Vranec, the Black Stallion, the Raven!
Автор, Ivana Simjanovska - един от изявените винени журналисти и експерти на северна Македония, и наша приятелка.
* Статията е само на английски език.
Although I have been travelling to world wine regions and tasting international wines for years, I always go back to my home country when it comes to powerful boisterous red wines & to my weakness when it comes to grape varieties- the Vranec.
The meaning of the word Vranec is a strong, black and powerful stallion. The word Vran also means raven, coloured or black, which is why this red wine is also known as black wine in North Macedonia.
This grape variety is believed to originate from Montenegro and is a cross of Tribidrag (aka Primitivo, Zinfandel, Kratosija) and Duljenga grape varieties.
The Vranec, although not strictly indigenous to North Macedonia, is the flag bearer in the country's quest for international recognition. It is widely spread all over the Balkans, especially Montenegro and Serbia, it is believed to have found its second home in the country.
In North Macedonia it was introduced for the first time in 1950 by Prof. Dr. Dragan Nastev who planted Vranec vines in the Skopje Wine District to test its potential. Nowadays, there is an ongoing clone selection of this variety and Vranec remains to be the most planted red grape variety in the country with 10,800 ha, making North Macedonia the country with the biggest Vranec plantations in the world, followed by Montenegro with 3,600 ha, Bosnia & Herzegovina with 480 ha, Kosovo 478 ha and Serbia with 120 ha.
Today, almost all of the Macedonian wineries produce wine from this grape variety. As producers experiment both in the vineyards and the cellar, and recent plantings of vines start to yield complexity, a range of styles is evident.
The variety Vranec has got exuberant grapevine, middle-sized clusters and dark blue berries with coloured skin enriched by colouring substances. It ripens in the second half of September.
Diverse climate and soil conditions greatly affect the quality of the wine Vranec and its features. Vranec is a variety that requires warm and dry climate, with fairly distributed rainfalls over the year. It does not stand low temperatures and easily suffers from freezing. When the temperatures in summer are too high, they adversely affect the vegetation of Vranec. It is sensitive to diseases. Vranec demands light, drainy and warm soil.
Soil vise is not very sensitive, but the moisture can have an influence. More humid and rainy conditions, and colder temperatures associated with higher altitudes, produce more fresh and fruity flavours and aromas, associated with cherries and dark forest fruits etc; while more arid and warm conditions give the end wine more spicy and jam aromas and flavours.
The Vranec variety from the Skopje vineyards (Skopje Wine District) is characterized with higher acidity and the Vranec from the Tikvesh Wine District on the other hand, has more sugar, is rich in phenols and the wines are more rounded (full bodied), as is the Vranec that comes from the Veles Wine District.
Because the selection of vines in Macedonia is not always very consistent, different vineyards have been planted over a period of few decades, and there is a variation in the source of planting material and thus different clones of the variety. Besides this, also the conditions and exposition (sun exposure) can make a difference.
Vranec variety has very big polyphenolic characteristics. Measurements made by the Agricultural Institute in Skopje, comparing it to Cabernet Sauvignon, say that an average Vranec cluster has 20-40 percent more phenolic compounds.
When young, Vranec wines have an intense dark red colour with violet hue, aromas of forest fruits, plums, black currant and often hints of tobacco. The wines display firm tannin structure, remarkable crispy acidity and flavours of dark red berry fruits.
With a year or two of ageing, the purple turns to a darker ruby colour and the nose develops a more complex aroma of ripe forest fruits, chocolate, cocoa, liquorice and sometimes even dry figs. The tannins become tamed and softer and the wine develops a longer and smoother finish.
Vranec wines love oak, especially the American one, even though wineries in the country also use French, Slavonian and occasionally Macedonia oak with a great success.
Due to its intense colouration, it is often used for blending with other grape varieties, most often with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, to enhance the colour of the wines. As it gives full-bodied wines, it is often used to give body in blended wines. It has an amazing ageing potential as I’ve taste Vranec wines more than 20-30 years old.
The Vranec variety is a variety abundant with possibilities to get wines of different styles, from fruity aroma of black fruits, to full and extractive wines with soft tannins and complex mineral and fruity aromas.
My ( Ivana Simjanovska) currently personal favourite Macedonian Vranec wines include Popov Smolnik Vranec 2017, Venec Orle 2016, Dalvina Hermes Vranec 2015, Stobi Private Reserve Vranec Veritas 2015, Tikves Bela Voda 2016, Chateau Kamnik Terroir Vranec Grand Reserva 2011, Bovin Agupka 2012 and Brzanov Vranec Elixir 2012 and from the regional ones Arhonto Vranac 2013 by Krgovic Winery, Tellus Amphora Vranac 2016 by Lipovac Winery, Trag Vranac 2015 by Pricha Winery and Vranac Premijer 2009 by Plantaze Winery from Montenegro.
Ето и вината от Вранц, които можете да откриете в нашата селекция:
Виното е едно безкрайно пътешествие и истории, които помним винаги, а нашите съседи от Северна Македония имат какво да ни покажат с Вранец!