Discovering Serbia

For the past year, Eastern Europe has invaded space in our wine fridge. France, Spain, Portugal and the US still represent the majority. However, Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia, are gaining space. We have mainly been going for Nature and Orange wines, but there are some awesome “classics” out there that I am hoping to get my hands on. But before going on a shopping spree, I wanted to do a quick deep dive into understanding the wine making in the region. With the inspiration gained from last weekends Serbian Cabernet Sauvignon, I decided to start from there.

Serbia is located at the same geographic latitude as the major French wine making region, thus Serbia is a country of great wine producing potential. As in most of Europe, the wine industry in Serbia is over 1000 years old, but there are historical reasons why wine making has not taken flight: For example phylloxeira, the world wars and a communist regime (small setbacks). It is as recent as ten years ago, when Serbian wine making started gaining positive momentum. The quantity of production is rather small, but the wine coming out is awesome and on the rise.

Major varieties include Gamay, Sauvignon blanc, “Italian Riesling”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot blanc and Pinot noir. There are also popular local varieties, like Prokupac, Vranec, Tamjanika and the Belgrade seedless. Prokupac is often used to produce darkly colored rosé; it is considered to be the oldest of the local varieties and is noted for its high sugar levels and the high levels of alcohol it can produce. Vranec (Vranac) grapes are dark red and grow on moderately vigorous and very productive vines. Vranec is used to produce a dry red wine, quite unique in taste.

As for the whites: The Belgrade seedless is a white, thick skinned grape, used mainly to make table wine. Last but not least, Tamjanika is used to produce white wines of intense fruit aroma and taste. It has characteristic Muscat notes of cinnamon, elder plant, basil, pineapple and strawberry. Red Tamjanika is a rarity, but of exceptional quality. Serbia is also home to a rare Muscat sort, the Crocant (Muskat Krokan). The Muscat Crocant is used to make a fine dessert wine by the same name.

Serbian winegrowing regions are spread all over the country. The most important vineyard areas are situated in Negotinska krajina, the area of Vršac, the slopes of Fruška Gora, in the Subotica area, Šumadija and Župa. The wine we had last weekend: Cypepeh Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon came from the Kings Vineyard in Topola.

Wow. I know its only a small scratch on the surface, however, I got a bath of information on Serbian wines. Local grape varieties are used to produce some quite intense wines. I am not sure if they are my style. However, I am looking forward to trying a glass. The selection for Serbian wines in the local monopoly is nonexistent: there are only three wines from Serbia, all from the same producer and none on the shelf (special order only). Thus, I need to do my shopping elsewhere. I think this is a mission for our summer visit to London.

xx Soile


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