The Whites of Aleksandrović

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Bottle and classy presentation Another winery that we sampled at the Novi Sad Wine Fair was Aleksandrović. He is located in Vinća, Topela in Serbia and like most wine producers in the region, his family had a long tradition of wine making that stopped and didn’t really start again until Communism ended and he could produce for more people than just his immediate family. Since they started up again in 1991, they have managed to build their winery up to producing 200,000 to 300,000 liters a year from the 20 hectares that they own as well as from a supply of grapes from others in the area who augment their estate grapes. Several other wines While they make a great number of wines including a Rosé and a Pinot Noir, it was only the whites that we tasted. We started a tad bit skeptical of these whites from Serbia, but were quickly impressed due to the wonderful craft that has gone in to these wines. The 2006 Riesling weighed in at 13.2% alcohol and was a blend of Rhine and Italian varietals. It was very nice … Continue reading The Whites of Aleksandrović

What is Bermet?

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Downtown Sremci Karlovci Red Bermet Bermet is a sweet wine that is a specialty of northern Serbia’s Fruška Gora wine region, in the Vojvodina province. It has between 16 and 18% of alcohol and it is usually served as a dessert wine, with coffee and cookies, but can also be served as an aperitif, much like Italian Vermouth. However, Bermet is produced in a different way than Vermouth, through maceration of 20 different herbs and spices. It can be made of red or white grapes, but the exact recipe is secret and held by only a handful of families in the town of Sremci Karlovci. Dulka winery, for example, told us that he makes the base of his white Bermet are župljanka grapes, a local variety, and Merlot for his red. Other vintners seem to use Portugieser, and others blend both red and white grapes. White Bermet As the story goes, Bermet was very popular among the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian empire and was regularly exported to the court in Vienna in large quantities. Moreover, according to some documents, a few Bermets were even included in … Continue reading What is Bermet?

Novi Sads 4th International Wine Festival

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe While in Belgrade, we decided to take a little day trip to the little wine-making town of Srmeski Karlovci to discover some Serbian wines, and we discovered by chance that a wine festival was starting the follwing day in Novi Sad (from the 28th to the 30th of July), the second largest city in Serbia and the capital of the Vojvodina province. Rubin’s wines So we spent a couple of extra days in Novi Sad enjoying wines not only from Serbia, but also from the whole Southeastern European region, at this festival, which is growing in popularity every year. Among the Serbian wines, we had the chance to taste many Bermets from different producers, all them delicious, but also some excellent regular wines. Among the reds, we were impressed by the high quality of Rubin’s Terra Lazarica Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, which were a pleasant surprise from such a big winery that produces around 5 million bottles of wine a year. In the white deparment, Aleksandrovic‘s Sauvignon Blanc was simply outstanding. Istrian lunch Then we also got the chance to taste some Macedonian and Croatian … Continue reading Novi Sads 4th International Wine Festival

A Serbian Introduction Through Dulka

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe A taste at Dulka From Croatia, we traveled south through Montenegro (which is Plantaže country) and then north up to Belgrade. Curious about the local wine scene, we head up to the beautiful town of Sremski Karlovci, in the Fruška Gora wine region, to taste what the vintners in that area were doing with the grape. We found our way to Dulka (or Дулка in Serbian Cyrllic.) Đorđe Dragojlović (Dulka) is from a line of wine makers who started around 150 years ago in the region. Of course, the period of Communism severely impacted their production as they had to feed in to a central cooperative, just like any grape grower in the former Yugoslavia. But, with the beginning of the 1990’s, they ramped up production again. The Bermet He produces from eight hectares of land and makes about 36,000 liters of wine each year including a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and next year, Sauvignon Blanc. One very unique wine that we tried was called Bermet. This is dessert wine that’s rather hard to describe as it is its own creation. We’re not aware of it being … Continue reading A Serbian Introduction Through Dulka

Stipan Cebalo of Lumbarda

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Stipan CebaloOne of the last wineries we visited on the island of Korčula was that of Stpian Cebalo in Lumbarda. This is on the far southeast side of the island and is a place where tourists usually just go for the beaches. But it is here where Stipan has two hectares of land and is one of the few producers of the white wine, Grk. The man knows what he is doing and has a family tradition of wine making that dates back an amazing 500 years! Grk and Plavac Grk is a well-balanced white that doesn’t really push you one way or the other, but makes for pleasant drinking and is considerably different from Pošip, the other main white of Korčula. His 2005 ‘vrhunsko’ or high quality Grk has nice fruit aromas to the top and bottom of the nose. It is a bit dry, but not terribly so and has a nice finish. Stipan does not age this in oak at all and told us that he preferred not to have the oaky aromas to the wine, which seemed to be a good plan … Continue reading Stipan Cebalo of Lumbarda

The Craft of Bleuš and Kunjašić

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Stanojević and BleušTwo more of the smaller producers on Korčula are Bleuš and Kunjašić. They are both located around Smokvica and like many wine makers of this size, very tricky to find. You see, their cellars look just like any other house on the street and it’s not until you go inside that you see a whole wine making operation spread out from behind the old doors. It also makes it impossible to just drop by for a tasting or a visit, since you need to know someone who knows someone to call them and actually meet you as was the case when we went to Bleuš. But, they will always make it worth the hunt by rewarding you with good wines and great hospitality. Bleuš is a tricky name, since it really is the Stanojević Family that produces the wine now. Well, actually, it still is the Bleuš family (which they believe is really of French origins), but there were just two daughters to inherit the winery after their father passed away and it still is the custom for it to be the man’s family … Continue reading The Craft of Bleuš and Kunjašić

The Mighty Blato of Korčula

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Korčulanka fresh off the production lineWhen it comes to former Communist cooperatives on Korčula that transitioned in to successful private companies, there are none bigger than Blato 1902. Named after the town that they are located in, Blato produces a massive 1,000,000 liters a year and even has the capacity to produce more. But, they don’t make only wine. The produce rakija, aniseta, travarica, smokovača, rogačica, and komovica, as well as olive oil and vinegar. All told, there are about 30 wines and products that they make. Not bad for a company that was started by the local wine growers of the area in 1902. It was a little tricky to find, being that the main building is located behind a school of all things. Once we found it, our attempts at speaking Croatian with the employees was helped up and greatly improved upon by Sanja Protić and Ante Šeparović (one of the enologists) who spoke English and gave us the history and a tasting. We tried the 2005 Korčulanka which is at 12.5% alcohol and has a light fruit to the nose. This carries in … Continue reading The Mighty Blato of Korčula

Smokvicas Toreta

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Outside the tasting room with Smokvica in the background Like most single-owner Croatian wineries, the story of Toreta on Korčula is all about a family history of wine making that stopped during Communism and is now working to produce again. In this case, the man who has taken up the helm is the very young Frano Banicević, who, at 25 has begun to run the winery that his great-grandfather built at the turn of the 20th century. Like most of the new generation in Croatia that are taking over from their parents or grandparents, they are full of ideas and ways to get their wines more well-known. One of the biggest examples of this is that fact that there are actually signs to the Toreta winery and it is quite easy to find in Smokvica. Others are a little more subtle like a gradual change in the design of the bottle labels. While seen as something of a waste by the older generations, Frano is keenly aware of how much it affects the decision of the consumer. The barrel sign out front The one thing that … Continue reading Smokvicas Toreta

The Former Collectives of Korčula

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Vineyards in front of Čara Built in 1983, the company that is now Pošip Čara on the island of Korčula, started as one of the Yugoslavian wine making collectives. All of the grapes from the surrounding area in the town of Čara fed in to this one factory to produce the wines of which 90% were whites. There were 100 hectares of land which over time became dedicated to the production of Pošip. In standard Communist thinking, this centralized production made sense as there were plenty of areas that produced reds, so why not focus this region on just whites as they grew extremely well there? Well, the result of this today is that the region is still primarily growing only whites and while there are a few private growers in the region, the now privately owned Pošip Čara still dominates production with 300,000 bottles a year leaving their doors. This is all done with a scant 10 people on staff, of which, one is Toni Tomić who was actually a mechanic, showing us around as he spoke the best English. But, even though he worked … Continue reading The Former Collectives of Korčula

Miloš, Popular Beyond Pelješac

Over a summer, two travelers drink their way through the wines of Mediterranean Europe Driving up the Pelješac peninsula from the Croatian mainland, Miloš is one of the first wineries one comes across. It is located in the little village of Ponikve just a few kilometers north of the walled town of Ston with its beautiful fortress. The StagnumIt Although the Miloš family has been making wine for over 100 years, like most families in the countries of the former Yugoslavia they had to sell their grapes to the state-owned cooperatives. So it was only in the beginning of the 1990’s that Miloš became a private business, and is now producing about 50,000 liters of wine annually. Today Frano Miloš has managed to make the family winery into one of the most successful in the Pelješac region, and frequently receives large tour groups in their new tasting room and century-old family cellar. Miloš produces a broad range of wines in each of the quality categories existing in Croatia (table, quality, high quality and special). Since we couldn’t try them all, we decided to taste their most popular varietal, the Plavac. It was a vintage from 2004 with a 12.6% of … Continue reading Miloš, Popular Beyond Pelješac