Inky black-red color; chocolate, dark fruits, oak on the nose; plum, dark fruits, prunes, spice, Slavonian oak on the palate, plus some flavors you likely have never encountered before.
Vranec is the major grape in Macedonia (where this wine was made); the grape also is important in Montenegro, where it is spelled Vranac. No matter the spelling, the name means “black stallion”, which gives you insight into its color.
The grape is related to zinfandel and zin’s Italian cousin, primitivo, but you will have to find a Macedonian effort to get the full flavor experience. Tannis are medium, acidity is nice, clearly fruit-forward, there is distinctive taste of Slavonian oak—80% of the wine is aged in large, 1000 liter casks, while the remainder goes into 225 liter casks (same as French barriques). The wine ages two years in the casks, but that exposure does not have the impact of similar time in American oak.
Macedonia does not leap immediately to mind when you think about wine, but that should change. Stobi is located near land where wine has been made for millennia, and the winery happily asserts it has “the newest and most modernly designed Macedonian winery.” Stobi makes more than 4.5 million litres a year (six million bottles), so they and some other Macedonian wineries are emerging forces in the European Union and have an increasing presence in the United States. Exotic, delicious, and very much worth the effort to find and taste. $18
Second photo: Stobi barrel aging cellar