Is the Wine Atrium in Mělník a Wine Salon rip-off?

The Wine Salon of the Czech Republic is a successful (and nice) place to taste Czech wines. A lot of wine lovers go to Valtice to visit the Wine Salon and have a taste of the Czech Republic. The owner of the Mělník Chateau apparently liked this concept and created something similar in the cellars underneath his pretty chateau in Bohemia.

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Chateau Mělník

We visited the Wine Atrium in August 2015, only a few weeks after it had opened. There are some obvious similarities between the Wine Salon and the Wine Atrium, like the concept, the displays, etc. However, where the Wine Salon claims to offer the 100 best wines of the Czech Republic (with some controversy about the “best” statement), the Wine Atrium has no such ambition. It just offers a platform for local Bohemian winemakers to display their wines. As a result, you can taste about 40 wines from different winemakers in the area of Mělník. A great initiative. So far, so good.

Start-up problems at the Wine Atrium

Because there is not a lot of information available about the Wine Atrium, we did not know what to expect. We started to get a bit worried as soon as we entered the chateau’s gift shop in order to buy tickets for the Atrium and were answered by a grumpy lady at the cash register, who seemed rather annoyed about our request. She only managed to inform us that we were the only visitors interested in the Atrium and we would have to wait an hour for the sommelier to come and show us around. When that hour turned into two hours (because they forgot to tell the sommelier to come), we got even more worried.

At the Wine Salon, you can enter without a guide or sommelier and taste your way trough all the wines you like. That unfortunately isn’t possible at the Wine Atrium. Although there are a few different arrangements you can pick from, there will always be the sommelier with you and pouring the wine. This makes sense, because the Atrium is a much smaller/newer concept than the Wine Salon, but we prefer a bit of freedom.

After some waiting, the sommelier finally picked us up and – while complaining about how he didn’t like the concept of the Atrium and that he had to do everything -, he took us down steep stairs to the cellars deep underneath the chateau. That’s were it all got better. The Atrium is located in an old and authentic wine cellar. Spread out throughout the cellar, different local winemakers have individual expositions with their wines.

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Wine Atrium

The mood improved when the bottles opened up

As soon as the wine bottles opened up, the sommelier’s mood quickly improved, he recommended interesting wines, told nice background stories, and overall made it a very pleasant experience. Some of the Bohemian wines that we tasted actually surprised us with interesting flavours, which were better than some Moravians might want you to admit.

When we visited the Wine Atrium, it obviously had some start-up problems. However, the concept is really promising. It’s great to be able to taste so many less-known bohemian wines in one cellar. Let’s hope more people visit, and this Bohemian answer to the Wine Salon will be a success.

More information about the Wine Atrium and opening hours is hard to find. Information about the Chateau is available via: http://www.lobkowicz-melnik.cz/ or https://www.facebook.com/ZamekMelnik.

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Vineyards next to Chateau Mělník
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