I like to look back into our past; not out of nostalgia, but because I see it as part of my DNA, something that formed and forms who we are. Pikula is one of the words I used to hear around a lot in the 1990s, uttered in disdain towards the hectolitres of “druhák”, the second-serve wine that was commonplace during the socialist era. (You probably know it under the French term piquette, a word that has popped back in fashion recently.)
A little history exposé here: land ownership was regulated back then, to only 5 ares (about 0.1 acres) of vineyard per family for their own consumption, so that people couldn't make extra wine to be sold under the counter. But, people are very nifty, esp. in the Czech Republic during communism (and especially when it comes to booze). So of course they found a way around that: take the already pressed grapes, add some sugar, citric acid, and water, let it ferment again and voilà, a really bad fraud wine was born. Some people, unfortunately, kept this practice going even after the Berlin wall and restrictions on land ownership fell, to such extent that it resulted in a jibe towards Bilovice: in the early nineties, people would say that the town is built on water, referring not to a lagoon like in Venice, but to all the properties paid for with money coming from watered-down false wine.
Not something the town could be proud of, but still a part of local history, and I don't like to brush over things. Hence, Pikula. We've been making it for ourselves and our vineyard workers for a while, since it's around 5–7% ABV only (depending on batch) – a drink that freshens you up instead of making you sleepy. During the 2020 harvest, in the vein of all the “behind the scenes” things that we've been showing to you guys, I decided to make a little extra and share it with a larger crowd than just our vintage crew.
We obviously don't use any bullshit in there, as I'd never make or sell sth I wouldn't want to drink myself. Our recipe is: grape must as the base and source of sugar for fermentation, water to bring down the ABV and pump up the drinkability, some stomped-on grapes including the stems for character and nice tannic structure, and some later-harvested but still unripe grapes that bring acidity.
This magic mix fermented spontaneously in open-topped vats with regular punch-downs until dry, then we pressed it, added a bit of fermenting apple juice and bottled under crown cap, where it went through a second fermentation to refreshing dryness and a lil' fizz. This step is very important as the bubbles always contribute to the drinkability and energy, so essential for me in all beverages I drink and create. Undisgorged, zero SO2 added.
We made two versions, a wild white blend of Muller-Thurgau must and the field blend of grapes from our Babušák vineyard, ie Riesling, Traminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc; and a red one combining Blaufrankisch must with Cabernet Franc grapes.
Both Pikulas are perfect companions for both work & leisure (tested on humans). I like them both a lot, as they bring me back to childhood (OK maybe I am nostalgic after all), and I'm happy I can at least try to reassign a new meaning to the otherwise derogatory term pikula, all while keeping it simple and unassuming. Linocut label capturing this vibe by my one and only Mirka.
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