VINICULTURE: People call it ’Chateau d’Avedore’ – on the bottle it says Nordlund. It is the first genuine Danish red wine, from a vineyard in the village of Avedøre close to Copenhagen. But producing wine in Denmark will always be stretching the limits of what is possible.
Let’s say it up front: Regarding wine production, Denmark will never be a serious competitor to France, Italy, Spain or any other wine producing country. With a growing area totalling just 10 hectares and an annual production of 20,000 bottles, Denmark’s output is a drop in the world’s wine lake.
Nonetheless, in 2004 the leading Danish vineyard Nordlund exported its first pallet of 2003 vintage to one of France’s premier wine dealers, Negociant Schuyler-Schröder in Bordeaux. And experienced wine tasters have assessed several Danish wines to be worthy of an honourable mention. To some it is already a cult, while to others it represents a serious investment opportunity.
“We are infinitesimally small in the overall picture. And we will continue to be almost invisible in terms of quantity,” says Søren Beck, co-owner and spokesman for Dansk Vincenter, which produces Nordlund. “But quantity is not the key issue. To us, producing wine is a passion, where we are stretching the limits of what is possible at our degree of latitude, through research and cultivation.”
Dansk Vincenter conducts research into different varieties of grape which can grow in the relatively cool Danish climate, as well as development of root types and root systems.
“So far we have produced three vintages of 85% Rondo and 15% Leon Millot grapes, but I think that good wine can be made in the Danish climate using up to 20 different varieties. The best wine is made using stock vines when they are around 15 years old. We are close to that now, and the root system is well established on the old sea floor which makes up our fields,” says Søren Beck. “We planted in 1999 so our root system is now 7 years old. Vines produce seriously good quality wine when they are 12-15 years old, and continue to develop qualitatively to about 60-80 years.”
There are some 20 commercial Danish wine producers across the country, of which Dansk Vincenter is the largest. The vineyard is located in the village of Avedøre south of Copenhagen. In addition to research and wine production, Dansk Vincenter has become popular for holding parties on account of its charm and atmosphere. A large array of events are also held with wine as a main theme.
“With a consumption of approx. 37 litres of wine per person annually, Danes are among Europe’s most enthusiastic wine drinkers when you exclude the actual wine producing countries. Per capita consumption in France for example is almost double that of Denmark. But the interest of Danes in good wine is amazing, and increasing numbers are involved in wine production over most of the world. A prime example is Peter Sisseck who makes Pingus, perhaps the world’s most sought after wine, at his vineyard in Spain.”
According to Søren Beck, Danes’ increasing role in viniculture is primarily due to their approach to wine production. To make interesting wines in a country like Denmark, producers have to be skilful. The Danish climate does not help wine producers, so they must rely on their own abilities.
“They have to be skilful and inventive craftsmen, open to new methods which perhaps break with traditions of wine production,” says Søren Beck. “Our limited options have taught us to be open to many different opportunities. We are not locked into traditions, and that encourages far greater diversity in what we make, and hence broadens our opportunities. So although you would not think it, Denmark has been officially approved as a wine producing country. Quite a good story, isn’t it?”