Posted by: tomciocco | April 24, 2013


…And it’s called Vranec…

And when I write “Macedonia”, I mean the once part of Yugoslavia, and now independent nation of Macedonia, not the immediately bordering northern Greek region with the same name. And though over the centuries these two places have become politically and culturally divided, with the nation speaking a language similar to Bulgarian, both places were long under both Byzantine and Ottoman rule, and were completely united throughout antiquity – a feat accomplished by Alexander The Great’s daddy Philip II no less – both of whom were native Macedonians, by the way…

And within this roughly Vermont-sized nation, near the Greek border is the Tikves wine region, and the place that gives us this dark brick house of a wine. And the comparison with Vermont isn’t limited to just its size. Macedonia too is almost completely covered with mountains and shot through with fast moving rivers but with regard to climate, the similarities end. The mountains, and the relative proximity of both the Adriatic and Aegean Seas creates three distinct climate zones in the country, and Tikves falls within one that is fully Mediterranean in character, obviously making it ideal for viticulture, and indeed its history of grape growing extends back thousands of years, and it is the home to quite a stable of  “International” as well as ultra-local vine varieties, like the white grape Smederevka, and…

…The jet and deep violet…Vranec… The genetic work that’s been done on Vranec is limited, but what has been carried out, along with the kinship both in terms of  vines and  wines, makes it pretty clear that Vranec is closely related to its (originally) Croatian neighbor Zinfandel.  Like Zinfandels, Vranec wines are lush and rich but still deeply structured on the palate, and both variety’s wines are typically opaquely purple and black in color as well. And though this is the first Vranec I’ve ever tasted, at least this particular wine had a somewhat slimmer profile and much higher degree of elegance than most Zins I’ve drunk, and I suspect that these characteristics carry through to all Vranec wines too…I’ll let you know.

The grub consisted of an appetizer of fresh green peppers that I roasted and stuffed with Feta cheese, green olives, and oregano (served room temperature), and then a main course of cevapcici (spicy, grilled Balkan ground meat torpedoes) served with a cucumber, mint, garlic, and yogurt sauce, sliced raw onions, and white rice.













Vinarska Vizba Tikves, Tikves Vranec “Special Selection” 2010

Dense and completely opaque blackish crimson/purple color. Powerful but elegant nose of blackberry, strawberry jam, blackcurrant, damp earth, pine oil, brown bread, charred meat, and licorice. The wine has a chunky, deep, and velvety mouthfeel with dry, peppery tannins, and smokey, sweet and sour cranberry, myrtle, and black cherry fruit supported by quite intense flavors of tomato paste, plum butter, bitter chocolate, and cedar. Big, warm black coffee finish.


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