Serbian Wine - from BC to today's tastings


When you want to taste a high quality red wine it's quite unlikely that anything but Barolo, Bordeaux, Burgundy or Tuscany comes to your mind. Perhaps, it's time to broaden our wine vision? Maybe time to look for good wines on the east and south? So how about more Serbian wines in your life?



The map of Serbia's wine regions
The wine regions of Serbia

History of winemaking in Serbia


People in the Southern Balkans along the Danube river used to make wine from wild grapevines since 400-200 BC.⁠ ⁠However, just like practically almost everywhere in the Balkans, in Serbia the real development of viticulture and winemaking was due to Romans.⁠ In the Middle Ages, Serbia was a major wine exporter, while during the Ottoman invasion winemaking was down to individual homemade wine production. At the same time, new varieties came from the East. Ottomans were encouraging grape growing but not winemaking which didn't prevent them from bringing new grape varieties to the countries they occupied.

At times of Yugoslavia, Serbia was at its' peak of winemaking by quantity, however, quality was definitely lacking and many indigenous grape varieties were extinct. During the communist period, international grape varieties were in priority as this is what was easy to export and sell, meanwhile local grapes were practically prohibited.⁠ With the "dissolution" of Yugoslavia, not only Serbia's economy suffered a lot, but also many vineyards were destroyed.

The last 20 years the country spent on recovery and creation of a brand image of Serbian wine worldwide. Lots of small and medium size wineries emerged and the country overall focuses on promoting its' local grapes like Prokupac, Vranac, Tamjanika, Smederevka.⁠

Temet Winery

Temet winery was founded south of Belgrade, in the valley of the Morava River and on the surrounding hills of the town of Jagodina. This region is a traditional wine-growing area. Temet winery is located in the hamlet of Lozovik, in the hills around Jagodina. Even the name itself, "Lozovik" means grapevine.

TemeT winery in Serbia and their Prokupac vineyards
TemeT winery

A young and new winery with tradition rooted in the soil. The cellars were built in 2009 and meet the latest technological standards in the world of winemaking. It's managed by a young and local oenologist, Srdjan Lukajic. As for the vineyards, they are all at the optimal for winemaking 250-300 m above sea level altitude, all the grapes come exclusively from their own vineyards.


So a modern winery, with young people at the head inspired by the long winemaking tradition of Lozovik. They do believe that modern knowledge can be applied to traditional methods of wine production. That's why all the work in vineyards is done by hand and since 2018 the vineyards are managed without chemical fertilizers or insecticides, in organic cultivation.


The owner, Nebojsa Aleksic is native to Vranje and has a degree in economics. He left to Paris to specialize in management and that's where unintentionally he discovered his love for gastronomy and wines. Once he returned to Belgrade he kept exploring various wines more and more and it matched with the period when Serbian people started drinking and valuing Serbian wines. The next challenge was to drink wine made from local Serbian grape varieties. The government started supporting the wine sector and naturally, many young wineries emerged in Serbia. One of them - TemeT.


Today TemeT is known for their modernist approach in winemaking, impressive yet simple winery in Sumadija and their Tri Morave and Ergo wines. They are producing wines organically and are considering to start making vegan wines (without using animal additives for clarification). TemeT is also interested in establishing a closed cycle production to use all byproducts from vineyards and winemaking.


Prokupac - Serbia's signature grape


Prokupac - Serbia's signature grape
Prokupac - right before harvest

Not so long ago it was hard to hear a positive opinion about Prokupac. Lacking colour, yields too much, it came all the way from a grape variety with a disputed reputation to the flagship grape of Serbia. All of it, by the way, thanks to the Župa vinegrowers which preserved this variety.


In order to help Prokupac accummulate enough colour, aromas and flavours the high yield, high vigor and late phenolic ripening must be handled. To do this, the best sites for Prokupac are on poor and well-drained (read - dry) soil and a rootstock that limits yield and vigor should be chosen. As for late ripening - southern exposure is a must, just as defoliage (removing leaves) so that the grape bunches get the most of the sun.


Initially, the renaissance of Prokupac started with blending it with international grapes to ensure there's enough colour in the wine, but today, more and more producers are proud to present their monocepage (single varietal) Prokupac wines.



TemeT Tri Morave - Tasting Notes

TemeT Tri Morave, Red

Vintage: 2019⁠

Location: Lozovik, Sumadija-Pomoravlije⁠, Central Serbia⁠

Grape variety: Prokupac⁠

Producer: TemeT Wines

Dry red wine⁠

Alcohol content: 14% abv⁠

⁠Serving temperature: 12-18˚C⁠

Fermentation and maceration lasted about 20 days at 25 – 28° C. After the malolactic fermentation is complete in stainless steel tank, 50% of wine was aged in barrel and 50% in tank.⁠

Bottle ageing before release on the market minimum for 12 months.⁠

Black forest berries, well-structured tannins, black plum, licorice and some hints of pepper, cedar and smoke.⁠

⠀⁠

On the wine tasting I organized in December in Amsterdam the ones who never tasted Prokupac said they'd easily confuse it with Syrah.⁠ Actually, there wasn't a single person who didn't enjoy this wine. Prokupac and TemeT got plenty of compliments!.


⁠Serbian wines (and many other wines coming from off-the-radar wine regions) are available in the Netherlands via Once Upon A Wine - my new platform with the rarest wines included in wine subscriptions and curated wine collections.




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