History: Christian Carl Andre
 
One man has left an indelible mark on this historic part of the Czech Republic, close to the Slovakian Border in the region called Moravia. Christian Carl Andre was a German aristocrat who was stationed in nearby Brno at various times in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Andre played a huge role as a leading figure in the Moravian Agricultural Society. In 1815 Andre created further research natural science programmes in this area that included all kinds of agriculture. Of course, that is all in the history books, but what is vital to our tale is that Andre was captivated by the beautiful undulating landscape and championed the planting of vines.

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Beautiful Undulating Vineyards
 
The vineyard has had a varied past but in recent decades, they have been restored and heightened to a new level of glory. The owners of the property, Vladimir and Jarmila Poliakov have invested a huge amount of enthusiam and experience to make Velke Pavlovice a joy to visit and to taste. 

As we walked through the rows of vines stretching over the horizon in the subzero temperatures, workers were still inspecting them in the soft light pressing down upon the day. I felt my fingers seizing up wearing gloves, my face red with an icy bite, yet the urge to wander among the dormant vines and take in the view was pervasive. Of course, this cold weather is good for the plants as they concentrate their power inside, in anticipation of Spring.
 
Into the Cellars

Young sommelier, Tomas Vlasic, guided us into the cellar and wasn’t too shy to explain the challenges being faced producing wine in a cooler climate. His extensive knowledge is gained from having a hands on role across all the aspects of the winery, from production to tasting, to engaging people like me and other visitors with answers and insights.

rock strate - czech republic moravia


As we toured the tunnels and subterranean rooms, we stopped to have a glass of sparkling wine and view a cross-section of the rock strata through which the roots of the vines had to do battle.  

Interest in the winery has created demand for aficionados to lease whole alcoves in the cellar to store vintages for subsequent decades. They are looking oversubscribed but I must say, I rather fancied one myself! 

Let's taste it!
 
The winery is experimenting with quite a few different varieties and we were lucky enough to try a selection. My main picks are as follows:

Velke Pavlovice Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc late harvest 2014 - This was young fresh and really zesty with a pear-drop boiled sweet flavour that is so attractive. Easy and uncomplicated; a great party wine because everyone loves chatting with titivated, watering gums, no?

ch-carl-andre-chardonnayThe Velke Pavlovice, Chardonnay 2012 - Exceptional wine, completely unexpected. It could easily have slipped out of a Burgundian cellar with buttery and creamy softness. Luxurious and rakish… we bought a case of 6 and only have 1 left!

 

Velke Pavlovice Andre rose Velke Pavlovice Andre Rose 2012 - Think fresh ripe summer fruits: raspberries, strawberries. This is balanced with mouth watering acidity that make another sip inevitable! Delicious, easy drinking and is certain to put a smile on your face. The Andre Rose is the kind of wine to store in the back fridge on stand-by!

Ch Carl Andre 2012Velke Pavlovice, Andre 2012 (red) old vines - Plummy, dark berry fruits with a good grip of tannin. A perfect wine for a wide range of dishes. In this part of Europe it would be meat dishes such as goose or beef but roasted or fried vegetables would also be a fine partner. I am surprised that this wine has developed so well considering the climate here and Thomas admits it has been a challenge. But climate is changing and the reds are on the up!

Christian carl andre Agni - sweet red wine
The Velke Pavlovice, “Agni” 2014 - this was a surprise and really quite a special wine. A big sweet red number with 35g sugar added but, wow, what a joy! Deep ruby red in colour with big burst of cranberry on the nose and the secondary aromas of all kinds of summer berries. A real treat but, I am told, drink it within 3 years!

In summary...

It is great to be here and see how much effort and knowledge is being invested in producing these wines. After we finished tasting we went through to the dining room restaurant. The food was exceptional and the bottles that accompanied made for a special and highly memorable visit. The wines listed above are worth the effort to taste. In a world where choice seems endless but quality can sometimes be elusive… make a note of these and let's hope we see them outside of the Czech Republic!
 
By Nick Breeze
Twitter: @NickGBreeze
 

Winemaker and owner Nicola D’Auria greeted us at the entrance of this fascinating cantina. The winery and cellars have been designed by Rocco valentini in the shape of a vertical barrel in order to immerse the tasters senses in wine.

 

East from Roma to Abruzzo

From Rome we headed east to Abruzzo, a region of Italy that rises up like a burly landlord to greet the traveller. The Apennine mountains at their tops are stark and beautiful, lonely, yet fulsome. Rustic doesn’t quite do this landscape justice. It’s a place for pilgrims, peace lovers and, of course, we followers of Bacchic and gastronomic pleasure.

 

After days of picking grapes in one of the world’s most famous wine regions, the pickers get together to drink, chat and enjoy the drinks they are meticulously involved in the making of. 

Also check out local winemaker, Nico’s, top tip for a white Burgundy from Saint Aubin that you don’t have to travel to Burgundy to get!

 

What started in El Quatre Gats tapas bar in Barcelona, soon became an adventure in the Marche region of Italy, that lies along the east coast facing Albania across the Adriatic Sea. El Quatre Gats is famously where Picasso had his first solo exhibition as a young edgy artists in the Catalan capital and I was there dining with Dr Pia Casarini Wadhams, Director of Italy’s only Polar Institute, Il Polo.

 

The Palazzo is located in the centre of Fermo, a small Roman hilltop town with a rich history dating back to antiquity. Flying from abroad, Ancona is the closest airport, 67km north (about an hours drive) along the coast of the Adriatic sea.