In the very south of the Czech Republic, deep underground, lies one of the best rooms for wine lovers. Underneath the impressive Valtice château is a wine cellar that houses a collection of the 100 best wines of the Czech Republic. And you can taste them all! Or you can at least try…
I got 99 problems, but…
Every year, after a tough competition, the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic displays the 100 best Czech wines in their cellar. You can visit the cellar on your own or with a guide. There are a few different arrangements you can choose from (all listed on their website). We decided to explore the collection alone and paid for a 90 minutes tasting session, which gave us a free access to all the wines. As exciting as that was, we quickly discovered some serious problems with this arrangement. Actually, we found at least 60 problems!
When you get to the cellar, you get your tasting glass, a basket of bread and a guidebook for all the wines. From there on it gets difficult. Very difficult. Considering the time limit, you will have to make choices on what to taste and what to skip. So there you have the problems – all the nice wines you can’t taste.
However, we bravely embarked on our journey through the great wines of the Czech Republic, often comparing similar wines from competing winemakers and discovering rare grapes. At every wine there is a useful sign with explanation about the wine, including a very insightful graph that shows the taste profile of the wine. That allowed us to easily travel from sharp dry whites to full sweet whites, and from interesting reds made of unique local grapes to traditional wood-barreled ones. Even though we violated our personal rule of never spitting out wine, we were in suspiciously merry mood by the time we got to the ice wines…
After tasting 30 wines, we got confused…
Overall, the Wine Salon is a great experience and a perfect way to taste some nice Czech wines. However, after tasting about 30 to 40 wines in the Salon, we did get a bit confused. There were plenty of good wines in the Wine Salon, but quite a few spectacular Czech wines were missing from the selection. In fact, some great winemakers were not in the selection at all. A local explained to us that for many winemakers it’s not possible to get their wines in the selection, simply because of the costs and other requirements (amount of bottles you have to give/sell to the Salon). So even though it might not really be the 100 best wines, it’s still a pretty darn good selection of wines and really worth a visit!
After tasting, visitors get the opportunity to vote for (and buy) their favourite wines. Our favourites were:
Pinot 333 Exclusive (Pozdní sběr)
Producer (winery): Rajhradské klášterní s.r.o.
Total production: 2650 bottles
Cuvée made of 3 grape varieties (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay). Wine of golden colour with a strong fruity aroma with hints of coconut and orange peel. Tastes of pineapple and coconut.
Tramín červený (Pozdní sběr)
Producer (winery): Rodinné vinařství SEDLÁK
Total production: 2650 bottles
White wine with a very strong floral and fruity aroma with hints of roses. Full taste with combination of fruit, flowers and honey.
Tramín červený (Výběr z bobulí)
Producer (winery): ZNOVÍN ZNOJMO, a.s.
Total production: 2320 bottles
Sweet (ice) wine with strong floral smell with hints of honey and spices. Strong fruity taste reminds of peaches or raisins.
More information, opening hours and the different tasting options of the Wine Salon can be found at: http://www.salonvin.cz/en/