Brno - Not long ago, wines from south Moravia received a number of awards at a prestigious international wine competition in Valencia. Now Moravian winemakers have made themselves known at the largest wine competition in North America.
Jurors at Sélections Mondiales des Vins Canada, held in Quebec in late May, sampled 1836 wines from more than 600 producers in 32 countries around the world. They awarded three grand gold medals, 60 gold medals and 491 silver medals.
Among the medallists were five Moravian vintners, who have received one gold and nine silver medals.
Mark of prestige and quality
"This year's criteria were very strict, with only three grand gold medals awarded to wines that received more than 95 points. Despite that our winemakers were successful," says Marek Babisz from the National Wine Centre, an association promoting Czech viniculture.
The most successful Czech vintner at the Quebec contest was Pavel Binder, owner of a small, five-hectare estate in Rakvice. All three wines he registered have won medals, including one gold and two silver. Vladimír Tetur, Vinné sklepy Valtice and Víno Hort received two silvers each, and one silver went to Znovín Znojmo.
"These medals represent an assurance for my current customers of my wines' quality," says Binder. "They are obviously good for advertising and prestige, but it's not like the awarded wine is immediately sold out."
Czech medals from Quebec
Pavel Binder, Rhine Riesling late harvest 2008
Pavel Binder, Gewurz- traminer selection 2006
Pavel Binder, Pálava selection 2008
Vladimír Tetur, Moravian Muscat kabinet 2008
Vladimír Tetur, Irsai Oliver kabinet 2008
Víno Hort, Sauvignon late harvest 2008
Víno Hort, Cabernet Sauvig. rosé late harvest 2008
Vinné sklepy Valtice, Grüner Veltliner late harvest 2008
Vinné sklepy Valtice, Rhine Riesling selection 2007
Znovín Znojmo, Rhine Riesling icewine 2007
Last year Binder's wines received 15 different medals at local as well as international exhibitions.
"Participation in competitions is part of the winemaking job," says Vladimír Tetur from Velké Bílovice. "It shows the wine is being processed carefully, and customers take that into account. Yet rather than selling everything in a one-off big hit, it is much more important to make sure the wine is always in wineshops and restaurants."
Logistical challenges of fame
For larger winemaking companies, such as Vinné sklepy Valtice and Znovín Znojmo, special awards not only represent an important marketing tool, but also pose a challenge for the producer's logistics.
"Adding medal stickers on wines filled and labelled by an automatic bottling line is not that easy. At one point the routine must be suspended and the sticker manually attached," says Marek Šťastný, director of Vinné sklepy Valtice. "Sometimes we fail to stick the medals on because we just don't have enough people or time. Customers then phone us to enquire if [what we have shipped to them] is the same award-winning wine and whether we could send them the medal stickers so they can put them on themselves."
Czech vintners can now participate in more international competitions thanks to the support from the National Wine Centre and the Wine Fund.
"The costs of registering and shipping one sample used to range between CZK 5,000 and 10,000. One had to think twice whether such an investment in marketing was worth it," says Šťastný. "Now the Wine Fund cuts our costs by sending all Czech samples together and covering half of our registration fees, which makes contests more manageable."