Tasting Macedonia Wines

Below is a selection of Macedonian wines that impressed my palate during my recent visit to the country. I provide tasting notes to help convey the individuality of the wines as well as the wineries that produced them. Most of the wineries are members of the Wines of Macedonia association, which was founded in 2010... View Article


Below is a selection of Macedonian wines that impressed my palate during my recent visit to the country. I provide tasting notes to help convey the individuality of the wines as well as the wineries that produced them. Most of the wineries are members of the Wines of Macedonia association, which was founded in 2010 to help further develop and support Macedonia’s burgeoning wine industry. All of the wineries and vineyards are located in the Vardar River Valley region. By Darrel Joseph

a) CHATEAU SOPOT

A young winery founded in the Veles district in 2006, Chateau Sopot has planted its 103 ha with an array of international grape varieties, including Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. www.chateausopot.mk

Chardonnay Barrique Grand Reserva 2012 (14.5% alc)

Recently released, this wine shows firm structure and full body with time still needed to smoothen the oak integration (it matured for 20 months in new French barrels). Eventually, the tropical fruit nuances, such as mango and banana, should be more pronounced. Lovely acidity and length.

Cabernet Sauvignon Barrique Reserva 2008 (14% alc)

Made from 23-year-old vines, this Cabernet shows a potpourri of fresh jam notes – raspberry, blackberry and black currant – plus captivating nuances of bloody meat and eucalyptus. Matured for one year in new French and American oak.

Alšar Barrique 2007 (14% alc) – Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), Merlot (10%), Cabernet Franc (5%)

A big, beautiful Macedonian red blend that underscores how much Cabernet Sauvignon is at home in Macedonia. Very sophisticated with deep cassis, black currant, blueberry and blackberry aromas and flavours – all fresh; no cooked or over-matured notes. Very balanced with gorgeous tannins. Spent 2.5 years in barriques, and released earlier this year. Just 1000 bottles.

b) POPOVA KULA

Jordan Trojkov founded the 17-ha Popova Kula estate in the Tikveš district in 2004, and immediately began focusing primarily on Balkan grape varieties, including the indigenous red Stanušina. Also planted in the sand and limestone-rich soils here are Vranec, Prokupec (also red) and the white Temjanika (Muscat Frontignan) and Žilavka. www.popovakula.com.mk

Stanušina Rosé 2013 (12.5% alc)

A unique wine with soft strawberry and a dash of pepper spice on the nose, and plenty of crisp strawberry flavour. Gorgeous body, vibrant acidity and lengthy palate. Perfect as an aperitif, with salads, and even for year-round drinking pleasure. Popova Kula’s best-selling wine.

Prokupec 2013 (12.7 % alc)

From very young vines – the first harvest, in fact ! – this wine features scents of blackberry pie and calfskin, and mouthwatering flavours of raspberry, red currant and blackberry with a touch of mocha on the finish. Elegant and juicy with well-integrated acidity. Recently bottled, though not released yet.

Vranec 2012 (14% alc)

From the “Perfect Choice” line, this spontaneously fermented wine spent 14 months in used oak barrels. Now it is showing as elegant and clean a nice balance of fruit and acidity. The palate is delicious with tones of chocolate, plum, blackberry and mulberry. Very well made.

c) TIKVEŠ

Founded in 1885, the Tikveš winery – in the Tikveš district, of course – is a Balkan icon. Even its big-volume signature wine, a semi-dry Vranec called T’ga za Jug (“longing for the south”), has been produced since the days when Macedonia was a republic of Yugoslavia, and is still a top-seller throughout the entire region. In recent years, however, Tikveš has been producing premium wines for labels such as Bela Voda and Borovo, which are from reduced grape yields. And recently, the winery introduced its premium Domaine Lepovo line, which features a Chardonnay 2013 and will soon include Pinot Noir, Vranec and a cuvée blend. www.tikves.com.mk

Bela Voda red 2012 (14% alc)

Made from a 45-year-old vineyard planted with Vranec and Plavac Mali – two of the most renowned varieties of the Balkans. Seductive nose with red fruit and soft mint aromas. Mouthfilling flavours of cranberry, lingonberry, raspberry, a touch of orange and a hint of clove. Youthful tannins and vibrant acidity. Plenty of ageing potential. Delicious!

d) SKOVIN

Established in 1979 as one of Yugoslavia’s wine kombinats, Skovin still utilises 80% of its wines for bulk. However, it is finally beginning to come into its own as a quality wine producer, and is beginning to show some fine bottled versions. www.skovin.mk

Cuvée Selection (Barrique) 2010 (13% alc) – Made of Vranec (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%), Syrah (15%), Merlot (15%) and Sangiovese (10%)

Matured for two years in new Serbian and Slavonian oak, this wine exudes flavours of black currant, blackberry, eucalyptus, and a nuance of bay leaf. A subtle savoury hint also. Juicy texture, balanced ripeness and good oak integration. A touch of vanilla on the finish. A fine example of a Macedonian blend.

e) STOBI

A stunning modern winery founded in 2009 in the Tikveš district, Stobi produces wines that are excellent not only in quality, but also value-for-money. www.stobiwinery.mk

Žilavka 2013. (12% alc)

From the “Classic” series, a refreshing wine with aromas of citrus, lemon blossom and hints of sage and thyme. Juicy, light palate with citrus and mineral flavours. Refreshing acidity.

Aminta 2011 (14% alc) – Made of Vranec (30%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Petit Verdot (10%)

A “Premium” series wine matured for four months in 5,000-liter casks and 12 months in barriques. Rich flavours of cherry and orange with touches of currant, lingonberry and elderberry. Soft herbal notes and gentle, well-integrated tannins. Balanced ripe fruit and vibrant acidity. Mouthwateringly delicious.

f) CHATEAU KAMNIK

Located just above Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, Chateau Kamnik is a boutique winery with 13 ha of vineyards. Barrique maturation – French and American oak are favoured – is generously applied for wines that tend to be big in body and expression. www.chateaukamnik.com

Ten Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2009 (14.7% alc)

This Cabernet spent 26 months in new barriques (guess how many) before being bottled. Refined expression with fabulous aromas and flavours of capsicum, red fruits and tones of liquorice and coffee. Beautiful structure.

g) BOVIN

Founded in 1998 in the Tikveš district, Bovin grows a wide range of grape varieties in its 80 ha of vineyards – from Temjanika, Suavignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and, of course, Vranec.

Dissan 2011 – Vranec (100%) Alc. 14.5%

From Macedonia’s first privately-owned winery, Bovin, founded in 1998. The Dissan was made from 45-year-old Vranec vines and spent six months maturing in new Macedonian oak barriques. Deep aromas and flavours of elderberry, boysenberry, red plum and raspberry with nuances of chocolate and mocha and hints of toffee. Fresh and ripe, yet deep and firmly structured. Well integrated alcohol and acidity.

h) EZIMIT

This 340 ha estate was established in 1994, and has been making innovative strides in recent years. In fact, Ezimit is the first winery in Macedonia to plant and produce the Viognier grape, and is now developing a red cuvée blend infused with natural herbs. www.ezimitvino.com.mk

Terra Makedonika 2012 (15% alc) – Vranec (50%), Syrah (25%) and Merlot (25%)

Beautiful red and dark fruit flavours, with cranberry, red currant, blackberry and plum, plus a dusty earth undertone, a touch of clove and a hint of incense. Spicy length and finish. Well-integrated acidity. Fine!

Vranec Barrique 2012 (13.7% alc.)

A juicy medium-bodied wine matured for 16 months in new and used barriques. Rose hip, red currant and raspberry flavours along with some clove & spice notes. A somewhat easy-drinking wine with a touch of elegance. Clean and fruity.