News / 02/26/2017 / 893
Every year, in the days preceding the BeoWine Fair, the international wine & spirit fair in Belgrade, I have a dilemma concerning the right timing to attend this event. Namely, a wise decision has to be taken when to go to the fair in order to visit exhibitors' stands and see what's new on the local wine market without the burden of finding your way through a crowd of pensioners, secondary school pupils, and all others ... In general, the first day of the fair seems like the parade lap at Monza race track: you just walk around, scan exhibitors' position, meet & greet all acquaintances and colleagues, exchange a sentence or two... It's not the right moment to focus on exhibited wines. That's why it's necessary to come again the following day. The situation looks better then: repeated meetings with acquaintances, winemakers and colleagues from the media usually last briefly, so "the exploration" of wine scene can commence ... Friday is a working day so the crowd is still manageable. Finally, there is enough time to taste wines, write wine notes, take a few photos ... The third day (Saturday) remains an option only in case you have some unfinished business, if you missed tasting some specific label or missed meeting some winemaker the previous day ... Saturday is the day when a river of people flows through the exhibition hall, glasses and stretched arms flock around the stands, so no real business is possible.Based on this experience, Friday, February 24, 2017 was the D-day at the Belgrade Fair. This year, I had an interesting secret assignment to participate in trade media jury in selection of BeoWine Fair Hit winners. Our task was not to pick the best wine or brandy (since BeoWine Challenge already exists for this purpose). The journalists participated in the selection of the most successful, most innovative, most interesting, and even the most intriguing performance at the wine fair 2017. The task was to identify the most exciting exhibitors, those who brought something new on the wine and spirit scene and presented it at the fair. Jury didn't have a difficult task, so the final decision about winners of BeoWine Hit 2017 awards was made without much arguing or debate.
1. AMBELOS WINERY, KOPORIN MONASTERY - Ambelos Winey, owned by Koporin monastery, is a new member of the Association of Šumadija winemakers. They have presented their wines for the first time at the joint stand with other wineries from Šumadija wine region at this year's BeoWine Show. Their appearance also represents added value to Šumadija wine region. The philosophy of Ambelos Winery is wine production with as little intervention as possible: without use of selected yeasts, with as little sulfur as possible, with a particular focus on Serbian local grapes Tamjanika and Prokupac. Consequently, Šumadija got a completely new and different piece in its wine mosaic.
2. ĆOSIĆ WINE CELLAR - A small family winery from Župa raised attention of the jury mostly owing to its rosé wine. Life sometimes brings us into anecdotal situations: Ćosić Winery has once commissioned grafted vines from Italy from a renowned producer for their new vineyard site, but over time, it turned out that the Italian nursery delivered by mistake grafted vines of Muškat Ruža (Moscato Rosa). Today, Ćosić Winery is the only winery in Župa that has this variety in the vineyard, but even the owners of the winery seemed surprised when they heard that the DNA mapping has revealed that Muškat Ruža is actually a grape variety called Black Tamjanika in Negotin (East Serbia), which has spread significantly in other wine regions of Serbia in recent times. Thus, coincidentally, Ćosić Winery became the first winery from Župa with Muškat Ruža or Black Tamjanika in their vineyards.
3. PRUNA DISTILLERY AND WINERY - Snugly located to welcome each visitor with a "rakija" welcome drink, Pruna managed to keep crowd at their stand because they hosted every day another première: Thursday was reserved for premium plum brandy and Williams' pear brandy, on Friday, Pruna featured sour cherry brandy aged in a Mexican oak barrel previously used for aging reposado tequila (it seems to me that such a brandy will easily become a hipster's all-time-favorite). Aso, the experimentation and aspirations of oenologist Radovan Đorđević to explore new horizons of Serbian rakija brandy deserve praise. One should also mention "zmajevac" (dragon's gin), the first Serbian gin from East Serbia ... In short, quite enough arguments to rank Pruna among the pleasant surprises of the fair.
4. PIK OPLENAC - PIK Oplenac is a winery that is trying to restore former glory of the wine cooperative which owned more than 700 hectares of vineyards in Yugoslavia. Since 2014, PIK Oplenac has got a new owner, and therefore a new development strategy. At this year's BeoWine Fair, this winery has received praise for their wines with Tron label which will become new competition for winemakers from Macedonia and Montenegro who dominate Serbian wine market in the low price range. PIK Oplenac winery is a clear indicator that Serbian wineries have a serious ambition to capture this segment of the market with wines in this price category (up to 300 dinars).
5. ERDEVIK 1826 WINERY - A winery which made a great step forward compared to previous years: an exceptional rise in quality of wines, then a striking visual identity associated with the Odeschalchi family and an attractive visual design of the stand at the BeoWine Fair. A winning combination and another fair hit.
6. SWEETSYSTEM - Trendy chocolate with attractive packaging easily found its place in the visitors' pockets. In cooperation with Aleksić Winery, chocolates are filled with Nostalgija wine. And for brandy lovers, there were also chocolates filled with rakija from quince, raspberry, Williams' pear, apricot, etc in an attractive package ... Simply irresistible fair gift.
7. JOVIĆ WINERY - A winery that placed Knjaževac and the village of Potrkanje on the wine map of Serbia. They have been creating the identity of the entire wine region for years. Vranac from Potrkanje proudly found its place at this year's BeoWine Fair among Vranac wines from Montenegro, Macedonia, Herzegovina...
8. KOMUNA WINERY - Finally, another novelty from Komuna winery: beside wines with quite inspirational labels, apple cider was also presented as a new product. Thus, they have entered the segment which has seen continuous growth in the world for some time, and it is slowly developing in Serbia over the last five years ...
Certainly there were more interesting exhibits, successful fair presentations, quality wines and brandy over the past four days of the fair, so local winelovers and rakijalovers can leave the fair with a feeling of satisfaction and new favourites. Until this time next year...
Awarded wine writer, wine critic and contributor to selected wine magazines. WSET3-certified author and editor-in-chief of www.vinopedia.rs. Member of Vojvodina Sommelier Association. Juror in national and international wine competitions. Lecturing about wines of Serbia and the Balkans. Local partner of Wine Mosaic organization. Co-founder of International Prokupac Day.
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