Rubin: A Leading Serbian Cooperative Goes Private

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe

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A few Rubin wines

Rubin is an interesting case of a former Communist cooperative that went private. One reason that it stuck out to us, was that it took an incredibly long time to privatize. Where most wine cooperatives were transferred to private hands during the 1990’s, Rubin only went private two years ago. Secondly, it’s more massive than any former cooperative we had encountered before. They produce five million bottles of liquor each year, three million of which are wine. They buy wine grapes from all over the region, including neighboring Macedonia. Lastly, they have vineyards in Kosovo of all places.

All of these points make the company sound like any large-scale producer in America and thusly, our expectations were low; very low. We found it amazing that even though Rubin produces at such a large scale, their wines, especially the Terra Lazarica line are more than just drinkable and are even quite noteworthy.

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Rubin’s Cab Sauv

We tasted the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc that we found to have some good fruit aromas to the body and the nose. It was easy to drink and had a balanced body that led in to a smooth finish. It was quite good, but nothing to rave about. The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon was quite exciting though. It had a nice flowery nose that was also very clean and fresh, something akin to the nose of a good French Bordeaux. The body wasn’t as deep as the nose though, but had a general sophistication that carried several textures through it, including a nice earthiness. The finish was smooth, although it brought out the dryness to the wine, which if it were the drinker’s preference, would make the wine even more desirable.

The best part about all these wines is that they can be found at any supermarket in Serbia for around $7, making them a good alternative to the ever-present Jelen beer.