The Moravian Wine Renaissance

The Moravian wine scene in the Czech Republic is an exciting region right now. Unique blends, styles and a melange of grapes to choose from, harking to a time when the Bohemian center of Europe could look all around it for its picks of vine stock and inspiration. Some wine coming out makes sense for a young winemaker to make, and other styles make one think that traditional styles have been preserved in a time capsule. I have tried interesting rosés, bold reds and orange wines made from a blend of Chardonnay and the three Pinot siblings. The whites do not have a uniform identity; many are able to fit in with Burgundy or Mosel or simply part of a Pet Nat festival.

I first tasted Czech wines in Tel Aviv of all places. The wine scene is booming there, and on a trip to discover the old vine Carignan, I got a taste of a few Czech Pinot Gris that left a very positive impression on me. The spring after that I landed at Vinnatur in Vicenza. I came ready to attack all the natural Italian icons I had yet to savor. Luckily, I made a pit stop.

Lunch is fun.

Milan Nestarec is a cool guy. You can tell he is genuinely excited about his wines and Czech wines in general and he wants to share them with the world. We taste through his line and it’s all great. Then he has this wildy labeled wine. Forks and knives dancing about. It’s called “Lunch”. He explains that this is unpretentious food wine, wine for the table. I dig it. Here we have a crown capped wine, that maybe was supposed to be a Petnat but is still, no trace of bubbles…

There are two methods to serving high sediment wine. Decant it, as with old red wine, or as they would do with Prosecco with traditional Col Fondo. Then there are those that want the sediment, they crave the yeast!

Milan took that bottle and shook it up and swung it. He was singing! “Shake it up baby!” We joined in. He swung that bottle so much it smashed into the decanter that the winemaker next to him was holding! I cannot make this up.

One case of still wine under crown cap. One case of song. One case of a broken decanter.

Final verdict: the wine was awesome. It is Looney Tunes fun! It has a vibrancy of strawberry squirt power that makes you want to take the bottle and smash anyones decanter that won’t let you go singing through the dandelions.

Final Verdict: Czech wine is fun.

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Grape juice

Don’t let this make you think Czech wine is all youth party juice either.

However, Milan did recently make a sparkling grape juice so kids and adults could have a healthy sulfite free alternative to all the crap poison soda out there. How many winemakers complain about society but do anything other then add more expensive alcohol for the same crowd.

The last wine I had of his was a Dornfelder blend aged for five years in barrels. I had a glass right after its release and it was great but definitely needs time. Milan is a good microcosm of Czech wine in general.  A mix of rediscovery, and experimentation that takes cues from natural Loire as well as classic Montalcino. It is this fact that makes it one of the most exciting regions to look towards.

Precision is coming from a new, old, natural school.

At Vinatur I tried this amazing Pinot Gris/Noir Chardonnay blend from Jaroslav Osicka. It came in a dull label on a Bordeaux bottle. I was told it was from a professor at the Enology School in the Czech Republic who late in life has gone down the natural path with his own production. This was amazing. I had one of those moments that chase wine geeks dreams, that makes us obsessed. I was tasting true Burgundy by way of Moravia. Having read an insubordinate amount of books and literature on seemingly every Burgundy village, I end up internalizing this lost history of the Bourgogne. The region was never strictly monovarietal. Even today in Burgundy small amounts of Pinot family can make it into Bourgogne blanc. Everything I had read in descriptions of this region was now in my glass. It didn’t matter if I was going to sound crazy, I had to tell Milan this (he was serving these wines). What I said was not just a buzzed compliment. He looked at me so excitedly and told me of a trip they had made, bringing the Pinot Chardonnay to France. I don’t remember the details exactly but a Burgundian had the same reaction I did. A much older Burgundian who had lived to see and taste the last of that era.

Later that year, I got to visit Prague. I, of course, went to Veltlin. We went through tastings of the glasses. I tried the Akácia, a blend of Riesling (Ryzlink rýnský) and Pinot Gris. Native fermentation with a 7-month elevage in 1000 liter barrels from Acacia sourced from the South East of the nation. This just had such laser precision to it. It had so much to offer; a super battery of potential. I hold this in my pantheon of great Rieslings.

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VELTLIN

Křižíkova 488/115, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín, Czechia

Mon-Sat 5–11PM Sun Closed

Grape Man

Ba’al ha-Turim St 12, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel

Sun-Thur 9AM–6PM Fri 9AM–12PM Sat Closed

Vinnatur

Via Favorita, 36040 Monticello di Fara, Sarego VI

April every Year

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