Well, it certainly does and it’s good wine too! Despite the fact that Sweden falls outside the ideal 30° to 50° latitude range for growing grapes, this hasn’t stopped the team behind Gothenburg’s Wine Mechanics. Swedes are known for thinking outside the box, or outside the vineyard in this case. Where there is a will….there is a way!
The October half term could not have arrived sooner and we managed to escape London for a week to visit my husband’s adopted hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden (he’s actually from Iceland). I consider Gothenburg a second, or third, or fourth home. I’ve lived in so many places that it’s hard to definitively christen one city as ‘home’. Rather, I consider myself to be a person of the world. When my kids ask where they’re from, I just say, “Earth!” because it’s true. Our family’s nomadic journey is often too complicated to fully explain, let alone understand. That’s just how we roll!
I was determined to use this well-deserved break as an opportunity to discover any hidden wine gems in Gothenburg and Wine Mechanics has been on my radar for quite some time. Apparently, one of the inspirations for Gothenburg’s first urban winery was Portland, Oregon’s (my hometown!!) urban winery scene. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll understand how incredible it is and why your city would want to follow suit. The main difference is that Portland has grapes…tons of them and Gothenburg doesn’t. Minor but major problem! Well, in order to remedy this situation, Wine Mechanics has partnered with grape growers in the Northern Rhône region of France as well as the Pfalz region of Germany to source their grapes. Once harvested, the grapes are transported all the way to Gothenburg in refrigerated trucks; a journey that takes 48 hours! That’s some serious dedication. All in the name of creating excellent wine!
The big question…is the wine any good? I can honestly say that I was very impressed with the wines I tried. In total, I tasted four wines; the Gimme Gimme Gimme 2018 Riesling, the Fistful of Love 2018 Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) Rosé, the Bit i Kudden, Skattebetalare 2019 Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) 2019 and the Wine Mechanics Syrah 2018. I also indulged in a fantastic Swedish lunch which left me quite full but very satisfied. The menu was in Swedish, but the waitress very kindly and patiently translated everything in English (oh, and my husband helped me out too!!). Thank you!!!
The waitress explained that the Riesling and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) grapes are sourced from the Pfalz region of Germany, which is basically an extension of France’s Alsace region. Riesling is the most widely planted and well-established variety while Spätburgunder has been increasing in popularity over the years. Müller-Thurgau, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Dornfelder (the second most widely planted variety) are also grown in the Pfalz. The Syrah grapes are sourced from the Northern Rhône region in France which is renowned for this variety. Sourcing grapes from regions with ideal growing conditions and the perfect terroir will enable the grapes to develop the complexities and varietal characteristics that most winemakers desire. This sounds like quite a good start!
So, with all this on my mind, I was eager to start tasting these Gothenburg wines! I have to admit that I didn’t drink four glasses of wine with lunch…that’s a bit too much for me. Rather, my husband very kindly let me taste the wines he chose. It’s a team effort…right?!?! He is also very tolerant of my endless chatter about wine and food and wine and food etc… I’m probably the worst date ever because when we’re supposed to be relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, I’m actually deep in thought…wine thoughts!! He’s learned that it’s best to not ask my opinion of a wine, especially if he wants a quiet, enjoyable meal out and also if he wants to enjoy his wine…oh dear!!!
The Gimme Gimme 2018 Riesling was a lovely pale lemon colour with a medium aroma intensity of petrol and pineapple notes. On the palate, I was greeted with bright acidity, hints of residual sugar (off-dry) and notes of lemon, pear, pineapple and subtle minerality on a medium finish. A wine I would definitely recommend! Well done!
As you may know, I’m quite particular about my rosé wines and I’m quite accustomed to Pinot Noir rosé, as I indulged in many while living in Oregon. The Fistful of Love 2018 Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) Rosé presented itself as an easy-drinking wine with light aroma intensity of red cherry and some strawberry notes. I also detected a bit of a reductive note which I just couldn’t ignore. On the palate, the wine was smooth with medium acidity accompanied by medium intensity flavours of red cherry blood oranges and strawberry as well as a little bit of earthiness that I wasn’t quite expecting. Personally, I prefer more fresh red fruit flavours and brighter acidity in a rosé wine, but that’s just my preference!
I had to ask my husband what in the world ‘Bit i Kudden, Skattebetalare’ meant. Basically, it has something to do with taxpayers and biting a pillow…end of discussion. I’m not sure what this has to do with wine, but one thing I’ve learned is that in Sweden just about anything goes and taxes are always on people’s minds. Despite the ambiguous name and a rather avant-garde label, the wine brought be back to my happy place. I really enjoyed this Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The wine was a lovely medium ruby colour with medium intensity aromas of red cherry, raspberry and subtle earthy, spicy notes. On the palate, it was very a very balanced, light bodied wine, with light tannins and a medium finish. Higher acidity was complimented by medium alcohol, juicy ripe red fruit flavours with a bit of spice and herbs and toasted notes from barrel ageing. This was a keeper!
Finally, the Wine Mechanics Syrah 2019, was my husband’s choice. He usually prefers a fuller bodied red wine with his meal. This particular Syrah was medium bodied with a deeper ruby colour than the Spätburgunder. Aromas of blueberry, black cherries and ripe plums were so welcoming. On the palate the flavours were a medium intensity of blueberries, plums and black cherries along with earthy, herbal notes and black pepper, which is so characteristic of French Syrah. This too was a great wine, definitely worthy of buying.
Wait one darn minute…you can’t buy a bottle, unless you plan to drink it with your meal. This is Sweden and alcohol is heavily regulated by the government. Believe it or not, a winery like Wine Mechanics can’t even sell their bottles directly to the consumer unless food is also consumed on the premises while drinking the wine. So, the question remains…how in the world do you get your hands on a bottle of this precious juice? Well, the answer is you need to find your local branch of Systembolaget which is Sweden’s government run alcohol shop for wine, spirits and beer. Sweden is not the only country in Scandinavia that adheres to these strict measures as Norway, Iceland and Finland also follow a similar system. The over consumption of alcohol has been very problematic in the past throughout Scandinavia and in order to combat this, the government created a state-run monopoly on the sale of alcohol by restricting access, increasing prices through heavy taxation and also regulating hours/opening times of the shops allowed to sell alcohol. Good luck getting a bottle on Sundays!!!
Besides simply finding your perfect bottle of wine in Gothenburg, you might want to pair it with something delicious to eat. I highly recommend heading to Salluhalen where you can peruse a range of local as well as internations foods such as Swedish cheeses, seafood delights, cured meats as well as the best cuts of meat and freshest fish in the city.
This is a favourite place of mine! I love the food, the people and the atmosphere. There are several small restaurants and bars where you can enjoy a respite from the cold and savour the delights of Gothenburg.
Cheers to getting out of London and discovering the wines of Gothenburg!