Milan Nestarec’s Forks and Knives wine has changed somewhat over the years. It has been made with aromatic varietals, carbonics, and “sought-after expressions”, as Nestarec puts it. Now he calls it a “village wine”, a traditional, balanced and rich wine from his village. For the white wine this is Velké Bílovice, southeast of Brno and not far from the Austrian and Slovakian border, and the soil is loess. The grapes are now grüner veltliner, welschriesling and neuburger. The varieties are processed separately, some skin-contact overnight and very light pressing the day after. Fermentation was carried out in 3000 liter barrels. And, as he says, “no noise, no unnecessary bells and whistles, just purity and a lot of patience”. It was bottled late summer 2022, with no sulfur added, no fining, no filtration.
Forks and Knives 2020(Milan Nestarec)
Golden colour, lightly cloudy. Aroma of mature apples, oranges, apricot, white flowers, and also a tiny volatile touch (which is good in these quantities). Full-bodied and rich, concentrated, lightly textured and with a good acidity. Long.
We presented a “cultic” pét nat from this producer last year. (Read here.) We continue with a white one, or more accurately: orange. It’s a group of producers from Burgenland, Austria that have got together, and get some help from Meinklang with the winemaking.
The grapes are grüner veltliner 65%, welschriesling 25% and muscat 10%. They were grown in clay and limestone soils, picked by hand and spontaneously fermented with 7-8 days of skin maceration. Maturation was done in steel, and the wine was bottled unfiltered.
Weisse Blumen 2021(Biokult)
Light orange. Aromatic with white flowers, white peach, a touch orange peel. Fresh taste, nice rounded acidity, lightly structured, salty finish.
Food: Apéritif, salads, fish (red and white), light meat, pig
I could have written a long introduction to the tasting. Here I will just mention that Nebbiolo Wines is one of the most important importers of natural wines in Norway, and Bellies, where Jan-Erik Hybertsen conducted this tasting (he is actually also a classical musical conductor) is probably the best 100% vegan restaurant in Norway. I came a bit late, so I chose to concentrate on the Czech and Slovakian producers of their portfolio.
Magula is the Slovakian producer that we shall focus on here. They make natural wines exclusively from their own, organically grown grapes of Slovak and regional varieties. They started out in 2007, and since 2016 the farming has been biodynamic. They are found in Suchá Nad Parnou, a traditional wine-making village in the Small Carpathian wine region, just northeast of Bratislava. Here we find deep loess soils with a high proportion of minerals, especially calcium, and there is scarce rainfall, coupled with a large proportion of sunny days.
In 2001 they picked up the family tradition that been interrupted by the communist era. At that time they had an estate near what is in Slovak called the Wolf valley, from where this series of wines take its names.
Vlk is Slovak for wolf, and Oranžový Vlk becomes orange wolf. Among the other contributions the red, Cerveny Vlk, has a nice evolution while retaining its fine acidity; lots of red fruit and some leather and chocolate. The Frankovka (blaufränkisch in Austria) has a typical stony & herby aroma and fleshy taste. The pink wolf, Ružový, was a superb, fresh, lightly structured rosé.
The orange wolf is made from white grapes by open vat fermentation on skins and stems, followed by further maceration for two weeks. The blend is welschriesling 50% and grüner veltliner 30%, both from an old vineyard in Wolf’s valley, with the variety devín from a young vineyard on Rose mountain. It’s spontaneously fermented, unfiltered, unfined, and with no SO2 added. It’s aged in old barrels and amphorae. Half of it had two months of skin-contact with stems, most of the rest had ten days of skin-contact.
Oranžový Vlk 2019(Magula)
Deep orange. Aroma of stone fruits, apricot, peel and a touch of smoke. Medium-bodied with light tannin, good concentration and fruit, and adequate acidity.
With a little help from their friends: Welshriesling, Neuburger, Muscat Ottonel, Grüner Veltliner.
The most autochtonal grape varieties with indigenous character. Originally grown on limestone, schist and sedimentary soils. Handpicked, left overnight on the skins and stems, spontaneously fermented in large, old oak casks. Unfiltered. No sulfur added. Pure.
This is the beginning of the back label text, and it sums it all up well.
Gernot Heinrich runs his farm by the Neusiedler sea in a terroir-focused way with biodynamic treatments. His focus is on local grapes, and as such are the main actors in this performance among the minor grapes, the whole farm seen as a whole. It’s not a very small business, but after a more conventional big player start he now shares the principles normally associated with small artisan producers.
Natural White 2017(Weing. Heinrich)
Turbid yellow-green-greyish. Aromatic flowers and elderberry, somewhat yeasty over a layer of apricot. Over all a wonderful glug-glug, full, with integrated acidity and the slightest bit of resistance in form of a peel’ish hint of bitterness.
Food: Apéritif, salads, charcuterie, fried fish
Finally, as the back label advices: Attention: For best enjoyment, shake before pouring!
Primož Lavrenčič is found in the Vipava valley about 40 km east of the Italian border, where he owns 8 hectares of vineyards.
His objective is to make a modern wine based on traditional methods. He says that he “controls the temperature and oxidation” in the wine cellar, but “encouraging the rest”.
(Credit: Burja Estate)
He has a holistic approach to both vine, wine and nature. This includes stimulating spontaneous fermentation, because “the diversity of yeast strains contributes to the complexity of the wine and provides original expression of each vineyard”. Some of the old folks would have prohibited the low temperatures, to take the full advantage of the extended skin-contact). So this is maybe then a modern, elegant white with a nod to the traditional orange wines of the area.
The work in the vineyard is done according to organic and biodynamic principles. The grape composition is laški rizling (Italian riesling or Welschriesling) 30%, malvazija (d’Istria) 30%, rebula (ribolla gialla) 30%. 7 days skin-maceration in steel, 10 months ageing in barrel.
Bela 2016 (Burja Estate)
Deep golden. Aroma of mature fruits, citrus, peach, herbs, white pepper. Full on the palate, a touch of nuts and a natural, integrated acidity.
Food: Light meat, pig, veal, grilled and white fish, tasty salads