WINE REGION BOHEMIA
The Wine Region BOHEMIA belongs among the most northerly in Europe. Prague stands on the 50° north latitude, the same as Wiesbaden in the Rheingau. The most significant expansion of Czech winemaking took place during the reign of Rudolf II, at which time there were around 3,500 hectares of vineyards planted in Bohemia. Most of them were in Prague and its surrounds, in Melnik, Litomerice, Most and Louny. The original instigator of vine-planting in Bohemia, however, was the Emperor Charles IV, who gave it impetus with his decrees issued in the year 1358.
Nowadays the main vineyard area is around Melnik, Litomerice and Most. The average temperature is 8.7° and the average annual rainfall is 547 mm. One can count on the fact that two thirds of the vintages will be auspicious for good quality wine and one third less so. The vineyard land of this region is not continuous, but is composed from single localities of protected south-facing slopes planted at lower altitudes, most of which are spread around the outflow of the Czech rivers, Vltava, Labe, Berounka and Ohre. The great unpredictability of the weather in any particluar vintage has led Czech winemakers to tend to the long-term care and maturation of wine in barrels.
MELNIK WINE SUB-REGION
The Melnik sub-region is one of the two Bohemian wine sub-regions. To it belong the vineyards of Melnik, Roudnice, Prague and Caslav, mostly situated on soils rich in limestone subsoil or fluvial deposits of gravel.
The vineyards of Melnik are mostly on a limestone bedding strata of argillite, which is sometimes covered by layers of sandy-clay. Soils are light, calefactory and result in excellent conditions for the cultivation of black grapes. Winemakers even in the Middle Ages did justice to their grapes, concentrating mainly on the Rulandské modré, which arrived here from Burgundy with a French winemaking family, from whom the local population soon learnt to cultivate their grapes in the Burgundian style. The cultivar Ryzlink rýnský was not planted here until the 19th century, just as the modern Modrý Portugal and Svatovavřinecké. Mělník red wines achieved a particular fame in the 15th and 16th centuries, due to their delectable taste, as attested to by Pavel Stránský in 1633, leading to plentiful quantities being shipped to the markets in Prague. Even in Roudnice there was always a preponderance of red wine. But the hard, loamy soils also used to give distinguished wines made from the Sylvanske zelene cultivar. In Prague several vineyards have been preserved in their traditional locations such as Troja, and south of Prague in Karlštejn, where there is a Vine Research Institute which is engaged in the preservation and study of the genetic fund of Vitis vinifera. Most vineyards in this sub-region are today planted with the Müller Thurgau grape variety.
LITOMERICE WINE SUB-REGION
The Litomerice sub-region is one of the two Bohemian wine sub-regions. Litoměřice has always been the main competitor to Mělník in the markets of the Elbe. In the same way these two towns have always been fierce rivals in the wine business, mainly in the markets of Prague.
The history of winemaking in the Litoměřice wine sub-region goes right back to the earliest years of the settlement of Czechs in the area and went hand-in-hand with the dissemination of Christianity. The deed of covenant of Spytihněv II in the year 1057 speaks of the foundation of a collegiate of the church of St. Stephen in Litoměřice and lists the donated vineyards together with the vintners. During the Middle Ages Litoměřice was the second largest wine town in the Czech lands after Prague. 400 hectares of vineyards were recorded in its land register and vineyards were planted all over the surrounding area, especially in the Elbe valley. In 1251 capacious wine cellars were dug in Žernoseky by the Cistercian order, who planted vineyards in the romantic part of the Elbe valley where the river enters the rocky ravine known as the Bohemia Gateway (Porta Bohemica). The vineyards of Žernoseky are renowned particularly for the excellent quality of their white wines made from the Ryzlink rýnský, Rulandské bílé and Rulandské šedé grape varieties and for the wines from Müller-Thurgau emanating from the vineyards on the slopes of Lovoš. The subsoil of the vineyards of Litoměřice and Most is in part basalt, and in the lower part of the slopes limestone. In the vineyards of Most the vine has proved to be a suitable recultivation crop for the Habrák brown-coal quarries. Varieties such as Ryzlink rýnský, Rulandské šedé, Müller- Thurgau, Rulandksé modré, Svatovavřinecké and Zweigltrebe are all found here. At one time the substantial wine town of Louny was known for its Tramín. Wines from the Tramín bílý cultivar were then known as Brynšt, and used to be plentiful in the Litoměřice sub-region and were very highly esteemed, especially those that were matured for many years in barrels.
WINE REGION MORAVIA
The Wine Region MORAVIA is highly promising for the production of white wines that combine an interesting spectrum of scents complemented by typical spiciness, which do full justice to the raw material emanating from the fertile Moravian soil. The interplay of nose and palate is underlined by a fresh acidity that can only encourage repeated tastings of these nicely balanced wines, each with its characteristic taste, specific to a single Moravian sub-region. Moravian red wines were always an integral part of the country diet and gave strength to the winemakers for their hard toil. These wines were never lacking in a genuine earthiness while at the same time they retained the fruity character of red wine. Lately the character of red wines has changed under the influence of applied modern technology, which endows them with greater suppleness. The picturesque landscape of the southern Moravian region together with the unique natural growing conditions endow its wines with a specific identity, which is the principal reason that interest in their unique qualities will not fade despite the presence of an almost inexhaustible choice of wines from around the world.
The Wine Region MORAVIA lies between latitudes 48o40' north in the southern tip of Moravia and 49o20' north in the Brno area, and contains around 96% of the total area under vine in the Czech Republic. The average temperature over the year is 9.42°C, the average annual rainfall is 510mm and the average annual sunshine is 2.244 hours as verified by records going back 78 years and held by the experimental Vine Research Institute in Velké Pavlovice. In southern Moravia 80% of vintages are of good, very good and excellent quality, while only 20% of vintages count as poor. The climate is transient, inclining towards the continental with occasional incursions of damp Atlantic gusts or icy air from inland. Vegetation cycles are somewhat shorter than in the west of Europe, but in most years the higher temperatures during the summer months have a favourable effect so that the cultivation of late-ripening varieties giving wines of high quality is possible. Grape ripening occurs at a slower pace in Moravia and this is the reason the berries retain and concentrate a wide variety of aromatic substances.
The Moravian Wine Region is divided into four sub-regions:
Velke Pavlovice sub-region
ZNOJMO WINE SUB-REGION
The Znojmo sub-region is one of the four Moravian wine sub-regions. Znojmo is situated in the rain shadow of the Bohemia-Moravian Highland formation, whose many extremities, mainly in the northern part, have given rise to stony soil, excellent for the cultivation of Ryzlink Rýnský, Veltlínské zelené and even, in the area around Dolní Kounice, for black varieties, such as Frankovka.
The town of Znojmo was always prominent as a wine centre and a labyrinth of long underground passages for use as wine cellars lies directly under the town. Near the town several first-class grape-growing locations stretch from Kraví Hora in the direction of Hnánice, where gravel subsoil is interspersed with loess, sometimes even with clay. From Znojmo to the south a series of vineyards extends towards the Austrian border through Šatov, Chvalovice, Vrbovec, Hnízdo, Slup and Jaroslavice, all the way up to Hrušovany nad Jevišovkou, which have mainly loess and loamy soils. To the east along the river Dyje (Thaya) lie the vine slopes of Tasovice and Hodonice, most of which have loess or gravel soils. In the central part of the Znojmo sub-region there are several distinctive wine entities in Únanovice and Jevišovice with their well-respected wine communes of Těšetice, Lechovice and Borotice. The large vineyard plantings in the area surrounding Hostěradice and Miroslav are known for their Volná Pole and Weinperky locations. In general, Znojmo is a region of white aromatic wines, where, other than the main variety Veltlínské zelené, Müller-Thurgau, Sauvignon, Ryzling rýnský and Pálava all excel. The Pinot varieties, Rulandské bílé, Rulandské šedé and Rulandské modré, are also of notable quality.
MIKULOV WINE SUB-REGION
The Mikulov sub-region is one of the four Moravian wine sub-regions. The Mikulov wine sub-region is characterised by the limestone elevation of the Pavlov heights. Spread along the the hillsides and the wider surroundings are limestone loam, sand and sizeable loess drifts.
The town of Mikulov was an important wine centre very early on thanks to the superb location of its winemaking, due as much to its immediate proximity to the town as to the many wine communes in the surrounding area, foremost among which is that in the distinguished decorative château inValtice, in whose cellars the National Wine Salon can be found. The oldest wine school in the country is also located in Valtice. The principal scenic beauty spot is Pálava - the last outcrop of the limestone Alps and a pearl embedded at the edge of the enchanting region of the lower Podyjí. This protected area, along with the Lednice-Valtice expanse, transports one directly into nature, where one can stop off for good wine in any of the numerous wine bars and private cellars in the vicinity. Prominent since the Middle Ages, thanks to the quality of their wine, are the wine communes of Sedlec, Dolní Dunajovice, Pavlov, Perná, Dolní and Horní Věstonice, Novosedly and Brod nad Dyjí. In the limestone soils around Pálava, Ryzlink vlašský ripens to a very high quality varietal wine with an uninterchangeable mineral character and incomparably good structure. This old variety has found its true home in this part of the world. Rulandské bílé and Chardonnay also give excellent quality here. In the loamier soils of the Dunajovice hills the Ryzlink vlašský can be added to Veltlínské zelené as another variety typical of the Mikulov region. Müller-Thurgau thrives in less propitious vineyard positions, as do Neuburské and SSylvánské zelené in Valtice. To the north of Pálava are the villages of Strachotín, Pouzdřany, and Popice, known for Ryzlink rynsky, Tramin cerveny and Palava, the last of which was developed at the experimental Vine Research Institute at Perna, as was the variety Aurelius.
VELKE PAVLOVICE WINE SUB-REGION
The Velke Pavlovice wine sub-region is one of the four Moravian wine sub-regions. In the central part of the region one finds soils of limestone loam, marl, sandstone and conglomerate rock. Here red varieties rule, planted in soils containing a high content of magnesium. These vineyards mainly extend from the centre of the region - the towns of Hustopeče, through Starovičky, Velké Pavlovice, Bořetice, Vrbice and Kobylí, to the town with the greatest number of registered vineyards in the country - Velke Bilovice.
This is the heart of red-wine production in Moravia. In the northern part, around Hrušovany and Žabčice, vines are grown in arenaceous soils where, apart from Veltlínské zelené, Rulandské šedé thrives, as well as aromatic grape varieties such as Tramín červený, Pálava, MuškátMoravský and Müller-Thurgau, which are of prime quality. The main axis of the vineyards lies along the Brno-Břeclav stretch of motorway. Along the right side one finds Židlochovice, with a preponderance of loess in a variety of hilly terrains. Židlochovice has a long wine history. It was the one-time domain of the Brno burghers who founded their vineyards under the jurisdiction of our oldest wine laws. The Židlochovice laws were published in 1379 by Margrave Jošt. Conditions here are very good for achieving wines of superior quality, mainly from the Pinot family. Along the left side of the motorway one can see the wine slopes of Velké Němčice which skirt the motorway all the way toVelké Bílovice, where those of Moravský Žižkov and Prušánky take over. There is a range of vineyards with top-grade soil, which feature from the valley plains as the first elevated hilly Oligocene terrain of Chřiby. The slopes are south-west and south facing and in autumn are washed by warm dry winds that speed the ripening of the berries. The multi-faceted line of vineyard plantations continues forward along the right-hand side of the long ridge between the villages of Zaječí, Přítluky and Rakvice, all with prime sites and where exceptional wines from Veltlínské zelené, Ryzlink vlašský and Modrý Portugal have always bee born. Beyond the main range of vineyards are others, located among the undulations of the higher plateau, which always used to be the principal domain for the cultivars such as Neuburské and Müller-Thurgau. This is the so-called Kloboucko, with the wine communes of Křepice, Nikolčice, Diváky, Šitbořice, Boleradice, Morkůvky and Krumvíř.
SLOVACKO WINE SUB-REGION
The Slovacko wine sub-region is one of the four Moravian wine sub-regions. Slovácko lies in the south-east of Moravia and has very heterogeneous natural growing conditions. In the south of Slovácko is the land known as Podluží, the majority of whose wine communes are situated in the valley of the River Morava (March), cooled by north-east winds. The most advantageous vineyard positions are in the hillside breaches over the Kyjovka stream or in the more elevated plains with their light soil. The altitude and lightness of the soil will dictate the intensity of summer temperature, thus giving wines that burst forth with varietal character.
The varieties that fare best here are Ryzlink rýnský, Rulandské bílé, Rulandské šedé and for red wines Frankovka and Zweigeltrebe, and in the commune of Moravská Nová Ves the new red variety Cabernet Moravia. North above Podluží is a hilly terrain where vineyards are positioned higher up, where the influence of warmer southern winds during the grape-ripening season is less noticeable. This is why the wines from this area, although full and round, always maintain refreshingly crisp acidity, as well as the aromatic substances, that can be detected already during véraison (the ripening stage of the berries), which are retained in the grapes for a long time in the local microclimate. There are two leading wine centres here - Mutěnice - with its Vine Research Institute and Čejkovice, where the gothic fortress and extensive cellars constructed in 1232 by the order of the Knights Templar are to be found. The varietal structure is very rich. It is not only the normal range of white grapes that is grown here, a large area is dedicated to black grape varieties, which in good vintages achieve a crisp, vigorous character. Other celebrated communes are Hovorany, Čejč, Šardice and Terezín. The northern edges of Slovácko have, in the west, vineyards of the hilly range of Ždánice Forest with the communes of Ždánice, Archlebov and Žarošice. Vineyards are sparse in the outskirts of this area, then become more dense around the towns of Kyjov, Moštenice, Vážany and mainly Polešovice, where the Vine Research Institute developed the cultivar Muškát moravský, along with a host of table grape varieties. The northern tip of Slovácko is the Uherské Hradiště district, where vineyards are mainly situated in Boršice near Buchlovice. We can see them in a whole row of communes as far as Napajedla. They are scattered along the higher reaches on the south-facing hillsides. Principal varieties here include Ryzlink rýnský, Rulandské bílé, Muškát moravský and Müller-Thurgau. In the central part of the northern extremities of the region, but somewhat to the south stands Bzenec, a town with a long winemaking history. The town's main claim to fame is that one of the very first wine cooperatives established here started marketing their Riesling under the name of "Bzenecká lipka". The nothern part of Slovácko lies along the foothills of the White Carpathians. The vineyards stand out from those in other Moravian sub-regions, in that many are sown on hard ground formed from original clay. These soils retain water giving the vines sustenance even in dry summers. This is reflected in the wine itself by high extract and round taste. The Pinot varieties are well suited to such conditions, as is Sylvánské zelené. Here, where the soils are stoney and more warming, great wines from the Riesling can be produced. From Blatnice pod Sv. Antoninkem comes the brand-name wine "Blatnicky Rohac", combining wines made from the Ryzlink rýnský, Rulandské bílé and Sylvánské zelené varieties. In neighbouring commune of Lipov are to be found the largest areas under vine. The true centre of the region, however, is Strážnice where the wine laws go back to Petr of Kravaře in 1417. Strážnice has, as in Blatnice, a range of superb vineyard sites, while in the neighbouring wine commune of Petrov, one can see the protected setting composed of interesting picturesque wine-cellar constructions known as "Plze".