Prague Castle and Vineyard: EU Austerity Drinking Tour Czech Republic

Wait… Where were we? Oh right! After packing a lifetime of museums, sacher torte, and gruner veltliner into three days in Vienna, we trundled onto a train and headed to Prague, Czechoslovakia (click here):

EU Map New York To Prague Day 149The trip’s pace has been manic. 149 straight days of travel demanded that we slow down.  We even rented a hotel this time.  Our first Czech wine purchase, Sovin Pinot Noir, was barely drinkable. So we head out for beer.

But fate thought otherwise.  Prague presents a tangle of streets, packed with buildings that look European but feel foreign, Eastern.  We end up on the other side of town and find… vineyards.

St Wencelas Vineyard, founded in 908 makes it Czech’s oldest.

St Wencelas Vineyard AaronBut we did not come for wine.  Looming over these vines hangs the largest castle…in the world: Prague Castle.  Really, it is just a hilltop city filled with over a thousand years of cathedrals, palaces, and ornate buildings all for whomever rules from here (including Parliament today).

Aaron Prague CathedralHowever, the lines ran for miles and the ticket costs did not meet our austerity measures. So we simply gawked and walked through the ornateness of it all.

Prague CastleWith the sun setting and hunger creeping up on us. We tumble back down into town and discover a fantastic brewery: The Three Roses. Check back next Monday for Wayward Wine’s review!


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Before We Leave Vienna… Viennese vs Italian Coffee

Ok! Ok! OK!  I know I have been slacking.  But let’s get Wayward Wine’s EU Austerity Drinking Tour back on track.  Before we land in Prague, after 149 days of straight travel, let us answer the question you have all been asking since the beginning of time:

Which is better: Italian Espresso or Viennese Coffee?

Hans und Hans or Lavazza Club? Tough choice…

Well, before we leave, here’s an average Viennese parking lot:

Check in next Monday (finally) for our drinks-driven trip to Prague!

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Thirsty Thursday: Beronia, Rioja Gran Reserva, Spain 2006

Late to the gates, let’s make Thirsty Thursday’s recommendation quick.

My seventh anniversary is near.  To taste what pre-marital freedom was like, I turn to a wine cellared for five years, 2006’s Gran Reserva from Beronia in Rioja, Spain (around $30).

Beronia Rioja Spain Gran Reserva 2006Appearance: it looks a clear, deep garnet with a narrow lighter rim and a birch forest of legs.

Aromas: smell intensely of deep, warm pomegranate, tobacco, black tea, cocoa, and lavender.

Palate: feels bone dry, with mouth-cleansing acidity, ripped tannins, moderately high alcohol, and a fullish body, and dusty yet fruity texture.

Flavors: taste powerfully, oddly, of fresh tart blackberries and purple prunes, classic French oak cigar at full burn, without a sliver of American oak, mineral slate, lavender and blueberry jam round off the long finish.

Beronia’s best narrowly manages to not go overboard with intensity and structure. Toasted oak planks lay on berries like a collapsed house.  The two years in only French barrels seem to overwhelm the fruit, yet which itself provides a massive black core. One had better find red meat or flounder.

But for our sakes, three extra years cellaring in bottle have just begun to integrate what must have been a jangly mess originally.  I hate to call a 9 year old wine too young, but honestly, a few more quiet years would mellow this brash wine.

Beronia’s Gran Reserva is modern Spain chasing the coattails of modern Bordeaux and overall it succeeds (4 of 5). Maybe it just needs to find someone special and settle down for a while.

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On Vacation in Scottsdale: El Padrino de Mi Terra Agave Anejo Mexico

Wayward Wine hops a jet for February sun in Scottsdale, Arizona. Since this is a mini vacation from wine, liquor is on order. We despaire to find any booze since Arizona’s lottery only allows a limited number of liquor sellers. After a night of  some questionable beer, we land on the megolith Total Wine and More. We grab a wallet-friendly Tequila ($28):

El Padrino De Mi Terra, Anejo, 100% Agave.

Appearance: medium intense golden straw, bright but not brilliant.

Aromas: medium intense spiced nutmeg, vanilla, honey, golden melon.

Palate: Dry, low acid, a bit tannic, hot somewhat astringent alcohol, medium plus bodied, mostly smooth.

Flavors: rough bourbon char crackles against a plump core of pear, citrus, and honeyed melon fruit.

El Padrino’s Anejo is spicy and edgy, yet soft, plump and inoffensive enough to sip neat. Good (3 of 5).

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Thirsty Thursday: Domaine Terlato and Chapoutier Shiraz Viognier Victoria Australia 2012

This Thirsty Thursday lights on a strange affair riven between three countries. The wine is from Domaine Terlato and Chapoutier. Neither name sounds very Australian. This is because Napa bound Tony Terlato began importing Michel Chapoutier’s wines from the Cotes du Rhone. A decade later in 1998, Michel discovered land in Australia, got excited, and got Tony to support planting Shiraz. Six years of drought delayed production, but by 2004 640 cases happened.

At the same time, a larger plot over in Victoria grew Shiraz and Viognier: catnip for Michel to make into his own version of Australian Cote Rotie. Thus, 2012 saw 90% Shiraz and 10% Viognier cofermented and aged in stainless and cement tanks far from any barrel. The coferment retains shiraz’s brilliancy, while adding floral tones and much needed acidity.

Terlato chapotier Shiraz Viognier 2012 Australia wine

Appearance: a pretty intense ruby color with a razor thin clear rim.

Aromas: smell of medium intense leather, marischino cherry syrup, violet, blackberries, and iron filings.

Palate: feels dry, with just enough acidity, very present medium muscular tannins, warm coal alcohol 13.5%, making for a medium body.

Flavors: taste properly focused, brambly blackberry, tart blood orange, laced with iron filings and a medium plus length.

Terlato and Chapoutier’s Shiraz Viognier is continuously drinkable.  The lack of oak allows shiraz to flaunt its spice and complexity. It is serious wine and could stand up to most foods yet drinks alone with youthful exuberance.  At $16 you can’t go awry.

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