Good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people
by William Shakespeare
Only eleven months ago I was telling a French winemaker from Corbières that I was meaning to travel widely in the Balkans in pursuit of great wines. “Good Idea, he responded, and went on to say ‘Focus mostly on Serbia” At this point I can see why he said so. For soils and climate Serbia seems to have been created on this Earth ‘on purpose’ to produce great wines, from crispy and mineral white to flamboyant red. The choice is really broad. The first wine area you will have got acquainted with will almost certainly be Fruska Gora. A system of extinct volcanos on the right bank of the Danube, it stretches from 40 km West of Belgrade all the way to Croatia. It’s absolutely stunning with its National Park and sixteen monasteries. A number of wineries exploit Fruska Gora’s soil, mostly small in size still a large number of varieties are cultivated. One of my favorites is Chichateau of Sisatovac More info
Fabula Mala A Bela is a pure Chardonnay reminding the best Chablis, Pink Punk is a mouthwatering rose, Fabula Mala is a Bordeaux blend certainly not second to many Coastal Supertuscans. Another conventional winery is Kiš from the beautiful Sremski Karlovci: their Portugieser was selected as the best in the world. Try it and even a shred of prejudice is bound ‘to vanish into thin air’. The production of natural wines is on the increase there . Baša makes a wonderful macerated Pinot Gris almost rusty orange red in colour, Maurer’s qvevri honeywhite is the best of the type I have ever tasted amongst the non Georgians. Near the awe inspiring Djerdap i.e. Iron Gates in Negotinska Krajina is the sunniest place of ex-Yugoslavia, where Matalj are making some not at all robust but still generous enough wines: Kremen Kamen is probably the best Cabernet Sauvignon of the Balkans, gloriously ripe/very decent Chardonnay too, especially the 2016.
Bukovo Manastir is a great producer as well: slender and elegant are their two cuvees of Chardonnay and their dry Crna Tamjanika, a type of Muscat found only in Serbia. Vimmid’s entire selection is great; they have rented a part of the land of Bukovo. Raj and Daijc make unusually glorifying Gamays which do tend to need long ageing but the entire selections of both do boast high quality. I love Dajic Sauvignon Blanc 2013 the malolactic fermentation rendering elegance and complexity to it. In the South Župka is Prokupac homeland. Why not come over for The World Prokupac Day at some point. That said, old bush vines give some awe - inspiring wines: check out Budimir, Ivanović, Čokot and Galić . Central Serbia offers a great variety of very good producers: Virtus makes a number of labels, all at least very good. Despotika is a new venture, their fresh whites being very convincing and worth snapping up, so is their young Prokupac too. Temet from Tri Morave also make an excellent young Prokupac and a white blend of two local varieties, Smederevka and Morava, plus Tamjanika (Muscat Petits Grains aka White Muscat) Other wineries well deserving a mention are Izba from Niš, their natural Merlot is excellent, not to be missed out on , Jovic with its feminine Vranac, Aleksić from Vranje (South) whose Vranac is heady and powerful. Zvonko Bogdan, one of its most prominent wine makers near the town of Subotica, make top end wines with international varieties, Maurer besides the one in Fruska Gora has six hectares in Hajdukovo, also near Subotica , where he makes, among other things, a delightful Kadarka . There are plenty of real bargains to be had as well.
On a similar note, Novak Djokovic, a famous top seed tennis Serbian tennis player bought five hectares of forested land in Šumadija, Oplenac area in spring 2016. Planting was due to start this year, which means that the first bottles will be released in 2021. We all hope we will see some rave reviews for that one too any time soon. It’s a booming scene bristling with new ideas and a lot of oozing enthusiasm, the discovery of Serbian wine is an exciting adventure. Serbian wines do range from good to the excellent top end which certainly won’t upset neither your wallet nor your taste buds.
written by GLG
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