Stobi wines from Macedonia
Posted on July 02 2015
I do love a native grape variety! While I doff my cap to the nobility, adaptability and great wines made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon there’s something special – for me at least – about discovering an enjoyable wine made from a grape that originated* in the same place as the wine. So, it was with some pleasure then that I greeted the arrival of our new Vranec from the Stobi Winery in Macedonia.
The Vranec (pronounced V-ran–etz) is one of three wines which we now stock from these producers – the others are a dry white blend made from more Balkan varieties (R’kaciteli and Zupljanka with a little help from Chardonnay) and an intriguing barrique aged Petit Verdot.
Before doing a bit of homework, I’m not sure I could really place Macedonia on a map. I now know that it is landlocked, borders Greece and Bulgaria and declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. It’s a place with oodles of history. The area around the vineyards was homeland of Alexander the Great. The ruins of nearby Stobi, the ancient city from which the winery takes its name, are located on the road that leads from the Danube to the Aegean Sea, where many Roman artefacts and mosaics have been found. The peacock used on the winery’s labels is taken from those same mosaics. It is the symbol of immortality and has become a national icon for the Macedonian people.
Tikveš (pronounced Tik-vesh) is the best known wine region in Macedonia – apparently…not that any region is really that well known. With long, hot summers and mild winters Tikveš is located in the very heart of the country along similar latitudes as Bordeaux, Tuscany and the Napa Valley region in California.
The Stobi Winery grows all its own grapes; 200 hectares of which are Vranec. The grapes are hand harvested before being gently crushed and fermented. The resulting wine has complex aromas of chocolate, liquorice and dark cherries. The ripe tannins and fresh acidity provide structure which I think makes this an excellent barbecue wine. I think it has the body to complement your burgers, bangers and beefy steaks this summer. It’s jolly affordable too at £10.50 per bottle or £9.50 in a mixed case of six.
If you’d like to try the Vranec along with the other wines from Stobi then they will be available to try at the Chiswick Shop from 5.30pm on Friday 10 July. The UK representative of the producers, Dominic Thranum, will also be on hand to guide you.
*I know originated can be a disputed term…the Primitivo/Zinfandel/Tribidrag grape for instance is ‘claimed’ by several countries. For a great insight into the 1,368 grape varieties and their family trees I’d really recommend the book Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz. Interestingly, while they agree that Vranec is a Balkan grape…they think it might have only been introduced to Macedonia in the last century.