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]

In Prague, the Triumph of Capitalism…

… is not the new Nike gym floating on the Vltava.  That’s just an encroaching megabrand.

The triumph of capitalism is here…

Stalin photos 022MBAs, please don’t be offended; this is what that pile used to look like.

A full article and this image from wikipedia can be found here.

From 1955 to 1962, a 150+ foot statue of the sociopathic Soviet leader Joseph Stalin dominated the views of Prague. At the time the largest statue in Europe – whose architect committed suicide the day before its unveiling – it was an embarrassment to the Czechoslovak government soon after its unveiling.  In 1956, Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced Stalin’s tactics, and the Soviet Union tried to distance itself from one of its founding fathers. So that great oppressive symbol of “Papa Stalin,” the extremely interested patriarch of the U.S.S.R. and its satellites, loomed over Prague long after the Soviet Union had said, “Uh… eh, not so much.”

In 1962, the granite statue was blown up with 800kg (1760 pounds) of explosive, leaving only the concrete and stone base. In 1991, the city installed a large metronome on the crest of the pedestal; it slowly arcs back and forth to this day.  Skateboarders grind lines and practice tricks with one of the best views of the city as a backdrop: “Tailslide to 180 Kickflip to view of Our Lady of Tyn – nailed it.”

But the above picture, dear readers, reveals some of the rubble of that explosion piled underneath the pedestal – a big, big pile more eloquent than most history books.

But my statement, “The triumph of capitalism,” isn’t only a heap of dictator.  More importantly, it’s this:Stalin photos 035It’s a pub – no frills, no extreme commodification of real estate, just a simple place to grab a beer.  It’s run by a bar in Prague.  The prices are written on a piece of plywood.  Simple.  Stalin would hate it because he wouldn’t be controlling it.  Megabrand capitalism can hate it because it doesn’t sell a big beer for too much money.  It’s making cash for some people by being accessible to most people – a success.

Graffiti in Prague – Spring time

Spring is quite full now, and blooms have given way to leaves and nascent fruit.  The warmer weather, sunny, with occasional caressing rains, has invigorated Prague after a drowsy winter.  Fine weather has also brought out the graffiti artists and attached are a smattering of their pieces that could potentially be gone today. (I took them yesterday)

I was lucky enough to speak with one of the artists; I don’t take photos of them generally, because what they do is tolerated but not necessarily legal.  I asked him how long he’d been painting, he said since he was 19.  He looked around 30.  Though I thought the scene in Prague had improved over the past 11 years, he disagreed, stating that there more and more the paintings were being seen as vandalism.  As well, there are more artists, and not all are of a good quality.

“How long does a mural last?”

“One week, one day even…”

Paint is very expensive here in Prague.  To spend all this money for something that might last a day might seem a waste to some, but people can coo over the ephemeral, transient nature of Buddhist sand mandalas.  On their best merits, I perceive these murals as an urban iteration of that sacred art.

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The blackwash background makes this mural pop!

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Siber? Saber? A unique style found on the riverfront.

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This one is a bit coarse up close, but the idea is so great. But don’t ask me what it says, I just like the design.

tests and grafiti 014 tests and grafiti 011 tests and grafiti 010 tests and grafiti 009 tests and grafiti 008 tests and grafiti 006 tests and grafiti 005I hope you too are having a colorful spring, or fall for those in the Southern Hemisphere.