Milan Nestarec - I am not a big wine - 2018 - Sahary Field Blend
Chasing the essential, celebrating the mindful.
These last couple of years, people tend to talk about terroir, barrels, batonnage, etc. Big wine is a thing. Not saying it's not important, but when I drink wine with my friends, we just talk about life and have fun. As simple as that. Soil, subsoil, barriques–we couldn't care less.
Every winemaker wants to make a big wine and works hard on it. But, truth be told, most of the wines that have made a mark on me weren't big. They simply had some energy to share with their drinkers. Drunk at the right time, in the right place, and with the right people, which I think is way more important. Most of the really good winemakers that inspire me don't showcase their wine as “big” anyways.
And this wine is my answer to that. I'm happy doing “small“ wines as long as it's fun to make them. Based on wines with the highest zing, usually only a little skin contact, usually old vines. In 2017, it was Riesling, Chardonnay and a pinch of local varietals from a couple of different vineyards. Aged in local acacia barrels for freshness yet still some ability to age.
2018 continues in the same direction, with a shift to single-vineyard sourcing. This is how I want to make the White Labels now: pick all the grapes from one vineyard, gently press, put in one big barrel, let it be for ~2 years, and then just bottle at the right moment. Maybe it sounds lazy, but when you have wise vines in unique locations, there's no need for blending alchemy, no need to try to make it big - nature has already gifted you with the right size of everything. Riesling + a bit of sth else grown on the sand of our Sahary plot.
The 2018 is also the first vintage that saw us release our White Label gems also in a limited amount of bigger bottles - mags, double mags, five-liters (this one is REALLY big). So I lost my previous tagline "bottled it in 750ml so no bigness possible anyways", but gained something else: huge flasks ironically called "I am not a big wine" that are a great party companion.
The story behind the White Label I'm 200% positive that the most important thing is the person who makes the wine. It’s not about a varietal, or a famous village in a famous region - because even those wines can get the bad karma of being massacred in the cellar. It's all about the name on the bottle. A name you can trust, because you know how the winemaker works and that it's a style you enjoy. Hence the Nestarec white label, with my signature on it. (A tad prettier than IRL because my usual scribble is unreadable.) Together with Tereza, my graphic designer, we started taking out elements that weren’t essential - until only “Nestarec” and the name of the wine remained. A purist approach to both what's in the bottle and on it. Because, as they say, perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
I don't wanna look like a natural-born sage - it took me some time to get there. My journey, like many others, has been paved with gold engravings and curlicues, like on a fancy tombstone. “Nestarec, a wine for funerals”, as a friend of mine dubbed it back then. Oops. But I remember that period fondly - it's a part of my evolution. No regrets, like in that famous Edith Piaf song.