Thursday, September 29, 2016

Moravia in Texas

Last weekend we went to the Houston Slavic Heritage Festival, as we do most years. This year it celebrated the food, music, and crafts of the Ukraine, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Poland. I drink beer at the Slavic Fest (it goes perfectly with sausage and sauerkraut!), but being there reminded me to drink my bottles of wine from the Moravia Winery in central Texas.

The Moravia Vineyard and Winery is named (I assume) after the town in which the vineyard resides, Moravia, Texas (though the winery's address is in nearby Schulenburg). Moravia, Texas was founded in 1881 by Czech and Moravian settlers, who named the town after the Moravian region of the Czech Republic (or do we call it Czechia now?). This region of the Czech Republic produces more than 90% of the wine in that country, so it makes perfect sense to name the winery after the town named after the region.

The Moravia Winery grows Blanc du Bois (white) and Black Spanish/Lenoir (red) grapes, which it produces in a dry style. It also makes a sweet rosé. These lesser-known grapes flourish in regions near the Texas gulf coast where humidity and Pierce's disease wreak havoc on other grape varieties. (For more information, check out "Introduction to the Grapes of Texas" or "Profile of the Black Spanish Grape." Disclaimer: the link to the Black Spanish profile leads to an article I wrote for Home Brew Talk, and it contains a few errors introduced by their editors, which is why I no longer write for the site.)

Earlier this year I bought a bottle of Moravia's 2014 "Red Wine Cervené Vino Rosso" at the Urban Harvest Eastside Farmers Market and a bottle of 2014 Blanc du Bois at the downtown Houston Spec's. Both were around $20. (Google translate says that cervené means red in Czech.) I stuck the bottles in the wine fridge and nearly forgot about them until I saw the Moravia region of the Czech Republic mentioned at the Slavic Fest.

The 2014 Vino Rosso is a deep brick red, not quite opaque, with aromas of fresh and dried cherry, blackberry, plum, a hint of chocolate, and an earthiness that reminds me of cedar. The flavors on the palate match the aromas. The fruit is tart, yet rich and smooth. A hint of something smoky and savory lingers on the finish. My husband detected minerality on the finish which I didn't notice, but would account for a certain brightness in the flavor. With moderate acid, moderate tannin, and moderate alcohol (13% abv), this is a great example of what the sometimes difficult Black Spanish grape can do when it's treated well.

The 2014 Blanc du Bois smells a bit like Moscato and a bit like Sauvignon Blanc. It has aromas of peach, apricot, gooseberry, white grape, green apple, and a hint of something vegetal. It's dry, with high acid, and less fruit and more minerality on the palate than on the nose, but with a nice floral finish, a light body, and moderate alcohol (13%).


I would buy both these wines again as good examples of what Texas wineries can produce from these lesser-known varieties.

Moravia Vineyard and Winery isn't currently on one of the Texas Wine Trails, but it's near the wineries of the Texas Independence Wine Trail. Tastings are free when you visit the winery. Stop by the next time you're driving from Houston to San Antonio, or take a weekend getaway and visit everything else the area has to offer, like the Shiner Brewery, the Painted Churches, and of course, more wineries.

(By the way, only true friends who understand your love of wine will buy you an upside down rubber chicken wine stopper.)

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