In Vino Päritas – Wine, Women and Song
Niklas Löfgren and Fredrik Lundberg met many years ago through the Swedish hospitality industry. Together they have almost 30 years of experience and their experiences touches restaurants such as Bon Lloc, Esperanto, Le Rouge, Noma, PM & Vänner and Frantzén, and they spent a year and a half working together as sommeliers in Gamla Stan. Nowadays Niklas is the restaurant manager at Restaurant Ekstedt and Fredrik has just opened his own restaurant called Babette, located on Roslagsgatan.
Ekstedt may need little by way of introduction, but the recently-opened Babette, situated at Roslagsgatan 6, is the brand-new baby of Fredrik and fellow restaurateurs Jon Lacotte, Olle T Cellton and Johan Agrell. With focus on great produce within an affordable price range, the few chairs in this rather small establishment will quickly fill up to create a lively, yet cozy atmosphere with heaps of good feeling. One can expect some great wines too, by the bottle and the glass.
Keen to spread their knowledge and love of wine and other beverages, Niklas and Fredrik launched their own YouTube channel in November of last year. I met up with these two inspiring personalities at breakfast in the lobby of Hotel Diplomat to get to know more about their much talked about video podcast Vin, Kvinnor och Sång.
”During the last four years we’ve been participating in a wine-tasting community which recently decided to work with the video format, but we basically went on our own,” says
Niklas and Fredrik both have a long history together and they are eager to tell me more about their new project, showing a passion that is also evident in the short video clips of Vin, Kvinnor och Sång. The way they interact with each other, the great energy and how they communicate with the viewer says a lot about the passion they have for their subject. Each of the first five or six episodes on YouTube consists of a less-than-formal tasting of one to two bottles in someone’s kitchen, in a sauna or at a café – the locations vary, as does the quality of the technique. But it is all good, as long as it’s entertaining and fun, and it sure is.
”We try to always stay two or three episodes ahead, and the plan is to release one episode a week for the next six months. YouTube is our number one channel, however we use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to spread the word and there is also a Facebook site where we post all the episodes, as well as further details regarding the beverages we taste”.
As the Swedish wine scene has already seen a few successful wine podcasts I’m curious to whether Vin, Kvinnor och Sång has the potential to go international.
With the format of short clips and a focus on a single bottle, it could easy translate to the world stage. Wine is such an international language and since the choice of bottles has so far not been restricted to what is on offer at Systembolaget, they tell me; ”We have been considering moving to an English version but for the following six months we’ll stick to Swedish and after that only God knows!”
The name Vin, Kvinnor och Sång (Wine, Women and Song) is a reminder of the old classic hit song by Swedish cult artist Kjell Höglund, but I learn there is something else lurking behind the well-worn cliché.
”We both consider it a great saying, since it brings a lot of joy and happiness! Fredrik has been using the hashtag on social media for quite some time and after discussing the topic with two lovely ladies, the name became obvious. The wine or some other beverage for that matter, will always be in focus as well as the music and the idea is to highlight women in the business as future guests. We already have several guests planned for the following episodes and most likely that comes along with some specific themes. We have to stick to the name Vin, Kvinnor och Sång and therefore all the guests will be females”.
As trend-sensitive Stockholm sommeliers, I’m curious as to what Fredrik and Niklas predict for 2015 in the world of wines, both locally and internationally. ”We believe even more restaurants will open, smaller and bigger ones with a strong and serious attitude to great food and wine. The wine scene will basically stick to what it is, but hopefully we will se more people consuming mature Bordeaux to decent prices. Overall we hope more sommeliers will investigate the options of buying wines from other European countries to enable the possibility of providing greater and more diverse wine programs”.
When talking to people in the business, I always like to pick their brain a little. This time is no exception and I’m curious about their own personal experiences with the fermented grape juice. I ask them bluntly what their absolute favourite bottles have been during the years working as top sommeliers.
”That is a really tricky question since there have been so many great bottles throughout the years” Fredrik claims. ”But if we necessarily need to stick to one, my choice would be the 1978 La Tâche, Domaine de la Romanée Conti. I was still at sommelier school when I had the wine served blind to me and even though it is nearly eight years ago I still remember it like it was yesterday. I had been to Burgundy twice previously and I did recognize the wine as a matured Burgundy of exceptional quality. But who could ever imagine that such a wine would be poured to a student!?”.
Niklas chips in: ”My choice is not among the most exclusive bottles I’ve had but it’s the one that meant the most to me. The 2007 Côte-Rôtie Lancement, Michel & Stephane Ogier. The first time I tried it was straight from the barrel in Ampuis and I remember it as a milestone, basically the one moment when I first understood what I really do appreciate within a great wine. I’ve had the wine many times since and I’m still loving it!”.
The Systembolaget in Sweden has a broad and extensive catalogue of products, but sometimes I think their choices are a little too generic. There are so many great bottles out there that are hard to find on Swedish soil. Where do you mostly get your wines from?
”Since we are corresponding with the public, most bottles served so far within the video podcast are purchased at Systembolaget. We do store a decent amount of bottles privately, where most are purchased either online or from various journeys within wine-producing regions. However, since wine is such a social thing we consume the most among friends and family within various restaurants and bars. Home is a place for rest”.
So what would these two gentlemen recommend for our avid readers to try for an ultimate wine experience? Listed below are four diverse and interesting suggestions from the two.
Tio Pepe Fino En Rama – Gonzalez Byass
”Somewhere during the spring of 2015, the sixth edition of this unique sherry will be released. For those of you who enjoy the wines from Jerez, this is the purest and most elegant style which the region does represent.
Enjoy it straight from the ice bucket under the sun along with some marcona almonds and some adorable Spanish eyes.”
2012 Russian River Pinot Noir, Tina Marie Vineyard – Anthill Farms Winery. ”This style of New World Pinot makes us happy. It’s pure, spicy, fruity and elegant but most important it’s super well-balanced.
Something one could easily put into a Burgundy blind tasting and some people would definitely go wrong. We drink this chilled just as it is or together with the best of roasted chicken served along with some crispy Savoy cabbage and black truffles”.
2002 Côte Grand Cru, Cru Sélectionné – Raphaël & Vincent Bérêche.
”This wine belongs to the new *negotiant* line up from the great producer of Bérêche & Fils. This wine is among the greatest Chardonnays we have ever tasted and brings a great concentration, pure fruit, creamy character and loads of minerals. It’s hard to find but it’s definitely worth every effort to get your hands on a bottle or two. Drink it among good friends together with the greatest of crustaceans and you’re in heaven”.
MV Grande Cuvée – Krug
”There is champagne and there is Krug!” That is how the saying goes and we are about to agree! This is a wine that never lets the consumer down, especially if you are lucky enough to find an old bottle. It is simply the purest expression that mankind can achieve within champagne and it pairs well together with whatever!”
Where to find Vin, Kvinnor och Sång: