It wasn't until I'd connected with a wine lover from Poland on Instagram and instantly befriended him, that I started thinking about Poland as a wine producing country. None of the textbooks I'd come across ever mentioned Poland. So you can imagine my absolute delight when Gzregorz and his wife visited Cape Town (the first of two visits within the space of a few months...that's how much they loved Cape Town!) and gifted me a few bottles of wines from their homeland.
A Little History:
I've learned that Poland planted its first vineyards in 966 on Wawel Hill in Krakow. 966! We have, as we often do when wine is involved, Christianity and the monks to thank for this. But by the end of the 16th century, wine production had declined, and was eventually decimated by communism.
In 1980, Roman Myśliwiec planted an experimental vineyard, starting a new age of winemaking in Poland. Hybrids were an obvious initial choice for the harsh climate conditions, with Vitis vinifera varieties only being planted in the late 1990s.
One of the things my Polish friend and I often remarked about was the similarities between our countries. We both had a early start to viticulture (though, Poland beats us by 600+ years) and had wine industries that declined as a result of our political situations. Apartheid and communism...anyone who thinks wine and politics are not connected is sorely misguided...and let's not forget religion.
We've both had a fresh start as democratic nations, albeit still working at finding balance, respect and equality for all our people. And, undoubtedly, we both have exciting wine futures that lie ahead of us. I'm particularly interested in observing how climate change could expand the range of grapes able to be grown in Poland.
So...Riesling from Poland?
I was mildly alarmed to discover that, after removing the foil, the cork was oozing a yellow fungus that I’ve never seen before. But the cork felt firm as I pushed through the corkscrew...and most importantly, the wine smelled sound.
An initial effervescence that had me intrigued. Pale golden in colour with a medium+ nose of peaches, dried apricots, ripe golden delicious apples, honey, floral blossoms, and some sulphur that settles quickly. Such a pretty nose!
Mild effervescence on the palate that’s quite enjoyable, dry (but I’m going to say there’s a touch of residual sugar), light bodied, high acidity. Limes and oranges on the palate...with a medium finish that ends in overripe apples, dried apricots, peaches, and even some dried pineapple. Delicious!
Balance (1) + Length (½) + Intensity (1) + Complexity (½) = A good wine
Drink now, but potential for further ageing....with mild concerns about the cork.
This was a very impressive Polish Riesling that I had every intention of saving for a good many years - not only because it's Riesling, but also for sentimental reasons. But I am so very glad that I decided to open this bottle as it has become tangible evidence of the capabilities and potential of Polish wine.
Tasted on a root/flower day according to the Biodynamic Calendar for the SH.
Find the wine:
This was a gift, but you can read more about Winnica Turnau here: https://www.winnicaturnau.pl/en