August 31, 2014

July wines

Nothing is like waiting and after having planed our trip to France since January it was finally time to go in July. On Bastille Day (July 14) we arrived in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Château des Fines Roches. Sitting almost next to the vine we had dinner watching the sun set over the different châteaus and wine yards. What a fantastic way to start a holiday. And guess what we were drinking?! The obvious choice of course - 2009 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the château next-door

We spent one week in Rhone visiting both small family owned wineries and large well known wineries such as Château Mont Redon, Château La Nerthe, Paul Jaboulet Aîné and M. Chapoutier. Despite being small or large they have one thing in common and that is passion for wine and winemaking. Just like last year we met with very passionate and proud people who work very hard to craft some of the best wines in the world.

Our second week started with a weekend in Marseille. A city that neither of us really liked. It was extremely hot (even in the middle of the night), so eating bouillabaisse was totally out of the question. But most of all we didn’t like the mix of old and new that everyone finds charming. For us it was just a loud, dirty and worn down city. Leaving Marseille behind and driving east along the Mediterranean coast we headed for Cassis and Bandol and of course the wines coming from that area. The highlight of that area was most likely our visit to Château Pibarnon. The drive on a steep narrow road higher and higher up was quite an experience and I think we both let out a sigh of a relief when we finally arrived at the chateau. A magnificent chateau with a magnificent view and magnificent wine.

The final days of our trip was spent on the Rivera in Cannes and Nice. Both TheMan and I had been there before so instead of hitting the beach like everyone else (we did that too) we visited several little villages in the mountains. Visited the home of painters Renoir, Matisse and Chagall and of course just enjoyed being away from home. Sitting in a park watching people can be wonderful relaxing.

As usual we enjoyed the French food and never really had a bad meal. Some meal were of course a lot better than others. For example one night at Le Park 45 where we sat in the garden watching the sun set in the Mediterranean having gambas, sea bass, duck breast and coriander-apricot ice cream. To drink our favourite domaine in Bourgogne - Olivier Leflaive Montrachet Puligny 2009.

Another wonderful and interesting meal was at Keisuke Matsushima in Nice on my birthday. French fine dining by a Japanese chef. How about foie gras and nougat? Or pigeon breast in a Japanese style bird nest?

Also as per usual when it was time to go home after 14 days on the road neither THeMan nor I wanted to go home. For us there is something special about France, the food, the wine and the people which make us want to come back again and again. And again. And we will.

2013 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes Rosé
2006 Taittinger Brut Millésimé
2001 Clos du Mont Olivet Châteauneuf-du-Pape
2009 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape
2012 Château Gigognan Cotes du Rhone Vignes du Prieure
2013 Domaine d'Eole Rosé
2013 La Lauza Cuvée Aurelia
2013 Domaine de Cagueloup Bandol Blanc
2011 Telegramme Châteauneuf-du-Pape
2013 Domaine du Paternel Cassis Blanc de Blancs
2013 Château Sainte Marguerite Cru Classé
2009 Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet
2010 Château Romassan Rouge Bandol
2012 Le Domaine de Frégate Cru Classé Rosé
2013 Domaine Guilbert Rosé
2013 Domaine Des Trois Filles Rosé
2011 Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux Gigondas
2003 Tenimenti Angelini Brunello di Montalcino
2011 Couly-Dutheil Domaine Rene Couly
2013 Château des Demoiselles Cuvée Madame

July 10, 2014

June wines

Yet another month with nice summer weather and temps far above average. But as always it did rain and was cold as well on Midsummer. Why change an old tradition?!

Favourites of the month are:
2010 Cuvée Sextant
2012 Fonterutoli No 10
2012 Domaine Weinbach CuvéeTheo Gewurztraminer

All wines with strong characteristics, great craftsmanship and knowledge behind.

Being summer there has of course been a lot of rosé wine, where again just like last year and the year before Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes Rosé has become my favourite.

2012 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes Rosé

2009 Fonterutoli

2012 Mas du Rouyre Viognier

2010 Cuvée Sextant

2012 Fonterutoli No 10

2012 Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Aligoté

2007 Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs

2012 Domaine Weinbach CuvéeTheo Gewurztraminer

2013 Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc

2009 Fratelli Revello Barbera d'Alba

2007 Campogiovanno Brunello di Montalcino

2008 Brunello di Montalcino Villa Poggio Salvi

2009 Masi Amarone Costasera

NV Ariston Fils Champagne Carte Blanche

June 16, 2014

May wines

One week it was Easter and the next week it was May. Calendar is slightly crazy this year. Just like every year May disappeared somewhere in between busy working schedules trying to finish up before the summer and wonderful sunny days when you just want to be outside.

Three wines stood out particular well this month. From the New World and Napa Valley, California - 2005 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos Vineyard. Dark red colour with a medium body. On the nose blackberries, liquorice, cassis and leather. On the palate cherries, blackberries, chocolate and liquorice. Just amazing and clearly a proof that Cabernet Sauvignons from the New World are as good as the French ones.

From France and Margaux, 2007 Château Brane-Cantenac which we opened in honour of Dad’s 80th birthday. It was also the first bottle I bought when getting serious about wine. Again in honour of Dad and remembering the (pretty) golden label from his cellar when I was a child. But I’m sure it said 1984 on his bottles… (At his death there were plenty cases of 1984 Bordeaux in the cellar which Mum happily drank without knowing what goldmine it actually was...) Nevertheless the 2007 vintage wasn’t too shabby either. Still young with a medium body. Dark fruity nose with both hints of cedar and minerals or gravels really. On the palate black currant, plums, earth and oak with a slight herbal finish.

Last but not least from Italy and Tuscany, 2007 Castello di Fonterutoli. The Fonterutoli Estate is avery special place to TheMan and I after celebrating my 40th birthday there a couple of years ago, but we would not have gone there in the first place if it wasn’t for their amazing wines. 85% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot makes it a wonderful intense and complex Chianti Classico. Great structure. Plenty of cherry, chocolate and vanilla on the nose. On the palate lots of cherry and dried flowers with a rich and persistent finish.

2009 Domäne Wachau Riesling Smaragd Singerriedel

NV Henri Giraud Esprit Rose

2004 Baron de Ley 7 Viñas Reserva

2009 Tim Adams Semillon

NV Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée

2010 Seghesio Cortina Zinfandel

2012 Mazzei Codice V

2012 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes Rosé

2011 Trimbach Riesling

2009 Château des Jacques Morgan

2005 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon Kronos Vineyard

2009 Fonterutoli

2012 Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay

2010 Rotari Rosé

NV Taittinger Brut Réserve

2012 Schloss Gobelsburg Kammerner Gaisberg Riesling Erste Lage

2010 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Poliziano

2009 Château Grillon Sauternes

2007 Château Brane-Cantenac

2012 Barone RicasoliTorricella

2007 Castello di Fonterutoli

NV Champagne Henri Giraud Esprit de Giraud Blanc de Blances

May 09, 2014

Eating in Paris

Paris is of course heaven for food and wine lovers. Without thinking about it we managed to get a theme for our dinners– old Belle Époque brasseries and restaurants. Our first dinner was at Brasserie Julien in the 10th arr. Two different colleagues had spoken very well about the place, all though the area was a bit run down and dodgy. Especially if you arrived by Metro. It’s very rare that I feel out of place when I travel. I usually manage to mix in and act confident (thanks to many years of solo traveling), but the short walk from the metro to Brasserie Julien got me feeling somewhat uncomfortable and I was definitely on the outlook. I noticed that TheMan felt the exact same and when we were about to say something about it we had arrived at the restaurant. Opening the door we were transferred back to the early 1900’s. A waiter in waistcoat and a long black apron greeted us and showed us our table. The menu was full of classic French dishes such as steak tartar, escargots, foie gras, onion soup, steak et frites, calf liver, crème brûlée, profiteroles, crêpes suzette and many more.

After much thinking I went with foie gras (my weakness), steak frites and crème brûlée. Au contraire to fine dine dining restaurants brasseries serves a lot of food and pretty big portions. Quite a bit value for your money and the goal is that no one leaves hungry. TheMan went with onion soup, stek et frites and profiteroles. All very nice. On the menu we also found wine from Couly-Dutheil, one of the estates we visited last year in Loire, which we of course ordered. So things couldn’t have been better on our first dinner in Paris.

On Friday night we had made reservations at La Couple, an art deco brasserie in Montparnasse, famous for its dome (couple) based on the idea of an upside down champagne coupe glass. Arriving just in time for our reservation we had to queue to get in as the place was huge. Actually so huge we didn’t notice that some UK friends were seated at one of the tables, and during the evening our paths never crossed.

Seated with a glass of champagne we looked at the menu and quickly decided to go with the today’s special. White asparagus as starter and grilled fresh sole as main. Sadly enough they were all out of sole when ordered we had to do with halibut instead (which really never is a bad choice either). Usually two or three of those large white asparagus is enough as a starter. Here we got six of them. Nevertheless perfect and the Sauce Mousseline to go with them was divine. The halibut was unfortunately a bit dry but baby potatoes and buttery greens made it all up. To drink we had a bottle of Pierre André Meursault, which turned out to be a wonderful match. When it was time for dessert I couldn’t make up my mind if I was going to have some cheese (you really can’t go to France without having cheese) or profiteroles with warm chocolate ganache. After some debate my sweet tooth got the better of me and I decided to have profiteroles. When they arrived it wasn’t just one profiterole, there were three of them and they were big, very big with both ice cream and whipped cream along with plenty of chocolate ganache. Too much? Absolutely! Did eat all of them? Absolutely, but skipped out on the whipped cream which never has been a favourite of mine.

Usually a railway station restaurant gives you bad vibes, or at least it’s not a place you make reservations to have a nice dinner at. But that is just what we did for our final night in Paris. We made reservations at Le Train Blue at Gare de Lyon. A restaurant built at the turn of the Century - 1900 - mixing brasserie style food with gourmet and fine dining food. After a brief look at the menu we both decided to go with their Tasting Menu which included 6 courses and a bottle of Pommery Royal Brut Champagne.

  • Baked scallop, grilled leek, creamed sea-urchin tongues
  • Home-cooked duck foie gras, stewed red onions with blackcurrant berries
  • Pike and crayfish dumplings in Nantua sauce
  • Green apple sorbet, chilled Manzana
  • Heart of fillet of beef Rossini, veal truffle gravy, mushroom cannelloni with capes and chanterelles
  • The pastry chef’s inspiration – chocolate and nougat cake

The food was very nice, but maybe not as good as we had expected. Again it was brasserie food with a touch of gourmet food and unfortunately trying to be both it became nothing special. For a while we thought that we might have become too picky, but there was nothing wrong with the food. Great quality and prepared with love. It just didn’t stand out. Still it was quite an experience having dinner watching the TGV trains come and go. And of course all the people you see at a busy station.

For lunch on Sunday before heading to the airport we ended up at Le Grand Hotel’s winter garden or Le Bar. Having entered through the doors of Café de la Paix next to the Opera we were kindly guided through the café and restaurant since they were very busy (being Easter Sunday) and we were showed into a lovely winter garden style lounge area. After some confusion we realised that the whole block including café, bar and restaurant all belonged to the Grand Hotel. Despite being a bar menu the menu was very good and the wine list excellent. Haven’t had enough cheese (there isn’t a thing called too much cheese, is there?) I ordered a cheese plate with a glass of Côtes du Rhône-Villages whereas TheMan went with a shrimp salad and a glass of Chablis. The hustle and bustle of busy Paris streets were far away when sitting there and if it wasn’t for our flight home I’m sure we would have stayed on.

Summarizing our trip on the train to the airport we both agreed again that food and wine in France is divine. (Might be the reason why we are going there again this summer…) Food in France is always produced with love, prepared with love and served with love. Food is without a doubt serious business and that is probably why everything is so fabulous.

April wines

Much awaited it was finally time for our trip to Paris during Easter. Both TheMan and I have visited Paris many times, but never together so we decided quickly that we were going to do those things you never do on your first or second trip or even third trip. For example the cemetery Père-Lachaise where Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust any many more are buried. It might sound a bit odd to wander around a cemetery and look at gravestones, but it was wonderful experience. Set on a hill and with cobblestones it was rather peaceful. Still in the middle of Paris (outskirts when opening in 1804) the noise from the city life was far away with birds singing and the wind slowly blowing in a comfortable and serene way.

Another place, not very serene though, that we visited was Tour Montparnasse. For a very long time the tallest building in France and built in the late 1960’s it has also been voted as one of the ugliest buildings in the world. And yes it was. In the foyer and lift up to the 56th floor we both felt like going back to our childhood in the 1970’s. The view was of course breath-taking and really shows that Paris is big and widespread city.

Best wine of the month? 2011 Couly-Dutheil Domaine Rene Couly at a Parisian brasserie which connected our visit to the Loire Valley last summer. Best champagne of the month? 2002 Jacquesson Brut Millesime. It can’t get much better than this and despite being 12 years old it could have stayed in the cellar for couple of more years without any problems.

2011 Langhe Nebbiolo Fontanafredda

NV Mumm Cordon Rouge

2012 Close Henri Bel Echo Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay

2012 Stoneleigh Rapaura Pinot Noir

2002 Jacquesson Brut Millesime

2011Bergström Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir

2007 J M Brocard Chablis Vieilles Vignes Domaine Sainte Claire

2009 Fonterutoli

NV Vranken Cuvee Demoiselle

2011 Couly-Dutheil Domaine Rene Couly

NV Louis Roederer Brut Premier

2009 Pierre André Meursault

NV Pommery Brut Royal

2008 Villa Poggio Salvi Brunello di Montalcino

2011 2006 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Cuvée Margot

2010 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

2012 M de Minuty Rosé

2009 Rotari Brut Riserva

2012 Schloss Gobelsburg Gobelsburger Steinsetz Grüner Veltliner

April 09, 2014

March wines

The first month of spring according to the calendar, but since we never really had any winter besides a couple of weeks in January it suddenly just got warmer and lighter outside. The trees started to get greener and there were snowdrops and crocuses in the garden.

Spring also means some nice limited releases (at least here in Sweden) of Stoneleigh’s Rapaura series and Schloss Gobelsburg. Both excellent producers of light and crisp wines that should be drunken young.

Another excellent wine this month was 2011 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre La Chapelle des Augustins. Still young and will probably peak in 2-3 years, but everything that comes with a good Sancerre was there - bone dry, highly aromatic with intense flavours of peaches and gooseberries. To add to the experience, the bottle was one of the many bottles we bought back from France last summer. We know exactly how steep the hills are in Chavignol, how hard it was to park on the tiny serpentine village street and what first-rate service and information we got at the Henri Bourgeois tasting room. As an extra treat to go with the wine last glass of wine we also had some Crottin de Chavignol. Goat cheese made to perfection! We were without a doubt back in the Loire Valley.

2012 Schloss Gobelsburg Gobelsburger Steinsetz Grüner Veltliner

2006 Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape

2005 Château Menota

2011 Olivier Leflaive Rully Premier Cru Vauvry

2007 André Clouet Millésime

2012 Château Mont-Redon Côtes du Rhône Réserve Blanc

2001 Clos du Mont-Olivet Châteauneuf-du-Pape

2011 Henri Bourgeois Sancerre La Chapelle des Augustins

2007 Jean-Marc Brocard Bourgogne Blanc Kimmeridgien

2007 Palmer Blanc de Blancs

2008 Brunello di Montalcino Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona

2008 André Clouet Millésime

2011 Trimbach Gewurztraminer

2007 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay

2009 Tim Adams Semillon

NV Deutz Brut Classic

2012 Stoneleigh Rapaura Sauvignon Blanc

2012 Stoneleigh Rapaura Pinot Noir

2008 Jose Maria da Fonseca Moscatel de Setubal

2008 Palmer & Co Millésime Brut

2008 Antinori Pian Delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino

March 04, 2014

February wines

We continued our weekend in Copenhagen with a day of browsing stores (along with a little bit of shopping) and of course smørrebrød for lunch at Bøf & Ost. I rarely drink beer and maybe once a year or even less than that I have a shot of schnapps, but a smørrebrød lunch at Bøf & Ost definitely requires those attributes. The snow from the blizzard the day before had turned into sleet, rain and around +1 degrees so both beer and schnapps warmed us as well.

During our last visit to Copenhagen we had an amazing dinner at Alberto K. This time we decided to try the sister restaurant to the only Italian restaurant in Scandinavia with a Michelin star. Only two doors away from each other they share wine cellar, but L’Altro is far from fine dining instead it is old school family cooking the way Nan used to do. Each month they also have a theme menu and for February the theme was The Godfather movies. Seven different Sicilian courses all prepared and done with lots of love and passion. The wines were marvelous too. All Italian, mostly Sicilian ranging from the mid 1990’s until today. When a young woman came around and played the godfather theme on the violin we all laughed, but somehow it still fit into the theme.

On Sunday the sun was shining and suddenly spring was in the air. After a long walk around town in the sunshine we decided to visit La Glace, Denmark’s oldest café from 1870. Time has almost stood still and you get your coffee in tiny little silver plated pots. Milk also comes in silver plated jugs and the pastries have probably not changed much since they opened. I went for a slice of chocolate caked called Lucky you whereas TheMan went for slice of the Othello cake.

Full and happy (and probably high on sugar) we took the train back to Sweden in the afternoon. As always we started to talk about our next visit before we hadn’t even crossed the border. Copenhagen is without doubt a city that we love to come back to over and over again.

2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Poliziano

NV Baron Fuenté Galipettes Brut

2011 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Cuvée Margot

1999 Künstler Stielweg Riesling Spälese

2004 Gianni Voerzio Barolo La Serra 2004

2007 Sancerre Domaine Raimbault-Pineau

2011 Serrata Belguardo

2012 Schloss Gobelsburg Kammerner Gaisberg Riesling Erste Lage

2009 Fonterutoli

2011 Langhe Nebbiolo Fontanafredda

NV Piper-Heidsieck Brut