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Unlike most modern day wine countries, the Republic of Macedonia prides itself on focusing on its indigenous varietals, whilst also producing the widely-recognised international grape varieties; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc , Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Petit Verdot, with remarkable results. However, the key to future prosperity in wine from the region lies with the Balkans’ most important indigenous varietal, Vranec.
Vranec, pronounced ‘Vran-etz’, is the Macedonian grape king and accounts for 50% of red wines produced here, with Kratošija, a varietal similar to Vranec, following behind. Vranec is also found in other regions around the Balkans including Croatia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.
This ancient grape found a home in Macedonia after it was brought in from Montenegro, where it is known as
Vranac. In 2001, DNA profiling showed Vranec to be the parent offspring of Zinfandel/Primitivo which, in turn, can trace its history back to another of the Balkans’ ancient varietals Crljenek Kaštelanski of Croatia.
Vranec is a dark black varietal and its name translates as ‘black powerful horse,’ or, simply put, black stallion! Flavour wise it is big, rich and spicy and oozes thick, dark cassis fruit. It is a remarkable varietal that truly comes to the fore on its own, although blends well with other varietals.
Like other grapes in the wine world Vranec isn’t known by one name only. Other synonyms are; Vranac Crmnicki, Vranac Crni, Vranac Crnogorski, Vranac Prhljavac, Vranak, Vranek, Vranetze and Vranik.
Vranec is a grape which is associated with high quality red wines within its own borders. Such is the quality of the varietal, noted wine writer, Jancis Robinson, is convinced that Vranec has enormous potential and we definitely agree! We introduced this exciting varietal to the UK for the very first time last year and it received an incredible reception. It has since been the champion wine everywhere we have visited. Clearly, the Republic of Macedonia has the potential to match any of the top wines from all the major wine producing countries of the world.
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Written for Signature Wines UK news blog – Stobi Wines UK
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