All posts filed under: About town

Freedom wine for France

It was no surprise. The country whose motto is Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité wanted out of its shackles. Too many rules and regulations, no wiggle room, not enough space for creativity. Winemakers in France had had enough. They had been dreaming of possibilities that they couldn’t realise. They requested carte blanche. And they got it. They got it in the form of VDF. Vin de France. They nickname it the Freedom Appellation. France is one of the five most important wine producing countries in the world. Along with Spain, China, Italy and Turkey it holds 50% of the world’s total vineyard area (including vineyards for the production of juice, table grapes, raisins as well as wine). France’s share is 11%, Spain’s 13%, China’s 11%, Italy’s 9% and Turkey’s 6% (OIV, April 2017). As far as wine is concerned, France produced last year 43.5 million hectolitres which is  less than Italy (50.9 mio hl) but more than Spain (39.3 mio hl), the USA (23.9 mio hl) and Australia (13 mio hl). France does well on the export side. …

It’s all pink!

The temperature in Stockholm has been below zero for a number of weeks now but there has been a change in the skies which have gone from grey and gloomy to include some rays of sunshine and moments of blue sky. Warm weather and spring are still a way off but clearly they are on people’s mind, and the newspapers last week-end have been surprisingly full of advertisements for rosé wine! On second thoughts, it probably isn’t so much the call of spring but the fact that Tuesday is Valentine’s day, a day that calls for celebration with all things pink and heart shaped. For those of you who might have forgotten this day, here is a reminder for you to go and buy that card and gift! In following with the spirit of the moment, here is a little sampler of some of the pink festive beverages that are currently available at most Systembolaget shops in Sweden. All of these are with bubbles, bar one – bubbles being synonymous with fun and festivities. (But what is it with bubbles …

Unleash the winemaker in you

How often do you order a glass of wine and think, mmm, quite nice, but it would be so much better if it were a little more fruity or maybe a little more tannic… No, the tannins are fine, what is lacking is more power? Or more acid? In other words, if you were the winemaker, you would have made the wine differently and you might even have come up with a better product, or in any case you would have created a wine that corresponds to your taste. If that is how you feel, Högberga Vinfabrik is just the ticket for you. Located in Lidingö on the grounds of a country hotel, it is a small winery that makes its own wine and that offers wine tasting sessions to the public. These sessions include a visit of Vinfabrik’s premises with detailed explanations into the winemaking process as well as a tasting of their range of wine accompanied by delicious Italian cheeses and cold cuts. Visiting a winery in a country not known for wine production, and what’s more …

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 …

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 …