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Serbian Wine UK

Unique Serbian Wine, now available in the UK

Serbian Wine is at the very top of the fine wine sector. While you might initially think of France, Italy or Spain for good wine, Serbia is home to excellent wine producers who have been using the best expertise and technologies for years to produce impressive, healthy and natural wines.

Serbia is a great representative of winemaking in the Balkan region, with specific terroirs and a mild and comfortable climate. This is suitable for the successful cultivation of autochthonous and international Serbian Wine varieties.

The most unique and important thing about Serbian Wine is climate and terroir. Not to mention that most Serbian winemakers have been learning from best winemakers in the world and are using similar techniques, equipment and technology.

NIKO Preston import Serbian Wine UK

Our selection of Serbian Wine UK

The reason you should try Serbian Wine is the relationship between amazing quality and great value for money.

Instead of spending more on the typically world-famous countries and regions, why not give chance Serbian Wine a chance? You could save a lot of money and we can guarantee the quality will be there!

Some of the Serbian Wineries we work with

We partner exclusively with the following wineries to bring Serbian Wine to the UK.

Serbian Wine Regions

To understand Serbian Wine UK, you should be aware of the various different producing regions, and the wineries operating in these regions.

Central Serbian Wine Regions

  1. Pocersko-valjevski rejon
  2. Rejon Negotinska Krajina
  3. Knjaževački rejon
  4. Mlavski region
  5. Toplički rejon
  6. Niški rejon
  7. Nišavski rejon
  8. Leskovački rejon
  9. Vranjanski rejon
  10. Čačansko-kraljevački rejon
  11. Rejon Tri Morave
  12. Beogradski rejon
  13. Šumadijski rejon

Vojvodina Wine Regions

  1. Sremski rejon
  2. Subotički rejon
  3. Rejon Telečka
  4. Potiski rejon
  5. Banatski rejon
  6. Južnobanatski rejon
  7. Bački rejon

Wine Regions of Kosova and Metohija

  1. Severnometohijski rejon
  2. Južnometohijski rejon

Serbian Wine Grapes and Characteristics

There are ten key varieties of Serbian Wine grapes you should look out for in our exclusive selection. 

Župljanka

Its trunk is very lush, the leaf is large, dark green and without shine. The reverse side of the leaf is velvety and smooth. Bunch cylindrical-conical and medium compact with a long stem. The berries are medium-sized, oval, green-yellow in colour with prominent dark spots. The skin is firm, the meat juicy and without a specific aroma. It has a refreshingly sweet taste and can accumulate about 20% sugar. Župljanka is specific because it contains more malic than tartaric acid. The wine is yellow-green in colour, refreshing, full, with a clean, pleasant wine bouquet.

Župljanka was created at the Institute for Viticulture and Fruit Growing in Sremski Karlovci, by crossing Prokupac and Black Burgundian. It was recognized in 1970, and most of the vineyards with this variety were planted in the Fruškogorsk vineyard.

Prokupac

This domestic autochthonous variety has re-entered Serbian vineyards in recent years! Pink and red wine is obtained from Prokupac, and it is excellent for the production of lozovac (grape brandy). Its genus is extremely large, the shoots are lush, and the cluster is medium-sized, compact and cylindrical. It has up to 22% sugar in the spread. He is also known by the names Crnka, Rskavac and Kameničarka.

Prokupac is a variety that Serbia can be proud of, and which can pave the way for our country to a more impressive and better wine tomorrow.

Tamjanika

Tamjanika makes a very strong, dessert, Muscat wine. This grape variety has small round berries with yellowish skin. It contains up to 25% sugar, and in the fermentation phase the amount of sugar ranges up to 35%. Tamjanika is an old, tame type of vine, and the fact that it is called the “wine queen of Serbia” shows how good its wine is. However, this variety is not originally from Serbia, but it is said to be “a local clone of the international variety known as fine-grain white muscat”. Frankincense is synonymous with high-quality white wine, but little is known that, in addition to white, there is also black frankincense.

Italian Riesling

Its trunk is of medium luxuriance, and its shoots grow upright. Its cluster is small, with one wing, cylindrical and compact. Its berries are small, round, yellowish-green in colour, with a neutral aroma. Wines made from Italian Riesling belong to the top, dry and very high-quality wines.

It is not known whether this variety originates from France or from Central Europe, but it is known that it is the most represented variety in Vojvodina, with numerous synonyms: Italian or Laški Riesling, Graševina, Grašac, Grašica…

Traminac

This grape variety develops a moderately lush vine. The bunch is conical, mostly compact small grains, reddish or grey in colour, and has thick skin. Its juice is refreshing, colourless and has a specific varietal smell. It belongs to the most resistant varieties to low temperatures, and at full maturity, it accumulates up to 26% sugar.

It is considered that Traminac, as a variety, probably originates from Austria. It appears in several forms and has numerous synonyms.

Smederevka

It is also called Belina, Dimjat, Semendra and Dartania. Its cluster is very large, medium compact, and often loose. Its grains are large, oval and yellow-green, while on the sunny side it shines with a beautiful amber colour. It belongs to the group of very fertile varieties and accumulates up to 20% sugar. Wines made from this grape are fresh, light and very suitable for mixing and improving the freshness of white wines from other varieties. It is considered an autochthonous variety of Serbia, although it is grown throughout the Balkans, so we can also call it a Balkan grape variety.

Frankovka

This grape has thick shoots and a lush vine. The cluster is medium compact and conical. The grains are small, round, juicy, with thick skin. Shira does not have a lot of sugar, because it only reaches 20% when it is an extremely favourable year. Frankovka is a very frost-resistant variety. The wine obtained from it is ruby red, fruity and refreshing, with an average alcohol percentage of 12%. Many like this grape variety, because it is not possible to determine with certainty from which country it originates. It is most likely that it originated in Central Europe, where it is mostly grown today, in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia and Serbia.

Vranac

A type of grape with lush growth. The grains are cylindrical, medium compact, small and oblong, with a thin skin of dark blue colour. Their meat is colourless and very tasty. Shira contains a high level of sugar, about 24%. The wine obtained from this grape variety is very drinkable and intensely dark in colour.

Vranac is an autochthonous grape variety from Montenegro. Since 2017, this has been official data, i.e. the result of DNA analysis. Until then, Vranac was called an autochthonous, domestic variety everywhere it was grown – in Montenegro, Herzegovina, Kosovo and Metohija, Serbia and Macedonia.

Morava

Morava is a grape variety created by crossing the Rhine Riesling and the SK 86-2/293 genotype, which carries the genes of different varieties such as Traminca and Bianca. The authors are Petar Cindrić, Nada S. Korać and Vlada Kovač, and it was recognized in 2003. High acid content is the main characteristic of the variety. Morava produces top-quality wines with a spicy aroma that is often associated with Sauvignon Blanc. While maturing in the bottle, it also develops aromas more similar to Rhine Riesling.

Zilavka

Žilavka is an autochthonous grape variety of Herzegovina. It has lush growth, and regular and satisfactory fertility. It is a mid-late variety that ripens at the end of September. The weight of the bunch is from 150 to 200 grams. It is grown on low, medium and tall vines. It thrives very well on shallow and karst soils and tolerates drought very well. The amount of sugar in the must varies from 20 to 24%, and the total acidity of the must is 5-8 g/l. Žilavka wine is of high quality with a characteristic smell. It is harmonious, drinkable and has a fluffy yellow-green colour.

A history of Serbian Wine

Serbian wine in the Roman Empire

The establishment and strengthening of viniculture in Europe, and thus in Serbia, was influenced by the ancient Romans, who contributed the most to the classification of grape types, observing and recording their best characteristics, identifying diseases and recognizing the characteristics of certain soils. A large number of written records left by the Romans speak of them as good winegrowers and winemakers. Therefore, it is considered that viticulture flourished in our region during the Roman Empire. As early as 92 AD, Emperor Domitian banned the production of wine in the Roman provinces outside the Apennine Peninsula because the Roman Empire was facing a significant surplus of wine on the market. Therefore, the Roman ruling classes and the upper class in Sirmium mostly drank wine imported from Italy.

Sirmium (today’s Sremska Mitrovica) was declared one of the four capital cities of the Roman Empire in the period of the Tetrarchy in 294. Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus (276-282) often used his soldiers during breaks between wars to carry out work that was beneficial to the local population: draining swamps, digging canals, building bridges and roads, planting vineyards. Historians have recorded that Probus planted vines in the Roman provinces of Pannonia, Gaul, and Moesia around 280 AD. This was in accordance with the decision of Emperor Probus to repeal Domitian’s ban on the cultivation of vines outside the Apennine Peninsula.

Medieval Serbian Wine

Arriving in the Balkans in the 7th century, the Slavs got acquainted with the cultivation of vines. The development of the Serbian state in the Middle Ages during the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty (from the 11th to the 14th century) simultaneously meant paying increasing attention to viticulture. This was also contributed by the fact that pagan Slavic tribes accepted Christianity, in which wine plays a significant role as a symbol of Christ’s blood. The development of viticulture in this period is linked to the monastery estates and estates of the Serbian nobility. Monasteries raised their vineyards on “metos” – monastic estates. 

The metoch of Visoki Dečani and Devič monasteries was in the village of Velika Hoča, while the metoch of Peć Patriarchate was in Orahovac. The vineyards of the Serbian nobility were cultivated by serfs with a natural rent, i.e. a dozen in the wine called “chabrina”. In the Studenica charter (XII century) it is recorded that Stefan Nemanja (1168-1196), the progenitor of the Serbian ruling dynasty Nemanjić, donated the surrounding wine-growing villages to the Studenica monastery. Towards the end of his reign, Stefan Nemanja also donated vineyards in Velika Hoča, a famous wine-growing village in Metohija, to the Hilandar monastery on Mount Athos. Historical sources also record that in 1189, Stefan Nemanja welcomed the German emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa and his crusaders with wine and mead (“vino et medone”) in Nis.

All Serbian rulers paid great attention to vineyards and thus created the foundations of today’s wine regions. In the Charter of Stephen the First Crowned (1198-1228), it is forbidden to add water to the produced wine. Later in the Middle Ages, King Milutin (1282-1321) improved vineyards in Kosovo and Metohija. It is recorded that during the time of Emperor Dušan the Strong (1331-1355), wine was transported by a 25km long “wine pipe” to the cellars in Svrčin and Ribnik. Emperor Dušan also enacted laws that gave the first outlines of the protection of the geographical origin and quality of wine. The Charter lists numerous places in Kosovo and Metohija, such as the Imperial Winery and Gornja and Donja Hoča. Despot Đurđe Branković (1427-1456) contributed to the development of vineyards in the vicinity of Smederevo, and Prince Lazar (1385-1389) is responsible for the creation of the wine-growing region in Župa.

16th - 19th Century

After the arrival of the Turks in these areas, wine production gradually lost its importance, because the Islamic faith forbids the consumption of alcohol. In the Turkish army, there were special detachments of “akindžija” horsemen who destroyed vineyards. Grapes are mainly used for eating, so table varieties for eating arrived in Serbia at that time: drenkovi, afus ali, amber. It should be mentioned that the Turks are also responsible for the arrival of the plum in Serbia, which today we consider the national fruit for which Serbia is recognizable. After 1389, the Serbian population began to move more and more to the north, in order to escape from the Turks. 

The Serbian people, clergy, monks and individual nobility settled in Srem and soon founded their monasteries, built estates and vineyards there. They also brought with them a wealth of experience in vine growing and wine production. With them, viticulture began to flourish north of the Danube and Sava – in the Banat and Srem regions. They are also responsible for the change in the selection of grape varieties. So, for example, instead of the white grape varieties cultivated until then on Fruška Gora, the Serbian population from the south brought the culture of growing black grape varieties, which soon began to dominate.

With the Peace of Karlovac in 1699 and the accession of Srem and Banat to the Habsburg Monarchy, there was a sudden increase in the area under vineyards in Srem. In this period, wine also played a significant role in politics, because Karlovac metropolitans often gave “discretionary” barrels of Bermet and Ausbruch to influential people of the Habsburg Monarchy in order to obtain privileges for the Serbian population during their official visits to Vienna.

During the reign of Maria Theresa, southern Banat was colonized and the most numerous among the settled population were Serbs from the southern regions who fled from the Turks and Germans. It is believed that the Germans brought the Riesling variety to the Banat. Over time, the Vršac vineyard became the most fruitful not only in Hungary, but in the whole of Europe. According to the register, in 1875, 56 million liters of wine were produced in Vršac.

The golden age of Vršac vineyards was stopped by phylloxera. The first isolated case of phylloxera was discovered in 1880, but since it was a good harvest year, no one paid much attention to Professor Josef Weidler’s warnings. In the next few years, as in other wine-growing regions of Europe, phylloxera caused enormous damage to vineyards. The areas under vines in the Banat region decreased from 7,500 hectares to 2,500 hectares. The local population tried to deal with phylloxera in various ways. Ideas ranged from flooding the vineyards to injecting sulfur-carbon with special machines into the soil around the vines.

Based on the knowledge that came from France, already in 1882, the first vine seedlings grafted on American rootstock were planted in Vršac. Phylloxera was finally defeated, but it still left a deep impact on the areas under vineyards and the habits of winegrowers. After painful experiences with phylloxera, winegrowers are trying to modernize grape and wine production as much as possible.

As for the vineyards of Srem, phylloxera appeared in them for the first time in 1881, and by 1890 all the old vineyards of Fruško Gora were destroyed. The renovation of the vineyard lasted for about 30 years, and from the production of predominantly black grape varieties, it was again switched to white varieties. Red and white slankamenka, Italian and Rhine Riesling, red dinka (rose), shasla, and frankovka became the most common varieties. If Bermet and Ausbruch were the most famous wines of Sremski Karlovac in the 18th and 19th centuries, then in the 20th century it will become Italian Riesling.

And the first Serbian encyclopedia on wine dates back to the 18th century, more precisely from 1783. It was written by Zaharije Orfelin and published under the title “Experienced Cellarer” in Vienna. The book collected at that time everything that was known about the production of Fruška Gora wines, as well as French, Italian and German wines. In the recipes for “herb wines”, Orfelin also described how the famous bermet from Sremski Karlovac is made.

In 1816, Prokopie Bolić, the archimandrite of the Rakovac monastery, collected his personal experiences from the monastery’s vineyards and cellars and together with a translation into Serbian of the works of the French scientist Jean-Antoine Claude d’Chaptal, published in Buda in 1816 in the book “The Perfect Winemaker”. That book is valuable because Bolić described 35 varieties that were grown on Fruška gora at that time, and for each variety he defined its vernacular name, gave a botanical description and economic and technical characteristics. From that book we see that more white grape varieties were grown, especially Smederevka or Magyarusha.

20th Century Serbian Wine

After the phylloxera infestation, the restoration of the vineyards was quick and efficient, mostly thanks to the help of the state and the establishment of vine nurseries in Smederevo (1882), Bukovo (1886), Jagodina (1889) and Aleksandrovac (1891), which enriched the vineyards with new varieties on resistant substrates. Along with the nurseries, there are viticulture and winemaking cooperatives, such as the Venčačka Vinogradarska Cooperative founded in 1903 in the village of Banja near Arandjelovac. This was followed by the founding of the Smederevo Winery Cooperative in 1909, the Jovač Winery Cooperative in 1908, the Knjaževa Winery and Farmers Cooperative in 1927, and the Negotin Winery Cooperative in 1929. The period of reconstruction was stopped only from 1912 to 1918 due to wars.

During the Second World War, the vineyards suffered considerable damage, since during the war there were no conditions for them to be nurtured and cultivated in an appropriate manner. The lack of male labor and the means to control vine diseases were the main problems in the vineyards at that time.

After the end of the Second World War, the reconstruction of the country became a priority. Unfortunately, that did not include the restoration of the vineyard. With the development of industry, the gradual relocation of the rural population to the cities began, where they got jobs in factories and industrial plants. During that period, wine production takes place in large wineries founded by the Government of the National Republic of Serbia. In 1950, Navip was founded on the foundations of Bruno Moser’s wine cellar in Zemun. Soon after, in 1955, Rubin was formed in Kruševac, and Vinožupa in 1957 in Aleksandrovac. 

As for individual producers, there is nationalization and confiscation. The land was confiscated from the monasteries as well. Individual producers were in an extremely difficult situation due to the impossibility of marketing and direct sale of wine. In 1970, a law was passed that completely prohibited winegrowers from producing wine. In this way, winegrowers could only sell their grapes to large industrial wineries or illegally sell wine to neighbors and relatives. With this kind of law, large wineries gained a monopoly on the market, and they themselves dictated the purchase price of grapes, thus putting winegrowers in a difficult position. This led to the clearing of vineyards and the transition to more profitable agricultural crops.

At that time, Yugoslavia followed a policy of quantity, not quality. Yugoslavia thus became the fifth bulk wine exporter in the world. In those years, vineyards with international grape varieties were expanded, and mainly Smederevka and Italian Riesling were planted from the local ones. With the founding of the Institute for Viticulture and Winemaking in 1974, work began on the creation of new grape varieties. Dr. Dragoslav Milisavljević crowned his work in 1971 when three varieties were officially recognized: neoplanta, sirmium and župljanka. Ten years later, Dr. Milisavljević together with his colleagues Simo Lazić and Vladimir Kovač created the varieties rumenka, probus, sila, new dinka.

In the last decade of the twentieth century, the renaissance of Serbian winemaking began. Small private cellars bring a revolution when it comes to new technology in the vineyards and in the cellar. The main priority of small private wineries is the selection of varieties, the raising and nurturing of vineyards with clonal selection and certified planting material. A whole series of varieties that were not grown commercially on the territory of Serbia until then were introduced: Tempranillo, Marcellan, Peti Verdot, etc. In the first twenty years, the state systematically supported the raising of modern plantings under international grape varieties, among which the most represented are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Also, the popularity of wine among consumers is growing. In the last decade of the twentieth century, the average annual consumption of wine per capita was 4 liters.

21St Century - Modern Serbian Wine

Serbian winemaking continues its development in the twenty-first century. The areas under vineyards continue to expand and already after 15 years have reached an area of 25,000 hectares. The average annual consumption of wine per capita reached 13 liters. Also, autochthonous varieties of vines are gaining importance, so the area of vineyards is growing with prokupac, tamjanika, Vranac, Grasevina, Morava, Probus, Smederevka, Furmint.

Starting in 2016, the International Day of Prokupac is celebrated every October 14, which contributed to the promotion of Prokupac as a local variety.

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