“We were pretty tired on arrival in the village of Boleradice, about two hours north of Vienna, a relaxed drive through a pastoral idyll of rolling hills and vineyards, and very little traffic, a world away from what we had left behind that morning. London Gatwick was seething with people and a plane delayed by nearly two hours made us very thirsty by the time of our arrival. No sooner had we thrown our luggage into our room than we were off walking to Petr’s cellars, about ten minutes up the hill. We entered a small glade of trees, surrounded on one side by an arc of cellar entrances, like small chalets concealing cavernous depths. A beautiful table was set for our dinner. It was going to be the best night of the summer, but that story is to come.”
These words appeared in my article about Autentikfest 2022, and the introduction to my trip to Moravia in the Czech Republic. Now it is time to tell you a little more about Petr Koráb, and the wonderful evening we spent with him. If you don’t know me but are aware that Petr provided our accommodation for the trip you might be suspicious of what I write. If, on the other hand, you have read just about anything I’ve written about Moravia, you’ll know how excited I get drinking this man’s wines. I finally met Petr and his wife briefly in London, at the Real Wine Fair this year, but it was nice to get to know him a little better in his own surroundings.
Petr Koráb founded the winery with his brother in 2006, but Petr is now at the helm, making wine from around 4-hectares close to the south Moravian village of Boleradice. Some plots they own, others they rent, but all are old vineyards on unique soils with very low yields from Moravian clones. Farming is completely biodynamic, winemaking utilises gravity without pumping, and only partial racking takes place. All of this requires totally healthy fruit. Naturally, nothing is added in the winery, Petr following the Moravian “Autentiste” charter. He ran Autentikfest until this year so he deserved a break (although he was there with his wines).
Our meal began, after a welcome beer, with Petr’s new wine, the honestly sensational Raspberries on Ice, a blend of Pinot Noir and St Laurent. This tastes just like the name suggests, like purest raspberry fruit juice. Stock up if you are prepared to hedge on a long end to summer or a balmy autumn. If Basket Press Wines don’t save me at least a bottle we won’t be on speaking terms. Petr’s wines get even better every year but among the fun wines this may just be his best yet.
Neuburger is always nice to taste and Petr’s version was a highlight, along with his Natur Ryšák on Leaves (“Ryšák” is the name for traditional field blends, made like a gemischter satz, in these parts), and Orange on Leaves, a petnat I’ve drunk a few times made from Grüner Veltliner and Welschriesling. The Koráb wines described as “on leaves” see the vine leaves, or occasionally herbs, dried, made into a powder and used as a natural fining agent to take out the larger solid matter.
After a spectacular dinner of several thoughtfully prepared dishes, each accompanied by a different wine, we entered the small chalet that forms the entrance to the cellar. Your eyes are deceived because behind a big red door stretches a long tunnelled underground cellar on two levels, excavated into the sandstone hillside. After the heat outdoors the temperature in here is as cool as can be. In fact, after an hour in here a few people wished they’d brought a jacket.
Petr went on into the night opening petnats and still wines. I still don’t know another producer who makes such a variety of petnats, new wines appearing every year. They are all different, which is part of the excitement, and they are all refreshing. None more so than the Lemonade (Welschriesling) which was one of many Petr popped for us. Frankly, if you like petnat you can’t go wrong with any of them. Even if the wines were not brilliant, which they are, they would be worth buying for the labels. Petr knows how to push the right buttons for his market for this side of his range, retaining a modern yet less out-there look for his still wines.
We left after a further half an hour of barrel samples, having risen at 5am to get out to Czechia. The youngsters stayed on for a bit of sabre work in the lower cellar, followed by steaks I believe, though to be fair they were remarkably quiet when they staggered in later. We had emerged from the cellars to see half the village watching a film on a big screen outside, chairs arranged beneath the trees. We strolled downhill, our way illuminated by a large moon, our conversation half drowned-out by the cicadas. We had no hangover the next morning, rising early to head off to our first visit of Friday.
Petr Koráb is not only one of Moravia’s best winemakers, but he’s also one of the most interesting. He can talk for hours sharing deep, perceptive, knowledge. He seems able to combine the wisdom of the older guys we shall meet in later articles with the innovative spirit of the younger ones. This is why his range should be one of the first you should head to if you want to dip your toe into Czech natural wine.