Monthly Archives: June 2011

Cava for the person who loves the simplicity in life.

It has been such a lovely sunny day here, so we just had to drink rosé cava today for dinner. It felt like the right thing to do.

Segura Viuda brut rosé, which is one of our favorites among the rosé caves available forunder 100 SEK at our monopoly. It is always a bit extra fun to drink or recommend Segura Viudas, side I have had the pleasure to meet one cava maker that started her career at this cava house. Now she works for a much larger company, although still within the same organization.

What about the cava, then? Well it is wonderfully fruity with strawberries and other red berries, which spread up into the nose and tickles the tongue. It is not very complicated, but it is probably not meant to be either. And on a hot summer night when you have excellent good company and just want something easy and cozy in the glass? I then have no idea what the real wine connoisseurs say, but I am very happy with such a nice rosé cava. Try it yourself and tell me what you thought the next time we meet! Or write me an e-mail at anna@annawallner.se.

Otherwise, I can say that the house of Segura Viudas also has other very nice caves in their range.

Now, remember that summer is short! Take the opportunity to enjoy, how you now think is the best and most appropriate wayfor the moment. The important thing is that you remember to do it!

Tomorrow its Midsummers Eve

For once, I have nothing whatsoever to do with the food on midsummer … feels a bitstrange actually.

The fact is that we are celebrating with good friends, at least as interested in food as we are, and because we are in their home this year, it’s a lie to try to help. I don’t mind really, since as a host or hostess you do have the  last say in everything. So I just do what I’m told, and happy to help if I’m allowed.

It is a joy to visit these wonderful friends! We seldom get so fantastically good food any were else. Now many of my friends are good at cooking, but the difference is the love of food. The joy that you feel when coming up with something really good to treat your guests with, twisting and turning on how to make it, then cook it from scratch and really enjoy the results and see how it shines in the eyes of those you cook for. That is true joy of food, and this is the signature of our great friends.

I was lucky enough to be permitted to fix something to drink to the dinner, which I was more then happy to do. Without knowing exactly, I knew that it would be mixed fish for main course and strawberry pavlova with lemon curd for dessert, so II bought a magnum André Clouet champagne to go with the fish and a Sauternes, Château du Bevant 2008, to the pavlova. I think it will be super.

Midsummer is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our amazing summer, beautiful nature and good food culture!

Back to project Cava

After the hubbub of the last weeks and months, things are slowly starting to return to normal. What now can be considered normal? The last year has been anything but normal in my life, but on the other hand, I never wanted it any other way either.

Now I am again back in front of the computer and it feels so good. Mailing back and forth, questions of all kinds “how much is produced in the Penedès region?”, “When does  one usually start to harvest Xarel-lo? It is before or after the trepat grapes?”, “Is September a good time for me to come visit then?” And always my dear contacts at the institute del cava have a friendly and helpful response. But I have to learn Spanish, I realize this. Should I want to keep doing this, which is my plan and huge desire, I have to learn Spanish! Lucky for me I have a friend who is himself both Spanish and works as a Spanish teacher!

But the best discovery I made during the course of writing this book​​, is that since I completed my studies at the university, I have completely forgotten how much I love to do reasearch and write. To every day immerse myself further, to learn more and to really “geek down” in any one piece of information is so incredibly fantastic! Come to think of it I don’t get why I have not thought of this before, it is quite absurd actually. But here is a time and place for everything, as my mother (and several others I guess) say. I will be glad that I came up with this idea at all! Some people live their lives, unhappy, unstimulated and a little bitter, but is too much cowards to do anything about it, or even listening to their own will and inner voice a bit. Stop messing around and get in the game for F**K sake, as my very good friend Ella would have said!

I’ve done it. I am in the game. And I’m so happy!

My very good friend Ella!

More info about the champagne wreck

There are many wrecks in the Baltic Sea water, quite an incredible number in fact. Just between Öland and Gotland, said Anders Näsman, leader of the diving expedition that found the wreck, there are in fact 1500 listed but still unexplored potential wrecks.

So why did it happen that Anders and his friends came to dive right on this particular wreck? Actually, they were on their way to an other wreck lying a little further south in the Åland archipelago. Unfortunately they were delayed 6-7 hours and realized that they would not make it down to the planned wreck. So they then looked at the map of other reported locations of possible wrecks, and focused on those who simply were closest to their position. With a “side-scan sonar” (advanced sonar that illuminates the subject from the side), they found wooden ship which turned out to be on about 45-48 meters depth, straight no the keel with two masts still standing. These types of wrecks that are standing on the keep are often referred to as “Donald Duck wrecks” by the divers, and is not very common, as the ships usually turns down on the side, or up-side-down when they are foundering.

First dive July 6, 2010 showed that the ship was a two-masted boat, called a schooner, with miscellaneous cargo, including champagne-like bottles. Once back up on their diving boat called Pai, they contacted the authorities in Mariehamn and they got permission to salvage  one of the bottles the same day in order to possibly date the ship. Christian Ekstrom, self from Åland, salvaged one of the bottles. The team noted after tasting the beverage, that the bottle contained champagne, albeit very different than the champagne we drink today. From here, everything went very quickly told Anders. A sommelier on the island, that one in the diving team was acquainted with since before, was contacted and she also got to taste the drink, (that would later prove to be the most expensive champagne ever), so far no disposition consumed. (When we pair up with Anders on the ferry back to Sweden, he told me that he and Christian figured out that they had drunk champagne for each of about 18 000 € …) The authorities on Åland were informed and even Richard Julin, the swedish champagne expert, was involved within the course of 24 hours.

It was decided that everything would be kept very secret because of the risk of looters, and that as speedily as possible to salvage the champagnes. Anders and Christian’s diving team and the boat Pai was responsible for leading the expedition along with conservators from the Åland museeum. After several dives to do inventory and careful planning, the bottles were salvaged between the 23rd of August and 2nd of September 2010.

The first cork from the bottle that was recovered was found to have an anchor printed on the bottom, which made the team think that the champagne was coming from the house Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, and the company’s historian Fabienne Moreau was contacted. The cork turned out instead to belong to the house of Juglar, which seased to exist 1829th when it was bought by an other firm. Despite this fact the house of VCP (Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin) decided to offer their help, when it came to the work with new corks that needed to be provided, to secure the content of the bottles. During the work with the re-corking, it was found that the cargo of champagne also contained  VCP bottles (to Moreaus delight), and bottles from the house of Heidsieck.

Total found: 98 bottles of Juglar, 47 bottles of VCP and 3-4 bottles of Heidsieck.

Rickard Julin testing every single bottle before re-corking, noted that one third of what was salvaged was undrinkable and more like stink bombs than anything else. One third was so strong in his character that if something, it can be used to “spice up” another champagne and maybe do a Åland Cuvée in the future. So we’ll keep our eyes open in terms of VCP’s launches in the coming years, since a collaboration with another champagne seems unlikely. The last third that was salvaged was fantastic and obviously very strong in the character in general. I asked Fabienne Moreau, how many grams of sugar the champagnes contained and she said that the bottles from the VCP contained 144 grams sugar/liter, while those from Juglar was slightly sweeter. Not surprising given that the champagnes are from the 1800’s first half, and that they probably were on their way to a Russian garrison in Åland, or possibly to the Tsar in St. Petersburg. Fabienne was of course as a historian quite excited about these bottles, since the oldest cuvée in VCP’s own cellar does not date further back than the 1905 harvest. As these bottles found dated to the early 1800’s, it means that Madame Clicquot Ponsardin has been involved in producing these bottles herself, which in itself would give any champagne historian goosebumps.

Finally may be mentioned that the house Heidsieck was noticed by their absence, although they had but four bottles in the cargo. But some of the divers told us on the boat back that the house of Heidsieck had been contacted and that all of their bottles were drinkable. Perhaps, they are biding their time to have an auction all on their own? So perhaps we will soon go to Åland again for a very special Heidsieck stunt?!

The most expensive champagne ever sold

Yesterday me and my husband went to Åland (the island between Sweden and Finland), after we found out that it was going to be an auction on the wreck finds from last year, with associated lectures by Richard Julin, lectures by a historian from Veuve Clicquot, and reports from the diving expedition, held by the dive leader Anders. We just had to go! Said and done, we packed the bag and took the boat over from Kapellskär on Thursday afternoon. What a weather! The trip was all sunshine, and when we arrived at the hotel we enjoyed a Heidsick vintage 2000, which we found in the boat’s tax-free. After relaxing with the champagne we were off to Hotel Arkepellag for dinner. A very nice dinner indeed and the best perch I have eaten in a long time. One could say that it was a totally ok evening. 🙂
The following day began at 10.30 when we arrived at Alandica culture and conference, with the talk by Richard Julin, where my husband were lucky enough to pinch one of 20 places for the Veuve Clicquot-tasting with RJ that followed the lecture. So when he was away sipping champagne, I listened to dive leader Anders Näslund, who told in great detail about how they found the wreck and how they finally got, approximately 160 bottles of champagne, up to the surface. A very complicated process indeed it turned out to be. My husband came back just in time for the end of the lecture, and since he used to be a diver himself, and has dived with both Anders and the other divers in the expedition earlier, he was of course very excited. And he got a full-fledged description of all technical details from the guys during the day. 🙂 We continued with the historian of the great champagne firm,  completely amazing how knowledgeable she was, and what research she had done! Well done!

At 15:00 the auction started with a U.S. auction firm named Acker Merrall & Condit, and the auctioneer was incredibly American in every way. The Åland Government were present and announced that all the surplus would go to charitable causes in the area, mainly the preservation of marine relics and increased resources for marine archeology in the area, which was really good to hear. Also Veuve Clicquot announced that the surplus that was going to come from their bottles sold at the auction would leo go to these charities. Incredibly generous, but you can on the other hand buy such publicity, so smart move Veuve Clicquot!

This is the compete list on what was auctioned and what the lots went for (VCP, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin):

Lot 1: VCP – Vintage 1955, 1 magnum. SOLD for: 3200 €

Lot 2: VCP – Vintage 1969, 1 magnum. SOLD for: 2200 €

Lot 3: VCP – Vintage 1969, 3 bottles. SOLD for: 2400 €

Lot 4: VCP – Vintage 1980, 2 bottles and 1 magnum. SOLD for: 1300 €

Lot 5: VCP – Vintage 1990th 1 st Jeroboam. SOLD for: 1600 €

Lot 6: VCP – Vintage 1990, 3 magnums. SOLD for: 2000 €

Lot 7: VCP – Vintage 1990, 6 bottles. SOLD for: 2200 €

Lot 8: VCP – Vintage 1975 rosé, 1 magnum. SOLD for: 1400 €

Lot 9: VCP – Vintage 1989 rosé, 3 Magnums. SOLD for: 2000 €

Lot 10: VCP – Vintage 1989 rosé, 6 bottles. SOLD for: 1300 €

Lot 11: VCP – Vintage 1989, La Grande Dame, 6 bottles. SOLD for: 1600 €

Lot 12: VCP – Vintage 1990, La Grande Dame, 1 Jeroboam. SOLD for: 1300 €

Lot 13: VCP – Vintage 1995, La Grande Dame, 3 magnums and vintage 1998, La Grande Dame, 6 bottles. SOLD for € 2000

Lot 14: VCP – Vintage 1955 rosé, 1 bottle. SOLD for € 1500

Lot 15: VCP – Vintage 1969 rosé, 1 magnum. SOLD for € 1700

The champagnes from the wreck:

Lot 16: Juglar vintage early 1800s (the latest available vintage is 1828, when the house Juglar was closed in 1829), a bottle. SOLD for € 24 000

Lot 17: VCP vintage early 1800’s, a bottle. SOLD for 30 000 €

This made the wreck champagne from VCP, the most expensive champagne ever sold! It beat the previous record held by a Dom Perignon Vintage 1952 Rosé, that was sold in the spring of 2008 in the U.S. for about $ 42 000.

The buyer of the bottles was a private collector from Singapore and bidded over the internet.  In total this person bought champagne for over half a million dollars yesterday afternoon.

Me and the husband found a bottle of Dom Perignon for 898 SEK on the boat on the way home and some yummy bottles of red wine and was terribly pleased with it.