KINGDOM OF TRAMINAC – STRECHING FROM SRIJEM TO SREM
The best period to visit a wine region is at harvest time. There is no better opportunity to learn about all joys and apprehensions that vinegrowers and winemakers experience in a vineyard’s annual growth cycle. And eventually, harvest is the moment when you can share with them the joy of bringing another harvest to a close.
Grape harvest in Srem/Srijem is particularly picturesque. Merry “tamburica” players, lavishly decorated folk costumes, endless vineyards, the blue Danube and slopes of Fruška Gora emerging on the horizon.
Ilok Grape Harvest Feast has been held annually in the Croatian town of Ilok since 1962. This year, the Grape Harvest Feast took place in Ilok from August 27th till September 4th. It makes a great opportunity to explore the charms of Srem/Srijem wine region.
THE ODESCALCHI FAMILY HERITAGE
If we talk about Srem/Srijem, then we inevitably touch the history of aristocratic family Odescalchi. Following the expulsion of the Turks, the Vienna Imperial Court rewarded the Odescalchi family with a property which included a large portion of Srem. Their newly acquired estate included Upper Srem area centered around the town of Ilok (present-day Croatia) and Lower Srem area centered around the town of Irig (present-day Serbia). Duke Livio Odescalchi (1652-1713) and his descendants are largely responsible for development of winemaking tradition in Srem/Srijem. In Ilok, he modernized the old cellar from the 15th century. In the early 18th century, the Odescalchi family expanded vineyards in Ilok and constructed a new winery next to the existing old cellar. Historic records also indicate that the Odescalchi family established in 1826 the first winery in Erdevik (Serbia). The legacy of Odescalchi still survives on both sides of the border, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that Erdevik Winery from the village of Erdevik placed a detail from Odescalchi coat-of-arms on their wine labels.
IT’S ALL IN THE NAME
The name of the region speaks volumes about the multi-layered history of Srem/Srijem. The name is derived from Sirmium, one of four capitals of the Roman Empire during the period of Tetrarchy, which was originally located on the site of today’s city of Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia). Due to differences in dialects and pronunciation, the name Srem became common on the Serbian side of the border, whilst in Croatia, the region is commonly referred to as Srijem.
BORDER AMIDST VINEYARDS
The road distance from Belgrade to Ilok totals 134km. For the most part, the road will take you along the highway in the direction of Zagreb. In the vicinity of Šid, take the exit and continue across western slopes of Fruška Gora. At the border crossing Sot/Principovac, you will enter the territory of Ilok (Croatia).
While approaching the border crossing, you will find yourself surrounded by a wide belt of vineyards on the Serbian side. These vineyards now belong to Molowinery from Erdevik and a carved stone with engraved Odescalchi name located in the vineyard bears witness to former history of this region. Border guards employed at the border crossing Sot/Principovac have a rare opportunity and surely feel blessed to do their job in the middle of vineyards which are vitally important for wine history of Serbia and Croatia. The border line runs along Principovac estate in Croatia where the Odescalchi family planted for the first time Traminac (Gewürztraminer) introduced from Alto Adige. Nowadays, Principovac Estate on the Croatian side is owned by Iločki Podrumi (Ilok Cellars) and beside vineyards, the estate also includes a renovated castle (built in 1864 as summer mansion of the Odescalchi) that offers great facilities for wine tourism.
ILOK GRAPE HARVEST FEAST
The central celebration of the beginning of the harvest or “Pudarina” takes place in the vineyards of Iločki Podrumi. Visitors, friends of the winery and tourists from Belgrade, Sombor, Šid, Vukovar, Osijek, Zagreb and many other places flock to celebrate successful start of the harvest and to raise a toast with Graševina or Traminac, enjoy sumptuous local delicacies of Srijem/Srem cuisine and tamburica music. From the hilltop that dominates the plot Vukovo, panoramic view stretches from Srijem all the way to Srem, whilst the wind carries away the echoes of traditional music performed by tamburica orchestra.
FOLLOWING THE TRAIL OF TRAMINAC
We start wine exploration of Srem and Srijem with Traminac, the grape variety which adapted well to soil and climate conditions of Ilok and Fruška Gora. If we speak about the soils, the predominant soil type on both sides of the border is chernozem on loess. However, keep also in mind that Traminac from Srijem/Srem also contains historic legacy and story about the Odescalchi. This variety is widely present in local wineries so you will not find it difficult to pick your favourites both from Serbian and Croatian wineries.
Traminac 2015 – Iločki Podrumi – Distinct intense varietal aromas on the nose, prevailingly notes of tropical fruit, litchi, mango, floral traces of acacia, white flowers. Pleasant, lively acidity complements nicely lush aromas… Overall, the wine doesn’t resemble those uninteresting Traminers characterized by low acidity. Medium body, rounded fruity finish.
Traminac Principovac 2011 – Iločki Podrumi – Semi-sweet wine, excellent acidity finely balanced with residual sugar, a complex wine that leaves a stately impression. In the mouth, rich aromas of carameliyed sugar, honey, almonds, candied fruit, dried figs, candied orange … Long finish. Excellent representative of Traminac from Ilok.
Gratianus 2015 – Imperator Winery – Fruška Gora is slowly becoming the most exciting wine hub in Serbia. In addition to conventional wines, the new identity of Fruška Gora and Srem is shaped by local wineries which are increasingly exploring potential of this region with regard to biodynamics, natural wines, organic wines, amphora wines, orange wine. Imperator Winery is certainly a pioneer of biodynamics in Srem. Also, wines from Imperator Winery are the first organically certified wines (Ecocert) in Serbia.
Gratianus Traminac 2015 shows promising features already on the nose. Seductive scent of apricot, vineyard peach, playful floral notes descreetly intertwined with hints of tropical fruit. The wine’s aromatic profile opens gradually in layers with spicy-herbal touch in the finish, which positions it above common wines made from Traminac grapes. In the mouth, the wine is harmonious. Distinct fruity aromas, predominantly pear, apricot, quince and delicate trail of yellow apple and pineapple in the finish. Medium body, long pleasant finish.
McC Traminac 2012 – McCulloch Winery – Another winery from Fruška Gora which focuses on wine production based on principles and philosophy of Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamics. Consumers love the romantic story of a Scotsman who followed his heart, fell in love with a Serbian woman and ended up in the vineyards of Fruška Gora. A completely different experience of Traminac. The impression of elegance and flaunting is replaced by robustness, maturity, intensity. Complex aromas on the nose, full of intensity, maturity.Prevailing tropical aromas, quince jam and apples, honey. Alcohol is leaving slight burning sensation on the palate. Rich, ripe flavours. Wine that has reached its peak.
Gewürztraminer 2015 – Deurić Winery – Young winery located on the southern slopes of Fruška Gora has recently attracted attention with its white wines. Overall, all the white wines from this winery (vintage 2015) are showing clear precision of style. Gewurztraminer from Deurić Winery is skilfully tailored, with distinctive varietal features. Complex fruity and floral aromas on the nose dominated by tropical fruit, mango, banana, rose petal as well as notes of white flowers. Chewy in the mouth, pleasant acidity gives this wine a feel of seriousness. An exciting finish that simply lures you to take another sip.