Macedonian wines surprise

Tikveš vineyards (Photo: European Cellar)

Wine has been produced in the Republic of Macedonia since ancient Roman times. Macedonia is directly north of Greece, sandwiched between Albania to its west and Bulgaria to its east.

Wines from the Macedonian wineries Dalvina and Tikveš are imported by Drinks R Us.

I tasted about 15 Dalvina wines last year, with mixed but generally good results, while the latest batch of Alexandria Cuvée wines were good value for money at AUD $21 a pop.

The indigenous red variety vranec is especially interesting for students of the grape. Vouillamoz, Robinson and Harding in Wine Grapes describe it as a Balkan variety capable of producing powerful, high-quality, age-worthy reds. It is the most important indigenous variety of the region which includes Montenegro, part of Serbia and southern Croatia, where it is said to have been cultivated since the Middle Ages. It is the main black-berried variety today in the Republic of Macedonia – but has probably only been there since the mid-20th century.

The Dalvina winery located in south-eastern Macedonia near the city of Strumica in the wine region Strumichko-Radovishki.

Dalvina’s 2013 Amfora Vranec is a bell-clear unwooded example of the vranec grape – bold, fresh and straightforward, and very good value. (AUD $17)

The AUD $19 dry whites made from unwooded chardonnay, rkaciteli and zupljanka were all competently produced wines and fair value for money. Although they are undoubtedly more concentrated and flavour-packed, I was less taken with the substantially more expensive, barrique-matured reds: a syrah, a merlot and a blend made from vranec, cabernet and merlot, curiously named Ar-Magedon. These had all been aged in barriques of Macedonian oak, which the importers see as a refreshing change from the widely used French and American oaks.

The Dalvina Dioniz Barrique Vranec 2013 was very good in a bold and quite tannic, concentrated fruit style, but at AUD $59 a bottle it’s not cheap.

The Alexandria Cuvée wines are produced by the venerable Tikveš winery, also in south-eastern Macedonia, established in 1885.

The chardonnay riesling blend, the rosé and the merlot vranec cabernet blend were all fresh and youthfully bright: well-made wines which offered very good value at AUD $21 each. Although I only tasted a small number of them, these wines impressed as being of high quality and very well-priced.

Importer: DrinksRUs. Telephone: +61 409 041 813.

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