Wine of the week

Wine of the week / 12/01/2020 / 2354


(Three Moravas, Central Serbia)

Last weekend I came out of the supermarket with a few bottles from Rubin Winery in a bag. A promotional campaign is underway, so I decided to taste low-range Serbian wines (shelf price 300 dinars). So, I picked local wines from a price range of up to 500 dinars, which is currently dominated by cheap wines from North Macedonia, Montenegro and Italy on the Serbian market. This market segment still remains under the radar of local wineries, and it seems to me that only Džervin Winery from Knjaževac has so far tried to enter this segment, but despite satisfactory quality, their wines are still hard to find in local shops.

On the other hand, Rubin wines are truly at your fingertips. From wine shops, supermarkets, petrol stations to distant village shops, one can easily find one of their wine labels on the shelf. Like most Serbian industrial wineries, they hold the reputation of producing cheap wines of questionable quality, but taking into account their wines that were released last year, it seems to me that they have finally woken up and realized that consumers in Serbia matured and seek wines with both a decent price and higher quality. The very fact that they own 1,200 hectares of vineyards indicates that they could produce quality wines in all price segments with the right approach in  the vineyards and adequate grape quality and yield management.

I have a Merlot 2017 in my glass. On the nose, you can initially detect earthy-spicy tones, a lot of sweet spice and vanilla. Indeed, the first impression is quite appealing, easy-to-understand by an average wine lover. But then hints of dark chocolate, cinnamon, red forest fruit, plum jam begin to emerge. It is clear that the glass contains warm climate Merlot. In any case, the impression on the nose does not turn into banality and servility attempt to appeal to consumers with an excessive emphasis on aromas that come from oak.

In the mouth, clear typicity of Merlot, with varietal features, not overly complex and structured, but still in balance. The overall impression is harmonious. Beautiful, refreshing acidity, not as dull as wines from the south can get. On the palate, dense, full-bodied, strong and rounded. Well integrated alcohol (14.5%). It definitely lacks more structure and complexity in the mouth, but for the price of 300 dinars, you will hardly find a better alternative. On the palate, there is a subtle play with the green (herbal) note, but I still can't perceive it as a flaw.It rather gives even more character to the wine. Skilfully polished mouthfeel, flavors of black and red fruit, raspberry jam, green walnut, mint, sweet spice. Tannins are ripe, leaving a dry trail in the finish. Pleasant, long finish. In Serbia, 2017 was generally great for red wines. But I hope that this vintage of Rubin Merlot will not come as an exception, so they will be able to keep this quality level in the years to come.

Rating: 88/100


Rating scale:

50-69 wines with serious flaws, unacceptable

70-79 simple wines, drinkable, possible wine flaws to a lesser extent

80-84 good, pleasant wines for everyday use

85-89 excellent, harmonious wines with clear expression of variety and / or terroir

90-94 outstanding wines

95-100 cult wines, with potential for long-term aging


Tomislav Ivanović

Awarded wine writer, wine critic and contributor to selected wine magazines. WSET3-certified author and editor-in-chief of 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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