Cloudberry dessert wine, Kultainen by Ainoa Wines, for Finnair

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The story behind a cloudberry dessert wine made exclusively for Finnair:

Paola & David Cohen taught themselves how to make wine in the U.S.  It was a hobby and they enjoyed trying different grape varieties and techniques, challenging themselves to make the best quality wines they could.  They quickly realised that the biggest obstacle to making truly great wines was the quality of the fruit they could get.  The very best wine grapes were not available to hobby winemakers.

Everything changed in 2008 when they moved to Finland for David’s work as an engineer.  There were no grapes available to work with, but the local berries were extraordinary – the best quality in the world.  And because of the Nordic “Everyman’s rights” policy, they were available to everyone.  Though they initially struggled to make good wine from berries, the breakthrough came when they realised that many of the classic techniques they had learned from grape winemaking could be applied to berry wines.  Soon after they realised that the berry wines they were making were better than the grape wines they made in the U.S (because the quality of the fruit was better) and yet no one seemed to be making wines like they were in Finland.  In 2014 they founded Ainoa Winery to bring wines that showcased the terroir of the Nordic forests to the world.

Over the next five years, Ainoa’s wines earned a reputation for quality, something that the Cohens continued to focus on.  The wines were served in top restaurants across Finland, were sold in the state-owned alcohol monopoly shops, and collected an impressive number of international awards, including the only gold medals awarded by competitions with OIV patronage to wines from the Nordics or any fruit wines in the world.  Their most popular wine was Valokki, a dessert wine made from rare wild cloudberries that only grow in the arctic, and it always sold out quickly.  Paola & David knew that it would improve if allowed to age properly before it was consumed, but operating such a small winery they were not able to age it to the degree they wanted.

In 2019, they were told Finnair was looking for something special to serve on flights starting at the end of 2020, and they knew exactly what to offer: a special variation of Valokki that had the opportunity to age more, a new wine that they named Kultainen (golden).  Once the offer was accepted, they got to work on the wine.  Then something happened, air travel almost stopped for a couple of years, and the listing was delayed – but not cancelled.  In 2023, a well-aged Kultainen began to be served in Finnair’s business class on long-haul flights, to rave reviews.  Together Finnair and Ainoa Winery were able to introduce an iconic and unique flavour of the arctic to travellers who had never experienced it before.

Ainoa Kultainen specifications:
Fruit: 100% wild arctic cloudberries
ABV: 10%
TA: 6.1 g/l as tartaric
RS: 135 g/l

Company Details

Finnair