Alexander the Grape
Macedonia! How many Pennsylvanians could even find this republic on a map? I’d bet “somewhere near Greece” is the best most could do. (For those keeping score, it’s a landlocked nation north of Greece that’s also bordered by Albania, Serbia/Kosovo and Bulgaria.) Being your intrepid wine explorer, I jumped at the chance to try a couple bottles from Stobi, a winery located in the Tikves region of Central Macedonia.
Though a relatively new, modern winery, Stobi is named for what is perhaps the most famous architectural site in the country, once home to the pre-Roman Paeonians and eventually capital of the Roman province that encompassed most of present-day Macedonia.
Are these amazing wines that you must rush to acquire? No, quite frankly, they are not. But they are affordable (<$12), food-friendly wines made from grapes that you’ve most likely never even heard of, let alone tasted. For the same price as those nothing-special Robert Mondavi Private Selections (among others), you can try something new, different and possibly open yourself up to a lifelong quest for wines odd, unique and interesting. What do you have to lose?
Stobi Zilavka Tikves 2011 ($11.99)
100% Zilavka, a variety native to the area that’s typically used as a blending grape for aromatics. Light-bodied with citrus and floral notes, it has a crisp finish. It paired wonderfully with ceviche, and thus should go well with other similarly fresh, light fare. Probably best enjoyed on a warm patio or deck.
Stobi Vranec Tikves 2011 ($11.99)
100% Vranec, which, although technically indigenous to Montenegro, is probably the most important variety in Macedonia. Medium-bodied, featuring soft red cherry fruit and a herbal touch, it finishes with nice acidity and showcases an easygoing personality. Will pair well with a wide variety of foods, from salmon to poultry to pork.