Walk up to your own horizon
There are grapes like Gruner Veltliner, Riesling or Neuburger, full of character. And then there's Pinot Gris. I always found it rather bland, boring, and lacking personality when compared to my aforementioned darlings, and didn't understand the PG craze. I guess people are sometimes happy to drink wine without having to think about it–but I always wanted more.
But we had some Grigio planted on our 0.5 hectare Zadní Hora plot, our very first vineyard. My grandparents used to own some land there so we got it back during the 1990's restitution. It was planted in 1988, my birth year. Hence my soft spot for this plot. It used to be planted with Blaufrankisch, but in 1987 our village was hit with some severe frosts that killed most of the vines. I have no idea why the socialist cooperative decided to replant this plot with Pinot Gris instead of BF back then; did they need it in their range of wines? Or just randomly picked it? Was it the only thing available? Either way, a great choice for the vineyard.
Fast forward to my 2013 frustration with the soul-less conventional direct press Pinot Grigio flooding all around us. For me, the biggest asset of this grape is its skin–full of colour, aromatics, and rich phenolic potential. Let's squeeze this into the wine! And that's how our first 100% skin contact was born. Due to the local clones, its colour was really dark; after a blind tasting, a winemaker-neighbour of mine congratulated me on making such a beautiful Blaufrankisch or Saint Laurent. I told him it was a PG, but he didn't believe me, telling me it's a podfuk (“cheating" or "trick" in Czech). So I just adjusted this heaven-sent name to Podfuck.
But that's actually only the beginning of this wine's story. Up until the 2017 vintage, this wine used to be a 100% skin contact. Originally very long, like 3 months, but every year we’ve made it shorter and shorter - the 2017 wine only macerated for about a week, as our taste shifted towards elegance and balance. We also added a tiny bit of Pinot Noir from the same spot (pure loess, South-West orientation) - I love the noblesse this tiny - erm, cheat - brings to the wine.
I loved this addition so much that–surprise surprise–the Podfuck 2018 has switched sides and it's time to call it what it is: a bloody great red! Roughly 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Blaufränkisch, 20% Pinot Gris who works as a diplomatic bridge between the PN and BF (aka the PN of the East, they say). All from our almost neighboring plots Zadní and Otáhal, picked and fermented together. The full cheating circle, you might say; but I actually see it as a continuity of this wine's story, a story of searching for elegance despite all my imperfections. Nestarec wabi-sabi. And I can't be happier with it - not another macerated PG that the world already has a lot of, but a unique red-white blend that wonderfully mirrors our Bílovice loess.
Hence the tagline: "Walk up to your own horizon" comes from an interview with the renowned artist Olafur Eliasson. I love how it reminds us that we don't need to be like anybody else or conform to others' norms. In wine as in life, we set our own KPIs...
Podfuck 2019 continues on this path, where we now only fine-tune small details: pure Zadni Hora, a little more Pinot Noir in the blend. Elegance, roundness, finesse.
The story behind the White Label I'm 200% positive that the most important thing is the person who makes the wine. It’s not about a varietal, or a famous village in a famous region - because even those wines can get the bad karma of being massacred in the cellar. It's all about the name on the bottle. A name you can trust, because you know how the winemaker works and that it's a style you enjoy. Hence the Nestarec white label, with my signature on it. (A tad prettier than IRL because my usual scribble is unreadable.) Together with Tereza, my graphic designer, we started taking out elements that weren’t essential - until only “Nestarec” and the name of the wine remained. A purist approach to both what's in the bottle and on it. Because, as they say, perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
I don't wanna look like a natural-born sage - it took me some time to get there. My journey, like many others, has been paved with gold engravings and curlicues, like on a fancy tombstone. “Nestarec, a wine for funerals”, as a friend of mine dubbed it back then. Oops. But I remember that period fondly - it's a part of my evolution. No regrets, like in that famous Edith Piaf song.
From 2018 onwards, all the White Label wines are field blends of old vines grown on a single vineyard (or two neighboring plots). We chose our top vineyards to endow the wines with maximum longevity & genius loci, and use minimum skin contact (10% max and even that very rarely), in order to showcase this unique, beautiful material without a heavy orange-styled veil. Spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeast in bigger old barrel from local oak or acacia wood, where it then lays undisturbed for 2+ years on its fine lees. No fining or filtration. The normal way, simply put.
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