Tasting Kosovo wines: Stone Castle & Bodrumi i Vjetër – Cabernet Sauvignon

If asked where Kosovo is, I’ve encountered many people who say that it’s the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina. Thus, to say that this breakaway republic, recognized by 111 of the UN’s 193 countries, is a touch unknown is not an overstatement and this goes triple for the wines as the trickle of news has been slow over the last six years.

The fact that wines are made there should come as no surprise as every country that surrounds Kosovo produces them and they, like other countries of the former Yugoslavia, have a leftover heritage of large, former cooperatives that more or less function. There are only about 3,000ha of vineyards in the country now, which is way down from a high of some 9,000ha in their heyday. Boutique wineries are still on the rise and while there are some (the country counts less than 20 wineries in total), they’ve yet to make a significant dent in overall production totals. So, this is why I found myself in possession of wines from two of the largest producers, Stone Castle and Bodrumi i Vjetër.

Like so, so many wineries in developing wine regions, they’ve both cast their hats into the French grape variety camp and admittedly, Cabernet Sauvignon does seem to do well in these continental climates. There are a great many other grapes that probably will also and one can only hope that they develop what seem to be smaller holdings of Vranec (often known locally as Vranc) vineyards instead of giving us yet more Merlot, Syrah, and (sigh…) Pinot Noir in what is a glutted market in terms of visibility.

Below I include the tasting notes of these two wines and it was easy to see why Stone Castle has become the most dominant producer. Despite producing a hearty 50 million liters a year of wine and spirits, they’ve managed to produce a quite fine Cab in this wine that I feel given a bit more time will be quite elegant. Bodrumi i Vjetër on the other hand has a bit more work to do, but regardless, I’d like to taste both producer’s upper-end wines at some point and see what potential there may lie in waiting.

Stone Castle – Rahoveci Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Light bell pepper, tea leaf, graphite, light red cherry notes, generally delicate in the nose. Bit tight in the mouth with pronounced green notes but with a pleasing, linear acidity to it that drives the wine.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon 13%

Bodrumi i Vjetër – Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Red cherry notes, licorice, more fruit forward, crunchy raspberry. Sweeter body, more tight with seemingly a bit of reduction to it.

100% Cabernet Sauvignon 12.5%