Czech wine production getting better but still room for improvement, says leading sommelier

Josef Valihrach, photo: CTK

On Thursday evening the Czech Republic’s main awards for wine producers were presented at a ceremony in Prague, with the main prize going to Josef Valihrach, whose winery is located in a small town in south Moravia. The head of the jury was Ivo Dvořák, a founding member of the association of Czech sommeliers. We caught up with him the morning after to find out about the winner, what challenges wine production in the country is facing, and if the quality of Czech wine has improved in recent years.

Josef Valihrach, photo: CTK
“I think so. We are a country with a moderate climate, and we are very good with white wines and rosés in the dry category, which means less than 4 grams sugar per liter. So that wine will in the future be very good for a lot of consumption. And I believe that the global warming brings to the Czech Republic a good opportunity to produce red wines.

“We started now with a grape variety called Pinot Noir or Rulandské modré, which is very good, but also in the future I think that Cabernet Sauvignon will be good in our country.”

Last night, the winner of the best Czech winery award was chosen, you were the head of the committee. Can you tell me a bit about the winner and why he qualified?

Josef Valihrach, photo: www.vinarroku.cz
“The competition was specific in its evaluation of wines, because it’s not only one; it’s a set of five wines. And the committee had to find a winner who scored at least 80 points on a 100 point scale in all five categories. So the winemaker had to be good in all production: white, red, rosé, and sweet wine, and the winner was Josef Valihrach from Krumvíř, it’s a very specific Czech village, and his production is very good. He won because his production is always very high quality, and he was a winner last year as well.

So is there anything that the Czech Republic’s wine producers could do better, anything that could be improved?

“I think the quality of Czech wine is very good, but a lot of experience comes from outside. So there’s always room for improvement, and we, too, have the possibility to make our wine a little bit better.”