Author: Sarah Jefford

Vintips – vecka 43

När skörden är på väg i många olika länder i Europa så har vi i Sverige börjat sjunka in i mörker och köld. Tid för att öppna lite kraftigare flaskor och återbesöka klassiska druvor. Som Cabernet Sauvignon, den så kallade kungen av druvor som kan växa lite överallt utan att tappa sin identitet. Cabernet Sauvignon vinifieras ensam eller blandat. Det är inte bara i Bordeaux som han regerar utan också i Napa, Kalifornien, samt i Stellenbosch, Sydafrika. […]

No Pianotage of Pinotage

(Pianotage – French, from pianoter meaning ‘to play the piano with no skill’) South Africa always seems to be in the limelight these days. A few weeks ago Kanonkop’s winemaker Abrie Beeslaar, and marketing manager Deirdre Taylor paid a visit to Stockholm. A non-central destination for them to travel to, but a commercially important one: Sweden and Denmark are their big export markets. It is quite a privilege to have winemakers talk about their wines: there is invariably interesting information to glean from them and they really make their wines come to life. Fourteen bottles were on show. Amongst them just under half were from the Pinotage grape variety and the remainder from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Sauvignon blends. To my surprise there were no white wines whatsoever. Not one Chenin Blanc in sight… I confess that I have reservations regarding Pinotage. I will never forget the first time I tried a Pinotage wine. It was rough, it was bitter, it smelled of Band-Aid plaster and tasted of burnt tar. An “Edith Piaf, Mon Légionnaire” moment gone wrong… …

A fresh start

Summer is over. The children have started school again and work routines have resumed. A spell of freezing weather made it easier to accept the end of holidays. But some warm and sunny days have made a come back, giving us the opportunity to finish off the last bottles of rosé that didn’t get drunk during the summer break. This is certainly true in my case: I am a weather optimist. I stock up the summer house in the archipelago with plenty of refreshing whites and rosés to find that there are not enough opportunities to drink them. Swedish summers are unpredictable. They can be nice and warm, but they are not long lasting. The evenings where one can comfortably sit outside are few. Once the sun has set, life on the terrace is spent wrapped up in a blanket or a down jacket fighting mosquitoes. Those are not conditions that prompt me to choose rosé, but the pink wine can be a useful psychological prop. If rosé exists mainly to refresh and quench the thirst from …

°(O_O)° Green aliens in Portugal

In a previous life – but on the same planet, or just about – when I worked for a private bank in Geneva, I had a colleague who was from Portugal. One day she started talking to me about the wines from her country. “Portugal makes a famous green wine”, she told me excitedly, “and it’s called Vinho Verde”. “The wine is so called because it is quite green in colour and is made from small unripe green berries”, she continued emphatically. I was going to question her but thought the better of it… I was quite surprised that she could think that green unripe berries would result in a beverage one would actually want to drink. Her words, nevertheless, left a lasting impression and Vinho Verde was never to be forgotten by me. Vinho Verde is a region in the north-west of Portugal. It is bordered by the River Minho to the north, mountains below the River Douro to the south, the Atlantic to the west and a mountain range to the east. It is …

Pitching up at the International Wine Challenge

Last Friday saw the end of ”Tranche 2” of the 2016 International Wine Challenge (IWC). The IWC is a London-based wine competition open to producers from around the world. Wines are assessed blind by groups of tasters and receive awards according to merit. The competition takes place at the Oval cricket ground over a two-week period. If you are imagining the sounds of a wooden bat against a ball and champagne corks popping, no such luck. The beautifully green clipped pitch stretched out empty but for flocks of birds. During the first week the wines are streamed into three categories: medal contenders, commended wines and those that have had their chips. During the second week the medal-worthy wines are retasted to determine whether they deserve a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Trophy Medal. Wines that were judged no-goers and commended get tasted again by IWC chairmen to make sure that no wine has been unfairly judged and that a potential medal-winning wine has not slipped through the net. Well, anything less would just not be cricket… The judging …

Vintips – vecka 11

Äntligen. Ett löfte om våren även om den verkar ha försvunnit bland molnen. Isen är på väg bort. Det är dags att äta färsk, krispig, lätt mat och öppna några flaskor vitt vin. Dessa två viner matchade perfekt mitt vårhumör och finns nu på Systembolaget i små partier. Chardonnay är en mångfacetterad druva och båda vinerna passar med olika rätter som grönsaker, pasta, fisk, kyckling, fläsk, skinka, kanske med en gräddig sås. […]

Vintips – vecka 7

Det var nyligen Alsace och Bourgogne vindag i Stockholm och det inspirerade mig. Jag var inbjuden till middag med två tjejkompisar. Kvällens menu var smögen räkor, toast, ost och lite pannacotta till efterrätt. Jag hade tänkt köpa tre olika viner – som matchar olika plånböcker – för att prova vilken som passar bäst. Jag valde en mousserande och en Riesling från Alsace, och en vit Bourgogne. Det visade sig att vi tyckte att alla tre var bra med maten. […]

Alsace Pinot Noir ♥︎ A Red to Love

If you walk through the aisles of Sweden’s Systembolaget you won’t see any Pinot Noir from Alsace. If you look for wine on the monopoly’s website under France and Pinot Noir, you can only refine your search to the regions of Burgundy, Champagne and Languedoc-Roussillon. Alsace is not an option. The latter, of course might be attributable to the lack of subtlety of the website: after all Pinot Noir is produced in other regions of France, such as Sancerre. Be that as it may Alsace is not generally known for its red wines and this is not surprising. Of the 15’500 ha of vines under appellation, 1.15 mio hl of wine is produced of which 90% is white. In 1969 only 2.1 % of the total vineyard surface was allocated to Pinot Noir but over the years the percentage has crept up to just over 10% in 2014. Some of the Pinot Noir finds its way into Crémant d’Alsace, the region’s sparkling wine, and into rosé. The grape variety originated in Burgundy and was brought to Alsace by …

The Buddha in the Bottle

Hustle and bustle, laughter, elbows in ribs, not much room to manoeuvre, and lots of red wine, yes, you can guess, it was the Italian wine trade show. Were there lots of Italians present or was it the effect of Italian wine on Swedes? Either way, the atmosphere felt quite Mediterranean, which was very welcome on this icy cold day. And what better room for the show to take place in than the Grand Hotel’s Mirror room: gilded ceilings, gold panelled walls and vertiginously tall mirrors. Smiling benevolently from above, angelic faces adorned with bunches of grapes. White clad tables were lined along the wall like a row of dominoes, with not numbers but bottles matching up between tables. On every table red wine. Hardly a bottle of white in sight. What’s more, not red for the faint-hearted, but full-bodied, highly alcoholic and pulsing. Ripasso, Amarone della Valpolicella, Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino. Every importer seemed to have a selection of these on his table. Bottles beckoned, promising to be better or more exciting than …

Munskänkarna – Don’t call them monks

As I was reading through the week-end papers I came across a small discreet advert for Munskänkarna. Intrigued, I checked in my dictionary and discovered that the hard-to-pronounce-word means “the cup bearers”. I peruse the advert and after more leafing of my dictionary – or rather tapping on my phone’s dictionary app – I find out that Munskänkarna is a wine tasting club. Moreover, it claims to be the world’s biggest one. With more than 145 branches all over Sweden as well as abroad, the society offers regular wine tastings, seminars, wine education courses and also recommends wine travels. It publishes a newsletter, gives notice to members of new wines to be released by Systembolaget (the Swedish monopoly) and provides reviews of the wines as well. Constantly on the look-out for new opportunities to taste wine – trade fairs and tasting events in Stockholm are few and far between – I promptly fill in the application form and pay the reasonable yearly membership fee of 375 SEK (£28). A few days later an envelope drops …