Vranac

A New Frontier – Part 3

14 June 2011

In addition to the wines from Ivanović and Botunjac, which come from the Zapadna Morava region of Serbia, we tried two wines from the town of Vršac in Banat. This northeastern wine region (once the largest in Europe) has produced wine since at least the 15th Century, and likely much longer. Vineyards decorate the town’s 1804 coat of arms, as does a sword flinging a bleeding, severed head. Clearly this is a wine region to be reckoned with.

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A Serbian Surprise

13 April 2011

In Fine Spirits, my local wine shop, describes the 2007 Jović Vranac as “A high quality wine trying to break into the market.” This lovely $12 red has a long road ahead of it, I fear. It might be a few years before one commonly hears a conversation like:

“Let’s pick up a bottle of wine on the way home to have with dinner. Oo! I think I’m in the mood for something Serbian.”

“Yes, something red to go with the Bolognese. You know what would be charming? A Vranac!”

“Of course! A Serbian Vranac would be perfect.”

As surely as you will never hear this conversation, the 2007 Jović Vranac is worthy of it. But then, who knows? A few decades ago, very few people could have imagined that Australian Shiraz would be stocked in almost every grocery store. (more…)

Balkan Bonanza – Part 1

3 April 2011

My favorite small wine shop, In Fine Spirits, delighted me once again this week. In response to my question, “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve got right now,” the clerk thought a moment, and I could veritably see the light bulb above his head suddenly burst into incandescence.

“I know! Here – this is called Vranac, and it’s from Serbia.” How magnificent — I had never tasted the variety, nor any wine at all from Serbia, and it cost only $12. I purchased the Vranac, and decided it would be most fun to share my discovery with a Serbian friend or two.

A quick scan of the contacts in my cell phone reminded me that, unfortunately, I have no Serbian friends. Determined to rectify the situation, I took the bottle to the nearby Café Adriatic (5553 N. Clark St., Chicago, 773-828-8889), an attractive if relatively unpopular Balkan restaurant up the street. I’ve yet to see the restaurant more than 1/3 full, and this evening was no exception. It was just what I was hoping for.

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