Tikveš Vranec, Special Selection, Macedonia 2011

This is a perfect example of reason #3* to drink wine: to travel (be transported). Who doesn’t want to try a wine from Macedonia? Ok, it wasn’t the best glass I’ve ever had, but it held its ground against an array of plates (escargot, rabbit spaetzle, and cumin lamb ribs) offering good acidity, balanced fruit, thick tannins…but that’s not what was interesting to me. I just closed my eyes, swilled my glass and imagined Macedonia: hot, dry heat, spices, black, red, yellow, Alexander the Great and his magnificent steed Bucephalus, iron, gold, sweat, fire. Regardless if my wine-swilling fantasy had any truth or not, it really got me to connect with this wine.

Where is Macedonia? Hidden between Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Kosovo. Yes, it’s completely landlocked but has a river and shares 2 lakes with Albania, one of which I believe to be pictured below:

scenery_macedonia

Actually, the country as a whole appears to be much more lush than I previously imagined. The climate varies- there’s even snow in the high mountains near the lakes. Of course, things may have changed since 330 BC, when it may very well have been desert.

Macedonia has three primary wine-growing regions:

Red is the most commonly produced in the following varietals, most of which are international: Vranec (which I had), Cabernet Sauvignon, Kratosija, and Merlot. Apparently, the best and most popular grape with Macedonians is Stanušina Crna, of Macedonian origin capable of producing very high quality wine but basically unknown internationally.

So, when and how was wine introduced? The earliest grape seeds have been dated to the Neolithic period, somewhere around 4000 BC. From Maron, the first to “discover” the art of wine-making and the one to offer 10 amphorae of wine to Homer’s Ulysses (who later uses it to intoxicate the Cyclops), to Aristotle’s personal vineyard at Thasos, followed by an in-depth inscription of rules and regulations regarding the cultivation, sale and exportation of wine, it is clear that Macedonia has been a wine country for a long, long time. Even during the fall of the Roman empire, while Greece and the rest of Western Europe saw a great decline in wine production, the Byzantine era is said to be one of the most fruitful (pardon the pun) for Macedonia. However, much later during the phylloxera epidemic in 1898, their vineyards virtually disintegrated and have never fully recovered, even with the transplantation of French, Bulgarian, and other European vines.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Leave a Comment

  1. I think you have confused Croatia with Albania, in the write up, the Lakes it shares with both Albania (Ohrid) and the other with Greece. Croatia is not bordering with Macedonia at all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s