Znovín catches on
The wine region is ripe for visiting
Posted: October 2, 2013
Znovín wine tasting in the Šobes vineyard on the Austrian border.
Winner of the 2013 Winery of the Year Award and among the foremost names on the Czech wine scene is Znovín Znojmo, a large and energetic company based in the small town of Šatov, not far from the Austrian border.
And, for wine lovers with a thirst for first-hand experience, a trip to wine country can make an excellent day out. These days, many producers are more than ready to receive visitors.
And Znovín Znojmo is more ready than most. Znovín is certainly no boutique producer, contributing about 3.5 percent of all the wine consumed in the Czech Republic. It was though unique among the newly liberated producers in the Czechoslovakia of the time to understand the concept of marketing. By the early 1990s it had already linked up with the Sunday Times Wine Club, a mail-order service, which offered Moravian wines for the first time on the UK market. Under the dynamic direction of Pavel Vajčner, the company quickly established its own mail-order business at home as well as branching out into such activities as wine tourism, providing regular day-long excursions.
This is a region renowned for its zingy white wines, especially those made from the Sauvignon Blanc and Grüner Veltliner grape varieties, while the town of Znojmo is also among the most notable attractions for oenophiles in southern Moravia.
Daylong excursions begin in the historical center of the town, with its miles of sandstone caves and tunnels, apparently for the citizenry to hide whenever one of the many invading armies that passed this way down the centuries came marching in. Then onto Loucký klášter, the huge Premonstratensian monastery, with its shop and vinotéka and cellars where stacks of bottles mature slowly.
On warm days, one can ride around town in the open-air street train or cycle through the nature park around the River Dyje, then travel among the vineyards, including the one called Šobes, reckoned to be the best vine-growing site in the country, located in what used to be no-man's-land by the Austrian border. Here a hut offers a selection of wines made from Šobes grapes, including its famed Rieslings. Then one goes underground. For example, to the cruciform cellar in Přímětice. This unique cellar, built in the shape of a cross, is said to be the largest of its type in the world (and it has excellent acoustics).
The highlight of Znojmo's wine trails must surely be the Painted Cellar, dug deep into the ground in Šatov. Its walls are decorated with paintings by a one-armed artist who went blind during the work. The little-changed town of Šatov is a treasury of Europe's past, including two wartime bunkers - one referred to as Hitler's, the other as Stalin's. At the Moravian Cellar, one can enjoy a range of local wines and food accompanied by traditional folk music, and the fun may go on long into the night. These tours take place several times a year (see: Znovin.cz)
Finally a bottle of Müller-Thurgau 1973 from Znovín Znojmo will be among the highlights coming under the hammer at the forthcoming annual charity auction for the VIA Foundation and Community Foundation of South Moravia which is to be held on Nov. 11 in the Prague Marriott. The event will be accompanied by a wine tasting from the numerous donor wineries and dinner. (Tickets from Zlata Maděřičová:firstname.lastname@example.org)
Winery of the Month: Vinařství Vacenovský
This is a new small family winery based in the former coal-mining town of Dubňany, near Kyjov in southern Moravia. Young Libor Vacenovský started in 2011 following on from his father František, who worked just one tenth of a hectare. He had studied at the wine school in Valtice and, in tandem with his post as production manager at one of the biggest wineries in the area, he has increased the area under vine, though it is still a tiny half hectare in the Šidleny and Dubňanská hora vineyard sites. Plans are to acquire around 10 hectares during the next 10 years. Production is at present aimed at quality white wines. ¨These are elaborated in a classic vaulted cellar with a press in the front, but incorporating modern fixtures and fittings. Just 3000 bottles are produced priced very reasonably at between 100 and 150 Kč. (www.vacenovsky.cz)
Wines of the Month:
Red: Auxey-Duresses 2007 Premier Cru - Val
Producer: Henri Vaudoisey, Pommard, Burgundy, France
This is a delightful Pinot Noir from its ancestral home in Burgundy that hails from Henri and Sylvie Vaudoisey from their traditional cellar in the renowned wine village of Pommard. It comes from the excellent vintage 2007. Transparent pale red to the eye. Nose is elegant, replete with wild strawberries, licorice and even a hint of farmyard. Palate is ripe plums with a long aftertaste. Goes a treat with roasts or mature hard cheeses such as Comté. (390 Kč)
White: Sauvignon VOC 2012
Producer: Znovín Znojmo, Šatov, Southern Moravia
A fine and interesting white from the Znojmo VOC (Wine of Original Certification) quality designation. Deep straw hue leading to a fresh, zingy attack of white stone fruit and ripe pears with a hint of honey. Ample palate with citrus and tropical fruit with a smooth pineapple finish. A very decent example of a nicely structured wine which would go well served with soft fresh cheese or fish. (210 Kč)
A tasting of Pagos de Leja Riojas takes place in Vinohrady on 17 October at 1900. Venue is the Amabila Club, Slezská 72, Prague 3. Cost 550 Kč, which includes 8 glasses of wine, a variety of bread, olives and other small eats as well as the novelty of an Icelandic glacier water called Ice Angels (bottled, presumably). Reservation necessary. (Contact: Mike.Bogel@its-our-pleasure.com).
John & Helena Baker can be reached at