Having received an invitation from Marko Stojakovic, the head oenologist at the oldest winery in Macedonia, to do a full wine tasting of the Tikves wines, I headed to the town of Kavadarci. It was a glorious day, that predicted somewhat of an even better wine tasting. Accompanied by Marko and the Tikves hospitality manager, Alexander, I merged into a full four hour tasting session.
Marko Stojakovic, an enologist and viticulturist, was educated at the Institute in Bordeaux and worked at the highly acclaimed Châteauneuf-du-Pape before moving to Macedonia and taking over the steering wheel at the biggest winery in Macedonia, and the Balkans. That was only 5 years ago, in 2010, and ever since he brought some of a youthful, refreshing spirit, as well as a dose of seriousness and boldness in the Tikves wines. Being a protégé of the highly acclaimed Phillipe Cambie, Marko has been successful and passionate in his dealings with the country’s local grape varieties and terroir, bringing the potential to a whole new level- maintaining quality.
One of my favourites from this winery are the Special Selection line as well as the Terroir wines. The Special Selection line includes both local and international grape varieties that have been successfully grown in the country for decades back. Marko’s aim with this line and its wines is they to be expression of the terroir in addition to maintaining a certain freshness, both on the nose and the palate.
The second line is the more serious one, the Terroir Wines, including Barovo White and Barovo Red, as well as Bela Voda White and Bela Voda Red. The grapes for these wines come from two microlocalites. The first one is Barovo, located at an elevation of 550-750m, on the slopes of the Kozuf Mountain not more than 100 km from the Aegean Sea. The soils here is rich in carbonates and minerals. The second one is Bela Voda location where the Mediterranean climate prevails and the soil here is mostly clay. Unavoidable is the notion that the wines from these two lines are complex, and what I find intriguing is the fact they open in layers- on every sniff, on every new sip.
Due to the heavy rain pour that hit the vineyards in the country just before and during the harvest, Terroir wines will have their first skip this year. So, no Terroir- Barovo and Bela Voda, as well as no Special Selection Vranec 2014. However, there’s much to be positive about- the white varieties were picked just before the rain and the 2014 wines are fresh and floral. For the ones who still haven’t stoked the Terroir line, now’s the time.
Tikves Ergion Brut 2013
Quality dry wine produced by traditional method. Very fresh on the nose, a constant perlage, fruity and harmonious taste, creamy structure and a fresh finish.
Tikves Special Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Typical Sauvignon Blanc nose- very f with aromas of green peppers, fresh cut grass and citrus, complemented with aromas of blackcurrant leaves. Harmonious flavours of grapefruit and mashed mango on the palate.
Tikves Special Selection Chardonnay 2014
Yellow-green luminosity in the glass. A good body with intertwined refreshing acidity complemented with citrus, orange peel, crème burlee and lime flavours.
Tikves Special Selection Chardonnay 2013
Oily in the glass with complex aroma of citrus and green banana. Full-bodied wine with pear, melon and butterscotch flavours and a crispy acidity. Long persistence, lime and peer finish.
Tikves Special Selection Grenache Blanc 2013
Delicate light yellow colour with green hue. On the nose it is very floral and fruity- mashed green banana, peaches and melon. On the palate it is fresh with additional notes of citrus and green lemons.
Tikves Alexandria White Cuvee 2014
Very floral and fresh on the nose- apple blossom and pears aromas.The palate is equally rich in stony fruits like peaches, young apricots and citrus flavours.
Tikves Alexandria White Cuvee 2013
Golden colour and oily in the glass. Very floral on the nose- aromas of white peaches and butterscotch undertones. The taste is rich in apple and banana notes with a pleasant refreshing acidity. Full-bodied wine with a good length.
Tikves Special Selection R’kaciteli 2014
Lots of citrus, orange peel and green lemon aromas. On the palate is equally fresh with delicate flavours of pear and peach as well a balanced and accentuated acidity.
Tikves Special Selection Muscat Ottonel 2014
Golden yellow colour with a greenish reflection. Very floral on the nose- elderberry and white flowers notes, with honey undertones. Lovely and elegant lemon aftertaste.
Tikves Special Selection Temjanika 2014
Delicate golden colour and green reflection. Aromas of elderberry flowers, basil and abundance of white spices. Fresh and elegant on the palate with more white flowers, quince and background honeycomb notes and a lovely crispy acidity.
Tikves Alexandria Rose Cuvee 2014
It’s surprisingly pleasant to note the tendency of salmon colour rosés in the country. Very fresh and floral with aromas of dry forest strawberries and Turkish rose delight. The taste is complex and rich in gooseberries, elderberry flowers. A wine with a firm structure, balance and an elegant aftertaste.
Tikves Special Selection Merlot 2013
Typical Merlot nose displaying varietal characteristics- red cherries, and other lush berry fruit, leafy notes. Full bodied wine with tamed tannins and a robust finish. A suprisingly very interesting sample of Macedonian Merlot.
Tikves Special Selection Merlot 2012
Aromas of ripe grapes, honey and mixed caramelized forest fruits. Rounded taste due to a well balanced acid, extract and alcohol content and a slightly sweet and robust finish.
Tikves Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Aromas of sour cherries and raspberries. Good structure and body, and lovely cherry like aftertaste.
Tikves Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Purple-red colour. Cherry syrup and raisins aromas. Soft and tamed tannins, strong structure and very rich, full textured body.
Tikves Special Selection Vranec 2012
Dark-ruby red colour. Intense aromas of cooked blackberries. Taste of figs and overripe sour cherries. It has strong but pleasant tannins, and long and strong finish. Expressive nose of ripe black fruit and dry on the palate.
Tikves Barovo Red 2011
A blend of 65%Vranec & 35% Kratoshija. Dark red colour with purple reflection and a complex aroma of dry blackberries, raspberries and dry plums. The taste- ideally balanced acids with soft and juicy tannins make this wine full, extractive with a powerful structure and a long finish.
Tikves Barovo Red 2012
Inky black in colour, with purple nuances. Complex aroma of dry blackberries, raspberries and dry plums. Ideally balanced acids with soft tannins make this wine full, extractive with a powerful structure and a long juicy aftertaste.
Tikves Bela Voda Red 2012
I enjoyed this one very much, as on every sniff it opened in layers, and the taste was just as complex as the nose. Almost inky in the glass and aromas of dried fruit- blueberries, red currants and figs, and additional undertones of crème de cassis and graphite. The taste is smooth, elegant with cherry syrup, liquorice and locust bean aromas. Full-bodied wine, with expressive minerality, balance of fruit and tannins, as well as an impressive finish.
Tikves Barovo White 2012
A blend of 70% Grenache Blanc & 30% Chardonnay. Very rich and elegant both on the nose, as well as in the taste. So much to find here- aromas of white raspberries, citrus, lime and peach nuances. A certain smokeyness on the nose is due to the volcanic soil where the grapes originate from. Oily texture and aromas of white flowers, pears and just a dash of mango. Rounded wine with velvety tanins and long finish.
Tikves Barovo White 2013
Rich nose, amazing freshness and then aromas of a hazelnuts, almonds and yellow flowers follow. The taste is equally rich with more dark yellow fruit and flowers clashing down on the palate followed by a gripping acidity. A very complex wine and one to look for!
Tikves Bela Voda White 2013
Yellow colour with gold nuances. Very rich and elegant on the nose- daffodils, green bananas and hints of vanilla. Multilayered wine with hazelnut, apple blossom, crème brulee and mineral flavours. A gripping, well balanced acidity and a prolonged aftertaste.
Tikves Bela Voda White 2012
Mild yellow colour and oily in the glass. On the nose it is very floral with aromas of rice pudding, daffodils, vanilla and hazelnuts. The palate is gorgeous with hints of dark yellow flowers, Petite Beurre biscuits and then a fresh splash of green bananas follows. Full-bodied wine with a lingering finish.
A special treat was the tasting of wines from Domaine Lepovo, where Marko and Philippe Cambie have joined their forces to make wines at this high-end production facility for estate-bottled wines in the vicinity of Negotino, in the picturesque hillside locality of Lepovo. The winery Domaine Lepovo sits at 250m altitude and benefits from a distinct microclimate where a Mediterranean influence is offset by adequate continental winds heading south through the Vardar Valley. At this altitude the cool night time temperatures are offset by these heat retaining soils contributing to a long, slow ripening period that creates intense aromas.
Domaine Lepovo Chardonnay 2013
Yellow goldish colour and very oily in the glass. A complex nose- both floral and fruity- aromas of pineapple, young bananas, lilies and hints of almonds. The palate is creamy, full-mouth taste of yellow flowers, daffodils dominating, baked bread, hazelnuts and a refreshing citrus acidity. Full-bodied and multilayered wine with a long toffee finish.
Domaine Lepovo Pinot Noir 2013
I tend to believe that this is the typical Macedonian Pinot Noir, as I’ve tasted my fair share of them. Red ruby color and a very rich aroma of red currants, mashed raspberries and abundance of vanilla tones. The taste is complex in more red berry fruits, strawberries and raspberries dominating, as well as a certain cinnamon and chocolate spiciness. Full-bodied wine with a lovely cocoa and dark ripe cherry finish.
Domaine Lepovo Grand Cuvee Red 2013
This rather boisterous wine is due to the blend of Vranec, Cabernet and Merlot. Complex nose and aromas that keep changing on every new sniff- red currants, plums, a combo of spices, then cranberries, graphitte nuances and red meaty peppers. The taste follows in the same manner with more dark red blackberry fruit, dry red peppers, cigar box, hints of vanilla and a refreshing acidity. A long and enduring aftertaste.