MORAVIA Solaris, Irsai Oliver or Moravian Nutmeg. About two weeks later than last year, the sale of partially fermented grape must or burčák began. Winemakers praise this year’s harvest of the first grape varieties.
Burčák has already been offered by the first winemakers, its price remains the same as last year – about 70 to 80 crowns per liter. After a year, the inspectors of the State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority are preparing for the field again in this context.
Burčák allows Czech legislation to sell from August 1 to the end of November. Last year, fans of this drink were able to shop right from the first days of August – thanks to the extremely warm year. This year, however, the wine calendar returns to the traditional dates, which attribute the start of burčák to mid-August.
“We have just started selling. Due to the rainy weather a few days ago, we waited a bit for the harvest, but we already have burčák, “confirms Marek Šťastný, head of the Valtice Wine Cellars, which with more than a thousand hectares of vineyards is one of the largest vine growers in our country.
The Valtice family started with the Solaris variety, but in order to have more grapes for the burčák, they also try the newly grown Agustovsky variety, which comes from Moldova. “It is one of the earliest varieties, it is resistant, chemical protection against fungal diseases is not necessary, so it is also suitable for organic production,” adds Šťastný.
There are no figures on the amount of burčák sold, or the share of the crop that winegrowers set aside for this “intermediate”. What is certain is that the interest of buyers is growing. Burčák is tempting with a balanced semi-sweet taste and lower alcohol content (yeast has not yet consumed all the sugar contained in the berries for alcohol).
“It has its place in tourism, various festivities and the like. But top winemakers with top wine keep as many pressed grapes as possible for the final product. They can then evaluate it better. On the other hand, burčák represents fast money that can be obtained immediately from part of the harvest, “comments the situation of the president of the Czech Wine Growers Association, Tibor Nyitray.
Nice wines are waiting for us
According to him, the current weather and the harvest of the first varieties suggest that this year’s harvest could be very good. According to Nyitray, it will not be as “baked” as last year due to the great heat and drought. “It doesn’t have to be so much affected by the long-lasting heat, so the wines could be pretty juicy, fruity, lighter and more mature, not so sweet,” the head of the Winegrowers’ Association suggests.
One of the growers who sell part of the production, even if only a very small one, in the form of partially fermented grape must is the Sýkora Wine from Čejkovice. The winery, which sells its products in 14 wine shops and to other customers throughout the Czech Republic, is waiting for the end of August with the offer of burčák until their grapes are fully ripe.
“Demand is large and stable. But we have only a minimal fraction of the harvest for burčák. This year, it would not have to be bad at all due to optimal conditions. Maybe even better than last year. But we are only at the beginning and the last word is always nature, “confides the head of the winery, Michal Bureš.
According to the Wine Act, the term burčák can be used to refer to only partially fermented must from grapes of given parameters (for example, alcohol content limit, no added water, limited sugar enrichment) originating exclusively from vineyards in the Czech Republic.
Inspectors on alert
Compliance with the rules is checked by the State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority. Last year, inspectors inspected 290 establishments offering burčák or partially fermented grape must from imported grapes and took a total of 61 samples for laboratory analysis. Of these, ten samples did not comply with the legal limits, which was the most since 2013.
WHAT IS BURČÁK
■ Partially fermented must exclusively from grapes.
■ The name burčák can only be used for a product from grapes harvested in the Czech Republic. If it comes from imports, it must be described as partially fermented grape must.
■ Misuse of the name burčák is considered a misleading consumer and in such cases the CAFIA initiates administrative proceedings to impose a fine.
■ It is considered the most delicious at the stage when it is so-called cooking (phase of stormy fermentation). At this time, it has an optimal ratio of sugar and alcohol.
■ Its sale is permitted only from 1 August to 30 November.
■ The minimum alcohol content is 1%, most often 4-7%.