Milan Nestarec

Normal Wines from the Czech Republic

 

Quick facts:

Location: the town of Velké Bílovice, Moravia, Czech Republic

Owner & winemaker: Milan Nestarec and his family

Vineyard area: 27 hectares (= 67 acres) estate-owned, 3 more hectares in long-term rental

Vineyard management: awaiting organic certification (practiced since 2008), regenerative agriculture 

Soils: mainly loess and clay, some sandy plots

Main varieties: Muller Thurgau, Gruner Veltliner, Neuburger, Pinot Blanc, aromatic Moravian varieties for the whites; Blaufrankisch, Pinot Noir for the reds

Annual production (approx.): 75,000 bottles

Winemaking: manual harvest, sorting table, wild yeast only. Mostly classic although gentle maceration for the reds, the whites get a varying, but usually quite small, degree of short skin contact. Aging in tanks, old oak and acacia barrels of different sizes, minimal racking, no fining, no filter, no sulfur.

 

Fun Facts:

  • The first vines that the Nestarec family started to work with grew on a tiny plot that was returned to them as restitution in the early 1990s. The winery went professional in 2001.
  • Milan’s father Milan Nestarec Sr. entrusted him with all the winemaking when Milan was barely 16 years old (which makes Milan quite an experienced young winemaker now at only 33 years of age)
  • The vineyards and cellar switched to organic and low intervention in late 2008, inspired by Milan’s multiple encounters with natural winemakers at home and abroad
  • The world discovered Nestarec wines partly thanks to the Mosel biodynamic pioneer Rudolf Trossen who found them interesting and kept sending people to the Nestarec tasting table at a natural wine fair in Cologne. Only later Milan discovered that this is what made him met his first importers
  • The current focus of the winery is to go to great lengths to care for old vineyards and keep the energy in the bottle
  • Milan is a real lover of Jura, fire-roasted sausages, and exchanges of ideas. “This is the real reason why I make wine – because it’s an incomparable vehicle to connect with interesting and/or like-minded people and creators. Such a social medium.”

 

“Milan Nestarec is not a winery. Nestarec is ideas that just happen to be represented through wine,” reads one of the first lines on this Moravian prodigy’s captivating website. It is a fitting description: first, because the sheer diversity and dynamism of Nestarec cuvées reflect the centrifuge in his head (“my colleagues must sometimes hate me and my constant chorus of “can’t we do it better / differently?” he admits with a chuckle). Secondly, because there’s a gradual development of Nestarec wines towards more precision and “essence over style”, which absolutely reflects the winemaker’s personal journey – and it’s quite a fascinating story to follow. (And drink.)

It all started… uhm, that’s actually a good question – where is the starting line for someone born in the biggest wine-growing village in the Czech Republic, where virtually every family had a couple of vines planted somewhere and made wine for their own consumption? Although Milan’s father originally repaired roofs for a living, wine was always present in their daily lives – so much so that Milan never even considered another career, ever. The family journey towards professional winemaking started when he was little, after the Velvet revolution in 1989, when the Czech state returned to them a tiny plot previously confiscated by the communists (the socialist regime forbade virtually any private business after WWII, including farms), and Milan’s father started to season-work in a German vine nursery.

 

Labor of Familial Love

Since then, every spare penny the family earned went into getting new land and planting it, sometimes to Milan’s chagrin: “I remember being a 13-year-old kid who badly wanted a computer, like any teenage boy back then. But too bad for me, my father preferred to buy 0.6 hectares of land instead. Obviously, I couldn’t be more grateful for this choice now,” he gestures towards Slovenské, a 5-hectare vineyard that truly enabled them to go professional back in 2001. It still counts among their signature vineyards, giving birth to Nestarec’s ever-popular TRBLMKR or flamboyant UMAMI field blends. 

Using the whole family’s labor (“I worked my ass off there as a kid, as we couldn’t afford to pay external helpers,” Milan recalls), know-how and second-hand equipment (“we didn’t have any money for new machines either”) from the German vine nursery, the winery started to produce bulk wine. Milan’s father passed the winemaking decisions to the teenage Milan shortly thereafter: “My classmates at the winemaking high school would boast ‘my dad is letting me make my own wine, I have a 30l demijohn of mine in the cellar now’ and I’d be like ‘oh shoot, my father just gave me 40,000 litres to play with’,” Nestarec Jr. recalls with laughter.

At that time, the winery was conventional both in the vineyards and in the cellar, although Milan jokes that “I couldn’t be technological even if I tried – I just couldn’t get it right, even when following the ‘recipes’”. Another important tributary in his turn towards “normal wine”, as he likes to call it, was spending his “pocket money on bottles like Leroy and Dagenneau with some of my classmates”, he insists as we raise eyebrows at the thought of 17-year old country boys ordering costly biodynamic wines for fun. After meeting a couple of natural OGs both in the Czech Republic and abroad, mainly during a short trip to the Collio / Goriška Brda region on the borders of Italy and Slovenia, the path was forged. 2009 was the first Nestarec vintage using spontaneous fermentation, aging on gross lees and only a little sulfur. 

 

Learning Curves

At the same time, an even more important switch happened in the vineyards when the Nestarecs eschewed chemicals and started to work organically. “Looking back, I see how essential this was, and how long the path is still ahead of us. Only now am I starting to see the little changes in the vineyards’ vitality, signs that we’re treating them well. But I also see all the mistakes we made along the way – and I’m very happy that we’re now in a place where I can afford to do things properly, and set a slightly different tone for the future, resulting in beautiful, wise old vines and nuanced wines coming from them. I’m shy of the term terroir, so I call it genius loci instead, but you get the idea,” Milan smiles.

This is exactly one of the compelling shifts we mentioned earlier – Nestarec’s passion for aged vines recently made him buy selected old vineyards or work with Simonit and Sirch, the top pruning consultants working around the globe with names like Gravner, Leroy or Angélus. And there’s also clear progress being made in the cellar: “When I started, I was mesmerized by heavily macerated wines, so much so that I’d make cuvées that spent months on skins. When I dropped the use of SO2 completely in 2014, this would sometimes result in wines you couldn’t even call orange – they were plain brown,” Milan bursts out with laughter. 

“Then I had a short period I call “master brewer”: no additives, of course, but I toyed with different maceration times and vessels and techniques like carbonic etc. for each wine. In retrospect, I probably wouldn’t change a thing – that’s who I was back then and I totally accept all this as part of my learning curve. But the older I get, the more I simply enjoy the expression of what’s locally unique, without too much orange coverage. Loess is more,” Milan grins, referring to the light eolic sediment soil that constitutes a big part of his vineyards and works well especially with his beloved Neuburger and Gruner Veltliner white grape varieties.

 

The Chateau Life

Besides this “coming of age” (despite having nearly 20 vintages under his belt, Nestarec is only in his early thirties as we speak) and the grounding influence of his wife Mirka, Milan’s important advisor and reality-check on all things wine and life, these changes have also been possible thanks to a new, bigger winery space they moved into a couple of years ago. Mockingly called “Chateau Nestarec”, the vast precinct on the outskirts of Velké Bílovice is a polar opposite to the romantic idea of a shining historical building surrounded by manicured vines.

Milan’s chateau looks quite industrial, courtesy of its past incarnations (auto repair shop, concrete plant or coffin factory to name just a few), but it finally allows him to work with more precision and peace of mind. “At one point in the past, we had wine in like seven different places, using literally every bit of space we could find around Bílovice and Moravský Žižkov. This crazy situation led to some fun accidents – we’d probably never have WTF if it wasn’t for the summer heat in my parents’ garage that triggered the flor essential for the wine’s character – but at the end of the day, it was an incredible relief and step up to be finally able to work in one proper, big space,” Nestarec explains.

The winery also features an incredible amount of fun vintage stuff, such as an old 1960s Czech Jawa motorcycle in his father’s man cave. “I love it for its authenticity and local pedigree – that’s always important to me,” Milan radiates – it’s true that all his wines sport a Moravian hybrid variety or a grape typical for Central Europe, such as Blaufrankisch, precisely for keeping the connection to the local roots. Not that you’ll find the name of the grapes on the labels, though: “I stopped doing that some time ago, as I want people to approach the wine without any preconceptions, to enjoy it (or not) because of its actual taste and character, not based on their idea of the given variety.” 

 

Blends and Field Blends

Since the 2018 vintage, he’s made a lot of blends and field blends. “I find that it’s something typical from our past, and I like to revive such habits. Plus it goes well with my belief that the best creator of all is nature itself – if my aim is to express the unique soil-grape situation we have the luck to have on some of our sites, and there’s a beautiful old vineyard with multiple varieties that have grown together successfully for 40 years, why manipulate that in the cellar?” he shrugs. Nestarec’s top-shelf wines – iconic “White Label” cuvées like GinTonic, Podfuck or Juicy Fruit – are now made exactly like this, with grapes from a single plot (or two neighboring ones), that are just gently stomped and then left to ferment and rest in big old vats for more than two years to fully showcase the old vines mentioned earlier.

Milan’s more “everyday” wines from younger vines, such as the merry table companions Forks & Knives or the “Moravian realness” of Běl, Nach and Okr liters, enjoy similar treatment, only with shorter aging times. The new, truly generous winery space also meant that Milan could invest in equipment that allows for more precision during the making of all his wines, from a sorting table to a special peristaltic pump that moves the wine super-gently towards the bottling line, which is a crucial piece of the winemaking puzzle, according to Nestarec. “I’m geekily obsessed with bottling – it’s such a fragile phase, especially for a zero-sulfur wine, where you can either keep all the energy you managed to harness in the barrel or completely ruin it. I’ve learned that every detail counts.”

Judging from the quality of his wines and the beautiful acidic tension literally jumping from his bottles (one of Milan’s uber-popular pet-nats is fittingly called “Danger 380V”), he seems to have learned this well.

 

Nach — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “This wine embodies my unassuming Moravian roots: the light-bodied, fun juicy reds with good acidity that are truly at home here. I grew up with them, so it was sad to see that the (vain) pursuit of hefty Cabs, fake tannins and new oak became fashionable in Moravia as well. Nach is my tribute to the real Moravian reds, wines with lot of fruit and little alcohol so that you can drink heaps of them every day. 

Hence also the 1-liter bottle: I remember hearing the word “másnica” used for a bottle of wine when I was a kid. Only as an adult did I learn that it derives from the German Mass, an old volumetric unit roughly equalling 1 liter, which used to be a standard size of bottle for a guy working in the field (mixing it with water to get more quantity). I do love the term “minimagnum” too, though, courtesy of my Montréal friends.” The name Nach means purple in old formal Czech, another tribute to things past. Linocut label by Milan’s wife Mirka.

Grapes: the 2021 blend is Blaufrankisch, Modrý Portugal (Blauer Portugieser) and Pinot Noir. 

Soil: Loess, clay, sand – blend of different vineyards in Bílovice and Moravský Žižkov, aged from 5 to 40 years. Estate-owned, organic.

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed, gently crushed and macerated on skins for a couple of weeks. The wine is spontaneously fermented in stainless steel tanks without temperature control. It rests in the same vessels for about 8 months until the following spring. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured.

Personality: just as the winemaker wanted it – this red is so juicy and easily palatable that even a liter might not seem enough! Perfect for all kinds of occasions with all kinds of drinkers, be they natural wine fans or haters. 


Bel — Back to the top 

Milan on this wine: “This wine embodies my unassuming Moravian roots. Made with “common” local grapes that are neutral and low-alcohol and hence always used to be blended together for an everyday wine. (Gewurztraminer being the fancy Sunday-kinda-wine). An approach I like–and Běl and its plump, juice-like 1-liter bottle is my tribute to that.

I remember hearing the word “másnica” used for a bottle of wine when I was a kid. Only as an adult did I learn that it derives from the German Mass, an old volumetric unit roughly equalling 1 liter, which used to be a standard size of bottle for a guy working in the field (mixing it with water to get more quantity). I do love the term “minimagnum” too, though, courtesy of my Montréal friends.” The name Běl means white in old formal Czech, another tribute to things past. Linocut label by Milan’s wife Mirka.

Grapes: Gruner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Muller-Thurgau

Soil: Loess, clay, sand – blend of different vineyards in Bílovice and Moravský Žižkov, aged from 5 to 40 years. Estate-owned, organic.

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested, sorted and gently pressed. The wine is spontaneously fermented in stainless steel without temperature control. It rests on lees in the same vessels for about 8 months until the following spring. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, with cca 15ppm of sulfur at bottling.

Personality: Milan says the aim with this wine was to have a bottle he can bring even to his conservative neighbors because it’s so approachable – fruity, with good acidity and a pleasant citrusy aroma – that you can drink it with literally everyone, be they natural wine fans or haters. Mission accomplished! 


Okr — Back to the top 

Milan on this wine: “Our wines have been gradually shifting towards less skin contact and more nuance – especially the White Labels, our “top shelf”, see shorter and shorter maceration times. That said, I still like to enjoy a (tamed) skin contact wine from time to time; and I understand that a lot of people are, on the contrary, suckers for this style, since hardly a week goes by without someone asking me for something orange. In short, skin contact wines still have their place in my heart and cellar, and creating an amber brother to our dear Běl & Nach liters was kind of a no-brainer.”

“These three salt-of-the-earth fellas all share not only the plump one-liter bottles that we’ve really fallen in love with, and linocut label by my dear wife Mirka, but also the same “everyday easy drinking” vibe. You know me, I’m still making wine mainly for myself, something I like to drink…”

The name Okr (ochre in Czech) follows the concise, color-themed concept of its siblings Běl and Nach, and honors eponymous natural pigment with a long history of use by humans, made from actual earth and offering the same hues as orange wines, from yellow to orange or amber.

 

Grapes: Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner, Sauvignon, Traminer

Soil: Loess, clay, sand – blend of different vineyards in Bílovice and Moravský Žižkov, aged from 5 to 40 years. Estate-owned, organic.

Making of: The grapes are hand-picked, gently destemmed and then spontaneously fermented mostly as whole berries, without stomping and with only gentle punch-downs, 5 – 7 days depending on the variety. All this in order to get only a gentle extraction, to make this wine as palatable and drinkable as possible. Once pressed, it spends about 8 months on lees in stainless steel tank, then bottled unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured. 

Personality: easy-drinking as the winemaker wanted it! No hardcore tannins or long macerations, but rather a fine, “normal” skin contact wine with great energy, distinguished aromatics, and only a hint of the “orangey” character.

Milan on this wine: “To make our liter-bottle rainbow complete, we found a new pink pal to our beloved Běl, Okr and Nach. The name is once again a simple description of its color, since “růžová” means pink in Czech. I prefer to make a rosé this fresh, “paysan” in the best of senses of the term. Using some of our previously F&K Rosé grapes, this is a prime raw material in humble disguise, definitely high value for money.

The label is a linocut made by Milan’s wife Mirka, and the claim on the bottle is inspired by Luis Barragán, a famous Mexican architect who loved to use vivid pink in his buildings.

Grapes: Zweigelt, Saint Laurent, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Vineyards: Loess, clay, sand – blend of different vineyards in Velké Bílovice and Moravský Žižkov, aged from 5 to 40 years. Estate-owned, organic.

Making of: the grapes are hand-harvested, sorted on the sorting table and then gently foot-stomped and left to macerate overnight. Slowly pressed the day after, spontaneously fermented and then left to mature on lees in stainless steel tank, to keep the wine young and fresh. After about 8 months, the wine is bottled unfined, unfiltered, with cca 15ppm of sulfur at bottling. 

Personality: juicy, plump, laser-sharp! Although still easy-drinking, this is a rosé of the lovely intense kind that you can enjoy no matter the season, long after you cover your pool. Full of red and dark berries and ready for some food-wine pairing fun – it’s freshness perfectly cuts through fatty meats or charcuterie.


Forks and Knives White — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “For me & my family, wine is like food, something that should be on your table every day. Our bread and butter (literally). This is the kind of wine I wanna make: affordable, everyday, friendly stuff. Not something for the upper class, not something you need to swirl your glass and head around, talking about viscosity or minerality for ages (no offense, but jeez do I hate this word). My wine is for drinking, not for flashing posh terms. And the Forks & Knives range is a perfect embodiment of this. The F&K range started with the 2014 vintage – I met Fleur Godard, my French importer, in Cologne, along with Justine Saint Lo, a wonderful illustrator who also happens to be the sister of Francois Saint Lo, a great Loire Valley winemaker. Back in my cellar, when tasting the then nearly-born wine, we had a revelation: it was fate that decided Justine should make the labels, which I’ve kept ever since – I love their power to communicate the easy yet entertaining “everyday wine for any meal & table” vibe that this wine is all about.”

Limited amount of mags available too.

Soil: Loess, sand, clay

Grapes: the 2019 is a blend of Gruner Veltliner, Neuburger, Sauvignon, Pálava and Riesling

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested, selected on sorting table and destemmed. Most of the grapes are then pressed directly, about 10% undergo a short skin contact. Alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts in tanks. Aged in stainless steel and big neutral barrels of 600 and 3000 liters for about 17 months in order to naturally settle. Bottled under crown caps to keep the wine’s energy. No sulfur added, no fining, no filtration.

Personality: “One of our most beloved and popular wines has gotten even tastier with the current 2019 vintage, as the blend now includes some grapes normally used for WTF and TRBLMKR (the higher end White label wines). It’s just as fun as always, but with extra energy and depth. Keeps you coming back for more of that citrus hard-candy vibe, like being lured in by a bright halogen light,” the winemaker says.


Forks and Knives Red — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “For me & my family, wine is like food, something that should be on your table every day. Our bread and butter (literally). This is the kind of wine I wanna make: affordable, everyday, friendly stuff. Not something for the upper class, not something you need to swirl your glass and head around, talking about viscosity or minerality for ages (no offense, but jeez do I hate this word). My wine is for drinking, not for flashing posh terms. And the Forks & Knives range is a perfect embodiment of this. The F&K range started with the 2014 vintage – I met Fleur Godard, my French importer, in Cologne, along with Justine Saint Lo, a wonderful illustrator who also happens to be the sister of Francois Saint Lo, a great Loire Valley winemaker. Back in my cellar, when tasting the then nearly-born wine, we had a revelation: it was fate that decided Justine should make the labels, which I’ve kept ever since – I love their power to communicate the easy yet entertaining “everyday wine for any meal & table” vibe that this wine is all about.”

Vineyard: Loess, sand

Grapes: Pinot Noir, Blaufrankisch, Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested, selected on sorting table and destemmed, then undergo carbonic maceration and alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeasts in tanks. Aged in stainless steel and big neutral barrels of 600 and 3000 liters for about 17 months in order to naturally settle. Bottled under crown caps to keep the wine’s energy. No sulfur added, no fining, no filtration.

Personality: as Milan puts it himself, “an addictive mix of the pinotish je-ne-sais-quoi and cheeky Moravian spice. Wine to be smashed thoroughly chilled, along with some food – nothing more, nothing less. 10% ABV only so that you can drink it all night long…” (Speaking of which, we imported a limited amount of 2019 magnums too.)


Forks and Knives Rosé — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “For me & my family, wine is like food, something that should be on your table every day. Our bread and butter (literally). This is the kind of wine I wanna make: affordable, everyday, friendly stuff. Not something for the upper class, not something you need to swirl your glass and head around, talking about viscosity or minerality for ages (no offense, but jeez do I hate this word). My wine is for drinking, not for flashing posh terms. And the Forks & Knives range is a perfect embodiment of this. The F&K range started with the 2014 vintage – I met Fleur Godard, my French importer, in Cologne, along with Justine Saint Lo, a wonderful illustrator who also happens to be the sister of Francois Saint Lo, a great Loire Valley winemaker. Back in my cellar, when tasting the then nearly-born wine, we had a revelation: it was fate that decided Justine should make the labels, which I’ve kept ever since – I love their power to communicate the easy yet entertaining “everyday wine for any meal & table” vibe that this wine is all about.” Limited amount of mags available.

Vineyard: Loess, sand, clay

Grapes: the 2019 is Cabernet Franc and Zweigelt

Making of: Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed, selected on sorting table. Gently crushed and shortly macerated on skins, then pressed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in tanks. Aged in stainless steel and big neutral barrels of 600 and 3000 liters for about 17 months in order to naturally settle. Bottled under crown caps to keep the wine’s energy. No sulfur added, no fining, no filtration.

Personality: “As you can probably tell from the color, it lives somewhere around that sweet spot where soulful rosé becomes light red. But who cares about the category when all you can think of is “fuckyeah! is there more? is there enough??” Extremely drinkable and fun wine, while still at ease in all kinds of situations, be it poolside or at a fancy table laden with all sorts of treats; I see an Ottolenghi Mediterranean-style feast when I close my eyes,” Milan says and we can’t but agree.


Podfuck

This wine has undergone an interesting journey – originally a heavy-macerated Pinot Gris, Milan started to shorten the skin-contact time and add some red grapes to the blend, until, in 2018, the wine “switched sides” completely and became red, with only ~20% of PG in the blend. “The full cheating circle, you might say; but I actually see it as a continuity of this wine’s story, a story of searching for elegance despite all my imperfections. Nestarec wabi-sabi. And I can’t be happier with it – not another macerated PG that the world already has a lot of, but a unique red-white blend that wonderfully mirrors our Bílovice loess,” as Milan says.

Vineyards: the BF comes from rich clay/loess plot called Otáhal, PG & PN from Zadní Hora which is pure loess.

Varieties: 2018 is a field blend of Blaufrankisch, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested together, destemmed and gently stomped. Spontaneous co-fermentation with indigenous yeast in open-top vats, then press and aging in bigger old barrels from local oak or acacia wood, where it then lays undisturbed for ~2 years on its fine lees. No fining or filtration, no sulfur addition. 

Personality: the fiery spice of Blaufrankisch with a fine lift and noble touch of the Pinots – a red that’s highly drinkable all while offering serious layers for thought thay you’ll love to browse through for hours. Milan says that this was the first red he felt happy enough with to bottle it as a “White Label”, ie. his top-shelf wines, and we wholeheartedly agree. 


TRBLMKR — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “This is basically me, bottled. A wine so important and characteristical of who I am that I use it instead of business cards. Not love at first sight, but if you’re on the same wavelength, you might become friends for life. Not a big talker, more of a thinker. But opens up and even cracks jokes when surrounded by like-minded people.”

“This wine is always based on Neuburger (Neuburské), the once-popular local variety that’s IMHO perfectly adapted to our soil. During the communist era, it was a popular piquette ingredient (pejoratively called “seconds” in Czech), as its fleshy berries are difficult to press and hence are prone to leave a lot of raw material in the pomace for a second serve. Nowadays, the grape is sadly disappearing, mostly due to its lower yields and compact grape, which makes it prone to rot. Case in point: when my father was looking for rootstock in 2001, there was a feeding frenzy for vines, but nobody wanted Neuburger, so we kind of went for what was left– and I couldn’t be happier now.”

“Flavour-wise, it’s rather neutral, but give it a bit of time to rest in the bottle and the reward and tertiary aromatics are just mind-blowing. As I said, if you want an instant crowd-pleaser, you’ll have to look elsewhere; if you like wines that encourage some exploration and reflection, this is probably right up your alley.”

Vineyard: Slovenské, one of the first vineyards that Milan’s parents planted themselves, in 2001. Loess, clay, chernozem. 

Grapes: 2018 is a single vineyard field-blend, based on Neuburger, supported by Malvasia, red and even some table grapes like Chasselas

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. Spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeast in bigger old barrels from local oak or acacia wood, where it then lays undisturbed for ~2 years on its fine lees. No fining or filtration, no sulfur addition. 

Personality: iodine, almost “licking batteries” salty, pears, meadow flowers, kind of Tang-like citrusy notes. Opens up into layers and layers of compelling spiciness. Supported by distinct juicy acidity, this one is beautiful to drink now and will age beautifully – if you have the patience to wait, that is.


WTF (What the Flor)— Back to the top

Total Production: 2600 bottles

Age of Vines: 35 years

Yield: 25 hl/ha

Elevation: 220 meters above sea level

Soil: Loess

Varieties: Gruner Veltliner

Vinification Notes: The grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. The juice ferments in 600-liter 5-year-old acacia barrels. 30% of the skins are in contact with the juice for about 14 days, with occasional pigeage and indigenous yeast fermentation. The wine spends 7 months under flor in the same barrels. The wine is bottled unfiltered, unfined, and with zero sulfur added.


Gin Tonic

Milan on this wine: “When the 2015 juice (our first edition of this wine) was fermenting, its aroma was super reminiscent of juniper berries and its slightly bitter aftertaste of tonic water. As a result, 1) everybody in the winery was constantly tasting it on barrel (I was afraid if there would even be some wine left for the outside world) 2) it earned “GT” as a working title scribbled on the barrel–a name that has stuck with it ever since.”

Soil: two tiny plots on loess/chernozem that Milan owns in the Stará Hora vineyard,  one with Sauvignon Blanc & Riesling, planted in the 1980s, the other one with a 45-year-old Pinot Blanc.

Grapes: 2018 is a field blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Blanc

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. Spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeast in bigger old barrels from local oak or acacia wood, where it then lays undisturbed for ~2 years on its fine lees. No fining or filtration, no sulfur addition. 

Personality: flamboyant! There truly is a bit of the juniper character the name suggests, mixed with lush exotics and a fruity lift. Your new favorite cocktail, probably?


DANGER 380 Volts — Back to the top 

Milan on this wine: “One of our most beloved wines, a salty-citrus-exotic sparkler born in 2017. With wonderful energy, as the name suggests.”

Grapes: Muller Thurgau, Neuburger, Moravian Muscat 

Vineyard: Sahary – sandy plot with mixed plantation from 2003. Estate-owned, organic.

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and gently pressed together. The juice ferments in old wooden barrels with indigenous yeast and is bottled under crown cap in the winter, to let the fermentation finish in bottles and give natural fizz to the wine. Unfiltered, unfined, zero sulfur added. Since the 2021 vintage, the wine is disgorged as the winemaker enjoys this “more structured and precise” taste experience more.

Personality: The label doesn’t lie, this is truly electric and dangerously drinkable. The perfect marriage of Neuburger’s depth, Muscat’s aromatics and Muller’s lemony acidity and chuggability. Addictive sparkler that’s great on its own, or works beautifully with Asian dishes.


Youngsters — Back to the top

Vineyards: blend of different vineyards, all estate-owned and organic certified, farmed by Nestarec and his team. Loess, clay, loam. Mostly young vines.

Grapes and making of for the 2021 vintage:

White – Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, direct-pressed together

Rose – Saint Laurent, Zweigelt, Pinot Noir, macerated together overnight

Red – Blaufrankisch, Cabernet Franc, Dornfelder, macerated together in open-top vat for a few days

All the grapes are hand-harvested and processed together from the beginning. Once pressed, the juice ferments spontaneously in stainless steel tanks where it remained until May 2022. The wine was bottled unfiltered, unfined, and with zero sulfur added.

Personality: lovely structure and youthful acidity and fruit, a wonderful everyday drinking wine reflecting Milan’s terroir!


Juicy Fruit — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “Remember that chewing gum that tasted great for 3 seconds and then turned to bland plastic? Not the case here. Still, it inspired the name for this wine – as kids of the ex-East Bloc, we were mindblown when the Western treats, including these gums, made it to our country in the nineties. The experience totally resurfaced when I tasted this juicy, zesty wine for the first time, and that’s how the name was born.” 

“Mostly based on Pinots as our vineyards sport a lot of them, but always complanted with local varieties, because that’s how fate and necessity wanted it back then. It’s really fun to watch in the vineyard: the dainty, neat French bunches ooze elegance already at this stage, right next to the Moravian hulk Gruner that’s four times as big. I love to make worlds collide, so we simply harvest & process everything together, et voilá, the bilateral treaty of the year is born.”

Vineyard: Oplocenka (clay and chernozem, planted in 2003) and Achtele (well-drained loess and sand)

Varieties: 2018 is field blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gruner Veltliner, Welschriesling

Making of: the grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed. Most of them are direct-pressed, a small portion (less than 10%) gets a couple of days of skin contact. Spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeast in bigger old barrels from local oak or acacia wood, where it then lays undisturbed for ~2 years on its fine lees. No fining or filtration, no sulfur addition. 

Personality: this surely does speak about its burgundy grapes, although with a different foreign accent that’s easy to fall for. Elegance, balance, savory spicy undertones: definitely one to cellar and watch if you’re patient. (If not, like us, just open it a couple of hours ahead and enjoy it with some nice white fish or noble poultry.)


Transcendent — Back to the top

Winemaker’s note: “The name comes from a typical “distracted winemaker” story: for the “label” of this wine, I experimented with a can of bright pink spray whose label read “Fluorescent”. This somehow mutated in my mind overnight so I thought the spray was called “Transcendent”, and liked that a lot as a sign, because what goes more beyond our usual perceived reality than a rosé under flor?! The next day, I was a bit sad to discover that my conceptually perfect puzzle of wine and its name was a fallacy and that the spray is actually called Fluorescent.. but hey, that doesn’t make the wine any less transcendental, right?”

Varieties: Regent, Neuberger, Riesling

Vineyard: Slovenské, clay and chernozem topsoil on loess. 20+ years old, estate-owned and farmed (certified Organic) by Milan& his team

Vinification notes: Direct press Regent juice is added to an open vat with Neuberger and Riesling fermenting on the skins. Once pressed, the matures in barrels without topping up and a flor (veil of yeast) developed, giving the wine a nutty note. Zero sulfur added, unfined and unfiltered. Each bottle is spray-painted by hand. 

Personality: shapeshifter! Although intense pink in appearance, it tastes rather like a deep white, with slightly oxidative notes and intense acidity. Stuff to geek out on and match food with!


Barvirka — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “Back in the 90s, my dad used to work in a German vine nursery. One of the consequences of this experience was his decision to plant a whole lot of Dornfelder in 2001 – a bold red German-born hybrid, fashionable back then. Tbh, I don’t love it and it took me quite some time to come to terms with it. Influenced by great wines from areas like Jura, Mosel or Burgundy, I wanted to get rid of it and replant it with something else. But – the vineyards are in great shape and it felt so wrong to uproot them. And then, something happened in my head. I lost any ambition to mimic wines made elsewhere and realized that there are other grapes than Pinot Noir and Riesling in the world. What a relief!”

The name means “color-enhancer” in Czech (teinturier in French), as Dornfelder is one of the red grapes that also has red pulp and hence gives wines of intense ruby-violet hue, used sometimes in blends to deepen the color.

Grapes: Dornfelder, Zweigelt and a blend of secret white varieties

Soil: loess and clay

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested and gently destemmed. 100% carbonic maceration of Dornfelder, the wine than spontaneously ferments and matures in tanks and old barrels for about 10 months. At bottling, the juice is blended with a little bit of white wine (undisclosed varieties) to get acid/energy lift. Zero sulfur added, unfined, unfiltered.

Personality: ink-black, with low tannins, low alcohol, and high drinkability. Best served chilled, with just about any easy meal.

Read the backstory of this wine here on Milan’s instagram!

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

<on grapes and humility> Last week, I was on vacation (a real one, even without Instagram posts ha). Which I used to consider an inadequate luxury, thinking I should work all the time. Luckily, I changed my mind and understood how essential taking a break is – relax, invigorate, read books I don’t have time for during the year, clean up my mind. Also a perfect opportunity to taste one’s own wine – like this Barvířka, a new wine born because of a change of mind, too. Back in the 90s, my dad used to work in a German vine nursery. One of the consequences was his decision to plant a whole lot of Dornfelder in 2001 – a bold red German-born hybrid, fashionable back then. Tbh, I don’t love it and it took me quite some time to come to terms with it. Influenced by great wines from areas like Jura, Mosel or Burgundy, I wanted to get rid of it and replant it with something else – bigger, longer, better and more en vogue nowadays. But – the vineyards are in great shape and it felt so wrong to just uproot them. And then, something happened in my head. I lost any ambition to mimic wines made elsewhere and realised that there are other grapes than Pinot Noir and Riesling. My life became sooo much easier. Barvířka is not just Dornfelder though – I love to see diversity in my wines so it also sports some Zweigelt and a secret mix of white varieties (I can be Colonel Sanders too!). And a cute lino-cut label by my fab wife @karfecka . It has low tannins, high colour, low alcohol and high drinkability; I drunk a bottle in an hour all by myself so you can take my word for it. Serve hell-chilled with an open mind. The name means “colour-enhancer” in Czech (teinturier in French) and it comes from the people of @nase_maso – a great butcher shop in Prague that used it to call it Barvířka, as my distributor @dlou_han of @veltlin told me. Any name better than “Dornfelder”, I thought, so there goes “Barvířka” on the label. I did it with only the domestic market in mind bcs the name is f* tongue twister unless you’re a Czech native. But, without even flashing it anywhere, my distributors have already asked for it. Hopefully, it will keep for a while but can’t promise anything. Out now

A post shared by Milan Nestarec (@milannestarec) on


 


Umami — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “Some things are born in perfect circumstances, some by accident, some out of necessity. UMAMI is the latter: I love food. Anything connected to food. Talking about food. I might actually talk more about food than I do about wine. But wine is actually food so all good I guess. Anyway, I adore Asian fare. Especially paired with a distinctly aromatic wine. One of those food-wine pairings that blow your mind and make you understand that sometimes 1+1 equals 3 and that wine and food go together like love and marriage (ugh.. whatever). So I had to create my own umami…”

Grapes: 2018 is a field blend of Traminer and Riesling

Vineyard: Slovenské, one of the first vineyards that Milan’s parents planted themselves. (Actually, the grape combination happened by accident as Milan’s tipsy father once mistakenly planted Riesling right next to older Traminer vines. Loess, clay, chernozem. 

Making of: The grapes are hand-harvested together and destemmed. Most of them are pressed directly, about 10% get a few days of skin contact. Spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeast in bigger old barrels from local oak or acacia wood, where it then lays undisturbed for ~2 years on its fine lees. No fining or filtration, no sulfur addition. 

Personality: wonderfully complementing all Asian dishes, exactly as planned. As Milan says, “UMAMI loosely translates from Japanese as tasty, delicate. I can’t utter a word of that language, but after tasting this wine I feel like I’ve translated it pretty well.”


MOJE — Back to the top

MOJE all bottlesMilan’s notes: “Moje” means My or Mine in Czech, and I stand behind it 300%. Pronounced [mō-yeh] although I like the idea of hearing it sound like “mojo” because this wine surely has one. Arguably one of the best wines I’ve ever put out to the world.” To emphasize how special this wine is, Milan dotted it with 6 different labels using vintage NASA photographs, with dates from the wine’s life, from the plantation of the vines to its release on the day of the 2020 winter solstice. Six different versions of both front and back labels; each case contains them all to tell you the whole story. More on it here.

Grape: Riesling

Vineyard: Babušák, young plantation on loess. Milan Nestarec married his wife Mirka in this very vineyard. 

1500 bts made

Cellar: The wine is a secondary-bottle-fermented sparkling. The still wine was made in 2018, aged for about a year in a local acacia wood barrel. In 2019, the freshly fermenting must from the same plot was added to it as liqueur de tirage, to avoid using any artificial sugars. Bottled in October 2019, laying on its fine lees since. No fining, no filtration, no sulfur added. Undisgorged to give the wine enough aging potential. 

Personality: truly unique. Copper-golden color (not from skin-contact, the wine was deliberately exposed to air in its youth), citrus-honey-wild herb notes, light persistent fizz, fine salinity, and a long, bright, zippy acid backbone. Definitely good aging potential as the winemaker suggests if you’re disciplined enough. If you let the bottle stand upright for 24h prior to its consumption, the lees will sediment at the bottom and let the wine show more of its elegant side; if shaken, you get more roundness.


Veltlin NV — Back to the top

veltlin_back_TtbMilan’s first non-vintage wine and a tribute to the Gruner Veltliner grape that thrives on their loess soils. A 2018 and 2019 “solera” from Velke Bilovice in Moravia, a concept made to last into the future, as its subtitle “Moebius Strip of Wine” suggests. The label is a linocut by the winemaker’s wife Mirka, symbolizing Midsummer’s night herbs.

Vineyard: Zadní Hora, 0.5 ha pure loess plot planted in 1988

Winemaking: Grapes are hand-picked and pressed the day after the harvest, so the enzymes from the pulp can start working the skin. According to the Moravian winemaking tradition, the Veltlin would always go to the same cask that housed it for decades. Nestarec went back to this custom, taking out half of the 2018 barrel during the harvest in 2019 and filled it in with the fresh must of 2019, and so on ad infinitum, like a Solera system. The must is aged in an acacia vat and bottled without any filtering, fining, or sulfur addition.

Personality: only 10 % ABV and heaps of fun! Razor-sharp, bright, with wonderful spiciness and light fruit for days – a must for all you hi-acid lovers.


Bum Bum Cha — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “Danger’s little sister. An unplanned child, though: one day during the 2019 harvest, we finished pressing our Riesling, and one barrel still needed to be topped up with about a third of its volume. We didn’t have time to think about it, but had some direct-press Blaufränkisch at hand. Boom, let’s put them together, fingers crossed. Tasting it before the end of fermentation, boom, we were stunned: hello little beauty, under the crown cap you go, our first rosé pet-nat you shall become. We’d probably never think of putting these two varieties together. Sometimes the best things aren’t born of deliberation but of accidents and necessity. Due to its immediate success (sizzled out of my warehouse in a few days), the 2020 BumCha was a planned parenthood affair. I love the magic that happens when mixing white and red grapes together…”

“The label for both editions was designed by young Brazilian artist Ciro Bicudo – Ciro reached out to me via Messenger after drinking one of my bottles, saying that he liked it and felt like doing something together. I loved his proactivity and his colorful work mixing the street art, carnival, traditional fabrics and craft beer influences; in the meantime, Bum Bum Cha was born and needed a label. Jigsaw falling into place, just as I like it!”

Soil: Loess, clay, sand. Blend of different vineyards in Bílovice and Moravský Žižkov, all estate-owned and organic.

Grapes: the 2020 is a blend of Riesling, Blaufrankisch, Sauvignon Blanc and Zweigelt

Making of: The grapes were hand-harvested, sorted on sorting table and gently destemmed and pressed. Spontaneous co-fermentation finished under crown cap over winter. Unfined, unfiltered, undisgorged, unsulfured. 

Personality: juicy juicy juicy lemonade with bright acidity that wakes up all the senses. The kind of bottle you open while swimming, cooking, chatting (you name it) and boom, it’s gone, without you even realizing…


Senza — Back to the top

Milan on this wine: “Our 2020 vintage spontaneous idea. I was tasting the grapes freshly harvested from our Sahary plot, then my imagination struck, and voilá, an impromptu red sparkler was born.

To be honest, it was probably secretly hatching somewhere in my mind for some time, fuelled by my penchant, or rather obsession to buy Lambrusco each and every time I spot it in Italy. Not that I’ve always loved their taste – I had some incredible ones and a fair bit of bad bottles too – but I really enjoy the idea of a wine that’s at the same time sparkling, aromatic, and red.

The name Senza is a nod to the Italian inspiration and the joyful Italodisco vibe I get when I drink the wine. It’s also a multi-lingual pun: it means “lit” in colloquial Czech, and “without” in Italian, referring to both this wine’s no-additives pedigree and its no-worries merry character. To capture all these references, our graphic designer came up with an amazing flashy-trashy label that’s part Malibu (when I first saw it, it immediately threw me back to my 90s childhood, afternoons spent watching Lorenzo Lamas in Renegade – very fond memories!), part Bibione (we lovingly call it “the beach towel a weird guy next to you would have in a cheap holiday resort “).

To enjoy this whole so-bad-it’s-good Italo vibe even more, we made a special 6-hour Senza playlist, an eclectic selection of vintage bangers and modern disco versions alike. Senza worries, senza make-up, senza solfiti agguinti.”

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pálava, Moravian Muscat

Vineyard: Sahary – sandy plot with mixed plantation from 2003. Estate-owned, organic.

Making of: The grapes were hand-harvested, sorted on sorting table and gently destemmed. The Cabernets underwent short carbonic maceration; while still fermenting, the direct-press Pálava and Muscat must was added. The wine was then bottled under crown cap to finish the fermentation as sparkling wine over winter. Unfined, unfiltered, undisgorged, unsulfured. 

Personality: oh this is really, really fun. Lush and intense dark cherry & raspberry flavors with distinct tannins and very zingy acidity. The kind of wine that will wake you up from basically any state.


Melancholia

This wine is a special cuvée from a distinct part of Milan’s signature vineyard: “We usually use these grapes for TRBLMKR, blended with other parts of the same vineyard, but in 2019 this particular barrel kept being so different from the rest that I eventually decided to bottle it as a wine in its own right, because this material deserves it. It’s so… subtle!”

Label by Milan’s wife Mirka. The name refers to the introspection and silence that this wine encourages, as well as the claim, inspired by the iconic German band Einsturzende Neubauten and their eponymous album.

Grapes: 100% Neuburger

Vineyard: Mid-slope of our Slovenské vineyard, with less topsoil and higher calcium content than other parts. 20+ years old, estate-owned and farmed (certified Organic) by Milan& his team

Making of: Hand-harvested, foot-stomped, pressed the next day, on lees in one big barrel until spring 2022. Bottled unfined, unfiltered, unsulfured. 

Personality: Understated elegance, no shouting, more introspection and focus. Or a long, quiet conversation with a person you really enjoy talking to because of their outside-the-box views and human depths. “I could spend hours only smelling, searching, thinking about this wine…” the winemaker says – and it definitely is material for introspection, although we also had the experience that it’s so juicy that it can disappear in no time. 

This freshness also makes it ready for further evolution – Neuburger gets even more interesting with time.


ATYP

Winemaker’s note: “Atyp is something like our own “Brutal” – a platform for all our craziness/experimentation/fun. I still, after all these years, can’t say no to a beautiful old vineyard, so we often end up with some new material in the cellar, usually asking for a different kind of attention than our established wines. Or I have these impromptu tasting moments in the cellar, when I randomly taste a nascent wine and its singularity literally obliges me to release it on its own, right now, because, f*ck the system. This means that the future of Atyp can hold many different things – from new fieldblends to a micro-lot, or a new method, or anything really. (Yay!) Atyp is a platform for our own discovery – we are lucky enough to have the space to try, learn and sometimes gawk with our mouths open. No borders for Atyp. Anything is possible. Who decides where the limit is?”

Label funfact: “The name and label are a spontaneous affair, too – we were considering solutions both wild and tamed, but then everything fell into place, just as I like it. I had this Atyp sticker on my desk for a while, ever since it dropped from a typography book by Petra Dočekalová. One day, on a whim, I stuck it to a nearby unlabelled bottle, and then basically every visitor who came and saw it asked me whose wine it was. So I thought, ha, I’ll make it mine! Luckily for me, the true Atyp typeface author & owner Tomáš Brousil of Suitcase Type Foundry agreed to let me have a bit of his AtypTM too. So there you go, the total package: spontaneous wine, spontaneous label.”

 

Atyp #1 

Grapes: red-white fieldblend of Blaufrankisch, Portugieser, St. Laurent, Moravian Muscat and Gruner Veltliner & a mix of unknown grapes (both Vitis Vinifera and PiWi hybrids)

Vineyard: Michalica, estate-owned and farmed organically by Milan himself. the upper part of a loess-chernozem slope in Moravský Žižkov, planted in the early 1990s.

Making of: the grapes were hand-harvested in 2021, all together, gently stomped and co-fermented in open-top vats, on skins until the end of primary fermentation. About 8 months on lees in plastic vats. Bottled in Spring 2022, no fining, no filter, no sulfur added.

Personality: Red, young, bright, feisty, ready to be drunk now. “Aromatic and quite atypic, if you ask me… Ideal for all you atypical people out there, and guys like me who have a hard time containing their passion within ranges and limits, ” Milan says.