Hallakra Vingard – visiting a Swedish vineyard

Sep 26, 12 Hallakra Vingard – visiting a Swedish vineyard

Posted by in All, Scandinavia, Travel

“They make wine in Sweden?” That was pretty much the standard response when I told friends that I was on my way to Sweden for a few days to visit a Swedish winery. I can now tell you that yes, they do make wine in Sweden, the wines were surprisingly good and what’s more, the wines I tried were reds made from the variety rondo! I was totally expecting cool climate whites to be coming from Sweden. Sweden is probably better known for it’s knit jumpers, tall blondes and the brooding detective Wallander but they are quietly working behind the scenes on becoming recognized quality wine producers. The man behind this stealth move into the wine industry is Hakan Hansson, the owner of Hallakra Vingard, set just outside the lovely town of Malmo, in the southernmost province of Sweden, Skane. After driving through the hay fields of southern Sweden for about half an hour, I was beginning to wonder where the vines were when a wine barrel with the words Hallakra Vingard popped into view. Yup, this had to be it. Going up the winding road, I still didn’t see any vines but thought they had to be here somewhere and the taxi driver assured me that they did make wine there. At the top of the hill we arrived at what looked like a farmhouse and 2 other buildings in the middle of the fields. The driver dropped me off and then…nothing. Hmmm, as I wandered up the path, I entered the first big building on the right. Looking in, I spied a long table with the detritus of a wine tasting (half eaten cheese, empty bottles, used wine glasses) but absolutely no one about, not even a dog, the silence was a little bit eerie. I was beginning to feel like Wallander at a crime scene when suddenly a smiling blonde woman came rambling up the path. It was Hakan’s wife, who explained to me that Hakan was finishing up a vineyard...

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Preto Branco 2010, Portuguese red wine

Jun 10, 12 Preto Branco 2010, Portuguese red wine

Posted by in Portugal

Portugal has so many diverse and unknown wine regions that it would be easy to spend a day just talking about all that we don’t know about the country and it’s wines. Sure, everyone knows about the Douro Valley and their justly famous port wines and some may be familiar with Vinho Verde – the light, quaffable, slightly fizzy white wine of the north – but that’s about it. The rounded bottle of Mateus is also emblematic of Portuguese wine but with a new generation and revitalization of the Portuguese table wine industry, that image will hopefully be changing soon. As a matter of fact, 2011 was the first year ever that table wine exports topped fortified (Port) wine exports. Very exciting news for Portugal’s table wine producers. You may be wondering what I mean when I refer to “table wines”. “Aren’t all wines drunk at a table?” you may be asking. Well, yes but what I mean by “table wines” are wines that are produced without bubbles or fortified, in other words, “still” red or white wine. The region of Bairrada has been traditionally known as a sparkling wine producing area but recently the growers there have ramped up still table wine production and we are seeing a lot more of it coming out of the region. Quinta do Encontro  is one of these wineries and they have a new winery set amongst the limestone and chalky fields. They are producing a delicious red wine which I got to sample the other night. The Preto Branco 2010 is a red blend of the traditional Portuguese grape varieties, Baga (which is widely grown in the Bairrada region) Touriga Nacional, and a white grape to add a bit of balance, Bical. The French in the Rhone Valley are known for adding a bit of Viognier to their Syrah to give it a floral note, and the Bical does much the same here. The wine had an enticing aroma of violets and black cherry which greeted my...

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L’espirit de Bordeaux – affordable,quality French wine, what more could you ask for?

Jan 03, 12 L’espirit de Bordeaux – affordable,quality French wine, what more could you ask for?

Posted by in Food and Wine, France

Affordable, quality French wine from Bordeaux? Does it exist anymore? Back in the day, say before investment wine-ing came into fashion and back when the Chinese were still Communist, Bordeaux was a wine that one could buy at reasonable prices. Fast forward to the 2010’s and it may seem like you have to be a gazillionaire to get your hands on quality wines, never mind affordable prices. The Yvon Mau group has decided enough is enough and wants to bring Bordeaux in from the cold, show drinkers that you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to drink well. And that’s where L’Espirt de Bordeaux comes in. Philippe Lequeche, managing director of Yvon Mau has vowed to “never surrender” the UK market. He thinks Bordeaux may have lost their way by focusing on the lux end of the market but the real bread and butter of Bordeaux has been and should be the mid-tier wines of the region. Focusing on the £10-£30 bracket, Philippe believes that there are plenty of wines that can and do represent value for money from Bordeaux. How do you guarantee quality when there are so many, let’s face it, inferior producers in Bordeaux? Philippe responded that Yvon Mau is taking it’s time in choosing to work with what they feel are producers who agree with their vision of quality wines at a fair price. The company is taking the time to cultivate relationships with producers they feel have high quality wines and are looking for owners with personality whose wines reflect that. They currently have 8 producers on their books but are looking to expand to around 15. When asked if they would expand beyond that, Phillipe  responded that once  you get too big, it’s difficult to maintain the quality and relationships that they are building with producers. We had the opportunity to try the 2009 and 2010 wines from 7 of their producers and the wines are of very good quality and value for money. Producers...

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