Next Wednesday I head to the Balkans International Wine Competition. So, what great timing to be invited this week to a Wines of Macedonia tasting? I couldn’t miss it. I wouldn’t miss it. I felt this way not only because I’m landing there in a week’s time. I’m always pursuing my relentless curiosity of lesser-known – and even unknown – varieties. I was recently tasting in Turkey (and I’m headed back soon), and I am working with Select Wines of Romania on a presentation later this month…and for heaven’s sake, I work constantly with Italian wines!

The tasting at New York’s iconic 21 Club revealed some toothsome wines and some smart winemaking. I spoke at length with Jani Bogevski from Bovin early on, and he emphasized that freshness had become paramount across the wines of Macedonia. From what was on display, I can’t argue. Nonetheless, I generally enjoyed the diversity of styles, which was the result of a number of vine-growing and winemaking choices.

Coming from a land that is blessed with over 260 sun-drenched days a year, it’s not surprising the wines showed no lack of ripeness. Yet, very importantly, these wines also boasted balanced to generous acidity. My great concern lies in the significant amount of volatile acidity found in many of the reds – and most of the Vranec, Macedonia’s signature red grape.

According to our hosts, the first shipment of Macedonian wines arrived just two weeks ago. So, if you look really hard – or at least know where to look – you just might find some great Kratosija (a.k.a. Zinfandel) blends from Tikves. Hang on for more. I hope they’ll be on their way!