Trebinje, the capital of Bosnian wines
After Bulgaria, my arrival in Trebinje owes nothing to chance. Bordered by the Trebisnjica, this charming little town is the departure (or arrival) of the Bosnian wine route created in 2007. It follows the magnificent Neretva to reach Mostar. Its bridge, river and small historical center are full of charm. Everything is assembled to spend pleasant days …
As soon as you arrive, I advise you to rent a bicycle (I know, from Slovenia I do not go without …) and to walk around the area. The scenery is beautiful and the vineyards are all located nearby. My choice then stops on Andelic Winery. I am marvelously received by Milena, granddaughter of the one by whom all began: Sava. 17 years old and full of confidence, one begins with the Zilavka 2015, typical white variety of the southern Bosniak. It’s fresh, lively on the granny and the pear, perfect to quench your thirst in this heat … And at 6 €, give a tour! That was for the children. Now, Milena goes directly to the star of the Balkan grape varieties: the Vranac. If you are traveling around the area, you will not be able to escape. A very dark grape variety, it makes dense, fleshy and powerful wines. This vintage 2012, after 3 years in large barrel, does not deviate from the rule but surprises by its velvety. At 6 €, give again a tour Milena … but with something to eat anyway. Especially since the Tribun 2012 with Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot (15%/15%) is still young… But it was before. Before the Vranac Selection enters. A 2011 all chocolate, caramel and “toffee” with a refreshing final on the red fruits. At 10 €, give a two different tours! It is therefore with pleasure that I drink in honor of the papa Sava, today name of the rakia of the house whose portrait is proudly expressed on the etiquette. Yes, you have to know: to finish a meal without the local brandy, it is unusual anyway … Be ready! Thanks Milena for this friendly moment. It is therefore full of enthusiasm that I go back on my bicycle and go in the field Petijevic. Let’s be clear, my enthusiasm will take a hit with two wines: a Zilavka 2015 and a Vranac 2015. Here, we do not want to hear a barrel, aging … Only young wine, light, to consume everything from after ! Except that it is not terrible … Between the neutral white and the aggressive red, you can pass your way. And continue a few kilometers further to reach the magnificent Monastery of Tvrdos.
Founded in the 4th century, destroyed 7 times and finally rebuilt in the 15th century, these Orthodox monks have specialized in the production of wine since the 16th century. History, architecture, wine, … all the elements are gathered to have a good time. Especially since the place is beautiful … before the disappointment. Welcomed coldly by Miroslav, he literally “vomited” his speech, without paying attention to the questions. Boasting to finance 30 Catholic churches destroyed during the war thanks to the revenues from the sale of the wine, the latter is a means of subsistence. Until then, man is not sympathetic but constructive discourse. Hence my reflection: “it is a good business to continue to exist”. What I had not said !!! He was shocked that I could think of a “business”. Hence the expeditious answer: “here, it is monks who live soberly, refusing to enlarge their farms to stay focused on quality. So it’s not a business but a passion.” Well, I do not insist. He continues, slightly offended. But his speech will involuntarily go in my direction. When I learn that only ten monks live here, producing 300,000 bottles a year, the “living soberly” takes a hit. When I learn that 50% of production is exported, the idea of business seems to be confirmed. And when I learn that this monastery sells 50 € a bottle and charges 1.5 € the tasting glass, the passion has a price called business. And the wines in all this? You suspect that my opinion was ultimately biased by my general feeling. The Zilavka 2015 is typically lively, fresh and lemony … but at 10 €, I brake / the Vranac 2013 drowns in the American vanilla, At the limit of the makeup / Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is good but inevitably too young. Pity. Fortunately, there is one last visit, much lighter. By bicycle for Vukoje winery. This young girl of 34 years (founded in 1982) has 30 hectares and does not hesitate to leave the beaten track.
Originating from a Bosniak family, it emancipated itself from the communist regime in 1996. And yes, since 1982, production was theoretically reserved for personal consumption or for restaurants, with the prohibition to sell to individuals and still less to the ‘foreign”. Now, this area has converted to wine tourism with hotel and restaurant. It is therefore quietly installed in terrace with sight on the city that I begin a tasting of 3 wines. A news then appears to me named Tamjanika.
Typically Balkan, this variety takes its name from the “tamjan”, a very aromatic resin. And it is true that the 2015, with its very pale green, brings out this aroma, accompanied by rose petals, lime, even an oil nose. Blind, I’ll opt for a Riesling. But on the palate, we are far from the elegance of the Moselle, with a very (too?) high acidity, on the edge of unripe grapefruit. But glad to have known it all the same. I then headed towards the specialty of the house: the Vranac. Yes I know, not very original. But Vukoje produces 4. I choose the Reserve 2010, whose harvest is delayed, created only the best years and remaining 18 to 32 months in French and Slovenian barrels. On the eye, its intense garnet appeases you. On the nose, the fig / coffee / chocolate mixture is a delight. In the mouth, it is elegant but lacks length. 17 € all the same … Well, I insist on trying to discover a rare pearl by trying their Syrah (yes I know, coming from me, not very original …). A nice ruby seduces the eye, rubber, tar and licorice jump in the nose and an acidity too present aggresses you in the mouth, together with the astringent tannins.
Finally, Andelic will remain my favorite and the idea of discovering this seductive village dotted with vineyards by bicycle will have been the best part of the tasting …