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Third time’s the charm; the proverb rings true in this case. I first tasted the Doja Prokupac at the Vinodonia Skopje Wine Salon in November 2016, and then a second time at Salon Vina Kragujevac in April 2017. It wasn’t until a month ago—when I finally had the pleasure of enjoying a whole bottle with Matt and Mileta Popovic (our friend who runs the website Serbian Wine Guide)—that I finally felt an affinity for this wine.
With imploding enthusiasm, I made a post on Instagram and Facebook about this vinous seducer. The post caught the attention of Vinarija Doja and Milica from the team invited us over for a tasting of the entire portfolio. It was a treat to finally meet the brains and hands behind this relatively new winery. 2014 was the first vintage of Doja, with the release of Doja Belo and Doja Rose. The first vintage of Doja Prokupac was 2015.
It seems timely that I’m finally putting together the tasting notes into an an article as Doja Prokupac 2015 has just been crowned “Best Indigenous Red Variety” at The Balkans International Wine Competition (BIWC) 2017.
Goran, Milica, and Mina: Congratulations on the big win! And thank you, once again, for hosting us.
Vinarija Doja in Toplica, Serbia
The winery and vineyards of Doja are located in the Toplica wine-growing region in southern Serbia—an area that is surrounded by mountains and rivers and has a long tradition of grape growing. The total estate size is 60 hectares and 40 percent of it is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Prokupac, and Shiraz. The current annual production is 100,000 bottles. All the wines are made from estate grapes that are harvested from south-facing vineyards. Those vineyards sit between 400 to 500 meters above sea level.
The management and winemaking team come with experience. The co-owner Goran Todić has been in the wine-importing business for decades. His wife, Slavica Todić, is a Professor of Agriculture at the University of Belgrade.
Vinarija Doja Belo 2015
The Vinarija Doja Belo 2015 is a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Grigio. The Serbian white wine production is dominated by varietal wines of Tamjanika and Chardonnay, so a blend of this sort definitely catches my attention immediately. Fermented in inox and left on the lees for three months. This medium-bodied white wine is smooth on the palate with refreshing acidity. The flavors are of ripe white peach, lemon, yogurt, and mineral.
Verdict: The combination of its mineral backbone, ripe stone fruit flavor, and popping acidity transports me back to the white wine wonderland of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The Doja Belo 2015 is such a crowd-pleaser that you can feel confident about bringing it to a family gathering of non-wine-drinking relatives or an afternoon barbecue with your wine geek friends.
Vinarija Doja Rose 2015
The Vinarija Doja Rose 2015 is made from 100% Prokupac grapes. If you enjoy a bigger-bodied, savory-style rosé with deep color and modest acidity, then this is for you. An oxymoron but true to its taste, this wine possesses mature freshness. It has just a bit of residual sugar that lends the body some weight and roundness. The flavors are of red berries, earth, and the quintessential peppery spice of Prokupac. A gentle tug from the tannin offers muscle to the structure and end-palate.
Verdict: A carpe diem rosé! I was up alone one night and finished the entire bottle all by myself. This rosé feels closer to sunset than sunrise, more appropriate for dinner than brunch. Just don’t insult it by taking it to the pool.
Vinarija Doja Prokupac 2015
This is the wine that won the regional title of “Best Indigenous Red Variety” at BIWC 2017.
Fermented in inox, then aged in oak for eight months. This wine has settled down and grown up healthily since the first and second time I tasted it. The oaky-doaky is gone. The aggressive cherryade and vanilla flavors have faded. With just the slightest boost (~10%) from Syrah and Merlot, this Prokupac wine exhibits a comparatively big frame. Floral accent on the nose, mostly of dried rose petal and violet. Stunning front loading of red fruit flavors; hints of spice and grass on the mid-palate; and a tart finish supported by gently chewy tannins. A fruit-forward wine yet with enough white pepper, clove, and sweet spice flavors to even out the taste. I love how this wine has relatively high acidity (just like most Prokupac wines) and also enough fruit and body to match up to the acidity (unlike many Prokupac wines). This is a more modern interpretation of Prokupac; it isn’t as spicy and earthy as those from the Župa wine region but delicious when taken on its own merits.
Verdict: This reminds me of an entry-level Californian Pinot Noir (and not without a touch of Petite Sirah or Syrah) that has undergone whole-cluster fermentation. It’s neither a sit-under-the-linden-tree-and-introspect kind of wine nor one that demands meticulous examination. But if given the chance to make a first impression as the representative of Serbian red wine, this would impress many drinkers and win a handful of brand ambassadors. I’ll be sure to take a sip or ten of this wine every time I’m in Serbia. Hey, you should too!
Get to Know Prokupac
Prokupac is an indigenous red wine grape of Serbia. It tends to produce wine with medium body, high acidity, and flavors of red fruit and pepper spice. I often find well-made Prokupac wine to be redolent of Gamay (Cru Beaujolais-quality) and sometimes Blaufränkisch. But in the case of this Doja Prokupac 2015, it is more Pinot Noir-like. Regardless, Prokupac has its own unique set of sensory attributes and these comparisons are merely useful as a nascent framework for those who have not had the opportunity to taste it.
We’ll be releasing a few new videos about Prokupac soon; a preview clip is included below. Matt has also written an article about Prokupac – Prokupac from South-Central Serbia.
Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in this article are personal opinions and are not associated with any sponsors or business promotions.