Dario Quadrano, assistant sommelier at Roux at The Landau, picks out a favourite from the restaurant’s menu

Interview & image: Viel Richardson

Pálava, Sonberk, Moravia, Czech Republic 2015
Pálava is a really interesting white wine from the Czech Republic. The grape was developed in 1953 when a winemaker from Moravia named Josef Veverka crossed two varieties: müller thurgau, which gives the wine its freshness, fruitiness and lightness, and gewürztraminer, which provides the body and aroma. He named his hybrid grape after a local hill, Pálava. On the palate you get tangerines, violets, a general fruitiness, but it has a nice acidity and is more full-bodied than many white wines. There is a beautifully balanced complexity to this wine.

Pálava is very popular at events and on tasting menus. Quite often when a customer is having a tasting menu, they want one wine that will work through several courses, and that can be very challenging. Because it is so versatile, this is one of those wines that can do that job. It goes as well with game as it does with fish and can even work with some desserts.

Bold and round
I first came across it in 2016 when we were looking in eastern Europe for some of the great wines that are produced there, but which are not quite so well-known further afield. Our head sommelier at the time was familiar with Czech wines, and he introduced me to this. My first reaction was, wow! It was bold and round—not characteristics usually associated with white wines. The word ‘harmonious’ was the one of the first thoughts I had. I fell in love instantly. This was really interesting to me because while I really appreciate good white wines, my preference is definitely for reds, so for a white to have such an immediate impact was unusual.

Pálava is a wine that inspires interest from people, and in the time we have sold it, it has developed many loyal fans for whom it is a staple both here in the restaurant and in their homes. Whenever we explain the background to people, they are very surprised at such a good wine coming from a region as unexpected as Moravia. There can be a little resistance at first when someone hears where it is from, but that is almost always overcome with the first taste. But the Czech Republic is becoming increasingly known for producing some good wines, so that resistance is becoming less common. If you are looking for something interesting, or are not usually a fan of white wines, I would definitely give this a try. You could well find a new wine to add to your own wine list.

Roux at The Landau