It's a wrap! 2023 at Chateau Nestarec
As if you needed to read another recap of 2023. But yeah, here is our take on this eventful year.
A little chronological Nestarec best-of-2023 – because even if I'm not one to dwell much on things past, it's good to pause and look back every once in a while. To realise how much beauty and goodness we have in our lives. Grateful for these joyful encounters:
- Portugal with Mira. Time spent together, just the two of us. (Parents of small children know what I mean.) Lazy days. Gallivanting and exploring. Falling in love with this country. Senhor Uva and Boavista social club are our best discoveries.
- 24 hours in Oslo. A quick trip to support Nebbiolo Wines, my Norwegian distributor. Or when a winemaker meets an artist (Ma$a) in a wine bar (Nektar) late at night and something nice comes out of it (2 crazy limited releases purely for the Norwegian market, to date).
- La Dégustation Boheme Bourgeoise. A winery x restaurant collab that suits me very well. We share a lot of visions with the La Dégustation guys, making this a truly inspiring and smooth partnership. 4 limited edition wines selected only for them so far, including two brand new whites Samsa and XOXO that we very recently bottled. More about this symbiosis and the wines in this article.
- Rhineland wineland - the annual trip of our Moravian wine squad. To find inspiration and new friends who do things elsewhere/better/differently. My notes from the trip here.
- Nestarec newsletter! In April 2023 we sent out our very first The Crop, our regular monthly newsletter about what's going on behind the scenes of our chateau and through my mind. Much credit and thanks to my colleague Lucie, a driving force behind the whole thing. Isn't it great when someone/something forces you to recap what you've been up to each month and gives you the opportunity to talk with inspiring people? If you're not in yet, you can subscribe here.
- New vineyards - in spring 2023, we planted a brand new vineyard from our own massal selection of old Blaufrankisch vines. High density, double planting. An investment in our future that took a lot of work and preparation, no small feat. I wrote more about the whole process here.
And as an incurable admirer of old vineyards, I can't help but mention this year's acquisition! An old vineyard of my beloved Neuburger variety. I've been circling around it like a hungry dog for years and finally got it. 60 years old, beautiful gnarly vines, absolute works of art. If I can turn it into a wine at least as good as the previous owner, we have a lot to look forward to. Something that will make our TRBLMKR a bit better yet!
- Mira and her eponymous wines. A long-time dream coming true. Finally bringing to life something my wife and I have talked about for years. Learning from each other. A new direction. Joy. Quality time together. The joy of seeing our uncut, wild vines working very well. They are free, just like our hands and minds when working on this project. More about Mira & the wines on her website.
- Alma Prague. A new restaurant / wine bar / revelation in the centre of Prague. Great space, great concept. They sell so much 380V (and other Nestarec wines) that when their sommelier Dragan Bogdanovic's makes fun me about "pouring Danger out the windows", I'm not entirely sure if it's just a joke or a description of actual reality. In early August, they invited me and Mira for a full-blown Nestarec night, which pushed us to come out of hiding and present our wine in Prague after many years. And it's actually a pretty nice thing to do! Why not do it more often, I told myself and repeated the pleasure during following tastings at my two long-time Prague partners, Veltlin and Fajnšmekr.
- Pestrá Vinice Symposium. Mid-August, our Betonárka hosted everyone who cares about not having a monocultural desert in their vineyard. Connecting people feat. Čulík & Plenér. Beautiful idea. The future. Importance. Talking, but also gradually turning words into reality. Theory without practice is not enough. Lenka Požárová wrote a beautiful report (in Czech but you can still look at pictures) about it for the Reporter magazine.
- Chateau 2.0. The neverending story of our winery evolution continued this year with a new generous hall for barrel ageing and redesigning the space where we receive guests and sell wine. Both happened in collaboration with the designer and Czech upcycling trailblazer, my friend Josef Rozehnal from Nahaku whom we interviewed for the magazine in the spring – read about his work here. One of the many, many stages of making the space where we spend a lot of time better. Playing around and reinvesting every euro we earn. The journey is more important than its end, right?
- Harvest. Always a highlight, and this year even more so. A great vintage that made me feel really good. Alive. In my element. Wines that are ready relatively quickly. Low alcohol, lovely acidity. Drinkability. Openness. Perception and mindfulness. Working with our hands. Working with the stems. I wrote more about it here.
- O Canada - A quick November fly-trough on the occasion of RAW wine fairs. Returning to Montréal after 7 long years felt like coming back home. Family. Toronto and Ontario for the first time. Recharging my batteries by meeting people with an incredible knowledge of natural wine. Everywhere I went, they knew probably more about Nestarec than I did. What a dream market. My distributors are doing a fabulous job there. If you happen to be heading that way, I've written up some highlights from the trip.
- Winter release What a treat! We bottled and released 6 wines at its prime. Classics as well as two brand new wines that I'm happy to be getting great feedback on - you can check out our magnificent 6 through this pack.
- Limited editions Two single barrels. A flamboyant orange called Kitsch Deluxe and Honda Civic, a youthful BF red. Collector's items. A unique pleasure as neither of them exists in more than 300 bottles. (Much less of them left now.) A break from the routine for me, also thanks to the beautiful labels - the Honda has multiple labels, all really HC thanks to our awesome graphic designer Klara Zapotocka. The "Kitsch" is a real work of art thanks to the subversive humour of French sculptor Soasig Chamaillard whose "My Little Mary" sculpture blessed us wih her presence on the label. A type of collaboration we definitely want to repeat. Get yourself some of our art here.
If I had to describe what our 2023 was about in two words, I'd say "summoning happenstances". We're giving chance a chance, more and more. Quite deliberately. (Sounds paradoxical, right? That's so me.)
We're conjuring it. Randomness and coincidence have always brought us the most interesting things. We're trying to capture the moment, the current state of the landscape and our soul. I used to think I could "design" a wine, to make it "as it should be". I've found that I don't actually know how to do that – and that I don't enjoy doing it anyway.
2023 has been a successful year for us. Challenging, but successful. We learned a lot of new things and met a lot of interesting people. And that's what I consider the biggest success. I dare say we created a lot of beauty. Beauty is not talked about enough as far as I am concerned. People keep it to themselves, buried very deep inside. We do want to bring more beauty to the (dinner) table.
So here's to more beauty in 2024 – hope y'all will encounter loads of it as well.