Bex.oxo is becoming a regular at Juice Import’s events! We recently attended the Milan Nestarec wine tasting ($25) at Bricks Wine Co, another sold-out event. For this post, let’s listen to “Fly Me to the Moon” by The Macarons Project.
I noticed that our fervent host, Juicee Import co-owner Erik Mercier, has a formula for each class. He likes to begin by delving into the background of each winemaker’s ethos, the sustainability of their farms, and winemaking philosophy. In the case of Milan Nestarec, a winemaker in the Czech Republic, he also spun an intriguing history lesson.
Milan Nestarec hails from Moravia, the Czech Republic’s most southern wine region. In the post-communism era in Moravia, the government restricted winemakers to only selling wine and grapes in bulk to the state-run cooperative winery. As one can only expect when the focus is on quantity, there was no incentive to produce top-quality wines. Instead, chemical farming became the norm, and thousands of years of the country’s winemaking tradition and history were almost lost.
That’s where 30-year-old Milan comes into play. When he was growing up, wine was something to consume after dinner rather than with the meal because the quality of wine was so poor. Milan didn’t want the wine culture to die, so he began producing some of the most compelling wines in the Czech Republic. He’s succeeded. Internationally, he has reached fame in New York, London, and Tokyo. Erik noted that sommeliers regularly battle for his limited-production wines.
I’m always amazed at natural wines’ vivid colours, which shine through the glass like liquid gemstones. Our first tasting was Danger 380 ($47.75), a sparkling wine. Erik retold the story of when Milan first made sparkling wine, a total of 5,000 bottles. Unfortunately, too much sugar resulted in each bottle exploding in his basement. The experience delayed his second trial for five years. Now, his sparkling wine is the sought-after in his line-up. I found Danger 380 light and refreshing, reminiscent of grapefruit, but also with a unique flavour. Aptly named, this wine is dangerous. Bex.oxo called this the perfect jubilation bubbly. I agreed and bought two bottles for the upcoming celebrations.
The second tasting, 2020 Forks and Knives White ($44.95) offered a ton of flavour. I found this wine pleasant, with a tang that tickled the back of my throat. Milan uses only the aromatic grape varieties in the Forks and Knives White: Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, and Neuburger. Erik commented on the wine’s beautiful acidity and earthy, broth-like quality.
Bex.oxo and I enjoyed the aromatic notes in the rosé – 2021 Ruz ($36.95). The colour was similar to strawberry juice. This wine, and the following two bottles, contain a litre, making it a mini-magnum. I knew my friends Kournikova and Fougui would love this wine, so I bought two bottles. I asked Erik what food would pair with the Ruz. A Juice Imports regular, Coke, piped up and said it would pair with Tuesday. Everyone laughed but me, as I have a friend named Tuesday, and for a second, I thought he knew her too. Erik recommended pairing salmon poke or watermelon and feta salad.
The flavour of the 2021 Okr ($40.95) stood out. And what an interesting fragrance! I smelled lycee. Bex.oxo didn’t take to this wine, so she gave me her glass to finish. Erik described this wine as wild, with savoury notes like curry leaves. I bought a bottle for Sunflower as she’s into orange wines and funky flavours.
We tried a red wine next, a 2021 Nach ($36.95). Erik informed us that Nach is the Czech word for “purple,” representing this youthful wine’s colour. Erik described Nach as bright, juicy and fresh. Milan wanted to create something low-key and easy to drink to share with his neighbours. I could taste pepper. Bex.oxo gave me her glass to drink, so I double-fisted my tasting again.
Bex.oxo and I enjoyed the 2020 Forks and Knives Red ($45.95). Erik exclaimed there is tons of structure in the wine. When he sipped, he envisioned jazz music and tall white candles burning. I wanted to buy a bottle, but at this point, I had already surpassed my budget, so I had to tap out.
The last bottle, ATYP #1 ($51.95), is made from a blend of all Milan’s varieties: red and white co-fermentation of Blaufränkisch, Portugieser, Sankt Laurent, Muscat, Grüner Veltliner, as well as others. ATYP #1 is a hard-to-find wine, as only 166 cases were produced.
The fragrance was so pretty, Bex.oxo whispered she wanted to make a candle out of the scent and burn it all night. I thought this was a wild, silky wine. When I asked Erik to describe the flavour and aroma, he laughed and said it smelled like grapes or jam. He could taste dark fruit, such as Saskatoon berries, but with a light body.
Something terrible happened to me after the tasting. The next day when I sipped on a glass of wine, I almost spat it out. Compared to what I tasted the day before, my usual house wine tasted like vinegar. Financially, I miss the days when I could enjoy a glass of Apothic.