So we wanted to introduce you to some of the producers behind the wines that we love and talk all day about at new skanu.
First up - one of the most underrated masters on our shelves - Jaroslav Osička from Velke Bilovice, Czechia.
I remember like it was yesterday. Driving through a village that exuded such a strong identity of being a 'winemaking village' like few others I've been through. You could sense the almost singular focus of the villagers towards their vines, which at this time were heavy with pre-harvest fruit. The narrow roads busy with cyclists visiting one of the most famous wine towns in Czechia - we wound up a hill past a bunch of the ubiquitous Czech wine cellars. I was already wondering how there is room for any kind of commercial scale winemaking operation here. Everything was very cute and compact. The cellars are all fairly common in size and design. Approximately 10m wide with the childrens-drawing profile of a house - 2 small square windows either side of a central door. Many are dug into the hillsides so that this facade is all you actually see of the building. Many are side by side. Some stand alone. Some are plain, others are wonderfully painted and decorated with the local folk-ish colourful design.
It was to such a cellar that we pulled up to. It was immediately cosy and quaint. Very homely. With some childrens toys about the place and bicycles stacked against all the walls. We were warmly greeted by the Osicka family. The women were busy labelling bottles and packing boxes. The men milling about busily doing wine-ey things. Collecting glasses, searching for bottles, answering and asking questions about where is what.
There is a handwritten sign that catches my eye at the entry - it’s for the passing cyclists, it roughly translates to “Don’t ask us for sweet wine - you’ll just piss us off”.
We gradually took ourselves out of the way and took up our places along solid benches at the wooden table at the front of the cellar, that you know, has seen some wine and good discussion. It sits in a lovely spot overlooking the village and the vines and a view south to the hills and vines and villages beyond.
We are slowly guided through all of the Jaroslav Osicka wines one-by-one by his younger son Luboš.
The Rysak shone like the sun that day. A traditional local wine (yet not completely/technically legal under BS local conventional wine laws - which ban this style of blending so they have to sell it all outside Czechia) made from a blend of white and red grapes, in this case Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. It's light and juicy with notes of pomegranate and turkish delight. Simple, yet with a dose of complexity there should you want to look for it. Otherwise it’s a wonderful sunny afternoon accompaniment to a social setting and a snack of fresh juicy red peppers and plums from the Osicka organic garden and with little thought at all, trust me, it will be gone.
We were also given a study in the wonderful local use of acacia and gentle use of oak barrels. The Akacia K.O cuvee (Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc) a testament to the sense of place in the wines - a complex bouquet of acacia flower and citrus on the nose and a juicy body of peaches, juicy red apple and kiwi fruit on the palette.
We also sampled his beautiful and underrated light reds of Pinots and Blauer Portugeusier. P.A.N stuck out as a punchy little light and distinct red.
But then the real deal, his carefully barrel-aged Chardonnays, Gewurztraminers and perhaps my personal favourite “BB” another red/white blend with Pinot Gris and Noir but with amazing structure and body - really something special. The wines are incredibly thoughtful and precise. The common theme is incredible balance owing to the patience and time given to each in barrel and then bottle before release.
All of the wines exhibit phenomenal skill and experience. Owing to Jaroslavs decades making wine completely naturally and with respect to the local grapes and methods to show them best. I always say that the Jaroslav Osicka wines are all really classy natural wines. Not loud or super cool or chasing trends. All class and wisdom. Qualities that are seeing these wines find themselves on some world class winelists at Michelin starred restaurants across the globe. And! In our humble store.