Czech wines excel at international wine contest

Czech wine producers returned from an international competition in Bordeaux recently with an impressive haul of awards. Facing competition from 47 other wine-growing countries around the world, they took six gold medals at the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. I spoke to one of the Czech winners from the event.

The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is a well established and highly regarded wine competition, this year featuring some 6000 different samples, all of which were rigorously tested by panels of wine experts at the event. The 2008 edition of the competition was held in Bordeaux, home to some of France, and the world's, most famous wines. Wines from the Czech Republic made a big impression in Bordeaux, holding off strong international competition.

Winemaker Petr Skoupil owns and runs vineyards in Velké Bílovice, not far from Břeclav. This part of South Moravia is very much involved in wine growing, with over a thousand growers in the area. It was one of Skoupil's wines, his red Merlot Barrique wine, which stood out in particular at the competition, and was awarded the Medaille d'Or.

South Moravia as a region accounts for over 90 percent of all wine production in the Czech Republic. The vineyards, Petr Skoupil's included, lie around the river Dyje. Like the majority of the vineyards in the area, Mr Skoupil's vineyard is small, with only a handful of fulltime staff. At critical times of the year, however, other workers are brought in to help out:

"Of course during the harvest and at times during the spring and summer we bring in up to twelve additional people, but they are not the standard staff."

Petr Skoupil's vineyard was particularly happy to win at their first attempt at sending wine to the competition, and to have achieved some recognition for their hard work and the quality of their wines:

"We started to send some samples for the Concours Mondial this year. If you imagine, we started only in January 2008 and we have recieved two gold medals, one at the Vinalies in Paris and now one from the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles; this is great for us. It is just the confirmation we wanted for our good work. It was great to be present with all the international competitors, to be able to compare Moravian wine with other wines from all around the world"

This is not the first time wines from the Czech Republic have done well in international competition; they also performed strongly in the Vinalies Internationales competition held in Paris. In fact, these latest results from the Concours Mondial reveal a growing strengthening of the performance of Czech wines, the country having taken the sixth highest tally of medals. In addition to the six golds, the Czech Republic's representatives at the event took home 11 silver medals between them, placing ahead of established, internationally renowned wine-growing countries such as Australia and Chile.