Vranec: Macedonia’s Native Red Grape

Looking to discover a new wine from the Old World?  Try a taste of Vranec, the native red wine grape of Macedonia.

Not sure where Macedonia is?  Just look for Greece on map.  Macedonia is the landlocked country to its north, bordered with Albania to the west, Serbia and Kosovo to the north and Bulgaria to the east.

Meaning strong and powerful black stallion, Vranec produces big and bold dry wines that are deep ruby-purple, almost black in color.  Fitting of its name and taste, Vranec is associated with strength and success.

If you enjoy Syrah and Zinfandel, you’ll definitely want to try Vranec.  It has intense berry and red fruit aromas and flavors, with firm tannins giving it structure.  Over time Vranec wines develop more spice and earth notes that round out the fruit.  Vranec pairs well with steak, burgers and hearty meat dishes.

I had my first taste of Vranec at a tasting in Atlanta of reds from Bovin Winery.  Bovin was established in 1998 as the first privately owned winery in Macedonia.  It is located in the Tikvesh wine district, in the central part of the country.

I started with the 2007 Vranec ($15), a big fruit forward wine.  Aromas of red fruits introduced jammy flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry.  It’s full and round in the mouth, nicely balanced with gripping tannins.

Next I tasted the 2006 Alexandar ($15), a dry proprietary blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Vranec.  It opens with complex red and black fruit aromas, giving way to a palate of juicy berries and red currant.  The fruit is enhanced by herbal and spicy notes, making for an intense and complex sip that finishes long and smooth.  It’s an exciting wine for red wine enthusiasts who want to see how Vranec can interact with Bordeaux varietals, as well as for Vranec beginners who want just a peek at the grape.

If you can’t find Vranec quite yet, keep looking.  The wine is gaining more interest in the United States and should be appearing at wine shops and on restaurants’ wine lists more over the next year.  If you happen to live in or travel to Atlanta (where the importer, Two Friends Imports Company is located), you’re in luck — Vranec is already available at a number of restaurants there.