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WHEN WILL SERBS TAKE PORTUGIESER SERIOUSLY?

WHEN WILL SERBS TAKE PORTUGIESER SERIOUSLY?

vinarija Kiš

When the results of the competition Portugieser du Monde were released, I heard a comment made by an acquaintance from local wine circles at the expense of this grape variety. Hm, Serbian mentality is a wonder… Inclination to exaggerate, excessive obeisance to authority (in real life, an obedient follower of authoritarian politicians), a know-all with little appreciation for a different view or opinion… it will take us another 100 years to grasp this and begin to change…

Anyhow, the comment was targeted at disregard for the grape variety, to paraphrase: eh, as if it were a wine … In those words (a mere sentence), I learned a lot about the interlocutor… No need to reveal his/her identity here, because this article doesn’t depict an individual or his/her personal beliefs. Instead, this article deals with a way of thinking. In any case, it is immediately clear that the interlocutor does not understand the beauty of winemaking. The magic of wine world lies exactly in the fact that wine is made from almost 1,400 grape varieties around the world and gives a range of different styles (so, the world is not turning solely around Vranac and Cabernet Sauvignon).

1) There is still high seasonality in Serbia when it comes to wine. You will often hear folks admitting that they consume white wines in the summer, whilst red wines are preferred in the winter time. Thanks to wines such as Portugieser, this division disappears. Simply, Portugieser wines are enjoyable both in the summer and winter time. Since Portugieser wines do not feature high alcohols, they can also be consumed during the peak of summer heat.

2) With such an attitude towards Portugieser wines, we eliminate a large portion of the wine world and thus we are depriving ourselves of the opportunity to discover numerous wines from other similar grapes: Barbera from Piedmont, Nero d’Avola from Sicily, Pinot Noir from New Zealand, Carignan from South France or numerous wines from Central Europe…

3) The fact that someone in Serbia does not like the style of Portugieser wines doesn’t mean that others share his/her opinion. This is witnessed by the fact that Portugieser vineyards in Germany cover more than 4,000 hectares, with additional 2,000 hectares in Austria and 1,250 hectares in Hungary.

4) Portugieser is a wine that shapes today’s identity of Fruška Gora (Srem wine region, North Serbia)… We need to respect local varieties because they are complementary to local cuisine. Portugieser is a grape variety of central Europe. It has been proven that its origins are in the region of Štajerska in Slovenia, but it expanded to central Europe during the Austria-Hungarian Empire. It adapted to local climate and soils, so we consider it nowadays the pearl of our Vojvodina province (North Serbia). Anyone who has ever tasted sweet Portugieser pie in Irig will understand why this grape is domestic on Fruška Gora.

Portugieser harvest in Mačkov Podrum (Tomcat's Cellar)

Portugieser harvest in Mačkov Podrum (Tomcat’s Cellar)

5) You will often come across Cabernet Sauvignon wines that have been released prematurely on the market. Simply, winemakers want to sell their wines as soon as possible and Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety that needs maturity to show all its splendor. Frankly speaking, if you may choose between a young Portugieser and  a young Cabernet Sauvignon, Portugieser is often a better choice as it’s more ready for consumption.

6) The town of Pécs (Hungary) has been hosting a competition for the best Portugieser wine for several years. Although the name of the competition may sound ridiculous (Portugieser Du Monde) taking into account the regional presence of this grape variety (Central Europe), it must be pointed out that the competition is a good indicator of the quality of wines made from this variety. At this year’s competition, Mačkov Podrum Winery (Tomcat’s Cellar) won 2 gold medals: for its young Portugieser and rosé Frajla (blend of Portugieser and Pinot Noir) whilst Kiš Winery won the trophy for the best young wine in the competition. So, we’re talking about young quality wines! No mistake…

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