GASTRONOMY: Sommelier Andrej Lucny

6 Posted by - June 25, 2015 - GASTRONOMY

SOMMELIER ANDREJ LUCNY FROM VINIMKA WINE BAR, SLOVAKIA

What was the most expensive vintage wine you’ve tasted?

“A great wine. Surely one of the best ever, is Latours.
I had a chance to drink the Château Latour–Vintage 1945 Pauillac, 1er cru classé, Château-bottled, during a very special occasion a few years ago.
The quantities produced are very limited. It has been said that 1945 was the end of an era during which wines were still made by a long and slow fermenting process and by a lengthy maceration. The best of those wines are, however, still youthful, vibrant and lovely today. I confess that this 1945 Latour was out of my experience with vintage wines. One expects freshness in the wines offered at the Château, but this wine could have easily been fifty years younger than it was! My nose revealed the smell of primary cherry aromas and flavors, with a great depth and a fine intensity of spicy, savory complexity. The youthfulness is also apparent on the palate. It has a wonderfully round, fat, almost regal texture, as well as it retains a great density, a depth of flavor and length. An absolute perfection.”

What did inspire you to become a sommelier?

You know, when you’re eighteen and you’re supposed to choose what you want to do in your life, the decision is very difficult. I ended up studying Art Conservation and Restoration, aimed at safeguarding history – keeping the past for the future generations to enjoy, field that links practical skills of preservation with scientific investigation and analysis. This gives one the ability to identify an object’s social and historic importance and to reveal and preserve its authentic appearance. After finishing my degree I spent some time in this profession. All changed when I got the opportunity to go to Austria and work in hospitality, where I stumbled across a large collection of wines. In a sense I was lucky, or the universe simply arranged it this way and from that moment I fell in love with all the mystery and production of wine. I think it’s important to mention that I was surrounded by very passionate people, so there was, and still is, a healthy drive to improve.

What does bring in you the passion for wine?

My pure inspiration and fascination with wine is with the beauty of its own magic, the uniqueness of its taste, a perfect balance of nature, terroir and human artistry filled with all the history behind every winery and any unique wine. I love to explore and I always look for new challenges to get to know as much as possible about every winemaker in my loop. It is a relationship that matters to me, to know the winemaker who is ultimately reflected in the wine.
And let’s not forget that wine brings people together and I am a very social person who likes to socialize in good spirits with a good glass of wine.

What is your favourite way of drinking wine?

This might be somewhat contradictory to what I just said about socializing and togetherness in connection with wine, but I like to slow down and keep the experience just to the wine and myself. Just me and a glass of wine,
with birds singing in the garden and certain inner calmness and personal joy in exploring the wine in a very relaxed way. This is when I really have an intimate and special moment with wine. I usually drink all vintage wines with no additional foodie bites. I also enjoy drinking vintage wines with friends who are as passionate as I am about wine and I love the discussion and atmosphere a good wine drinking creates.

Do you see winemaking as an art or skill or a mix of both?

For some making wine is very academic. An absolute precision is required. Lab tests show the precise acidity for the exact day for picking grapes.
You could say that in a way it is like being a midwife to the birth of wine. In my view winemaking is a perfect balance of nature, terroir and human artistry – a piece of history and DNA passed by winemaking family members.

What was the most interesting place/vineyard/wine production you’ve visited?

This question is a little sensitive, since I spend so much time working on relationships with chosen winemakers, making every one of them very special to me.
But if I really must answer your question, I would say that I was very impressed when I first visited the Gerhard Heinrich winery. In those days he was the pioneer of an organic production and to me this natural knowledge was like the Holy Grail. I should also mention my first visit to Montepelosso and the Peter Malberg wine production as well as the absolutely amazing trip to South Africa to meet Karl Shultz and his famous Pontac winery for the first time.

Tell us about the top trend wines in Vinimka for 2015?

For Vinimka wine bar and for me in general this year’s challenge is the terroir of France. We are planning to visit the famous Union des Grands Crus tasting in Bordeaux, and personally, I would also love to get to know some of the smaller wine producers in the Burgundy area more closely. I am very excited about this year. Especially because France has been on my mind ever since that first unforgettable bottle of Latour. The Bourdeax region is extraordinary and very good at selling the magic of wine. And Vinimka wine bar is all about glorious moments with wine.

The history of wine goes thousands of years back, what did wine symbolize then and what does it symbolize today?

“Wine has been a part of civilized life for some seven thousand years. It is the only beverage that feeds the body, soul and spirit of man and at the same time stimulates the mind…” – Robert Mondavi

Our natural fondness for this drink stems from its nice taste, its nutritious properties and not least its intoxicating effects. No other alcoholic beverage has had such an impact on society.
The wine trade opened up channels for religious and philosophical ideas to spread across Europe. No one can be sure, but there is an ancient Persian fable that recognizes a woman as the discoverer of wine. According to this fable, she was a princess who had lost favor with the King. The shame was so overwhelming that she ate some table grapes that had spoiled in their jar in an attempt to end her life. Her suicide did not go as planned, instead of slipping into eternal slumber, she got giddy, intoxicated and then she passed out. When she woke up she found out that all the troubles of her life seemed to have gone away.
Metaphorically speaking, there is a truth in wine – when people are more or less intoxicated, they utter many things they would at other times conceal or disguise. Our society and the standard of living has become full of anxiety, so for to have a glass of wine with friends and to relax, to simply shut down, any day is pretty much a good occasion.
However, if we look upon wine trade these days, you may notice a lot has changed with the wine business. For the last 10 years especially, the vintage wine has become a valuable drink in commercial reality, it is more a commodity these days. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve become so well known in Slovakia as an expert for building archives of vintage wine. It is a pretty damn good investment!

Why do you think wine tasting has become widely trendy again?

It doesn’t take a great knowledge of history to remember long periods of the last century, when the wine business wasn’t as lucrative as it seems to be now. A cursory visit to New Zealand, the Piedmont or Italy, Burgundy, or Napa Valley shows enviable prosperity. This prosperity, the seemingly glamorous lifestyles, and a passion for wine fit nicely into the 21 century obsession of Foodie culture. The “Wine Diva Lifestyle” is an art of living, full of unique stories to tell and experiences to live for.

What is the life motto of Andrej Lucny?

I get my satisfaction out of seeing people understand wine better. That’s where I get my high. I look at them and in their eyes I see the moment when they realize wine can be simple, and misconceptions they previously had are destroyed. I always wish to link the unique experience with wine to a memory of taste and education. As a professional, you have to put your personal preferences aside and evaluate the product according to where it is from, how it should taste and if it’s a good example within its category.

“Wine, it’s in my blood and I can’t get it out.”

Aké najdrahšie víno ste pili?
SOMELIÉR ANDREJ LUČNY VINIMKA WINE BAR, SLOVENSKO

Výborné víno. Zrejme jedno z najlepších – Latour.
Pred niekoľkými rokmi a pri mimoriadnej udalosti som mal príležitosť ochutnať Château Latour–Vintage 1945 Pauillac, 1er cru classé.
Jeho produkcia bola veľmi obmedzená. Mnohí poznamenali, že ročník 1945 bol koncom éry, kedy ešte vína robili dlhou pomalou fermentáciou a zdĺhavou maceráciou so šupkami. Avšak najlepšie vína dnes sú mladé a plné života. “Priznávam, že toto 1945 Latour bolo mimo mojej skúsenosti s týmto ročníkom vína. Človek by očakával svieže víno, ale toto víno bolo o päťdesiat rokov mladšie ako v skutočnosti! Nos odhalil mnoho skutočne primárnych čerešňových aróm a chutí, s veľkou hĺbkou a skvelou intenzitou korenistej, voňavej zložitosti. Na jazyku je znova zjavná mladosť. Má úžasne okrúhlu, sýtu až kráľovskú textúru, ale zároveň si zachováva veľkú hutnosť, hĺbku chute a dĺžku. Stelesnená dokonalosť.”

Čo Vás viedlo k tomu, aby ste sa stali someliérom?

Viete, keď máte 18 rokov a máte si vybrať, čo budete v živote robiť, je to vo všeobecnosti ťažké rozhodnutie. Dal som sa na štúdium výtvarnej konzervácie a renovácie, ktorej cieľom je ochraňovať históriu a zachovávať minulosť pre potešenie budúcich generácií. Spája praktické zručnosti s vedeckým výskumom a analýzou. To človeku umožňuje identifikovať spoločenský a historický význam diela, odhaliť a zachovať jeho autentický vzhľad. Po získaní titulu som nejaký čas strávil v tejto profesii. To sa však zmenilo po tom, ako som dostal príležitosť pracovať v Rakúsku v oblasti pohostinstva a stretol som sa s veľkou zbierkou vína. V istom zmysle som mal šťastie alebo to jednoducho vesmír tak zariadil a hneď od začiatku som sa zamiloval do tajomstiev a výroby vína. Myslím, že je dôležité, aby som spomenul skutočnosť, že som bol obklopený vášnivými ľuďmi, takže tam bol a do dnešného dňa aj je zdravý “drive” k neustálemu zlepšovaniu.

Čo vo Vás vzbudzuje vášeň k vínu?

Moja inšpirácia a očarenie vínom je v kráse jeho vlastného čara, v unikátnosti jeho chute, v dokonalej rovnováhe prírody, terroir a ľudského umenia naplnenej všetkou tou históriou každej vínnej pivnice a unikátneho vína. Rád preskúmavam a vždy vyhľadávam nové výzvy zoznámiť sa s každým vinárom. Záleží mi na tomto vzťahu, ktorý sa v konečnom dôsledku odráža vo víne.
A nezabudnime, že víno spája ľudí a osobne som veľmi spoločenský človek, ktorý sa rád stretáva s ľuďmi v dobrej nálade, s pohárom dobrého vína.

Aký je Váš obľúbený spôsob pitia vína?

Možno sa to zdá protichodné, keďže som práve spomínal spoločnosť v súvislosti s vínom, ale ja rád spomalím a sú momenty, kedy zostávam s vínom sám. Pohoda, to som ja s pohárom vína, spievajúcimi vtáčikmi v záhrade a vnútorný pokoj a radosť z vychutnávania si tejto intímnej chvíle s vínom. Väčšinou si vychutnávam víno samotné, bez jedla. Rád si ho vychutnávam aj v spoločnosti priateľov, ktorí sú rovnako vášniví ako ja, keď ide o víno, a rád vediem debaty a robím všetky tie ostatné veci, ktoré sprevádzajú pohár dobrého vína.

Je podľa Vás výroba vína umením alebo zručnosťou či spojením oboch?

Pre niektorých je to veľmi akademická veda. Vyžaduje si absolútnu precíznosť. Laboratórnymi testami sa zisťuje presná kyslosť pre konkrétny deň zberu hrozna.
Určitým spôsobom je to ako byť pôrodnou babou pri zrode vína. Z môjho osobného pohľadu rozhodne leží za porozumením vína “unikátnosť chute, dokonalá rovnováha prírody, terroir a ľudského umenia”. Kus histórie a DNA posúvaná medzi členmi vinárskej rodiny.

Aké bolo najzaujímavejšie vinárske miesto /vinica/, ktoré ste navštívili?

To je tak trochu citlivá otázka, nakoľko trávim veľa času na vzťahoch s vybranými vinármi, takže každý z nich je pre mňa jedinečný.
Ale aby som zodpovedal otázku, môžem povedať, že veľký dojem pri prvej návšteve na mňa spravila vinica Gerharda Heinricha. V tých časoch bol priekopníkom v ekologickej výrobe a pre mňa boli tieto znalosti ako svätý grál. Nemal by som zabudnúť spomenúť prvú návštevu v Montepelosso a vinárstvo Petra Malberga ako aj absolútne úžasnú cestu do Južnej Afriky za účelom prvého stretnutia s Karlom Shultzom a jeho povestnou vinicou Pontac.

Povedzte nám o top trendových vínach Vinimka pre rok 2015.

Pre vínny bar Vinimka a vo všeobecnosti vôbec je terroir Francúzska výzvou pre rok 2015. Chystáme sa navštíviť slávnu ochutnávku Union des Grands Crus v Bordeaux, pričom ja osobne by som sa rád bližšie zoznámil s menšími vinármmi z oblasti Burgundska. Som plný vzrušenia z tohto roka. Hlavne preto, že Francúzsko mám v myšlienkach od tej nezabudnuteľnej prvej fľaše Latour. Región Bordeaux je výnimočný, vie veľmi dobre predať kúzlo vína. A vínny bar Vinimka je presne o týchto krásnych chvíľkach s vínom.

Prečo sa podľa vás stala ochutnávka vína znova tak populárna?

Nevyžaduje si to veľkú znalosť histórie, aby sme si spomenuli na rozsiahle časti minulého storočia, kedy nebolo podnikanie s vínom také lukratívne ako dnes. Letmá návšteva Nového Zélandu, Piedmontu alebo Talianska, Burgundska či Napa Valley ukazuje na závideniahodnú prosperitu. Táto prosperita, zdanlivo vzrušujúci životný štýl a vášeň pre víno pasujú celkom pekne do posadnutosti 21. storočia s “foodie” kultúrou. “Životný štýl vínovej divy” je umenie žiť život plný neobyčajných príbehov a skúseností.

Aké je životné krédo/motto Andreja Lúčneho?

Uspokojuje ma, keď vidím ako ľudia lepšie rozumejú vínu. To ma napĺňa. Pozerám na nich a vidím v ich očiach uvedomenie, že víno môže byť jednoduché a mylné predstavy, ktoré predtým mali, sú tak zničené. Vždy si želám spojiť výnimočnú skúsenosť s vínom so spomienkou na chuť a poznanie. Ako profesionál musíte vlastné preferencie odložiť bokom a vyhodnotiť produkt podľa toho odkiaľ pochádza, aký by mal byť a či je dobrým príkladom v rámci svojej kategórie.

“Víno je v mojich žilách a nemôžem ho odtiaľ dostať.”

INTERVIEW BY MARK LADIVER
Photo by Maceklab, Natalia Janula, Mark Ladiver