Somewhat to my surprise (in a rather nice way), the blog seems to get a fair few visitors from the Czech Republic. Traffic from there is only bested by the UK and the USA, with whom it jostles for second place.
Why this is I have no idea and typically this last week they seemed to have disappeared after constant daily numbers (sods law is alive and well it seems), but it got me thinking about food and drink from that neck of the woods. Whilst the Czech Republic is rightly world famous for it beers, I was wholly ignorant as to its wine. Central European is a hot bed of wine making – look at Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and, not forgetting, the mighty Germany. The Czech Republic on the other hand seems to barely merit a mention on wine maps of that region.
On googling Czech wine, I came upon Vinovitaj a London based retailer selling Czech wines on the web. Whilst I was familar with some of the grapes used in the wines they had on sale (Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Merlot) others on the site were wholly new to me, with these included Neronet and André .
More in hope than expectation, I ordered 6 bottles including a Neronet and an André as well as the somewhat more familar Gruner Veltliner and Zweigelt (wines enjoyed during many a trip to one of my favourite cities, Vienna).
I was promptly advised by Vinovitaj that three of my initial choices were out of stock, so after a bit of email tennis with them as to what was in stock (my choices unerringly being ones that were not) I agree for them to choose 3 alternatives to those not in stock (and they rather nicely agreed to sent me as well a bottle of Czech fizz gratis).
I picked 3 out of the 6 plus the fizz to taste for this post. They were tasted over a family weekend at my Mum’s, so you have the combined wisdom (very little I fear) of much of the SF family unit in terms of these wines.
Bar from the fizz, the interesting thing about tasting these wines was that as the grapes were unfamiliar to me and the labels incomprehensible (being in Czech and me being too lazy to use Google translate), I had no real preconceptions as to what they were suppose to taste like.
Price wise I have put two prices by each wine (except from the fizz) which represents the price I paid and the current price on the website (bought a month ago and the prices seem to have gone up since – not sure why).
Wine 1 – Proqin Stephanus Riesling Sekt (sparkling) NV ( Free, but retail price: £18)
This Sekt (central European term for sparkling wine) was provided gratis (thank you Vinovitaj).
In the glass it has a nice yellow/golden colour.
It had a very pleasant appley aroma which followed through on the palete. The soft mousse (frothiness) and the small sized bubbles made it a very easy drinking wine, not being too aggressive on the tongue. I am not normally a great fizz drinker (it tends to give me indigestion – my age I fear), but I found this to be very agreeable. This view was echoed by my family who unanimously thought it rather good, despite initial high suspicion based on its origin. Even my Mother, who has an irrational dislike of any wine which utilises the riesling grape (I despair), pronounced it as “quite nice actually”.
All in all a very viable alternative to prosecco or a cheap to mid range champagne. Whilst it was free, retail wise a bit of research indicated a price of around £18 in the UK (fair bit cheaper – £12 – in the Czech Republic). A little pricey perhaps (I would certainly buy if was around £12 mark- not so sure at £18), but it could be nice as something a bit different on the fizz front for Christmas perhaps.
Wine 2 – Neuberg – Vladamir Tetur – 2011. (£7.80/£8.40)
The grape in this wine is principally grown in Austria, where it is known as Neuburger. This wine is from the Velke Pavlovice sub region of Moravia in the Czech Republic.
The colour was quite a rich greeny gold in the glass.
On the nose, wines made from this grape are suppose to have/develop a nutty almost walnut aroma. Can’t say any of us got that from it, with to me it having more honey and possibly pear on the nose. Nice if a little bit neutral in aroma. Taste wise we all struggled to pin down the flavours, but settled on a variety of fruit (someone said pear, I got melon and a touch of pineapple – bit left field the pineapple ). Whilst a perfectly quaffable wine, it needed food to pep it up a bit. This would probably not appeal to lovers of bone dry wines, but is nice enough if you fancy a change. I would drink with pasta or chicken with a rich cream sauce. I can see this possibly appealing to pinot grigio drinkers who are looking for something a little bit different to try.
Wine 3- Andre – Tomas Krist- 2011 (£10.80/£11.40)
This wine seems to be pretty much perculiar to the Czech Republic. It is a hybrid of two of my favourite Austrian reds wine grapes, Blaufrankish and St.Laurent.
In the glass it was a rather handsome rich garnet.
On the nose, there were nice aromas of bramble fruits, with ripe blackberry coming to the fore as it sat in the glass.
On the palate, the flavours were more sweet stewed black fruits, with spice particularly cinnimon coming though as it lingered in the mouth. A nice autumnal wine which would go well with game – I was thinking venison sausages and spiced red cabbage as I drank it.
Overall a nice wine and perfectly suited to Autumn and the dark cold nights that come with it. This is something a little different that is not too bad price wise for the quality
Wine 4 – Neronet – Vladamir Tetur – 2008 (13.20/£15.60
This was the most expensive of the wine I bought (discounting the fizz). As with the André, the grape was new to me but a bit of research found it to be a hybrid developed by a Professor Vilem Kraus (good mad scientist/Bond villain name that) from St.Laurent, Blauer Portugieser and Alicante Bouschet (some sites also suggested Cabernet Sauvignon was in the mix).
In the glass it was a nice fulsome purple colour.
On the nose the predominant aroma was of dark berry fruits (blackcurrant mainly), with a touch of vanilla coming through as it sat in the glass – nice.
On taking a sip, the main flavour was of rich dark cherries with a smidgen of chocolate coming though later on. A bit on the pricey side, but quite a nice wine to drink with say a rich beef stew/pot roasted brisket (winter is seemingly on the way).
Not having any preconceptions as to these wine or indeed wines from the Czech Republic in general, I was pleasently surprised by them. All were emininently drinkable. I would say they are a little pricey, but I suspect that is a supply and demand issue and on basis of their quality to me they warrant being more widely drunk outside of the Czech Republic. Would be nice to see a mainstream retailer, like Marks & Spencer, selling some Czech wines, but production volumes are quite low so I may be hoping in vain.
The Vinovitaj site has plenty of other wines on offer and I would urge you to give their Czech wines a go.
Would I buy again? Yes, I think would. I particularly liked thé André and Neronet with the former, to me, offering the better value.
I feel a trip to Prague may be on the cards sometime next year.
Tel nos : 07853933176
Purchase can be made online (payment via Paypal) with a flat £6 delivery fee. Orders can also be collected from:
5 Milton Road
Need to ring in advance for collection
Please note this is not a shop.
I dealt with a very helpful lady called Barbara.