Lable or content? - How do you judge your bubbly? …Honestly?

I love blind tastings. I love them because they are so honest. There is just the wine and your taste buds, nothing else to lean back on. Maybe I like this form of tasting because I’ve never felt the pressure to ”like the right stuff”, so I can really relax and be honest. But the wine world is a curious place and not always that welcoming if you don’t have the right skills or opinions. This makes people nervous and I guess that might also be the reason for many to avoid blind tastings. It can be such prestige to name the wines by grape, producer, vintage or what ever is the task at hand. In my opinion that is not what’s interesting, and it has never been my goal to be good at that kind of thing. I focus instead on what I like, and helping others in finding what they like, and that I’m really good at.

Hosting blind tastings I always have one goal, namely finding out what people really like when they turn just to themselves and stop caring about labels, price tags, and ”know-it-all” wine people telling them what is good and what is not. Getting people to do this can be rather tricky though, for there is a notion that you should like certain types of wine to ”have good taste”. For example, to admit that you don’t like the certain style that Champagne has… that takes guts. Because by doing so you basically break every social code there is. Champagne is the essence of passion, glamour, good taste, luxury ect. And by saying you don’t like it, you kind of put your self out of all those contexts too, and who does not want to be glamour’s and have good taste?

So making people let go of all these preconceptions and instead focus on what they like (or maybe don’t like) about each wine, is much more interesting. During these tastings lively discussions always break out after a while when the participants has taken the task to heart. Some people like the ”peachiness” in one glass, others the high acidity in another or maybe the smell of roasted nuts in the third, and this is where it gets interesting. Because by letting consumers focus on what particular tastes or aromas they like in a wine, I can guide them in what style, grape, method or maybe area they might find more bubbly wines to enjoy. It simply makes the wine hunt easier.

In my personal opinion life is all about good wine, nice food and the company of those I love and like to spend time with. If the wine I drink costs 10 Euros or 100 Euros does not really matter as long as I like it, and it goes well to the food and or occasion. Sometimes it is cava, other times it is Champagne or sparkling from South Africa.

And if you think about it too, would you not honestly be happier to drink something that you really love, rather than something someone else really loves or says is good taste?

Time for PINK!

Now summer is really getting close and today with the super nice weather we had I just thought I'd write a post about Pink, that I have planned for so long. Yes indeed the rosé season is upon us for real (even though I'd happily drink rosé all year round), and the hunt has begun to find new favorites. Here in Sweden we have been so lucky as to get Parés Baltà's, Pink, on the shelves of the monopoly, and it has quickly become something that very often can be found in my fridge.

Pink is a wonderful rosé cava of the medium pale sort I'd say. Based on two white grapes, parellada 32% and macabeu 30%, it gets it color only from the 38% garnacha. I must say that it is a great blend. The Parellada gives it elegance while the garnacha naturally brings the read fruits. The macabeu on the other hand must be the reason why this blend does not "tip over" with ripe strawberries, raspberries and alike, like so many rosés do, leaving you with a "jam-like" taste on the tongue. Pink stays elegant, balanced and fruity, with a nice finish, and jam is really the last thing on my mind! I'd say that Pink is a lovely cava just to enjoy the way it is, in the afternoon sun, but I'm sure it would go well to lots of sallads and many types of tapas. And by the way... don't be fooled by the white control mark on the cork, it is really aged for 18 months, and hence a Reserva, although a very vibrant sort.

Here in Sweden it is a real bargain too, only 99 SEK, which is good value for money in my opinion. And I forgot to mention that it is hundred percent ecological/biodynamic!

To be honest I had a glass after my run yesterday evening. I thought I had earned it. 

If you'd like to see what Parés Baltà has in their portfolio in general you can find all the info you need at: http://www.paresbalta.com

Why visit an Island that has no wine?

I recently came home from Capo Verde, after two weeks’ vacation. For you who don’t know this place so good I can give you a short overview. Capo Verde is a group of islands, ten in fact. They are situated outside the African west coast almost on the equator. This makes the weather very stable, around 24-27 C with a slight breeze and sun basically every day. Pretty nice if you like that sort of thing.

The two main tourist islands are Bona Vista and Sal, and we visited the latter. The problem with these two islands is that they are made of sand and they produce NOTHING!! And when I say nothing I mean nothing! The only thing there is on Sal (and I presume it counts for Bona Vista too) is sand, tourists and tuna fish. The beaches are as you can understand wonderful! Sand… IMG_4467

The tuna that you get yourself on the pier in St Maria is straight from the ocean and super cheap (4-5€/kg), so if you can cook that’s super. You can of course get the same tuna at the local restaurants but to be honest, very few know how to cook it, and it is often fried dry.

My biggest problem was not the lack of everything though, but more to the point the lack of wine.  Since Cabo Verde is situated where it is it does not produce good because of the warm climate (it completely lacs acid). The islands that produce wine are mountain islands, but clearly these mountains are not high enough.

So as a self-catering tourist you are completely in the hands of the importers that import EVERYTHING to the island. Except tuna…

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And I find the problem to be this; Most people that come to Sal stay at the “All-inclusive resorts” and these import everything by themselves, while the natives are (mostly) very poor and I don’t think they prioritize to buy wine. So the population for whom there is imported wine is the stores, is the few tourists that cater for themselves and for a selected few natives. This group must be very slim indeed since it is very hard to find anything better than a Portuguese table wine that you can afford, or want to buy. We found one bottle of standard Moët on a shelf for 999 €. That might explain the wine situation.

IMG_0099So the question is why you would choose to freely go to an island for two weeks where there is literally no wine, bubbles, red or white… Well the beaches are fantastic and so is the weather, so they are perfect for getting a good tan and reading a book. If you like surfing and kite-surfing you have probably been on these islands already. And there is always tuna and the local beer Strela!  Will I go back? Yes probably, but then I’ll stay at a hotel.

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The Spanish wine day in Stockholm

This Monday I saw a lot of friends at the Spanish wine days in Stockholm. I must say that it is very practical to be able to see so many people at the same time. I got to taste some new interesting things as well and my youngest (3 months now), got to "enjoy his first wine fair. I think the older one was about the same age when she got to visit her first fair. ;-) sangriaAmong the happy events was that I had the pleasure to see my friend Lotten that works for Freixenet here in Stockholm. She is just the best and I had not seen her for a long time. Between all the catching up I got to taste their new Sangria that is fresh out of the Mia-series made by Gloria Collell. I do make my own sangria normally, but I can really see why this ready-to-drink-sangria is going really well here in sweden, and that it soon will have its own listing at the monopoly. Fresh, fruity and not overly sweet. Of course it is sweet because sangria is suposed to be, but less than I was expecting. There is both a red and a white for 79 SEK if I remember correctly. I only tried the white, that is made from macabeu grapes and juice from both lemon and orange. Really perfect to ad to the picnic basket I'd say!

Gramona was also represented by their wonderful importer, Terrificwines. Anderas is truly passionate about the wines he represents and had a crowd around him constantly. We could catch up a tiny bit at least and I could taste Gramona Imperial 2011, which is the latest vintage that I had not yet tried. No disappointments there. Gramona delivers every time.

I also had the pleasure to see the representative of Castell D'Age, Olivia, that I have long since wanted to meet. So now finally when we go down for cavaTast we will make a visit to the winery, and I promise you a full report. Castell D'Age has really nice caves that are all ecologic which is always a plus.

Last but not least I got once again try the wonderful caves of house Torelló, that has FINALLY come to Sweden thanks to the importer Lancell. Thank you thank you thank you! I can't say anything else than that I love what they do.

It is not easy going to a fair with a 3 month old baby, but I must say that he was a real champion! But one hour was more than enough before we headed home. Now I'm preparing him and his sister for all the wonderful wine visits we will do ones we are back in Penedés. If I'm lucky they just might like it and grow up to be winemakers themselves! ;-)

Nya stjärnor på systembolaget

Vi får fler och fler bra cavor att välja bland även här i sverige. De senaste tillskotten på bolaget kommer från ett av Penedès bästa cavahus, Torelló. Jag har länge saknat dem och nu finns åtminstone två av representanter ur husets portfölj att beställa via beställningssortimentet. Dessvärre endast i kolli om 6 flaskor, men de kommer till ett så bra pris att jag inte ser det som ett problem. FullSizeRender-2 Torelló Special Edition nr 77806

Denna cava kallas ofta för "Barcelona edition", då flaskans heltäckande dekor är helt inspirerad av den katalanska huvudstaden, med bland annat landmärken som Sagrada Familia. Det är en traditionell blandning av Xarel.lo, Macabeu och Parellada, lagrad minimum 24 månader och smakar just som en välgjord traditionell cava skall smaka. Helt ärligt har jag rekommenderat denna till allt från "mingelbubbel", till skaldjurstallrikar och som "gå-borts-pressent". Den är otroligt gångbar och jag har inte träffat någon som inte gillat den. Inte helt snustorr, då det är en "brut", och med frisk smak, samt både lagrade toner och ungdomlig frukt kvar i smaken. Jag skulle kunna ge en intrikat beskrivning av honung, vita blommor, persika och allsköns aromer som kan beskriva denna cava, men helt ärligt tycker jag det blir lite långtråkigt att läsa alla dessa vinbeskrivningar. Jag begränsar mig till att säga att den är SUPER, ordentligt med "pang för pengarna" helt enkelt! Testa får du se!

Torelló Pàl-Lid Brut Rosé Reserva nr 77834

Detta är en av husets nyaste tillskott och är underbart lätt, frisk och fräsch. Till skillnad från husets traditionella rosé som är djupt rosa är denna ljust laxrosa, och namnet Pàl-Lid betyder just blek på katalan. Den är som moderna roséviner gjord på Pinot noir och smakar där efter med röda bär i förgrunden. Härligt fruktig och lätt, men även med karaktär som den fått från sina (minst) 18 månaders lagring på flaska. Det blir inte mer passande än så här till sommaren. Jag tror att få roséfantaster kommer att bli besvikna på denna, eller ha problem med att det är kollikrav på minst sex flaskor vid beställning.

Jag kan VARMT rekommendera båda dessa cavor från ett av mina absoluta favorithus. 

Är du  på väg ned till Barcelona på semester? Då tycker jag att du skall besöka Torelló, för det är ett helt fantastiskt cavahus.

Vill du läsa mer om cavahuset Torelló så finner du information här:

http://www.torello.com

Don't listen to me, I have bad taste!

bild(2)This passed Thursday I was invited to be in a tasting-panel, for one of Sweden's best wine magazines. Seeing it as a huge honour, I of course agreed with joy! The panel were to taste about 80 different champagnes and pick out five favourites in the categories standard, vintage, prestige and rosé.  Not and easy task, and it took about five hours even though I tried not to be unnecessarily slow. :-) bild(1)We had a great time (of course!) and as a "thank you"-present I got Richard Juhlin's newest champagne book, En doft av champagne (A scent of champagne). For those of you that don't know Richard, I can just say that he is considered to be the worlds best champagne expert, and he has an incredible sense of smell as well as a photographic memory.  In Paris 2003 he identified 43 champagnes out of 50 in a blind tasting, while his closest competitor managed 4. So yes, he is that good, there is no denying it. 

Last night when I went to bed after we had been sitting writing on the new cava book, I had a look through Richard's beautiful book and read some passages that I want to share with you since you might like or even love cava just like I do...

Since the book is written in Swedish, I have taken the liberty of writing the passages in Swedish as well of my own translation into English.

From the preface/forword: "Ju längre man lever, desto färre sanningar verkar det finnas, men en sak vet jag alldeles säkert efter att ha avverkat alla dessa champagner - livet är aldeles för kort för att dricka spansk cava!" "The longer one lives, the fewer absolute truths there seems to be, but one thing I know to be absolutely true after covering all these champagnes - life is way too short to drink Spanish cava!"

Maybe I have a very long life so I have time to spare ;-)

From " gentleman in Champagne" written by Eduard Cointreau: "Med denna enorma talang kommer även sen stor lyhördhet för andras känslor, vilket ofta är fallet med hyperbegåvade människor. Richard har en sällsam förmåga att känna och förstå andra människors personlighet och djupare och innre lager. Dessvärre för det också med sig att han kan bli djupt sårad." "With this immense talent also comes a great sensitivity to the feelings of others, which is often the case with hyper-talanted people Richard has a rare ability to feel and understand other people's personalities and deeper layers. Unfortunately this also brings the fact that he can be deeply hurt."

...Unlike the rest of us that can not understand the feelings of others or take offence when someone talks ill about something we love... Luckily I don't get deeply hurt because I lack that social register of feelings.... ;-)

From "Bra och dålig smak/Good and bad taste"

"Det är alltid väldigt bekvämt att hänvisa till personliga intryck och individnivå när man inte har tillräcklig kunskap kring hur saker och ting faktiskt förhåller sig. De flesta av oss använder oblygt värdeladdade ord som bättre och sämre när det gäller saker vi ser och hör, men när det kommer till doft och smak verkar det vara helt okej att framhärda att man gillar lågkvalitetsprodukter. Det är självklart att man skall var ärlig med sin smak och stå för om man föredrar syntetisk hallonarom istället för färska hallon, eller cava framför champagne, hur sorgligt det än är."

"It is always very convenient to refer to personal impressions and individual level when you do not have sufficient knowledge of how things actually are. Most of us use unashamedly emotive words like good and bad when it comes to things we see and hear, but when it comes to flavour, it seems okay to insists on liking low quality products. Of course we should all be honest with our taste and admit if we prefer synthetic raspberry flavouring instead of fresh raspberries, or cava in favour of champagne, how sad that might even be."

Ok, so if I like products within the classification champagne, cava, asti, prosecco and cap classique, but choose to see them as different products with different heritage and purpose, am I still an uneducated, untalented buffoon then...? ... I guess so...

From the preface/forword:

"Jag vill betona att jag inte på något sätt känner mig förmer för att jag har begåvats med ett fotografiskt doftminne, utan är ödmjukt lycklig över att ha tilldelats en sådan gåva, med vilken jag i första hand kan skänka mig själv och andra kunskap och njutning."

"I want to stress that I in no way fell superiour because I have been blessed with a photographic sent memory, but is humbly happy to be awarded such a gift with which I primarily can give myself and others knowledge and enjoyment."

I am sorry all readers for leading you astray, making you think that cava is good. I'm so very sorry! :-)

I will... ...never tell you that what you like is wrong, as long as you like it. ...never judge you based on what you eat or drink, only on your strength to stand up for what you like.  ....NEVER feel ashamed for loving cava! ...continue to work against prejudice, so we all can feel free and secure in liking what we want. ...never put points on things I drink! Seriously... why is my opinion more important than yours, even if I would become famous?

Now I will share a bottle of Mestres with my beloved Andréas, while we continue to write about our friends in Catalonia that produces the sparkling wine they call cava. I hope they lack the fantastic sensitive skill that Richard possesses, so they don't take his comments personally...

CHEERS dear cava and champagne lovers!

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