The Bacchus Report: New wine for the
Written by: Libor Ševčík
At the end of last year wine experts
and lovers finally got the first answers to the annual cardinal
question: What is the new 2004 vintage like?
foto: Věroslav Sixt
After we had a chance last summer to taste this year's wines from
Chile, Australia, and New Zealand, where grapes are harvested in
spring but there are no official celebrations of young wines, it
was good old Europe's turn. The craziness surrounding new wine
in Europe began on 6 November in Italy, with its Vino Novello.
They compare it to a virgin girl, so it can first be imbibed on
Virgin Mary's Day. On St. Martin's Day (11 November) the Austrians,
Slovenians, Czechs, Moravians, and Slovaks follow suit. In the
former Austro-Hungarian empire that day marked the end of the agricultural
year and new contracts were closed over new wine and roast goose.
Around the world, the first bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau were
opened at midnight on the third Thursday of November. True, a traditional
saying has it that "young wine and old women are gifts from
the devil,“ but in the case of good young wines, the saying's accuracy
is a bit questionable.
The complicated natural process of changing grape juice into clear wine is a
very risky matter for vintners, as even good grapes can produce a miserable product
with poor taste and aroma if mishandled. Wine is the only alcoholic beverage
that is not heat processed, so humans can only humbly assist nature. The change
of juice into wine involves a process of converting natural sugars to alcohol
and carbon dioxide. One can begin speaking of wine at the moment when the yeast
completes its miraculous work of converting sugar to alcohol. The alcohol kills
the yeast, and billions of dead yeast organisms sink to the bottom of the keg
or tank. The cloudy liquid becomes clear, but even without filtering new wine
can be tasted.
Many vintners from the Beaujolais region have gained fame thanks to young wine.
Due to outstanding marketing they sell most of the harvest as young wines that
would not survive time and remain drinkable. Unfortunately, most of these wines
are made from only the blue Gamay varietal, so they lack the variety of Italian
and Czech wines. In the Czech Republic the new wine tradition was revived in
the 1990s, and today most major producers sell new wines. In Italy and France
vintners were happy, as the weather was sunny for the 2004 harvest, while in
this country the grapes were harvested later. So what's the new wine like? A
fairly representative sample is presented in our wine guide (facing page). They're
exactly as they should be - young and fresh, with pleasant aroma and fruity flavors.
They indicate that, despite vintners' complaints during the growing season, the
2004 vintage could be very good.
The author is the editor of Hospodářské
noviny's IN magazine.
Real connoisseurs know that wine tastes best at a specific
temperature. This sleek thermometer from Philippi will
help you to seize the moment. CZK 1,095.
Available at: De.co by DeFacto,
Perlová 6, Praha 1
Dům vína U ZávojeHavelská 25, Praha 1, tel.: 226 006 126
Jan. 25 - a dinner with winemaker Olivier Leflaive from the Bourgogne
Puligny- Montrachet winery, who will present a combination of
food and wines. The six-course dinner will cost CZK 2,500. Beginning
Jan. 27 - also at 7pm a presentation of wines and cheeses will
take place. Entrance fee CZK 200.
Here are samples of new Champagnes
on the local market.
Moravíno Nouveau, Muškát moravský 2004,
Characteristics: This original Moravian white is among
the first varietals harvested, and the 2004 vintage stands
out for its pleasant muscat aroma.
Price: 80 Kč
Available: Vinotéka, Na Hanspaulce 25, Praha 6
||Moravíno Nouveau, Svatovavřinecké
2004, vinařská obec Hostěradice, trať Volné Pole, Znovín Znojmo
Characteristics: This traditional central European blue varietal
renders a light, ruby-red wine with higher acidity, suitable
for fatty dishes and pig roasts.
Price: 90 Kč
Available: Vinotéka, Na Hanspaulce 25, Praha 6
Beaujolais Nouveau, Appelation Beaujolais
Contrôlée, Georges Duboeuf
Characteristics: One of the finest new Beaujolais 2004
to appear on this market. Its flavor incorporates fruity
tones of green apples and pears. A full, dark red wine,
great with cheeses and fatty patés. Served chilled.
Price: 224 Kč
||Centoscalini Novello 2004,
Val di Nevola, Indicatione Geografica Tipica, Azienda MV Volpago,
Characteristics: A pleasantly velvety wine made from Sangiovese
grapes, the most widespread Italian varietal, with a mature,
fruity aroma and flavor.
Price: Italian Novello wines are not yet available on the Czech
market. In Italy producers charge 4.61 euros on average.