This article is made in a paid collaboration with Viking Spirits, Inc.
Scandinavia is famous for many things – till recently, wine has not been one of those things.
Slowly but surely, the number of wineries across Scandinavia has been growing steadily thanks to rising temperatures, making the region easier for wineries to cultivate and grow grapes – there is one winery that stands out from the rest.
Savhuset Åre AB makes their wine ‘Sav’ from the sap of the birch tree – a widely spread tree across Sweden. Not only does this make the wine independent of temperature fluctuations or climate change, but that it’s also made entirely from the native Swedish vegetation.
The history of the birch tree in the Nordic region can be traced to the end of the ice age when large blocks of ice would start melting and moving, exposing the bare ground to the sun. Some of the first trees to start growing were, in fact, birch trees. Since then, the birch tree has carried much importance to Sweden.
The Vikings would dedicate the birch tree to the Norse goddess of motherhood and fertility, Frigga, and the tree would commonly be used to build cradles to celebrate the beginning of new life. At the arrival of spring, the sap would fittingly be drunk in a celebratory way.
With the rich history of the birch tree in mind, ‘Sav’ sparkling wine was created. In 1988, eco-engineer and the founder of Savhuset, Peter Mosten, found a recipe for sparkling wine made of birch sap by the chemical engineer Gunnar Jegrelius.
Printed on each bottle is a short version of the story behind Savhuset:
“Twenty years ago, in a godforsaken archive, the Swedish engineer Peter Mosten found a most peculiar recipe torn out of a 1785 botanical book. Mosten tried to achieve the gustatory sensation promised in the recipe, but failed. It took him a decade of experimentation to reach the necessary heights and to create Sav, a sparkling birch wine”
Every year as the ice melts away to give way to spring, the trees will transform the crystal clear and clean water into sap. That’s when Peter Mosten and his team at Savhuset will go out to harvest carefully selected birch trees around the lake Storsjön in northern Sweden.
On their website, they describe the harvest process:
“Each tree is carefully controlled and must be at least 30 years old. They must not stand near roads that carry pollution. The historical use of the land is investigated extremely carefully. This is to avoid the absorption of undesirable substances and substances from previous industrial and other activities. Birches should also not grow in rough terrain. It must be possible to carry the heavy vessels of 25 – 30 kg for transport to the winery. Every vessel that arrives is carefully checked to ensure the quality of the birch sap.”
From there, the finest sap they can harvest is processed at a small facility in Östersund, where it will also be bottled later on. The sap is carefully inspected before it’s filtered and is then treated before it starts its first fermentation process. After being fermented the first time, it is placed for a longer amount of time in a cooler place where it gets to ferment for longer. Finally, the sap is filtered and bottled. Over the next couple of years, the bottles will be lying down flat for the wine to continue fermenting – it is during this process that the beverage gets its bubbles and eventually creates a naturally sparkling wine.
One might think that the sap makes the wine very sweet but the editors at Swedes in the States had the opportunity to try the wine ourselves. ‘Sav’ is a sparkling fresh wine with hints of citrus, almonds, and apples. The flavor is not too heavy and just as minimalistic chic as anyone would expect from a Scandinavian wine.
Savhuset makes over 200,000 bottles per year. Until recently Germany, Singapore, England, Denmark, and China are the only countries in which this exotic Swedish wine has been available.
Now the import company Viking Spirits, Inc is taking the exotic Swedish ‘Sav’ wine to the United States via their webshop.
Founded by Swede Daniel Borg and his former colleague Daniel Hoggar, Viking Spirits, Inc aims to bring Scandinavian wines and liquors to the U.S. market. You can read more about them on their website