Tikves Vranec, 2010 Macedonia, Special Selection

Huh?!  This one’s a doozy, folks!  I’m hurlin’ a double-whammy at you today- new grape, new (to some) country!  But it is a new year, after all.  So buckle up!  I love this wine.

photo 1 (12)

Okay, first things first- what in tarnation is Vranec?  It’s the grape!  And it’s an indigenous Macedonian one.  Vrah-nick is the closest I can reconcile as far as a phonetic pronunciation guide.  And the name of the winery (one of the oldest in Macedonia) is Tikves – Tick-vees.  This wine is imported by Eric Solomon, one of my favorite importers of mostly French and Spanish wines that all focus on a sense of place; he works a lot with indigenous varietals, so it’s no surprise that he has this funky little wine.  It is not listed on their website, so I’m guessing it’s a relatively new acquisition.  It was reviewed by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate in June 2012 and given a sweet little 90 point rating!  Which is pretty awesome considering its $12 pricetag! 

photo 2 (15)

So not a ton of information exists on this grape, or even on Macedonia as a wine region.  According to a bit of Googling, Vranec is a genetic relative of Zinfandel.  It grows vigorously, and produces large grapes that are deeply colored with moderate to high tannin.  The wine is a deep garnet/purpleish color and has a fairly big nose, mostly of dark fruits- prunes, plums and blackcurrant- but with a pleasant briary and spicy structure.  It does indeed reminisce of a Zinfandel, stylistically- but not a stone’s throw from a Zin would be a Primitivo (an Italian cousin of Zin) and to me, it drinks this way.  Perhaps due to the oaking and old-world personality.  But still, enough up-front fruit is present to appeal to the average New-world wine drinker.  It may take a little getting used to, but trust me, this is a profile you’re gonna want to embrace!  Eastern European countries are poised to make a real impact on our wine market, and we should definitely take note.

Also, I admit to needing to learn a refresher on where exactly Macedonia is.  So, here it is:

macedonia-map

It is roughly on the same parallel as Southern Italy, so it’s no surprise that there’s good wine to be found here.  I’d like to think of this wine as a true diamond in the rough; it’s accessible, inexpensive, and unique.  And it’s also interesting to note that Macedonia, as a country, has only been a democracy (and its own country) since 1991, but they’ve been making wine for centuries.  Along with several Slovenain wines I’ve tasted, it seems like winemakers from this part of the world don’t make a big fuss about their wines.  Wine is just something they do.  No frills, no fancy marketing or  packaging.  Just good wine.  So as much as ratings can be a double-edged sword, I think it’s great to see this wine earn a good rating and a bit of press.

This wine can be purchased at Cellar on Greene for $12!  It is not currently by the glass, but chances are there will be an open bottle lingering for the rest of the week.. if I have anything to say about it.  Which fortunately for you, I do!

Happy (late) New Year!  I resolve to blog more.

 

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13 thoughts on “Tikves Vranec, 2010 Macedonia, Special Selection

  1. I, too, am smitten with Vranec (vran-nitz – according to Macedonia colleague). There are a few examples available in North America, the grape (in best versions) has a great complexity and fruit galore. Perfect for succulently prepared pork, the more savoury the prep, the better. Macedonia has a stellar viticultural and oeonolgical history. Most of Greece and some neighbouring countries used to be Macedonia (the republic is ancient but it’s true history is a bit shrouded). That Alexander (as in Alexander The Great) was of Macedon. I digress. Vranec is likely the grandaddy of Primitivo and great grandad of Zinfandel. It has moments reminiscent of both. Find some and enjoy.

  2. I just tried a vranec yesterday (first time). It was from Macedonia and the wine maker was Phillip Cambie. The wine did not remind me of Zinfandel. It dad dpth, structure and deep fruit but had no flamboyance to it. The acidity was there to add balance to the wine.
    Quite impressed.

  3. Originally, I am from Macedonia and I bought this wine today at Canal’s in NJ for $9.99. Saw it there for the first time and I am quite regular. Vranec (pronunciation Vrah-netz) means stallion. The winery is Tikvesh (Tick-vesh), there is no meaning of this word in today’s language, except that is a region famous for wine-making. Maybe it comes from the word “pumpkin” (macedonian: tikva). The winery was well known for cheap wines for the past 50-60 years, selling mostly local varieties (smederevka, temjanika (muscat), kratoshija, vranec), bottled in 1L bottles with soda corks. As Bobby Frank mentioned they’ve hired the famous French wine consultant Philippe Cambie recently. I am not a wine expert (far from that) so I won’t bother.

  4. Pingback: Let’s get weird: Sattler St. Laurent, 2012 Austria | the wine snob.

  5. Awesome blog! Is your theme custom made or did you
    download it from somewhere? A design like yours with
    a few simple tweeks would really make my blog shine. Please let me
    know where you got your design. Many thanks

  6. I was in Macedonia in Feb 2015 bought the wine at duty free, got it to Slovenia(my next stop), between the three of us ladies we drank the entire bottle, accompanied by fantastic local smoked pork, we had no hangovers no head aches and all ended up having purple tongs due to the high tannin content. Love the wine, am home in Seattle searching where to get MORE !!

    • I’m in the Portland area, and I’ve seen it. It should be available in Seattle. Ask your local wine store if they carry or can order anything from Eric Solomon Selections. That is the importer. Good luck!

  7. I researched a few wines recently before dinner for our 3rd anniversary at a local restaurant with an extensive wine listing. Your blog comments here on this wine led to my decision to order it with my dinner of lamb chops. I simply could not have been happier. Our server, who was also attending bar, commented that it was her first bottle of it to be opened. It was wonderful! I will definitely be on the lookout for this locally! Hopefully it is not one of those restaurant-exclusives that you occasionally find. Thank you for your review!

    • So glad you enjoyed! If you want to find it in a retail capacity, ask your local store what distributor carried Eric Solomon selections. Great portfolio!

  8. Thank you so much for this excellent review!
    I am from Macedonia and I’m really proud when I speak of its wines, so I will be using this review in the future, for describing Vranec to my friends in Slovenia (where I live now). You can imagine how happy I am to live in those two countries, since I’ve become an wine enthusiast myself.
    Vranec (which is pronounced exactly as it’s written, with hard ‘r’) is really more dense and maybe more difficult to get used to. Glad when people like it. Wineries in Macedonia invest big time in their business and it seems it pays off really nicely. Tikveš is the one with the longest tradition and it’s the most popular. I see you got the special edition Vranec. There are more vranec-type wines from Tikveš like ‘T’ga za jug’ (‘Sadness for the south’) and ‘Alexandria’. If you are into dry white wines, I’ll recommend ‘Traminec’ to you (There is also a white ‘Alexandria’, which is semi-dry).
    Other winery which I like is Stobi, that exports more internationally known wines like Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay. If you have the opportunity to come to Macedonia, go to wine tasting in some of those wineries or in: Dalvina, Popova Kula, Skovin…
    In Macedonia (and the Balkan in particular), a lot of households (including my parents) make their own wine, just for personal use: for the extensive winter period of parties, holidays, heavy meat lunches or to give it as a present to friends.
    Before the wine reaches it’s time, we drink the grape juice (‘šira’), but more important, we make some sort of a grape juice gel/pudding called ‘peljte’ which is quite tasty and looks like this: http://goo.gl/acKPIh.
    I apologize I wrote a random essay, but I am overjoyed thanks to this particular review and I wanted to share as much of my average knowledge of wine.
    Hopefully, in the future, if I come across a bottle of Petrus I shall compare the wines and not only according to the price 🙂

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