Is Czech wine the next big thing? @BrothersPontiak weigh in

pontiak italy musicThe following post is culled, verbatim, from an email sent to me by my friend Jennings Carney, bass player and one of the three Carney brothers in the über cool rock band Pontiak. He and I try to connect whenever our travels align and we’re always trading emails and notes on wines we like. He and his brothers are touring Europe right now (that’s them in the image above, at the their recent show in Turin; they’re really big in Italy, btw). I rarely publish guest posts here on the blog but I just had to share Jennings’s insights and exhilaration.

Yeah, totally dude. We just got done with a six show run through Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria. Traveled through Burgundland and the land of Blau Frankisch, Riesling and Gruner among countless other crazy native red and white varietals that have such weird names and spellings in czech that I cannot even right them here. Nor pronounce them for that matter.

… To start though in Italy, after we left Conegliano we headed to Brescia where a very good friend of mine who is a sommelier (and who put on our first Italian show) came with three bottles: two white and one red. The whites were a sparkling white, wild fermented Spergola w/Moscato Giallo from Emilia-Romagna called L’Artiglio. Insane. It was the color of coors light! Revelatory, blue cheese and forest floor notes with good acidity and boy was it funky. So cool. The other white was a biodynamic Chardonnay from Jura in France with 0 sulfites added. Made by En Chalasse it was the best Chardonnay I have ever tasted. Ever. So good. So good. As for the red – I am drinking that tonight in Liepzig. It’s a very small run Amarone. And I’ll tell you all about it after the last drop.

As for the subject of the email – we went wine tasting in Southern Moravia after our show in Breclav (pronounced Bra-jitszlav) with a Pontiak fan who married into a winery called Hrdina & Dcera which roughly translates to Hero and Daughter (hero is the last name).

 The history of wine making in Moravia which is in southern Czech Republic bordering on Austria and Slovakia, is really old. The area is the same growing region as Burgunland but to tell and Austrian that would be picking a fight, which I kind of found out after my tales of oenological explorations.

Mainly there are about 6 varietals of white and 3 red varietals grown there: the whites like Austria – Gruner, Reisling, and Neubourg and a few others. The reds follow suit with Blau Frankisch, Blau Portuguese, and Dorn Helder. The thing here is that most of the wines are not necessarily from the same vineyard – it’s more of a community collaborative process and that is because of communism. Basically since the 1930’s the state took control of the vineyards and told people what to grow and there wasn’t much room for people to grow either. So you would work with your neighbors to produce certain varietals and then put them together.

After communism fell, all these vineyards had like 6 different types of grapes in like 2 hectares. So the farming is different. But most if not all of the progressive farmers now are moving toward organic methods. The operations are very small – the largest being like 35,000 bottles made a year. And aside from the swill that you can buy at the gas station (that’ll still get you really fucked up) you usually have to go straight to the vineyard to buy the wine.

Here’s the kicker. It’s cheap. Really cheap. I mean for the kind of wine I tasted I would pay $50 for the upper end stuff and it’s selling for ….. $4. That’s it! I mean dude you HAVE TO GET OVER THERE BEFORE IT BLOWS UP!

Anyway, I would love to tell you more about it some time. I will be heading back there in the fall I think so I will for sure be taking more notes.

Hope your move to Houston was seamless. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to hook up in Italia – Roma was mind blowing. Fucking great. Cool brother talk soon! Hope all is well and good with the Fam.

Jennings Carney

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