The Icon of Serbia

Glancing over the map of Europe, one tends to take it for granted that wine belongs to the Catholic south, beer to the Protestant north and vodka to the Orthodox east. Whereas this notion does contain a grain of truth, it is a very crude generalisation, overlooking the crucial fact that southeastern Europe had been producing wine long before the Great Schism in 1054, resulting in the clear divide between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

A prime example would be Serbia, which was thoroughly romanised before the arrival of the Slavs. Serbia and the entire Balkans for that matter were an integral part of the Roman Empire, so much so that a total of 17 emperors were born in modern-day Serbia, and the town of Sremska Mitrovica (known as Sirmium in Roman times) alone produced seven emperors. The eagle-eyed may point out that most of the “Serbian” emperors – ancient Romans had a drastically different view on nationality and race than us – were “barrack emperors” during the Crisis of the Third Century, but this does not undermine Serbia’s profoundly Roman heritage.

If 21st century Serbia is to appoint a national wine ambassador, it would be difficult to look past the historic Vinarija Aleksandrović. The Aleksandrović family and their namesake winery are located in the village from Vinca, which was called Vincea in Roman times and Vinica in the Middle Ages – no prize for guessing the main economic activity there. Viticulture and winemaking in the area has existed since time immemorial. Situated in the heart of the Šumadija District of central Serbia, the estate has 75ha of vineyards in neighbouring Vinca, Jezevac and Bokanja.

The Aleksandrović family has been growing vines and making wines for centuries, and Vinarija Aleksandrović’s relationship with the royal house of Karađorđević is time-honoured, as it used to work closely with the royal viticulturists, winemakers and cellar masters of Peter I and Alexander I, who made wines from the Oplenac famous around European courts pre-WWI. By way of introduction, Oplenac is the hill and hilly region where the mausoleum of the royal house of Karađorđević lies.

Having emigrated to Canada after WWII, former royal cellar master Zivan Tadic returned to his native country in 1992 upon learning that the Aleksandrović family is reviving the tradition of Oplenac wine, and went on to bring back the original Trijumf series of wines. Possessing some of the finest terroirs in Serbia, Vinarija Aleksandrović spares no effort in manually harvesting and rigorously sorting berries from their low-yielding vineyards, and the result is no less than astonishing.

To be continued…

Ex-château samples supplied by Vinarija Aleksandrović (, which will be presenting its gems at the forthcoming Vinexpo in Hong Kong from 29th to 31st May.

Vinarija Aleksandrović Trijumf Rosé 2017

A blend of 70 percent Cabernet Franc and 30 percent Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from south- and southeast-facing vineyards between 250 and 350m above sea level, made entirely in stainless steel tanks without any oak influence. Translucent coral pink with shimmering tea rose reflex, the playfully exotic nose oozes guava, jackfruit, crushed rock and peony. Braced by crispy acidity, pristine minerality and traces of tannins, the tantalisingly tropical palate radiates kiwifruit, passion fruit, garden herbs and celery salt. Medium-bodied at 12.5 percent, the mouth-watering entry continues through an animated mid-palate, leading to a laser-focused finish. An enchanting nymph from an estival forest.

Vinarija Aleksandrović Trijumf Noir 2012

A single-varietal Pinot Noir sourced from south- and southwest-facing vineyards at 300m above sea level; 12 months in French barriques is followed by 12 months in 4,000l Slavonian barrels, and a further 12 months in bottle. Saturated garnet with cardinal-ruby rim, the delicate yet complex reveals blackberry, black cherry, balsam, sous bois and iris. Underpinned by crunchy acidity and talc-like fine tannins, the poised yet persistent palate unveils cassis, black olive, nutmeg, forest mushroom and lavender. Medium-full bodied at 13.7 percent, the poised entry evolves into a harmonious mid-palate, leading to a lingering finish. If tasted blind, this gem could well be mistaken for a Premier Cru Saint-Aubin or Givry. Thanks to extensive maturation prior to release, this wine has already entered its drinking window.

Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain, France,
and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages

Categories World of Bacchus