- Written by Aleksandar Ristovski
Macedonia – a wine country yet to be discovered
A few of the most famous wine regions, such as Nappa Valley in California and Bordeaux in France, lie on the same geographic latitude as Tikves, the largest vine valley in the Republic of Macedonia. This valley is a part of the Central wine region, or better known as Povardarie, and together with the East and West wine regions, it marks the territory where this small country in the Balkan and European south grow vine.
The tradition of growing vine in Macedonia dates back from ancient times. Undoubtedly, thanks to its natural conditions, as Macedonia is the place where the continental climate from the North meets with the Mediterranean climate from the South, resulting in moderate and mild winters, and long, dry summers with gentle breeze. Such climate, combined with various soil compositions, including alluvial, volcano or terra rosa soils, creates conditions for growing more than 50 types of grapes. Internationally recognized varieties, such as Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon… successfully grow in Macedonia, just as the varieties that the world is yet to discover, Kratoshija, Stanushina, Temjanika, Vranec, Rkatsiteli… The fact that many of these international varieties have local names speaks of how long the tradition of wine making is. So, when in Macedonia you are offered Belan, and you recognize the flavor of Grenache Blanc, or, if you recognize Pinot Noir in a glass of Burgundec, or, you taste Primitivo or Zifandel while drinking Kratoshija, do not be confused.
Despite its long tradition and the ideal preconditions for growing grapes and making wine, wine industry in Macedonia has not been developing with the pace of France, Spain, Italy, the main wine countries. There are a few reasons for that. Firstly, five-century long Ottoman rule limited the consummation of wine due to religious reasons, so it was mainly kept in monasteries. Secondly, during the communist period before the Republic of Macedonia’s independence, the emphasis was put on the quantity and the production of wine for mass consumption, rather than on the quality. Hence the real development of the Macedonian wine industry occurred in the last two decades, with about eighty wineries currently operating.
Natural conditions in Macedonia make temperamental, powerful wines with full body, rich in fruity aroma, which the world is slowly but surely discovering. One could talk at length about the potentials of the Macedonian wine industry. Let us just say that two Macedonian wines, Bela Voda Red 2010 and Vranec Special Selection 2010, produced by the oldest Macedonian Winery “Tikves”, received 94 and 90 points respectively, by wine advocate Robert Parker. These two wines are the only wines from South-Eastern Europe so highly evaluated by the most famous world wine critique. Lately, wines originating from Macedonia have been regularly receiving awards at prestigious wine competitions, with the Winery “Tikves”, founded in 1885, being ranked among the 100 most prosperous world brands in 2012 by the American magazine M&M Global.
Just as the quality of Macedonian wines is improving, the number of new export destinations is growing. The “Tikves” Winery is the leader accounting for 70 per cent of the total Macedonian export of bottled wine. Macedonian wine is not only exported in the region, but can be found in EU, USA, Russia, China markets as well. After being so highly evaluated by Parker, the export of wine from Macedonia progressed and it can be found in three Michelin star restaurants in the USA. The development of the wine industry was an incentive for development of wine tourism, a segment attracting many investments in the last several years. All of this should encourage us to look for wines coming from Macedonia and expect information on their success without acting surprised.
To keep updated with the developments of the Macedonian wine industry, follow the web site of “Tikves” – www.tikves.com.mk. It is where the “Macedonia’s Finest” comes from.
Wine that you should definitely try and discover the new magic all produced by Tikves Winery:
- Тemjanika Special Selection
- Rkatsiteli Selection
- Vranec Special Selection
- Alexandria Cuvee (white, rose and red wines)
- Barovo (white and red wines)
- Bela Voda (white and red wines)