Vranac is a dark-skinned grape variety that is native to Montenegro and is widespread - more than half of the vineyards. It is in fact the country's most lucrative export. Because of this, it renders a dense, deeply-coloured red wine that has flavours and aromas of cherry, chocolate, mint and vanilla. The name “vranac” translates to “strong black”, which really speaks to this wine’s character. It can also be found in Macedonia and in smaller quantities in Croatia. The fruit is harvested by hand and depending on the area this can be between mid-September up to October. Because this variety is able to adapt to the dry and challenging growing conditions in Montenegro, it is not seen in large quantities elsewhere.
Characteristics of Vranac
The berries are not only large but also thin-skinned and come in small bunches. Although the grape yields high amounts in terms of productivity, it is very sensitive to frost and cold weather. The wines and even jams made from young Vranac grapes usually have a bright purple hue. The high sugar content in the berries helps produce wines with high alcohol content and a pleasing bitter finish. The high tannin and acid levels make Vranac wines great options for oak ageing - this introduces vanilla and spice characters all while improving with age. This might be since the tannin provides a crisp and rich structure for the grapes. As it ages (about 2 years) it becomes more dark and ruby in colour. It also develops nuances of cinnamon, liquorice, herbs and even woods like oak. The overall taste is very subtle yet round and full-bodied. Evidence suggests that Vranac was planted in the hills of Montenegro since the Middle Ages, making it a very ancient variety. It can sometimes be mistaken for Primitivo since they are closely related - some suggest that one is the parent of the other. Vranac is great to have with goulash, sheep’s milk cheese and even BBQ beef ribs. With summer around the corner, pull your grill out, invite some friends and get a bottle of this sensual drink. We usually enjoy red wine at room temperature, however, this one is just as good chilled.