Ever hopeful, Macedonia wines reach out to the world
“Wine makes everyone hopeful” – Aristotle
We’re not sure if the Greek philosopher actually said this but we do know Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE) was born in the Macedonia region of Greece, where winemaking has seen ups and downs since ancient times.
Once well-known throughout the Greek and Roman empires, the Macedonian wine industry floundered during a long history of wars and unrest, along with the phylloxera blight of the late 1800s that killed so many European vineyards.
The rebirth, helped along with the breakup of Yugoslavia and the adoption of modern winemaking techniques, didn’t begin until the late 20th century with the world’s rediscovery of Macedonia’s potential.
Today the Republic of Macedonia annually produces 100 – 125 million liters of wine, about 3-4 percent of the world’s wine production.
The tiny (2 million population) country’s best-known indigenous grape might be Vranec, a red grape giving a deep purple wine full of dark berry characteristics with moderate tannins and balanced with great acidity.
Other leading varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and white grapes Chardonnay and Assyrtiko.
I recently had the opportunity to taste a sampling of several Macedonian wines including two from the Bovin Winery, the first private winery in Macedonia .
According to its website, Bovin produced 120,000 bottles of wine in its first year (1998). Production now is around 1 million bottles per year, 70-percent red wines.
The winery list of international awards includes having its Pinot Noir named top wine at the “Food And Wine” Fair 2000 in Copenhagen, besting more than 650 various wines from France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, California, Chile and others.
Bovin 2012 Dissan Barrique – Made 100-percent from hand-picked and hand-sorted Vranec, this deep-purple/red wine has luscious berry and cheery flavors with dark chocolate notes. Moderate tannins (six months in Macedonian oak) and mouth-filling acidity. MSRP $30
Bovin 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – This is Bovin’s intro level Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of black cherries, blackberries and hints of thyme and tobacco leaf. MSRP $15. Bovin wines imported by AG MAC Import Export Co., Western Hills, Ohio.
Stobi Winery Macedon 2013 Pinot Noir – Located in Tikvesh, the best-known of Macedonia’s wine regions, Stobi produces roughly 6 million bottles per year in the four Macedonian categories – Premium, Elite, Classic and Traditional.
The Pinot Noir (Classic) is an Old World-style wine with earthy notes of plums, wild strawberry and red cherries finishing with a hint of white pepper. A terrific value at MSRP $15. Imported by August Wine Group, Seattle, Wa.
Stobi 2014 Zilavka – An easy-drinking white wine with notes of dried figs, apricots and green apple. MSRP $15. Imported by Winebow, Montvale, N.J.
Tikves 2014 Rkaciteli – Also known as Rkatsiteli, this white grape offers a complex nose of citrus and tropical fruits along with fennel and other herbs. Tikves, founded in 1885, claims to be Macedonia’s largest and oldest winery. MSRP $11.
Thanks to Arielle Napoli of Coloangelo & Partners of New York City for the samples.