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A few days ago I opened an oddity, a Swedish red wine (though there are several more wineries in Sweden) – the grapes are grown, harvested and made to wine on the island Öland, on the Swedish east coast. The name Littorina comes from the littorina stage of the Baltic ocean (ca 8 000 – 1 000 f.Kr), on the island a bank that is a reminisces of the era, and the wine is grown upon it. On the bottle is a deer, this picture comes from the heraldic picture of Öland.
The wine is made out of grapes harvested in 2008, 65 % Rondo and 35 % Leon Millet. The wine was placed in French and American oak barrels for more than 12 months.
On the bottle is stated that the history of Övra Vannborga, the farm and or village, has been around since at least the middle ages (in Sweden ca 1050-1520 AD), though there are no historical or prehistorical evidence of wine production in the past. As an archaeologist I know a little more about the area and has a little more info on the place. This summer I have been working on the archaeological material excavated during 1989-1991. During the period 600-1000 AD a large settlement was already in place. During the excavations of a small part of the site at least 19 sunken floor huts was found together with a big material indicating different crafts. It gets better or at least older than this, the houses superimposed two older graves; one from Preroman times, e.g. 500 BC- 0 and the other from the Mesolithic – dated to ca 7200-6500 BC. Making it one of the oldest finds of human activities on the island. A curiosity in this particular case is that in the older grave some 20 beads made out of deer teeth was found, these has probably been saw onto the dead individuals clothing.
After that prehistorical detour lets get back to the wine. It is surprisingly good, though perhaps not in compartment to the price. For the price I paid I can get a really good wine, though on the other hand this has other values. It is both difficult and expensive to grow wine in Sweden and the economic turn back is probably not all that big – if any – rather it is people who really wants to make wine and devotes their life to do so that grow wines in Sweden. Therefore it is perhaps not only unjust but also wrong to compare it to other wines in this particular price range, but on the other hand it’s perhaps exactly what we should do. Övra Wannborga has come a good way on the road to a good wine, this wine shows that it is possible to do an just that in Sweden – today, and if you can make a good red wine then you should be able to make a great wine sometime in the future.
In the taste a lot of same is evident. It is acidity and at the same time quite sweet, rather big, with lots of oak. It contains dark cherries, red currants, peppers and some green notes. It is a bit sprawling in style but what it lacks in elegance and refinement it takes back in raw charm. It’s a bit here and there, it’s a good wine – nothing fancy, it should work well with some red meat.
Wannborga is trying to improve this wine, in 2009 they hired help from Spain. Mr Perèz from Mas Marinet, Priorat, has been looking over the wines and the process – something that they claim that the 2009 cuveé is proof of. I’ll try to get hold of a bottle or two for comparsment and perhaps for the EWBC BYOB-party on October 13th.
As I wrote earlier I often judge winesin comparison with other wines in the same price range – in this case it’s a bit more complicated. I’ve instead tried to see this as a project in work – where this is one step on the road to greatness – hopefully. The Wannborga wine yard (Wannborga Vin & Lamm) has been in work for more than 10 years and has found a working formulae, it will be interesting to keep following it into the future. I aim to bring a couple of bottles to Italy and the European wine bloggers conference in Franciacorta and the BYOB preparty.