Pálava Hills: Where Are We?

On the Czech/Austrian border, about an hour’s drive north from Vienna, and about 30 minutes south of the Czech city of Brno.


A map of most of the Pálava Hills from Mikulov in the south to Pavlov in the northwest corner.

Below, a view to the northeast towards the Pálava Hills from Ořechová Hora, a fine vineyard for scenery and wines:

The video, taken in late November 2015, highlights some of the major wine towns and vineyards  of the Pálava Hills, starting from the view of Březí, the camera rotates north to find the limestone of the hills and finally looks east towards Mikulov.  (Fun fact: Březí and an unseen town nearby, Dobré Pole, have names that mean “With Calf” and “Good Field”  respectively, indicating what their purposes were in the past).  The video both captures and obscures the Pálava Hills.  It accurately displays their elevation, but not their stature: they only rise about 350m  (approximately 1150 feet) from their lowest to their highest (Děvín).  That’s not sooo much.  But, the hills linked together, like a ship in port, loom well over the surrounding land, more than what can be expressed by the camera.

As one can see, from the west (and the unseen northwest) the Pálava hills rise fairly steeply to their heights.  Heading east from the crest, the land undulates down more gently through UNESCO-protected forest, a few grain fields and even fewer vineyards.

Grapes, particularly in cool regions like Pálava, need southeast- to south-facing vineyards to increase exposure to sunlight and maximize metabolism.  Despite their location on the western side of the Pálava range, most of the vineyards do have good southerly orientation.

However, vineyards on the eastern slopes, some with excellent exposition, nevertheless can suffer from the higher elevation and gradual descent of the land.  Too-cool temperatures in the spring and fall can retard their growth or even threaten with frost.  How much difference can a few hundred feet make?  Townspeople in Mikulov attached an old and impolite moniker to the inhabitants of Klentnice,  the highest village in the area; they called them, “Snow-monkeys.”  Cold can bruise egos as much as fruit.

As one descends very intriguing sites do exist: On some sectors of U Božích muk, southeast of Pavlov, Dense limestone rests only 40-50cm below the surface, in one area even “blooming” to the clayey surface in chunks of dense white rock.  With early morning sunshine, Sauvignon and Pinot Blanc express themselves quite well on this soil.

Are the current locations of vineyards historic?  Could people have previously planted more on the eastern side with it’s hypothetically-better exposition?  Of the maps I’ve seen going back to 1867, the situation of the vines remains very similar to what one sees today, vines planted mostly on the western/ southwestern face, with a slightly smaller acreage on the eastern face, woods and game land farther east/ southeast from the crest.   That’s hardly going back to the Romans, but I don’t read Latin yet.

Czechs call the Pálava Hills the “Provence of the Czech Republic.”  (That’s a little like a book title I once saw, “The Paris of Appalachia:  Pittsburgh in the 21st-century.”  I am a Pittsburgh fan, but yinz ain’t got no Louvre there.  St. Thomas Aquinas didn’t teach there.  One might say both cities have buildings and people and at least two french bakeries.)  The region enjoys more sun and drier days than most of the Czech Republic, both aspects that make grapes happy.  The bright white limestone of Provence finds its pretty little sibling in the cliffs of Pálava, but, please, it’s no Provence.  Thank goodness.

That bare limestone of the Pálava Hills creates the weather there.  The bare cliffs manages to reflect/ emanate enough heat to create an updraft of warm air which then redirects cooler, rainier weather patterns from stopping by.  During the summer, rain can fall heavily in Brno, 50 kilometers north, and Mikulov sees nothing but blue skies.  Low to moderate rainfall ensure healthier grapes.  Healthier grapes make better wine…

Continue to: Pálava Hills: Soil Primer & Specific Vineyards

Mikulov, the Pálava Hills Region, and Their Wines.

Wine.  Wine, wine, wine.

Wine.  I like…


Wine grapes from which wine is made.


What’s the big deal?

One could ask that about anything really.  What makes wine different than “Hello Kitty” products or fine jewels or Oreos or beer or football or American football, or fashion?  Any fanatic can certainly list their compelling reasons, a list that will ultimately confine the person to a small cadre of con-celebrants and concerned friends.

But wine is different.  Why?  Because wine.


If I MUST explain a bit more, wine is a combination of nourishment,  an addictive compound, geology, meteorology, economics, anthropology, occasional skulduggery, advertising, philosophy, chemistry, lyricism, religion, history, anthropology, microbiology, dendrology, environmentalism, geography and occasional heroism…

…Mixed with art.

Wine, like a picture, reflects its source and creator.  A bulk wine, like Australia’s famous Yellow Tail, reflects as much about the goals of its producer as the painting, “Gazebo of Prayer” tells a person about the goals of artist Thomas Kinkade.


Thomas Kinkade’s”Gazebo of Prayer”, second in popularity only to his ” Contemplative Garden-Yurt,” painting.

Well, maybe Yellow Tail isn’t that bad.

On the other hand, tasting a Château Margaux corresponds to something a bit more refined…


Botticelli’s Berliner Venus

Most wines rest somewhere between these two extremes.  My favorites lean towards something like a good Bruegel…


Rustic, but done excellently.

The Pálava Hills in Southern Moravia make these wines.

What follows is a summary of this region and its main town Mikulov.  A brief historical section will summarize 150,000,000 years and highlight some of the events that give context to the Pálava Hills wine.  In interest of brevity, this introduction does not mention the vital Jewish history of Mikulov, nor its role in the Iron Curtain, nor its growing culinary and art scenes, nor much of its architecture, nor the Pálava Hills importance as an UNESCO-supported nature reserve. (If you are interested in visiting, though, contact the good people of Pathways).  Afterwards one can read about a few of the different producers and their libations.  As time goes by I will expand the information, but this initial posting should give you an inkling of an idea of a taste of this beautiful – wine – region.

Continue on to: Pálava Hills: A Bit of Geology and History

Continue on to: Pálava Hills: Where Are We?

Continue on to: Pálava Hills: Soil Primer and Specific Vineyards

Producer: Volařik – A Great Product is Great Business

[Thanks all who helped on this (expanding) project, particularly the Degustarium team of Vladimir & Kateřina Štekl and Petr Očenášek for their help and hospitality during research]

Wine Post: French Memories in a German Wine Bar in a Czech City – or – Fun Guys with Wine and Fungi.

France and Germany have a long history of squabbles and invasions.  I decided to continue that theme last week, bringing some French reds and a bottle of vin liquoreux (read: dang sweet) from the Loire Valley to a German “base” heavily fortified with riesling, (but not heavy with fortified riesling) By “base” I mean the Vinotéka U Švába, one of (if not the best of) the vendors of German wines in Prague.  Certainly, you will not find a more ardent proselytizer of German wines in the city than the bar’s owner and host, Thorsten Kleemann.  Thorsten is pugnacious, opinionated, and sometimes even friendly.  He named his bar U Švába because it sounds like the Czech word for Swabian, “Švábský,” his heritage of Germany, but also the Czech word for cockroach, “Šváb.”  So there is a large carving of a cockroach hanging above the front door – if that creeps you out, Thorsten doesn’t care. To his defense, I have never seen a real cockroach in the bar.

Thorsten and I were joined by a Russian friend and an Irish friend.  Insert your joke here, but we had a really nice time!  The opening salvo of this discussion was a Morgon 2006 from Domaine de la Combe au Loups.  Morgon is a “cru” of Beaujolais.  “Cru” roughly means “growth” in French and is applied to areas of vineyards that historically produce grapes of a proven quality.  This is NOT Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine to be enjoyed within the year of purchase.    As it were, this 9-year-old bottle improved over the course of an hour,  the red fruits becoming much brighter with some aeration, it was light and cheery and holding well.  The color was also fairly rich, almost completely moved from a purplish, young-wine tint into an adult, stately garnet-red phase.Quarts de Chaume! 001 Our second glass was one of Castelmaure’s “Une Autre Route” Collection, “Au Village sans Pretension,  2011.  The winemakers wanted to focus on the flavors that the heavy sun of the Corbières appellation in southern France brings.  There is no oak-aging to soften or structure things, just fermentation in glazed cement tanks that impart nothing to the wine.  The varieties (carignan, 50% of the blend; grenache, 30%; and syrah, 20%) play their roles perfectly, the carignan ripe enough not to impose its heavy tannins that make a wine over-astringent, the grenache adding a touch of relative lightness, the syrah filling the glass with color and giving some body to fill the mouth.  This was a 10-dollar bottle of wine that had my cohorts thinking 15 to 20.  A real success: deep fruits, some nicoise olives, and none of it seemed forced or cloying.  A very little bit bitter in the back of the throat (Which I think would denote a certain quality or ripeness of the grapes themselves – any wine-pros want to comment?) but it drank so well – for 10 dollars, a wine with some character?  I’ll take it! Quarts de Chaume! 002

And If I had to choose a song to go with this, it would be this.

The 3rd bottle I brought was a Chateau Pierre-Bise 2009 Quartes de Chaume.  What a color, only 6 years old and so golden!Quarts de Chaume! 004A wonderful wine.  Quarte de Chaume is a tiny appellation, coming from the western-ish Loire River basin.  On its 50ha ( roughly 123 acres) of schist and agglomerate soils sloped above the small Layon River, the grape chenin blanc suns itself until autumn when something wonderful happens – rot.  Specifically Noble Rot, Botrytis cinerea. While the fugus’ spores are on the grapes all season; they germinate in the fall thanks to morning fog brought by the Layon.  Once activated, the fungus is more thirsty than hungry, slurping the grapes’ water but only snacking on their sugar – the grapes are reduced to shriveled bags of syrup.  The ugly, sticky, fuzzy fruit gets picked, pressed, and what little liquid slips out ferments into a wonderfully aromatic, bright but profound sweet wine.  Noble Rot gives wines a savory, funky aspect (In the way that good honey is “savory,” and the band Parliment is funky) and an incredible concentration that one won’t find in unaffected wines.

Chenin blanc is already known for it’s honey notes, so that taste came to the fore on this wine.  Wonderful body, lots of aromas that I can’t pinpoint, it sounds like this song on a late summer day.  Minerality has a strong presence here, a flavor echoing the many sweet rieslings I’ve tasted.  Whether that minerality is a result of metamorphic soils  (Schist, or mostly slate for the rieslings) or if the fermentation of a sweet wine causes a “minerality,” I can’t say; and scientific research doesn’t have a definitive answer.  Until I know, I’ll just enjoy it…

Drinking great wine affects people in predictable ways – they think, “One great bottle deserves another.”  The motivations to open another excellent bottle can range from generosity and curiosity to pride and gluttony.  Usually all of those are mixed together.  In this case, “J’ accuse!” Thorsten of  cultural pride, countering my suave French bottle with a bottle of 1976 Weingut Jos. Christoffel Jr. Christoffel-Prum from the lauded Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard.  It’s a Beerenauslese, similar in sugar content and production to the previous wine.

Quarts de Chaume! 008And it tastes like… corked.  Corked means that there is a chemical, 2,4,6 trichloroanisole (TCA), hiding in the cork closure of the bottle.  While it sounds like a football cheer at UC Davis (“We’re gonna win ’em all / why don’t you throw the ball/ 2, 4, 6/ TRIIIIII-cholroanisole!”) it actually adulterates between 4 to 10 percent of cork-sealed wine bottles.  Simply explained, TCA is the result of pre-existing fungus in the cork reacting with chlorinated cleaner at the cork factory.   At very small concentrations, like ONE-PART-PER-TRILLION, it inhibits receptors in one’s nose and mutes the ability to smell that particular wine.  At larger concentrations, like about 4 parts per trillion, it causes one to detect smells like wet cardboard in a wet basement of an old farm house in Michigan.

The TCA ruined the potential record of year and land that this bottle should have been.  And it would have been amazing.  As it were, a layer of muted aromas in the mouth gave way to a middle palate of MUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHH, and an aftertaste of… dill.  Dill that endured for over a minute.  Pretty neat!  Still, so close to the win, but TCA took it all away from us that evening.

Undaunted, Thorsten brought out a second fine bottle, this 1999 from Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl.  This small bottle contained a riesling eiswein, or ice wine.  Eiswein is produced from grapes that hang on the vine until the first good freeze of winter; then, harvesters start at any hour to pick the grapes which are immediately pressed.  The icy grapes obviously have less liquid, and so yield a syrup that ferments into rich, complex, and sugary wine.  Eisweins are sipping wines, one cannot drink too much of them, such is their concentration. Quarts de Chaume! 009This riesling eiswein came from one of the most reputable vineyards in Germany, Forster Ungeheuer.  Five-hundred years ago its wines went to royalty.  Initially, I still preferred the Quartes de Chaume to this one, favoring the French example’s roundness.  But the intensity of riesling wine won me over, the acidic electricity of the riesling grape combining with the sweetness and chewy texture of the wine.  The wine feels like this piece of music feels played loud.

The specter of Type-2 diabetes swirled around us, such was the sugar of these wines, but Thorsten had one more drop to pour,  a 2013 Hummel Glückselligkeit.  The wine comes from a German, Horst Hummel, living in southern Hungary, and replicates the “Trockenbeerenauslese” style of his homeland.  Trockenbeerenauslese is German for, “I-drink-maple-syrup-right-from-the-bottle-this-wine-is-not-too-sweet.”  Seriously, the TB style can be more concentrated than the above icewine, and comes from berries even more desiccated than those of the Quartes de Chaume or the 1976 Beerenauslese.  While the bottle was sweet, I must admit it was young, and its flavor had not developed or even fully opened up after being put in bottle.  It will be a very good wine, but it paled next to the others at this point.  The other wines might have said, “Nice job, kid,  keep working, you’ve got talent.”Quarts de Chaume! 013And so the tasting ended, all in good spirits after a friendly evening of international investigations.  While no treaties were signed, amicable verbal agreements were warmly stated that we shall repeat the investigations soon, until we reach an accord among the participating members as to which nation produces the best sweet wines.

This might take a long time…

Moravian Grafitti, Znojmo, Czech Wine and Cuisine Pairing

(The company for whom I work, Pathways and I would be happy to introduce travelers to some of the following places and people and experiences.  Feel free to contact us!)

What a pleasant day, some three weeks ago, a Wednesday.  Started with my public limousine (tram) ride and its unique views of the Prokopské Udolí volcano to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation with Mass and then it was off to Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic.  While the bus to this Moravian city was detoured a bit by construction, travel was easy and fairly smooth.

Brno reminded me quickly that, as a resident of Prague, I am not supposed to like it, appreciate it, or condone its existence.  This because the bus passed directly by the hockey rink of Kometa Brno, rivals of my team Sparta Praha.  After exiting the bus, though, I found the city to be energetic and lively, and began to think of Brno as a beautiful place, only suffering from the pock that is Kometa.  Like a Renaissance portrait of a lovely maid, but with a suppurating boil on her cheek, so is Brno with Kometa…

Maybe my opinion of Brno quickly changed because stepping out from the coach, I saw this:

Znojmo spalek tasting 001Jack Kirby-esque Thing graffiti!  It’s obvious that the superhero has just punched a metal robot, because there is a whiff of smoke coming from his flinty knuckles.  Great piece.

And this one -wow! – this one mixes so many textures with a humorous narrative.

Znojmo spalek tasting 002I remained in Brno only an hour, commuting by the efficient Czech public transport to my vinous destination, Znojmo.

Znojmo spalek tasting 055

A view from the Znojmo’s hilltop

Znojmo, as mentioned first in the 11th century, stood high above the Dyje River as a major fortress of the Přemyslid dynasty…

…Enough history.  This visit was food and wine.

I’d come at my friend Eva Skálová’s invitation.  She and her boyfriend, Marek Špalek, wanted to serve guests a food/wine pairing as part of a larger project.  According to them, Czech wines have not developed the same vinous/gastronomic marriage as have the French or Italians; they want to experiment with the idea.

I arrived hours early to the event, affording time to stroll under the gray, spring sky among the sklepy (wine caves).  They stand in various states of repair, a polished, repainted structure next to a crumbling facade.Znojmo spalek tasting 027Until recently, the wine trade did not treat Znojmová wines well.  Communism diluted any commercial quality that might have existed, and the 1990’s saw the rise of Znovin, by Czech standards a massive wine company that makes standard wines.  But resisting Znovin’s pressure, smaller makers have remained to create wines of character and interest.  The process is not finished, as one can see, but what a privilege to see the rebirth of a wine region.

Znojmo spalek tasting 007Some of the sklepy don’t even have external buildings, but rather the traditional door into the hillside.  Behind the many doors like these, dug into sandstone and loess, stretch long shafts, storing secrets, barrels, and bottles.  Looking about, you might find air-shafts sticking out from the ground, indicating sklepy with no apparent entrances.

Three shafts for fresh air into the sklepy.

Three shafts for fresh air into the sklepy.

Znojmo spalek tasting 010

It ain’t pretty, but if the wine is good…

It's not just rock, it's the shore of an ancient sea!

It’s not just rock, it’s the delicious shore of an ancient sea!

Across the road from the sklepy stood a small chapel to Saint Martin, patron of winemakers.  And it stood on GRANITE!  Very exciting.  Across the street, loess and sandstone were the predominant rocks, made by ancient winds and ancient seas depositing sediment that condensed and hardened with time.  But just 100 feet away, granite… igneous rock born of volcanic activity.  Where I was standing was the millions-of-years-old boundary between two geologic systems, Carpathian sedimentary rock to the south-east, and Bohemian igneous and metamorphic rock to the north-west.  What’s more, the vines grown on one side could produce very different wines than the vines on the other side, since geology can be an important factor in a wine’s flavor.

Yes, flavor and wine.  Alright back to the winery…

By this time Eva and Marek were ready to go, and I entered as other guests arrived into the hearth-warmed calm of the Špalek sklep.  Marek and his father have been instrumental in the growing reputation of Znojmo’s quality wine, so we seven guests sat down for a treat.

Eva and Marek serving the first course.

Eva and Marek with the first course, serving faster than the speed of my camera!

As we settled in for the long, enjoyable evening, Marek poured first his Gryllus Bilý (  “Cricket” White)  Its mixture changes from year to year; Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay comprise this 2013 vintage.  The food courses started with a bit of beef soup, the meat locally-sourced, the stock prepared days in advance so all the flavors had time to marry.  This was served with the Špalek Edelspitz Pinot Gris 2011.  The next course was, well, wine.

Marek explained that discovering the various harmonies of the wines and foods (Complimentary/contrasting flavor profiles) meant that we needed a firm understanding of the drink alone.  They would then get our opinions on the wine and how the wines interacted with the dishes. Small pours allowed us to gain such understanding without falling off of our benches.  (Tasting notes are below)

After fourteen wines and the soup well-digested, we awaited the food.  A sliver of goose pate arrived.  Really beautiful, rich with a tang of orange glaze, and it worked best with  the 2010 port-like Šaler červený, a wine both rich and fresh, like its comestible counterpart.

We returned to the soup again, our minds and taste-buds now armed.  To the richness of the beef, the Svatovavřinecké (St, Laurent grape variety) 2002 harmonized best, its earthy mushroom flavors and vegetal note contrasting and cleaning the palate for another bite.

The duo next served a small portion of wild boar with homemade dumplings and red cabbage.  The cabbage wasn’t quite sauerkraut, but soft and cooked with just a little acidity.  The savory boar pulled apart easily and the dumplings were a rich yellow, not the pale, bready beasts one often finds.  Two wines really stood out with this plate, a Gryllus Red from 2001, and surprisingly a Tramíner červený (Gewürtztraminer) 2014.  The Gryllus wasn’t the densest of the reds served, but its bottle-developed, earthy characters complimented the boar well.  The Traminer had enough body to withstand the game meat and a touch of sweetness that harmonized with the cabbage and dumplings.

Light crepes with homemade apricot marmalade came as a simple and marvelous desert.  The star wine of the evening, a 2011 ice wine of Gruner Veltliner, happily overshadowed the dessert.  Even with the richness of the pan-cooked crepe, the cleanliness of the ice wine sparkled through.  I can only offer it one of my two highest adjectives when describing sweet wines, “glacial.”  Great sweet wines somehow evoke drinking ice melt from a mountain stream, and this wine did just that.

The food had all been delicious, but portions had been small.  Still, with a little bit of bread, I was fine. I had done my work, and Marek and Eva had done theirs – a food wine pairing.

Then they offered us dinner!

As a larger portion of paté arrived, I raised an eyebrow to my fellow taster across the table; she raised hers… Round 3, here we go.  By the end, no one hungered.  Eva and Marek’s hospitable service, wine, and food had engendered what those things can do most nobly: conversation, conviviality, pleasure, and thankfulness – a very successful dinner party!

Marek and Eva plan a series of these meals throughout the year to discover the pairings that will work best.  Are they writing a new page in the compendium of Czech gastronomy?  Stay connected, dear readers…

Tasting Notes, some with musical associations


1) Gryllus blanc, 2013 – No notes on this first wine.  Pleasant recollection of it, but no specifics.

2) Veltlínské zelené 2013 suché ( dry Grüner Veltliner) – A nice force in the back of the palate, slight sparkle in mouth.

3) “Kravák” Sauvignon Blanc 2013 suché – Richer than the Veltliner, a better body, crisp with the smallest notes of spices.  Fermented by indigenous yeasts (Yeasts occurring naturally in the vineyard.  Very refreshing wine.

4) Pinot blanc “sur lie” 2013 suché – “Sur lie” is French for “On the lees,” the sediment of yeast and compounds that precipitate out of fermenting wine.  Properly managed, lees add body, and “buttery” or milk flavors; improperly managed they add sti-zank.  Properly managed here at Špalek.  This wine spent a year in barrels on the lees, and the oak aromatics here actually compliment the pinot blanc (a rare event).  However this is a strange wine, best described by the photo here:

Wood -ljljljljljljljljljlj- that fruit and flower

Wood -ljljljljljljljljljlj- that fruit and flower

I tasted oak first, then the palate went very crazy, and then this beautiful floral element that persisted a good 30 seconds after I swallowed the wine.  It wouldn’t be for everyone but, I think it has its aficionados.

5) Ryzlink rýnský 2014 Polosuché (Riesling Semi-dry) – On the nose, a pleasant tight waxiness, very pleasant nose, beautiful roundness in the mouth, very clean, definined, fresh, and pure – one of the more striking Czech rieslings I’ve had.  Many Czech rieslings are grown on calcium-rich loess, and can tend toward broad and ill-defined;  this one is grown on granite – is that the game changer here? What’s more impressive, this wine came from a very difficult year, cold summer with lots of rain.  Seven grams residual acid and 11 grams residual sugar give this wine both richness and liveliness.  Nice work, Špalek.

6) Rulandské šedé Polosuché 2013 (Pinot Gris Semi-dry)  I actually thought this was the previous riesling.  And some of the elements of a typical Czech riesling were there [Psychosomatic tasting to blame?] – A little aspirin, a little pleasant dirt/earthiness, some nice lemon/lime zest – very typical cool-weather wine.

7) Tramín červený 2014 polosuché (Gewürtztraminer) –  PROPER.  This grape is amazing in the Alsace, and I generally don’t like it anywhere else.  This is one of two gewürtztraminers that I like from the CZ, and the other is from Znojmo too.  The grape is notorious to balance, either one gets a perfumed nose of fruit salad with an unripe vegetal character in the mouth, or the evaporation and taste of alcohol dominate.  This one here…  fresh fruit on the nose, not a whiff of alcohol.  Refreshing, something I have never said about gewürtz before.  If this were the standard for Czech tramín červený, the wine world would be a better place.  Like the riesling, grown on granite in a very difficult year, 2014.  Very good work and ready to enjoy.

8) Petit Edelspitz Pinot Gris 2011 polosladké (Semi-sweet) – Edelspitz was the 19th-century German name for one of Marek’s vineyards.  Marek, his brother and father make their Edelspitz gamme with a nod toward this era, fermenting on indigenous yeasts, aging in 400-liter oak barrels and the white wines see some extra time on skins.  Three days of maceration on the pinkish pinot gris skins give this wine a deeper color.  It has a great nose; but in the mouth this cloys, and its impressive concentration – admirable in itself – highlights an unripe greenness on the palate.

9) Petit Edelspitz Pinot Blanc 2009 polosladké – Wow, color is just starting to become deeper yellow, looks like a much younger wine.  Like the previous wine, the taste isn’t for me, the sugar and and concentration of unripe elements are too much.


10) Zweigeltrebe 2011 suché (Zweigelt) – A sawdust-y red fruit on the nose and a bit of… rose in this red wine?  I think that is the flower I smelled.  Very fresh.  A touch of alcohol in the mouth but a pleasant glass.

11) André 1999  suché – Color is dense, impressive for a Czech wine of 15 years. The nose combines blackberry fruit and truffles – nice!  Big, yet sparse tannins prick the tongue a little, but I like this wine. Good work.

12)  Gryllus červený suché 2001 – An earthy nose, a bit lighter in the mouth than the first two reds, not quite as sensuous, still very enjoyable.

13) Svatovavřinecké 2002 (St. Laurent) Well-developed color, aromas of freshly-tilled dirt and freshly-cut mushrooms – I like.  In the mouth a heavy, savory spice compliments the tannins which are almost a given in a svato.  This wine is ready to drink.


Veltlínské zelené 2011 ledové, sladké ( Grüner Veltliner ice wine, sweet)  This wine was harvested the first of February when the grapes froze and it rests at 6-7 percent alcohol – with 300+ grams of residual sugar!  The nose is truffled, waxy, but the mouth is beautiful fruit!  Really lovely, bright and invigorating.  As I wrote above, this gets one of my two highest adjectives for sweet wines: “Glacial.”  Raises my opinions of the ice-wine genre as a whole.

Šaler červený 2010 likérové, sladké (“liquored” red wine)  This product is similar to port, where the grape distillate is added to still- fermenting grape must, stopping the fermentation and leaving quite a bit of sugar, around 80g/l.  I like the idea of this wine – Czech reds are fresh, less rich than the deep sun-baked varieties that comprise port; a different flavor profile should result.  And the freshness wins with a great sweet nose! Beyond the fruit, a pleasant mint comes through that invites one to sip.  In the mouth, its harmony falters slightly, but it’s very interesting.  This went so well with the paté.  Cool stuff!