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A taste of Moravia in New Zealand
© Sue Courtney
8th April 2002

The e-mail arrived in the inbox. It was from WLDG'ers, Martin and Petra Kristek. "We're coming to New Zealand and thought it's not a bad idea to meet you, bring some bottles of Moravian wines and compare them with yours. What do you think about that?"

My first thought was "Where on earth is Moravia". I didn't want to show my ignorance so a quick search on google came up with the website David's Moravian Wine Page - a great practical guide to Czech and Moravian wines. This came up with the goods that I needed. Moravia was in the south western corner of the country.

A tasting of Moravian wines. Hmmm. I thought "Why not? This is an excellent opportunity to broaden my appreciation of the wines of the world".

Martin and Petra duly arrived in New Zealand and toured the country before they came to Auckland. They had one up on me when we met. They knew New Zealand wines better than I knew Moravian Wines.

We picked up them up from their hotel. The fair skinned blonde young doctors from the other side of the world had a reddy glow, no doubt from spending the afternoon under the sun at the Devonport Wine and Food Festival.

Petra and Martin Petra and Martin at the Number Five Wine Bistro

Wine lover John Ingles of Number Five Wine Bistro in Auckland obliged us with a table in his restaurant. This classy wine bar is not normally BYO wine, but this was a special occasion. Besides I thought John and his partner Martina, might appreciate tasting the wines as well - which they did.

We started with a Muller Thurgau, a variety that was once widely grown in New Zealand. In 1990 we harvested almost 26,000 tonnes of the grape. That's more than we have ever harvested of Chardonnay (reaching almost 24,000 tonnes in 2000) and sauvignon blanc (reaching almost 21,000 tonnes in 2001) although 2002 may change see Muller Thurgau stripped of its harvest record. So we knew the variety well.

However the Bonus Evenlus Muller Thurgau 2001 was quite different to any I had ever tasted from NZ. This wine had nutty and apple spice aromas. In the mouth it was dry, lemony and earthy with flavours of green apples. It was a minerally, crisp style with a rich texture and a reasonably lengthy finish for this variety. 11.9% alcohol by volume. An OK wine must not earth shattering. Well MT's never are. It was made by a friend of Martin & Petra's, from a small, 1-2 hectare vineyard. The equivalent price in NZ would have been about $4.

Next up was the Vinne Sklepy Lechovice Sauvignon 2000 Late Harvest. I was expecting a sweet wine, as late harvest wines in NZ usually are, but this sauvignon was not really sweet at all. I read on the Moravian wines website that for a wine to be late harvest it has to have at least 21 degrees of sugar at harvest. The scale of degrees was not mentioned. Obviously these wines can still be fermented fairly dry.* The wine was true to its variety. I was thoroughly impressed. There was good richness of texture with stonefruit flavours and hallmark sauvignon grassiness emerging on finish and lingering well. Martin & Petra thought the wine was suffering from travel shock, though, saying the wine wasn't showing as well as it usually did. I though that If Moravia can make sauvignon blanc as good as this example and if Martin and Petra said it was usually better, then NZ had better watch out (just kidding). 12.7% alcohol by volume. This wine was from a middling-sized company that has about 100 hectares. NZ equivalent price about $12.

Next was a wine that I fell in love with, the Collegium Vinitorum Svatovavrinecke 1999. The grape variety was unpronounceable to me but I have sound clips of Martin and Petra saying the name. They explained the variety is also known as Saint Laurent in Austria. Now that I can handle. Martin said it was possibly a natural clone of pinot noir and common in Czechoslovakia. The dense red / blue wine of excellent colour had a rich, jammy nose of 'jam as it cooks'. In the mouth it was fruity and savoury with a little spice but meaty too. I couldn't detect any oak. It was a seemingly simple style at first but became quite rich and intriguing in its complexity with its lovely, rich, ripe, concentrated, sweet fruit that was full of berries and plums. Wonderful mouthfeel too with its soft velvety fruit tannins. The grape is obviously suited to the climate. 12.5% alcohol by volume. Cost equivalent to about NZ$20.
They told me the wine reminded them of the special plums that that make jam out of in Czechoslovakia. "Povivla" I think is what they called it. Martina of Number Five remembered something similar from her childhood in Germany.

We finished with a Baloun Cabernet Sauvignon 2000. This was an anticlimax after the delicious previous wine. A little oxidative, I thought, but it slowly improved. Old oak. Creamy palate. European style and not really showing much fruit or varietal typicity. 12.5% alcohol by volume. Cost equivalent to about NZ$18.

Thank you Martin and Petra for transporting these wines halfway around the world then all around New Zealand. It was a pleasure to meet you both and a real treat to taste the wines of your country.

© Sue Courtney. April 2002

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