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12th May 2018

Serbia Right - the wondrous wines of Miodrag Bjelica!

I was recently asked by my friend Igor Lukovich to give a masterclass at the Salon Vina, in the beautiful city of Novi Sad, north of Belgrade in Serbia.

Although I have previously tasted Serbian wines as part of the Balkans International Wine Challenge, it is almost always difficult to discover specifically what had been 'in the bag' when the wine was tasted blind. So, with great pleasure I accepted Igor's invitation, and the masterclass was to be about Chardonnay.

Of the 8 wines that I presented, one particularly struck me, and it was called Babaroga.



This is a fully oaked (barrel fermented in fact) Chardonnay, but the fruit intensity is in balance and the wine punches well above its weight, deserving a place on the international stage.

The Babaroga story (like Baba Yaga of elsewhere in Europe) is a malicious (or generous, depends) witch who hinders (or aids, depends) according to how well behaved you have been, what age you are, and in which country. In Serbia, slightly alarmingly, she seems to work when you are asleep, and if you're a child...

I was delighted when Igor suggested that the Sunday after the show, before leaving for the airport, we could go and visit and taste with Miodrag Bjelica, the winemaker responsible for this, and several other delicious wines.

Truly a garage winery, Miodrag makes all his wines literally in the garage of his house, and matures them in the cellar underneath. Along with curing some delicious smelling ham - a wonderfully epicurean polycultural use of the space! We got to taste the range, as well as the ham, on his terrace in the Springtime sunshine. A wine experience that I shall not forget!

The fruit comes from vineyards in Fruška Gora, the hillsides immediately to the north of the city, considered one of Serbia's best growing regions, and with good reason. I predict that one day Fruška Gora will be a globally celebrated wine region, but how long that is going to take is harder to prophesy.



Sauvignon Blanc 2016
Good mineral and grapefruit pith aromatics. Fresh and fruity with balanced acidity. Very good. 16.5

Babaroga Sparkling 2015
Around €35, 1400 bottles. Chardonnay. 8 months on lees for the base wine, 3 years in the bottle. Stunning packaging
Very rich and creamy, but with fresh acidity and a citrus sharpness. A really lovely blanc de blancs style. 17


Great wine and fine ham co-ageing together. What an aroma! Fantastic!

Babaroga Chardonnay 2016
Rounded sweet oak and honey with an earthy complexity and generous apple and pear fruit flavours. Very rich finish. Meursault-like. A monster, but a cuddly one. 18

Graffiti Rosé 2016
Marselan/Merlot.
I’m a big fan of Marselan (Grenache x Cabernet Sauvignon). A variety that seems to have acquired all the best traits from each of its parents, and none of the worst. (In exactly the same way that Pinotage didn’t).
Slightly leafy, floral fruit aromas. Very fruity cold-ferment estery aromas. Clean, fresh, juicy acidity. Good. 16

Graffiti 2015
Marselan/Merlot. Excellent packaging on the Graffiti wines, which will feature different street art each vintage.
Warm, spicy juicy sweet fruit aromas, with balancing spicy oak. Soft acidity and ripe rounded flavours. Very good. 16.5

Thanks to Miodrag and Igor for such an excellent opportunity to experience these wines!

Живели ! (Živeli) Cheers!



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Comments

Great article, thank you. I plan to visit , one day ,I hope soon. Babaroga Sparkling is the one for me. [Jasna Svarc, 13th May 2018]

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