon, one thing is sure: a glass of wine at the airport is one of the best ways to start a holiday. Watching planes take off with a glass of bubbly in the hand is damn relaxing. I don’t mind having some bubbly after a hard working week either. However, it is seldom that one finds great wines at the airport. By the glass I mean. I am sure the situation is not hopeless, however, usually people (me) are in such a hurry that they do not have the time to really browse around. So I have made it my mission to check out the airport ‘by the glass’-selection whenever I have the time to spare. Last weekend, I had plenty of slack, so I started this journey from the airport that used to be my main hub, Helsinki-Vantaa. Continue reading “Having a Glass at Helsinki Airport”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
What makes a good wine bar? Experiences are of course personal, but to me, three things are important: A wide selection by the glass, knowledgeable staff and the possibility to have a bite of food. Latva Bar in Helsinki ticks all three boxes, and on top of that, it has a nice, cozy (an non-pretentious) atmosphere. The focus is on ecological wines and ingredients, as is trendy right now. The Bar is located south of the center in the residential area of Kaartinkaupunki. As Helsinki is compact, it is only a ten minute walk from the main shopping street, so a perfect spot for an after-shopping drink or late evening hangout.
The wine list has four bubblies by the glass and for good prices I might add: two champagnes (11-13€), a Cremant de Loire (8€) and one Cava (7,5€). The only thing I can criticize is that the selection of champagnes by the glass was the same as it was last summer; Janisson Barandon Brut Tradition NV and Serge Mathieu Brut Prestige NV. Both are good and would satisfy my thirst for bubbly, however, I like variety, thus this was a bit of a disappointment. It would though bother me more if I would be a frequent visitor. I went for the Cava: Funambul Equilibri Natural, a Brut Nature and Reserva from Navarra (Spain). It had a nice mineral freshness and was definitely value for money.
Looking at the list of reds and whites there are over ten of both by the glass, from different wine regions (mostly from the “old world” with a mix of some Australia and New Zealand) and all within a reasonable price range of 7 and 11€. This really excites me as you can sit here all evening trying out different wines. Prices by the glass are for 12cl of wine; I am not sure if they would let me try out half glasses instead (will ask next time) as this is something I appreciate very much with serious wine bars.
The bar is not only good for wine. They make wonderful cocktails from mixing beer with ingredients, like Elderflower and berries, and have a wide selection of micro-brewery beers and ciders. You don’t quite find fresh ciders like you do in the Nordic countries (these are not the yeasty English type) so this is definitely worth trying out if you are visiting. For food, they serve small dishes, Sapas (Suomi-Tapas = Finnish tapas) and for a more demanding hunger a burger with beetroot. The small dishes vary daily and are based on what ingredients are in season.
So if in Helsinki and in the mood for wine, head to Latva for a glass. Even the slightly more serious wine geek will not be disappointed!