Macedonian wines are taking off in U.S. markets. I had the opportunity to sample some delicious examples produced by six companies operating in Macedonia. Two, Popov Winery and Dalvinia Winery, are looking for distribution in the U.S. Others already have distributors, and you will be able to purchase wholesale and retail from distributors connected with these Macedonian wineries: Stobi (BALCAN WINE PROJECT-WINEBOW Group), Chateau Kamnik (AG MAC Import-Export Co), Tikves (European Cellars, Eric Solomon Selections), Bovin (AGMAC Import-Export Co). Each of the six companies has been in the wine industry for over 15 years.
At the luncheon and educational tasting led by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, I was able to learn some salient facts about Macedonia which clarified its wine-making process and explained the amazing quality of the wines the country is producing – a shift from the bulk production of the years when Macedonia was a part of the the former Yugoslavia and was known as the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.
A fully independent country since 1991, the Republic of Macedonia, landlocked in the heart of the Balkans, is bordered by Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. It has a population of two million, is a candidate for joining the European Union, and is in free wine trade with EU members. It is enjoying its burgeoning tourism and is known for its hospitality offering pleasurable indulgence in fine food and quality wines.
The Republic of Macedonia is known as the land of timeless sun. It has the perfect conditions for wine-making, with 270 days of eight hours of sun. With a transitional climate between Mediterranean and Continental, its soil is rich and alluvial, with minerals, clay and carbonites. It is the driest region in the Balkans, with some 500-70 millimeters of rain per year. All these elements, combined with the terroir, contribute to making it is an ideal region for exceptional, international grade wines of fine quality that hold up and fly with European wines and compete readily with EU members’ wines.
Macedonia has a rich wine-making history dating back 4,000 years. After declaring its independence from Yugoslavia, it privatized its wineries; they flourished and developed into the current 24,700 hectares of vineyards which are managed by over 15,000 winemaking families and producers. As the Republic of Macedonia, the country entered an intense period of development resulting in new wineries being built and old ones being restructured. That progress inspired winemakers to move away from bulk production of average wines and improve their craft to thrust Macedonia into the spotlight of international wine quality.
The warm, sunny summers and autumns give the grapes time to ripen in three wine-growing regions, where international and indigenous varietals of grapes are cultivated. Popular varietals include Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. I tasted all of these at the luncheon and at the walk-around tasting, where the six companies offered expanded selections.
Macedonian wineries are particularly satisfied with their red and white wines made from local grapes. These varietals include Smederevka, Temjanika, Zhilavka and Zupjanka for whites and Stanushina, Vranec and Kratoshija for reds. I tasted the bold, rich Vranec and found it to be exceptionally flavorful.
The representatives I spoke with from the various companies are intensifying their development to continually create fine quality wines at prices which do not strain wallets. The wines are able to compete with wines from other countries with a long history of marketing in the U.S. As the Macedonian wines become better known, they will easily rank with international favorites with their Chardonnays, Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Cabernets. Once aficionados are on board with the varietal selections, they will also be ready for the bolder, richer and outstanding Vranecs and Kratoshijas which offer the unique tastes and flavors of Macedonia.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1841628581][amazon template=iframe image&asin=1845336895][amazon template=iframe image&asin=3659494887]