FRUSKA GORA WINES
Small, charming town of Sremski Karlovci situated on the slopes of Fruška Gora Mountain, 1 hour drive from Belgrade is rich in cultural and historical heritage. It attracts high number of tourists all year round; however wine is the main story here. The vineyards, fanning out from the town, are home to the great number of wineries currently about 17, featuring small operations. You can embark on a winery tour almost anywhere – a plus point is that distances are small and most wine cellars are within spitting distance of one another. Peculiarities are hidden in all aspects of local culture of this small town: peace, quiet, clean air, environmentally baroque architecture, oldest schools, healthy local food, local wine and brandy, fresh vegetables, agricultural crops and domestic animals, the old folk tales and customs and almost forgotten crafts.
Even though Fruška Gora Mountain cannot boast highest peaks of Serbia, its composition of soil, mild slopes that end at the riverbank of Danube provide ideal conditions for cultivation of grapevine. Those ideal conditions were the reason why cultivation of grapevine here stretches deep into the past.
Wines have been laboriously cultivated here since the 3rd century when Roman Emperor who was born in Sirmium (nowadays Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia and at that time one of 4 Roman Capitals) laid foundations of wine production that has endured up to present day. Golden age of viticulture began in the eighteenth and nineteenth century when wines from Fruška Gora Mountain were served both on European Courts and pubs in England. Wine producers from a small town Sremski Karlovci even found a way to export wine to Canada and USA. Wine also had an important role in political life for Serbian people on the territory of Habsburg Monarchy. Then came phylloxera in 19th century and laid waste to these northern Serbian vineyards. It was a disaster from which (at least in terms of quantity) Fruška Gora Mountain never recovered.
By the 1970s highly motivated winemakers and professors, fresh from their oenology studies, started renewing vineyards and modernizing cultivation in order to create new varieties. Their wines were usually created by crossing old indigenous varieties with well-known French varieties with an aim to create varieties of grapes that will express terroir and quality of Fruška Gora Mountain. It seems that they have succeeded in it since those wines gained popularity even among foreign visitors. When visiting new wine destination foreign tourists prefer tasting local wines, rather than wines from worldwide known vineyard regions (France, Italy, Spain, etc.). Wine tasting is accompanied with local cuisine, customs, habits and down-to earth hospitality.
There is a wide range of local wines of a high quality, but today’s choice would be:
Sila was created by crossing Chardonnay and Kevidinka varieties. It is characterized by yellow-green colour, light and harmonious taste and discreet flavour. It is variety produced only on Fruška Gora Mountain in Serbia. Since Sila’s aromatic profile resembles Chardonnay’s profile it is an ideal accompaniment to roast chicken and turkey. However, tasty match is also with fish and pasta. It should be served chilled at 10 – 12 ˚C.
Rose Muscat Hamburg is light refreshing wine of exceptional rose colour. It is fruity with distinct muscat aroma. Drink it with serious seafood such as lobster, seared salmon, tuna or duck and delicately cooked rare lamb. Good too with white-rinded cheeses such as Camembert and Brie. It should be served chilled at 10 – 12˚C.
Probus is a new grape cultivar obtained by crossing Cabernet Sauvignon and Kadarka. It is a variety with the enormous potential for the production of great wines, and it produces powerful, concentrated wines which are actually well-coloured ‘fruit bombs’ that should be kept in oak barrels and aged in bottles. It is a great match to hearty dishes such as roast lamb and beef, and more complex dishes such as Serbian cabbage rolls. It should be served at 16–18˚C.
Red Bermet is a sweet, aromatic and fortified wine that holds a special position among the wines from Serbia. It has been produced exclusively on Fruška Gora Mountain since the middle ages. It was originally intended for medicinal purposes, but later it was produced for regular consumption and very soon impressed most courts of in Europe. It was even used for bribing, and also the passengers of the Titanic could not resist its flavours. Secret of this special desert wine is in production manner. It is made by maceration of more than 25 different herbs and spices. Consider Red Bermet and traditional cake Kuglof or other homemade cakes. It is an interesting match also to dried fruits or toasted hazelnuts. It contains between 16 and 18% of alcohol and it is usually served as a dessert wine at 16-18˚C.
*Each wine style has an ideal serving temperature. Served below its ideal temperature, tannins will be harsher and acidity will be stronger. Served above its ideal temperature, aromas are stripped of their youthfulness and hidden by the sensation of alcohol.
Jasmina Stankovic, MSc.
tourist guide and sommelier
00381 62 122 36 47