chronicle: the summer – a mere memory 9 oktober 2014

I’m sitting right now and looking out over a quiet and breathtaking natural area outside my window on Lidingö. It really is the calm before the storm. So quiet, so harmonious, still dominant green, only with small lovely touches of ocher yellow and autumn redness. I have just been and left my little Leo in kindergarten, in the same privileged scenic natural park and was struck by the harmony of the whole nature and all the positive people who seem so rested and eager to get started with all of their lustful work projects after the power-collecting holiday break of this summer. I love this time in the middle of September when the sun is still warm, but not too hot to sit in at a lunch serving. The wasps are gone and the air is high and clear, the desire to workout and the clever incitement spirit pervades most of us this time of year. Tomorrow it is election day and it seems like people love the time just before the election and walk around with the feeling that all the best is ahead of us. A new start, fresh breezes and improvement. Rather illogical really because all parties are so similar to each other and too cowardly and weak to bring about a real change if that is what they really want. Do we not have it quite good really? I would like to have something strong political to burn for, but I believe that politics in a functioning democratic country like Sweden is extremely overrated. It is important to vote yes, but I am convinced that today we are formed much more by international trends, media noise, globalization, cultural trends and spirit of the time than political issues. What if you could vote for the Weather Party which shortened the Swedish winter, then I would feel the same commitment that so many unaccountable do today. From an international perspective, we only have an enormous problem in this amazing country. Our climate and our location right next to the North Pole!

We are very soon there. In the midst of darkness and the chill polarizing inhospitality distant from the Mediterranean July heat that apparently made people so excited and happy this year. It seems that people seriously think that three weeks, oh yes there was actually no more, I’ve checked, of days with a temperature above 25 degrees is enough that we can consider ourselves with five months of freezing. Maybe I should not express an opinion because I was not home one single day during this heatwave. Tru to my habit I took the family to the Mediterranean for a month because I did not dare to risk the holy common holiday to rain away. Yes it was a wrong decision this year. I know! I would have happily experienced the archipelago night where you could be out overnight just in a t-shirt, but I can not help but wonder if it really turned up this year?

I myself experienced several such nights when I after every late dinner in Mallorca, lay alone, stark naked on our terrace peering up at the sky busy with my hobby counting shooting stars. Never sweaty, never too cold. The same silky weather caressing all night. Was it really like this old Sweden?

It was really wonderful to lie there until the evening when our English neighbors locked themselves out and silently crept around the corner to climb in through the bathroom window when they forgot the key in the room. They were so silent that they did not notice the naked Swedish man before he screamed when they stepped on his toe. Embarrassing and scary but otherwise it actually says a lot about how relaxed and domesticated we got to to feel at the British-owned family hotel Reads in the otherwise fairly godforsaken Santa Maria del Cami. People often talk about an oasis in the middle of nowhere, but it is rarely more appropriate than about this place. A stone’s throw from the airport and twenty minutes from the stinking cesspool Barcelona-wanna be Palma, the hotel is tossed out in the fields a few kilometers from the unexpected wilderness and the beautiful Tramuntana Mountains that was so magnificently towering in the background. We found the hotel in the fantastic reliable guide Relais Châteaux and was amazed at how cheap it was, especially in comparison with the in itself incredibly stunning Grand Hotel Timeo in the Sicilian Taormina where we spent the first two weeks of our vacation. When we arrived at Reads, we were initially a little disappointed when we were told that both the Relais Châteaux nomination and a Michelin star was history, but the longer we stayed, we felt that just maybe this was a blessing. The atmosphere was very relaxed and the service more informal and personaly friendlier for a family like ours when the pressure of performance eased a little.

We were also told hilarious stories about the management that was reminiscent of Basil Fawlty’s hotel management, but when we got to know Viv and his family, we realized how wonderful they were. With the best dry British humor, he treats his guests in a somewhat demanding way, but I love it. He is justifiably very proud of his creation where he has been involved in every progress since the beginning in 1988, knows his value and sees the meeting with the guest as a mutually respectful treatment. In the same way I personally look at each restaurant visit. If you often go to the world’s finest restaurants, you can not just demand. You should be able to behave respectfully and knowledge initiated so that you can fully embrace the meeting between the cook, staff and guest. Only when that symbiosis occurs great art is created. This occurs at Spanish British Reads. Go there, sit on the patio and bring a bottle of 1998 Dom Pérignon P2 and pay a pittance in cork fee along with truffle pollenta and stay put into the wee hours of the night and let the summernight breezes caress your intellect. Or take a tough mountain pass on a bicycle in the nature reserve of the Tramuntana Mountains wilderness with the Uruguayan receptionist Damien and in a few hours and you will see why Mallorca once was considered to be such a beautiful tourist destination before the charter tourism ruined beaches and towns. A few hours away is Deià, my favorite place on the island with a world-class hotel in the form of the unreal La Residencia, so beautifully set that that I made the decision on my next book right there with a glass of Taittinger in hand.

This summer’s strongest memory? Germany-Brazil 7-1

The summer’s greatest outdoor experience? The hike on the boiling slopes of the Mount Etna volcano with my children.

The best dining experience? Es Raco des Teix, Deià Majorca. Without children and woman I myself sat and studied the absolutely perfect service spectacle that the young German waitresses played up. It was completely in line with the German passing game against Brazil at the World Cup this summer. Like a team of small Philip Lamm they danced perfectly between the tables with consummate gastronomic cuisine and while the nature acted supportively in the background.

The main wine sensation? I, whom are not usually to fond of Spanish wines, became completely overshadowed by the enjoyment of the 2008 Vega Sicilia Valbueno.

The main champagne experience? After the large-scale tastings this spring with 600 Champagnes at Decanter in London and the total transparency tasting of all existing prestige champagnes, this summer’s bubble experiences was more about just the overall experience. Then the peaks would be, a 2000 Roederer Rosé on Timeos Terrace when Etna had a small safe enough outbreak and the aforementioned 1998 Dom Perignon P2 and a 2004 Cristal at the super relaxad Reads Hotel.

Sthlm Richard Juhlin

1982 taittinger ’comtes de champagne’ 7 oktober 2014

1982 TAITTINGER ‘COMTES de CHAMPAGNE’  | 100CH  | aprox  €345 | RJpoints 93(93) 

TASTINGNOTEFrom start an overwhelming, rich, romantic, and euphoric Champagne. Bubbling mousse with that unique pearl-necklace formation. The generous buttery nose includes tons of exotic ripe fruit, red apples, coconut, and a nutty complexity. The sweetness is tangible in the juicy taste. Creamy, fat, full bodied, buttery, and wonderfully long. The wine melts in the mouth like ice cream and runs down the throat like nectar.’ (mer…)

R.I.P. Thierry Roset 6 oktober 2014

It is with a heavy heart that we write to inform you that Thierry Roset, our friend and winemaker of Charles Heidsieck, passed away suddenly yesterday.

As you will be well aware, Thierry had recently celebrated 25 years with Charles Heidsieck, having joined the Maison as Assistant to Chef de Caves Daniel Thibaut in September, 1988. He himself was appointed Chef de Caves in April, 2012, under the direction of Régis Camus.

Thierry’s extraordinary skills as a winemaker were recognised earlier this year when he received the International Wine Challenge’s ”Sparkling Winemaker of the Year” award.

We are devastated by the tragic loss of a man who touched us all with his humility, kindness and gentle nature. Our thoughts are with Thierry’s wife, their three children and wider family.

1996 bollinger ’vieilles vignes françaises’ 6 oktober 2014

1996 BOLLINGER ‘VEILLES VIGNES FRANCAISES’  | 100PN  | aprox  €1 500 | RJpoints 98(99) 

TASTINGNOTEJust as expected: a monumental wine experience! The wine belongs to the select few that behave with such evident, obvious authority that commentary and comparison feel superfluous. Still, to me the ’90 is its closest cousin, with its vigor and velvety, young creaminess. Deep golden hue with extremely small bubbles that slowly make their way up through the glass. The bouquet is mute, tight, and powerful, like a distant rumbling thunderstorm. The palate is met by an oily, creamy essence of dark fruit and licorice. Long and wide as an American highway. A complete Champagne in its make-up. Drink it soon or wait ten years for the next phase. There’s a great risk that it’ll go hide in a tunnel for a few years—the second bottle I opened six months after launching already showed signs of heading into that tunnel.’

Bollinger’s greatness?

  1. Bolinger only produces their own champagne. No wines are bought as ‘vins sûr lattes’.
  2. A large ownership of vineyards,  60 percent, which will garanteea consistent house style.
  3. 325 crus, which 17 are grand crus & 41premier crus.
  4. Pinot Noir is the base in all Bollingers Champagnes.
  5. Bollinger only uses ’la cuvée’.
  6. First fermentation only in oak barrels.
  7. Réserveviner matures in magnums under natural corks.
  8. Long maturation sûr-lie.
  9. Only four winemakers during the last 60 years.
  10. Low dosage. 7-9 grams for Spécial Cuvée & La Grande Année & Vieilles Vignes Françaises, 3-4 grams for R.D.

RJ ON BOLLINGER Joseph Bollinger was the German from Würtemberg who founded this ancient house in 1829. The French called him simply “Jacques.” The firm’s large estates in the best Pinot villages were bought by his sons Georges and Joseph, and in 1918 it was time for the next Jacques to take over the property. He became the mayor of Aÿ, but died during the German occupation at the age of forty-seven. The most colorful person in the history of the house is his widow, Lily Bollinger, who kept a watchful eye on every bunch of grapes by cycling through the vineyards regularly. Her rigorous demands for quality still run through the house to this day. Now Bollinger is run by Jérôme Philipon, who control over 144 hectares, providing 70 percent of the grape supply. The winemaker today is Gilles Descôtes. Besides the house’s exceptional vineyards, they also use very expensive vinification methods. All the vintage wines are fermented in small, aged oak barrels and are never filtered. Malolactic fermentation—which would probably take place very late in the process—is not encouraged either. The reserve wines are stored at low pressure in magnums. Bollinger make the heaviest and most full-bodied champagnes of any house, and their wines always have a smoky and hazelnut-y complexity that is very hard to beat. The vintage wines are among the very best, but the question is whether the rare and fantastic Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made with grapes from non-grafted Pinot vines, can reach even greater heights. All wines highly recomended.

champagne auction in Sthlm 6th of october 2 oktober 2014

Stockholms Auktionsverk in collaboration with Systembolaget will host this autumns second Champagne auction on Monday the 6th of October. Below You will find these different lots:

1996 philipponnat ’clos des goisses’ 1 oktober 2014

1996 PHILIPPONNAT ’CLOS des GOISSES’ | 70PN 30CH  | TASTINGNOTE ‘Experience has shown on innumerable occasions that one should never discount Clos des Goisses and that this wine must always be given a hysterical amount of time to mature. 50% foudre nowadays. Very old Bollinger-barrels in the aroma of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and dark chocolate. Still clean and vibrantly fresh. So young and structured. At the same time soft and yet tangy. Majestic length and elasticity. Dry and a bit stingy for long, but a great Goisses for those living when it reaches its peak! Even more creamy and inviting although some bottles waft hyacinth and imbalance. Luscious later. What a brilliant wine! ’ |  RJpoints 93(95)

RJ ON PHILIPPONNAT The family has been at Mareuil since 1522 and this domain was established in 1910 by Pierre Philipponnat. In 1935 he bought the jewel in the company’s crown, the 5.5-hectare vineyard, Clos des Goisses. In 1987 Philipponnat became part of the Marie-Brizard group, and at present the domain is included in Bruno Paillard’s block.

They purchase 75 per cent of the grapes from very highly ranked vineyards (97 per cent, on average), with the remaining quarter coming from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Nowadays the firm is run with a purposeful hand by the friendly and unassuming Charles Philipponnat. He manages the excellent grapes in a praiseworthy manner. The wines share his charm and personality. All of them are intensely fruity, with a characteristically youthful tone of gooseberry in the nose. Only the first pressing is used by Philipponnat, since they have Abel Lepitre as their second label. 50% of the vintage wines are fermented in oak nowadays.

RJ ON CLOS DES GOISSES Clos des Goisses is consistently one of the world’s foremost wines. They still use a small number of oak barrels, even if certain vintages, like the ’89, are completely vinified in steel tanks. This champagne is a real slow starter that should preferably be decanted if it is going to be drunk before its twentieth birthday. The unique slope beside the canal at Mareuil-sur-Aÿ is planted with 70 per cent Pinot Noir and 30 per cent Chardonnay. I recently held a complete vertical tasting of this personal wine. The champagnes were amongst the most ravishing I have tasted. Most impressive was an invaluable magnum from 1955. The 2000 is one of the milestones of the vintage. In certain years a rare – though not very exciting – still red variety is made from the batch. Even rarer, and definitely more exciting, are the 200 bottles of still Chardonnay that Philipponnat makes every year for their own use. In my opinion it is Champagne’s foremost still white wine. The four stars are all totally thanks to Clos des Goisses.