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Tikveš: 130 Years of Tradition, 1962 Furmint, Domaine Lepovo, Vranec, Bela Voda, Barovo & Other Stories

Written on 28-09-2015 by Dusan Jelic, Kavadarci, Belgrade

Igor Ilievski, Director and Marko Stojaković, Cellar Master of Tikveš Winery from Macedonia

Brief History Notes 

 

The Balkan region had been introduced to viticulture and winemaking in the Roman times.

In the middle ages, during the Ottoman rules, for a good few centuries, due to cultural and religious reasons, winemaking was subdued and barely existed.

 

In 1885 Pano Velkov, merchant, nobleman and landowner, turned his dream into reality and established Tikveš Winery on a plot of 1,200 square meters. The power of the Ottoman Empire at the time was diminishing. The very first wine was produced under the Tikveš label in 1912! Tikveš started cooperation with the Greek wine and spirits producer Metaxa and was licensed to produce spirits under its label.

 

In 1914 the outbreak of phylloxera almost fully destroyed the vines and the indigenous grape varieties such as žilavka, stanušina, mustenik, plovdina, belerče and sivjak. However, wine-growers from the region united and imported American hybrid varieties so that Tikveš can shine once again. In 1938 Tikveš started production of soft drinks and its products were sold in Serbia, Albania, northern Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

 

In 1946 Tikveš becomes a state-owned enterprise of the socialist Yugoslavia. Shortly afterwards, construction of new facilities on another location begins. In 1968 Agro-combine Tikveš was founded by merging several smaller agricultural cooperatives. Tikveš became the largest winery in the Southeast Europe. Another landmark was in 1973 when a new wine ‘T’ga za jug’ (Longing for the south) was crafted in honour of Struga Poetry Evening. A star was born.

 

The new chapter in a long history of Tikveš started in 2003 when M6 Group purchased the winery and commenced investing and upgrading the production equipment. Special attention has been paid to advancing the overall production process, from grape growing, harvest, to obtaining the finished products. It is worth mentioning that in 2008 at the Wine Innovation Forum in Paris, Tikveš Winery was ranked among the world’s 30 most innovative wine brands!

 

 

The Wines

 

I had an opportunity to visit the winery and vineyards in Barovo region. That was an extraordinary trip showing the ultimate beauty of the vineyards and unspoiled nature. After the visit we had an opportunity to taste 10 wines from Tikveš winery across the all ranges which undoubtedly showed the very high quality of wines and true power of this great winery! We were guided through the tasting by the cellar master Marko Stojaković. My brief tasting notes follow.

 

Temjanika 2014 Special Selection

 

A very good wine, the very challenging year notwithstanding. The wine is dry, fresh with a gentle color. Citruses and herbal notes dominate. Temjanika was kept in Inox tanks only. 13% alcohol. Medium-bodied wine with a great balance of alcohols, extracts and acidity.  85/100 points.

 

Alexandria Cuvee Rose 2014

 

It’s rose made in the Provence style which is becoming increasingly trendy in the region. A lovely salmon color. Elegance and 12.5% alcohol. This rose is blend of Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh scents of strawberries and cherries. Very crisp and inviting wine. Indeed perfect for summer and sunny weather. 87/100 points.

 

Rkaciteli Special Selection 2013

 

A lovely golden color with grapefruit scents dominating. This is a dry wine with 12.5% alcohol. Some lovely hints of quince. It is very refreshing and elegant. 84/100 points

 

Bela Voda White 2014

 

It has a lovely straw golden color. Bela Voda is a blend of 70% of Grenache Blanc and 30% of Chardonnay. It is a single vineyard wine. The components were fermenting separately. Exciting notes of hazelnuts, peach and subtle silky milky notes. Only some 10 thousand liters was made. A very fine oak management. It ends with a lingering aftertaste of spicy and peachy notes. A serious wine developing nicely. 90/100 points.

 

Barovo White 2014

 

The same composition of blend, yet displaying a different terroir: Grenache Blanc (70%) and Chardonnay (30%). It has lovely acidity. Apples and pears mingle with citruses. Barovo white is a silky wine with a kiss of oak. Young and powerful. It will continue its development in at least the next 3 years. 89/100 points.

 

Barovo White 2013

 

Again this wine was composed from 70% of Grenache Blanc (Belan) and 30% of Chardonnay. A kiss of lovely secondary aromas of sweet notes resembling figs and honey. Yet, the wine has plenty of citrus undertones to balance out sweetness nicely. This is a pure liquid gold. Still evolving and climbing. 90+/100 points.

 

Domaine Lepovo Chardonnay 2014

 

This is undoubtedly a Burgundian-style beauty. Probably the best Chard I ever tasted from Macedonia. It has a nice light-golden color. The wine has supremely inviting notes of nuts and butterscotch. Razor sharp freshness. Extremely elegant wine. Big barrels used and the wine was oaked judiciously. To have such a great wine from 2014 vintage is an amazing success. It would be lovely to follow-up this wine in the next 3 to 5 years. 91+/100 points.

 

Domaine Lepovo Pinot Noir 2013

 

Decanted. Served at the right temperature. Intensive colour, slightly darker then your usual Pinot. Perfumes, hints of beetroot. Fresh wine with superb acidity. Tannins slightly overpronounced, yet the wine is elegant and still evolving. A unique rendition of Pinot Noir. 89+/100 points.

 

Alexandria Red Cuvee 2013

 

It is characterized with an intensive ruby color. 15.5% alcohol yet fully integrated. This is a blend of Vranec (65%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) and Merlot (10%). Plums and cherries are abundant. Firm and persistent tannins. Excellent food wine with a never-ending aftertaste of plums with notes of cinnamon and other exotic spices. Alexandria Red Cuvee is a full-bodied wine that will please many palates. 90/100 points.

 

Furmint 1962

 

This was an absolute highlight of my visit and an opportunity to finally taste the wine older than me! When I saw amber-yellow color of the wine my heart started beating wildly. It was oily, the liquid was moving slowly in my glass and a very palpable excitement was felt in the air. I nosed it a few times and aromas of coffee beans and grains of cinnamon were felt. Anticipation of excellence. Drinking all history and tradition that Tikveš represents! Balkan pathos was felt. I was shocked how bright and brave the acidity was, which is indeed totally amazing for the 53 years old wine. That acidity was a backbone of the wine and a superb proof what Tikveš terroir can achieve. Taste of the 1962 Furmint in my mouth was truly an unforgettable experience! 94/100 points

 

 

It was just another lovely vinous day in the Balkans!

 

You can learn more about the Tikveš Winery by visiting

their website or a facebook page.