Brno - Out of an old tradition of serving young wine on Saint Martin's Day (November 11) a new Czech wine brand - St. Martin's wine was born, making its way slowly to the Czech market over last couple of years. And it's proving to be a success story.
This year, a record-breaking half a million bottles of what has been described as Czech (or rather Moravian, after the main wine-growing region of the country) Beaujolais, is ready for the Christmas market.
Using the new Czech brand to label the first wines of the season is a welcome step for domestic wine producers facing a tough competition from international wine companies.
St. Martin's wine comes from an old tradition when people toasted for the first time with the young wine. On the 11th of November farmers used to hire new helpers and maids. To seal the deal, they toasted with young St. Martin's wine.
Getting the label
This year is record breaking not only in the amount of produced bottles but also as far as the interest of wine producers is concerned. "Over seventy wine companies have applied for this brand with 165 wine examples," said Pavel Krška from The National Wine Centre.
Two special committees were established in reaction to the tremendous interest in the new brand. Their task will be to examine the quality of wine and decide if the wine producer will be allowed to use the brand or not.
Last year 54 out of 58 wine companies obtained the privilege to use the special brand. "We evaluate the production because we do not want any bad wines being sold on our market," says Krška. Between eighty and ninety percent of all producers are successful with their bids.
Winegrowers used to pay license fees for using the brand, this year they only have to cover the testing costs. For 500 Czech Crowns their wine is in the game for the St. Martin's brand that might open the doors to the Czech as well as international market.
Wine consumption on the rise, but...
Wine consumption in the Czech Republic is on the rise but sellers claim that more than a half of sold wine comes from abroad.
Last year an average Czech consumed 17 liters of wine; eight years ago it was one liter less.
But the overall consumption of hard liquor is decreasing in 1998 8.2 liters were drunk on the average, falling to 7.8 per capita in 2006.
Beer however still beats the wine market hands down in the Czech Republic, which is not that surprising with some 160 liters of beer consumed yearly by an average Czech (toddlers included), the country leads the rest of the world.
Where to, one might be tempted to ask, but that's another story.