Valtice - If you wanted to taste all brands of this year's St. Martin's wine, you would have to drink at least three samples of the Czech Republic´s own version of Beaujolais Nouveau every single day now until Christmas.
Wine-tasters from the National Wine Center in the Moravian chateau Valtice selected no less than 144 brands of wine last week which will get the privilege to use the highly marktebale St. Martin's wine label this year.
This young wine preserves its outstanding qualities only until Christmas which is why it should be drunk before then.
St. Martin's wine was born out of an old tradition of serving young wine on Saint Martin's Day (November 11) to symbolically seal the contract between the farmer and his maids and helpers.
Müller-Thurgau wears the crown
Sixty-four of the selected brands are white, 26 rosé and 54 red. The undisputed ruler among the varieties is Müller-Thurgau (also known as Rivaner) with 53 different brands of that variety winning the right to use the label St. Martin with the unmistakable picture of a horse rider on a vignette.
The second most successful grape variety was Saint-Laurent with 42 different brands awarded. Both Müller-Thurgau and Saint-Laurent belong to the grape varieties with a long tradition of cultivation in the Czech Republic.
Six thousand bottles of St. Martin's wine are making their way to the pre-Christmas wine shops, restaurants and supermarkets this year.
"Wine growers will sell twice as much of the young wine than last year. People are crazy about it," said Pavel Krška, director of the National Wine Center, not hiding his enthusiasm.
Only in its third season here, St. Martin´s label is quickly catching on. "People know this wine really well. They ask about wine tasting occasions and deliveries long time ahead," says sommelier Libor Nazarčuk.
Smart marketing trick
If the marketing strategy with TV spots and fliers works, even greater demand can be expected. Which only goes to show that more than anything else, the whole thing is a very smart marketing trick.
"The wine growers have to make their living too," admits Vilém Kraus, one of the Czech Republic´s most respected wine connoisseurs, quickly adding that it does not in any way detract from the quality of the wine.
"The label St. Martin is not awarded to every single young wine. There are rules that do not allow the selection to be too broad," says Mr. Kraus.
The wine fashion trends are said to change every 8 to 15 years. "St. Martin's wine is trendy now as well as for example ice wine. Wine trends are a normal thing there was different wine drunk in the Roman times and different wine consumed in the Middle Ages," explains Mr. Kraus.
Jumping the gun
St. Martin's wine should be drunk for the first time at 11:11 a.m. on St. Martin's Day which is November 11.
The winegrowers however do not want to wait. Some of them were able to finish the harvest three weeks ahead of time and therefore their young wine gained the expected qualities already in October.
That is why new brands are popping up on the Czech wine market as for example Moravské Božolé (phonetic transliteration of the famed French wine into Czech).
Consumers do not want to wait till November 11 either this year it falls on a Sunday. Many people want to enjoy the wine and the festivity that comes with it rather on Saturday.
"I do not see any reason why we should drink St. Martin's wine before November 11. It should be drunk on St. Martin's Day and it should last till Christmas," demands Mr. Kraus who wants to play by the rules.
And he has one more piece of advice to the anxious upstarts: order the bottle along with a nice meal. "It is not the kind of wine to make one meditate over its quality. It is to be enjoyed because of its youth and pleasant taste."