Saint Martin’s vintage arrives in Prague

In recent years, Saint Martin’s day has become a welcome opportunity for Czech winemakers to present their young wines. The revived tradition of Saint Martin’s wines has caught on, and November 11 has become a fixture in the calendar of Czech wine-lovers. One of the main wine festivals in the capital is held on Jiřího z Poděbrad Square, in the Vinohrady neighbourhood.

At 11 hours and 11 minutes, on November 11, a toast and a fanfare marked the opening of a wine market on Prague’s Jiřího z Poděbrad Square. Dozens of stalls offer this year’s fresh vintage of white and rosé wines, mainly from the Czech Republic’s major wine-making region of South Moravia. One of the winemaker presenting his produce is Jan Vorba.

“I’m from a little family winery, called Vinařství Kubík, from Velké Bílovice. On this occasion we are presenting mainly Saint Martin’s wine, which is inspired by the French tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau. But we also have samples of our regular produce, mainly late harvest and selection of grapes.

Is this your first time here?

“Yes. We joke it’s our zero anniversary because this is our first time here.”

The tradition of Saint Martin’s vintage, popular before the war, has been revived by the Czech winemakers’ association to promote their produce, and provide opportunities for smaller producers to present their wines to the public. Ladislav Mrkva is from the Roseta winery in a small village of Radějov, on the Slovak border.

Saint Martin’s roast goose
“It’s very difficult for small wineries like ours to present our wines in big cities. When you don’t produce large quantities of wine, you cannot get them to supermarkets where most people get their wines.”

The Saint Martin’s wine market in Vinohrady also offers the typical Saint Martin’s dish – roast goose with cabbage and dumplings, and other foods like hams, cheeses, and so on. Despite the time of day –a work day at that – the event attracted hundreds of people, moving from stall to stall with wine glasses. 67-year-old Lubomír Zemánek, who says he has Moravian roots, is a regular visitor to the event.

“It shows what this year’s harvest has been, what the wines will be like. If you are really interested, you probably already know, but it’s always nice to taste them right here, in this environment.”

The market also draws foreign visitors to Prague, curious about the Saint Martin feast as well as the area. Klaus Bohr and his wife came form Denmark.

Ilustrační foto: Český rozhlas - Radio Praha
“We have been to Prague several times but we have only visited the usual tourist attractions in the centre. But then we read an article in a Danish paper about this area, Žižkov. So we wanted to visit it to see what a ‘normal’ area of Prague looks like. And it coincides with this Beaujolais Nouveau, the new wine coming here. We were amazed to see the stalls here, the music and how people live here.”

For more information about Czech Saint Martin’s Wines and where to find them go to www.svatomartinskevino.cz.