Jan E. Bruse wading in wine

Wading in expensive wine in Voss

Local hotel with 80,000 bottles in its cellar.

VOSS (Dagbladet newspaper): A hunt for exclusive wine proves worth the journey.

We headed across the mountains and down into a cellar in Vossevangen.

The trip takes us past the art deco reception area to the cellar of Park Hotel Vossevangen. Behind heavy steel doors, a world of wine opens before us. From floor to ceiling, and in boxes that cover most of the floor space, there are wine bottles. Many wine bottles.

dbbilde02

THE WINE LIST: A proud Bruse Andersen can boast more than 400 different Chablis on the list. Photo: OLE C. H. THOMASSEN

‘We have had to move into more cellar rooms. There are more than 80,000 bottles here. We think that we will have obtained a full overview and catalogued everything in about six months’ time, says hotel director and owner Jan Bruse Andersen.

‘We have wines here that you can’t buy anywhere else. The most hard-to-come-by wines we have are only otherwise found in private collections.’

Old prices

He bought Park Hotel in 1979, and has bought wine every week over the last 30 years.

Today, wine connoisseurs and collectors flock here to see, taste and experience wine.

The wine list alone is well worth a look: 166 pages with just under 40 wines on each page.

There are also a number of wines of which only a few bottles remain, and others that they don’t have a full overview of.

VERDENSENER: En Romanée Conti, verdens beste vin etter manges mening.

THE WORLD’S BEST WINE: A Romanée-Conti, the world’s best wine in many people’s opinion.

The prices are set the day the wines are added to the list.

This means that wines that were bought a very long time ago can be enjoyed at Park well below the world market price.

Many of these wines are only sold at auction.

‘You have a lot of expensive wines – who buys them?’

To which Jan Bruse Andersen, in his obliging and patient manner, explains:

‘You mustn’t think about price when you’re drinking wine. It’s about buying wine you can afford, and enjoying it when it’s at its best.’

Collectors

‘We have a box in the restaurant full of wines of which there are only a few left in the cellar. They all cost NOK 425. But some of these wines have cost well over NOK 1,000.’

Bruse Andersen is keen to point out that good wines can be had at reasonable prices.

When we take a closer look, we see that there are wines starting at NOK 375 on the wine list. A selected few. Most are considerably more expensive.

Exclusive gems can be out-and-out bargains compared with prices on the world market, almost like buying a Ferrari at half price (though still very expensive).

‘Many people come to taste special wines. Wine clubs and collectors,’ says the director.

The best story is about the collector from Belgium who read the wine list online.

He drove all the way to Norway and Voss for the sole purpose of filling his car with exclusive wines.

He was furious when he was told that the hotel could only sell bottles that were opened and consumed at the hotel.

Gems

Burgundy wines have been given a separate room in the cellar, filled from floor to ceiling. The floor is also covered in wine boxes.

Bruse Andersen finds a Romanée-Conti, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

In the Burgundy section of the wine list, we find vintages from 1996 to 2006.

The prices vary from an incredible NOK 22,550 to NOK 28,550.

Three of the vintages are in magnum bottles, all priced at NOK 45,550.

Le Romanée-Conti is the world’s most exclusive Burgundy.

The wine is made of Pinot Noir grapes from a patch of land that can be traced back to the year 1232.

‘I have had to queue up to become a customer, and someone has to die to make room for a new customer.’

‘All Romanée-Conti’s customers are noted down in a large book, and numbered bottles are carefully registered so that all the bottles can be traced.’

Bruse Andersen tells us that this is one of the wines he most enjoys having: The value of Romanée-Conti increases by 50% every year.

If someone is found to be speculating on the price of the wine, they are removed from the customer list.

The point is that people are supposed to drink the wine. Bruse Andersen shows us an empty bottle.

‘One of these, a Romanée-Conti 1998, went for NOK 120,000 at Sotheby’s in London last year.

We sold this one for NOK 22,500 to a guest.’

TASTERS FROM THE WINE LIST

Chablis

If you like a good Chablis, there are more than 400 different ones to choose from on the wine list.

The prices vary from NOK 395 for a Chablis, Dom Vocoret & Fils 2002 to NOK 2,250 for a Chablis Vaillons, Jean Dauvissat 1993 (3 litres).

The most expensive one, however, is Chablis Les Blanchots Réserve de l’Obédience, Dom. Laroche 2002, at NOK 1,175 for an ordinary sized bottle.

Bordeaux

Under Paulliac, we find Ch. Latour, Premier Cru, 2000 vintage, at a net price of NOK 15,000.

The most reasonable vintages from this chateau are the 1994 and 1997 vintages, at NOK 2,950. Park has a 1989 vintage from Margaux and the chateaux of the same name at NOK 3,300.

Another Premier Cru wine is Ch. Mouton-Rothschild, Premier Cru 2000, at NOK 6,550.

Italian

There are almost 200 different Barolo wines on the list.

The prices vary somewhat depending on the producer and vintage, starting at NOK 595, to a Barolo Monfortino, Giacomo Conterno magnum 2000 at NOK 6,900 as the most expensive option.

An ordinary sized bottle of the same vintage is priced at NOK 3,300.

OLE C. H. THOMASSEN
oct@dagbladet.no
REISE (travel magazine)
Tuesday 30 November 2010