Finland
hosted by Jarmo Valikangas

Introduction

I'm a amateur wine-explorer who attends different wine-related activities and arranges them in Helsinki. I am a member of world's biggest wine club, Munskänkarna which gives monthly tastings. To keep one's spirits high between regular tastings, there are many smaller groups of 10-15 persons who gather together under some special interest like "Bring your own Bordeaux", "Italian wines", "Spain" etc.

My favourite wines are "good wines", which means that fine wines are made in every corner of the wine growing world. Somewhere more, somewhere less fine. Naturally, my scope is Europosentric because of the availability of wines. Just to name some obsessions, I like port wines and white wines made of Riesling. In September '97 I visited Mosel (Dr. Loosen, C. von Schubert'sche Gutsveraltung - Maximin Grünhaus, Reinholt Haart), Saar (Weingut Forstmeister Geltz Zilliken) and Rheinhessen (St. Antony, Heyl zu Herrnsheim). After that I visited Bordeaux, Château Carsin (see below), but not for Riesling.

I drink wine for pleasure and I prefer to taste wines blind. Blind-tasting ignores a certain amount of prejudiced attitudes towards labels and results often quite good humour after wine's origin is revealed. Like anecdotal answer of one well-known wine author: "Have you ever confused Bordeaux with Burgundy? - Not since lunch."

Finland

Since Finland doesn't has a favourable climate for wine growing, Finns have to ignore the hardest part of wine making and just enjoy the bottled results (which can be tough, too!). To be exact, there's one exception to this. A publisher of finnish wine magazine Viinilehti, organizer of yearly wine fair ViiniExpo and "part-time truck driver" Mr. Juha Berglund runs 57-hectare estate Château Carsin in Bordeaux. With his lovely Australian winemaker Mandy Jones they are said to make the best finnish-australian white wines in Bordeaux.

Market for alcoholic beverages (> 4,7% alcohol) in Finland is controlled by government's monopoly,  Alko (in finnish). This could be a nightmare for wine lover, but Alko shops provide reasonable collection of wines even in smaller towns. Wines constitute 21,9% of the retail sales (1996).  Because Alko is a big buyer, there are sometimes offers of some prestige labels like Antinori's Tignanello and Solaia, or Penfolds Grange. After Finland's joining European Community Alko has been meeting growing difficulties in maintaining it's monopolistic role and it is challenged by new importers in new, open markets.