#WineWednesday Spotlight #137: Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery Tvrdoš is located in southeastern Herzegovina, 2.5 miles west of the old town of Trebinje and less than 20 miles from the Adriatic Sea. Dedicated to The Dominion of the Mother of God, it was built in the late 13th century above the right bank of the Trebisnica river on the foundations of a 4th century Roman church. The region’s wine­growing tradition dates back to the first hellenic colonies on the Adriatic Coast. The climate is sub­mediterranean with hot summers and mild winters. The Herzegovinian karst soil is shallow, mixed with white crushed stones. These warm and dry conditions are particularly well suited to the native grape varieties Žilavka and Vranac. Vranac was introduced to South Herzegovina during the Austro­Hungarian Empire. The name “Vranac”, which means “black horse”, highlights the grape’s dark color as well as its strength and power. When grown on the rocky grounds of Tvrdoš created by a washout of the soil from the surrounding hills, Vranac shows distinctive acids and intense fruity aromas. Aged for 24 months in old monastic oak barrels, the Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac exhibits a purple red color and savory, earthy aromas on the nose. The palate has a … Continue reading #WineWednesday Spotlight #137: Monastery Tvrdoš Vranac

Balkan Wine Box

As you drive up and down the Croatian coast and up into the Karst ridden hinterlands of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is one constant smell: the combination of herbs and rocks. What “Garrigue” is to the French, “Friškina” is to the Balkans – herbs, rocks and salt baking under the sun. It’s also oddly refreshing. Maybe it’s the ocean air, and maybe it’s the super counterintuitive acidity of the wines and olive oils. Whatever it is, very few smells trigger our olfactory memory so violently. We want Brudet (fish stew), Crni Rižoto (squid ink risotto), octopus cooked under “Peka,” Palačinka (crepes) filled with small fish, and everything bathed in Dalmatian olive oil. Focusing on the Dalmatian coast with a quick jump into Bosnia and Herzegovina (Istrian and Slavonian wines arrive in June), please consider these wines as ideal lubricates for our transition into Spring. Starting on the Island of Korčula off the Southern Dalmatian Coast, three new Pošips from Frano Banicević’s Toreta winery. Pošip is a white grape that can muster a ton of acidity and alcohol if left unchecked. Farmed well on the windy island it can produce salty, aromatic and lively wines. From stainless steel to acacia fermented, … Continue reading Balkan Wine Box

2006 Monastery Tvrdos Vranac: Twice as Nice

Until I began working for Blue Danube, I, like the majority of Americans, had never tasted a wine from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Clearly, I was missing out; the region is steeped in ancient winemaking tradition. By comparison, these Balkan countries make France seem very New-World. The reason grapes have been cultivated here for thousands of years is simple: their terroir, the confluence of the sunny maritime climate and mountains produces robust grapes. This entry focuses on the 2006 Vranac from Monastery Tvrdos of the Trebinje region of Herzegovina. The Tvrdos Monastery sits on the banks of the picturesque Trebišnjica river, 15 miles as the crow flies or, due to circuitous roads, a two hours drive from the Adriatic coast. It is here that the river erodes topsoil, creating the fields of karst endemic to this region. Although hot summers and mild winters characterize the region, winds blow simultaneously from both the nearby Dinaric mountains and the Adriatic. The indigenous grapes, the white varietal, ŽZilavka, and Vranac have been grown in the region for centuries. Vranac is a supposed relative of the Croatian Plavac Mali, the ancestor of the Californian Zinfandel. The monastery is perched on the foundation of a 4th-century … Continue reading 2006 Monastery Tvrdos Vranac: Twice as Nice