My first Macedonian wine (many thanks, Lauren!) is the Tikves Bela Voda, a 2016 that I received as a very thoughtful Christmas gift. I tried to hold onto this wine for as long as possible before curiosity–or the need for a good adult beverage–got the best of me and compelled me to wrestle with these Mediterranean grapes. I lasted almost three weeks! I hang my head a little at that lack of self-discipline, but it does allow me to share the below with you all.
As I thought of the Tikves Bela Voda, I couldn’t help but go back to my longest, deepest tie to the region–that’s obviously For Your Eyes Only (for quite some time my favorite Bond movie) and the double agent interplay of Milos Columbo and Kristatos, as uncovered by 007 himself. Well, those Greeks have been supplanted by the Bela Voda, a really enjoyable and dense red blend culled from vines grown high above sea level. I chipped into this wine after a work project, one that was hundreds of man hours in the making, went astray and deposited me at home a day early. The wine was easy to drink, really well balanced, and helped cushion the crushing work setback. In its welcoming embrace I detected blackberry and dark fruits, spice notes, and other subtleties that I don’t have the palate to describe even after all this time and all these bottles. A little research says it’s a blend of Vranecet (70%) and Plavec (30%) grapes…my first sampling of each and really well balanced.
Lauren liked this wine for many reasons, prominently among them its “underdog” status. I contemplate this label and imagine she meant Macedonian wines as a whole…their relative lack of respect compared to Napa grapes, Bordeaux, Tuscany, and Australian AVAs of higher renown…because the Tikves Bela Voda 2016 takes no back seats in its own flavors and notes. It has merits up the wazzoo, and Tikves is the oldest winery (an 1885 start) in Macedonia, now using sustainable practices throughout its operations. The Bela Voda is a rich, dense red blend that could go toe to toe with many wines that are better known to Americans like this fella.
The Bela Voda has dark, robust fruits on the nose, and it’s very smooth. It has faint traces too of spices that you’ll really enjoy if you track down one of these bottles. An easy finish. A nice cushion to a tough professional fall! I’m thus very appreciative for the kind gift, both as a great bottle and as a lever prying open a region about which I still know far too little.