Red wines in Macedonia
The word Vranec means strong, black and powerful horse (black stallion), and wine made from this grape variety is associated with strength, potency, and success. Vranec also means raven coloured or black, which is why the wine is known also as black wine in Macedonia. Vranec is a local, Balkan variety and its wines represent the character of the people who live in these areas – warm–blooded and strong. It is assumed that it was created by natural crossbreeding or as a result of spontaneous mutations. It has been grown for a long time in Montenegro, and it also can be found in Dalmacija, Herzegovina, but in Macedonia it’s the most important and leading variety for red wine production, representing, at the same time, the type of the Macedonian red wines. The Macedonian wine from Vranec variety has an intense, dark red colour. It exhibits a varietal and rich scent with aroma of ripe fruits. The taste is full, with gentle structure and harmony. The young wines have a light purple color, with an aroma of strawberry jam and wild berries and firm tannins structure with potential to ripe in oak barrels. When the mellowing is finished, they provide quality, cultivating complex aroma of dry fruit and cocoa. This wine has a harmony of complex aromas similar to wild berries, rich tannins, chocolate and liquor. Holding the specific impression of terroir, the Vranec wines are said to be a unique brand for the Macedonian type of wines on a global level. The Vranec wine pairs well with all Macedonian dishes, as well as with red meat, game, barbeque and smoked meat.
Kratoshija is a variety of grape that has a long history in Macedonia. It’s believed that within Macedonia’s territory it has been grown since ancient times, when wine was poured in amphora and sent to the noblemen. The latest news in terms of its origin is an intrigue that brought certain polemics among the scientific mass. For a clearer and more vivid explanation of the bond among all these varieties, the story has to begin from scratch. The quest for the origin of one of the fvourite American varieties, Zinfandel, is one of the most interesting stories about vines and wines. It was undoubtedly that Zinfandel originated from Europe, but the enigma that this variety could not be found in Europe remained. It was supposed to be brought in America from the royal collection in Vienna, Austria in 1820. However, Zinfandel is not an autochthon Austrian variety. An important turnover for solving the puzzle happened in 1967 when it was accidentally discovered that the variety Zinfandel is similar to the local, Italian variety from the region Puglia, known as Primitivo, which was later scientifically proved that it is the very same variety. Still, Primitivo was nowhere mentioned as an autochthon Italian variety, so the enigma remained unsolved again. On the other side of the Adriatic Sea, the most interesting variety similar to Zinfandel was Plavec. It is sustained by genetic identification that Zinfandel is unexpectedly one of the descendants of the Dalmatia variety Plavec. This discovery had a great publicity to professionals and the general public in the entire world. The question that followed was which the Croatian Zinfandel was indeed. After years of seeking for different Zinfandel varieties, they reached to the variety called Crljenak Kaštelanski, or Tribidrag, and finally the DNA analysis proved that this is the exact source variety. Nowadays, the story also includes Kratoshija, putting Macedonia in the eye of the publicity, since it is the country where this variety is grown by this name. It is quite a versatile variety from the wine style’s point of view: from easy and fruity (Beaujolais style), through high percentage of alcohol wines, to sophisticated, complex wines and wines worth for ripening (Bordeaux style). Generally, however, the best wines are the dry wines with light red colour and violet hue, relatively high percentage of alcohol, a little extract, reasonable amount of acids and a fruity aroma that in time will eventually get spicy nuance. It is best combined with all types of barbequed meat and piquant cheese. To end, the fact that Zinfandel, Primitivo, Crljenak Kaštelanski and Kratoshija are the same variety known by different names is indisputable. Still, when grown in different climate and soil conditions, regardless of its name, it produces specific wines that characterize the vineyard where it is grown.
Merlot finally arose from the Cabernet Sauvignon’s shadow and found the place in the prestige club of international varieties in Macedonia that was long ago deserved. In Macedonia, it started being grown in the 1950s as a quite perspective variety for the climate conditions. Nowadays, it can be found in Skopje, Kumanovo, Veles, Tikves, Ovcepole, Ohrid and Bitola wine districts. It ripens in the second half of September in the Tikves vineyards, at least a week before Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has got deep, ruby to dark red colour. The aroma complex is rich with plumb, blueberry, green pepper and men¬thol, as well as vanilla and chocolate. In the cooler Macedo¬nian vineyards like those in Ohrid and Bitola, Merlot makes wine with more herbal aroma while in warmer climates like in Veles and Tikves districts, the aroma of dry fruit and spices dominates. It is suitable for ripening in oak barrels that later make complex, full wines. The wine produced from grape from old plantations has greater specifications. One of the characteristics of Merlot vari¬ety when grown in the warmer climates in Macedonia is that in short time it can over ripen just a few days after it has reached its full ripe. Some experts recommend earlier harvest to keep the level of acids and enlarge the potential for its preservation. According to others, the over ripen grape will give body and better quality of the wine.
In Macedonia, it can be found in Veles, Kumanovo, Ovcepole, Bitola and other wine districts. It ripens at the beginning of September in the Veles vineyards. The cluster is small, cylindrical, long and compressed. The berry is small, dark blue coloured and with thin skin. The Black Burgundy is a lively vari¬ety that is hard to be resisted. The young wines are characterized by easy, fruity aroma and as they ripen their taste turns to game animals or becomes spicy as a black truffle. The Macedonian Pinot Noir is a wine of terrific elegance and complexity, rich yet linear; pretty, but with depth and power.
Rich in tannin, the Syrah variety is a chal¬lenge for the best Macedonian wine makers. The wine that comes out of this variety needs quite some time and energy to show all of its elegance, luxuriance and greatness. In Macedonia, it is successfully grown in Skopje, Tikves, Strumica–Radovish and Gevgelija–Valandovo wine districts, with a ten¬dency of spreading due to the greater inter¬est for this variety. It ripens towards the end of September in the Skopje vineyards. This abundant variety has got great vegetative expansion. In Macedo¬nia, the best results are gained from regions that have warm, but not too dry climate and well-lighted expositions. The wine is characterized by ruby red colour, full of extracts, powerful body and alcohol, and with expressed tannin. The aroma of reddish forest fruits and chocolate with a hint of black pepper is typical for Syrah wine made in Macedonia.
This Croatian variety that originates from Dalmatia is commonly used for production of quality red wines in Macedonia where it is represented on limited areas in the Veles, Tikves and Ovcepole wine districts. The variety requires warm climate with long and warm autumn and in In Veles vineyars it ripen in the middle of October. The wines contain 11-12 vol. % alcohol and 7-8g/L total acid. They are characterized by strong color, freshness and tartness. Is suitable for blending with colored and sufficiently weak wines and in Macedonia is usually blended with Vranec that gives wines with cocoa and wild black fruit aromas as well as a rich fruity structure.
Stanushina red is a a unique variety of grape of Macedonian origin. This Macedonian indigenous variety is something that you would not be able to find in any other place in the world. It is also known as Gradesh and Black Stanushina. Stanushina originates from the Tikves wine district where it is mostly widespread. Before the appearance of phylloxera, it was the main variety in this region and it characterized the sort of strong, red, Tikves wines. The main feature of this variety is its durability. Stanushina is an old variety that has been grown in the Tikves vineyards for a longer period of time. The color of the wine made of Stanushina is characteristically pale, but it has a rich extract and high acidity level which give the wine an exquisite freshness. People with refined taste adore this wine and never miss the opportunity to grab a bottle of wine for themselves when visiting Macedonia. The wine has an intense aroma of strawberry, raspberry, and the fruity notes are best enjoyed when the wine is consumed young at 10 to 16°C. It’s an excellent choice to combine it with light and creamy puddings. The main features of the wine are mostly expressed when served with lettuce, sarma (Balkan dish), stuffed bell peppers or some light dishes.
Dry red wine with a deep purple-red colour, discreet red fruit aromas of sour cherry, raspberry with undertones of sweet spices. This full-bodied wine has smooth tannins and a distinctively elegant finish. Pairs exquisitely with red meat as well as with full-fat cheese at 16-18˚C.