Here’s a secret - whenever I realize that a bottle I’m looking at in a wine shop is in fact the last bottle of its kind in the shop, I need to have it. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m afraid it won’t be available again, or if that’s an indication that other bottles sold rather quickly, so it must be fantastic, or that I want it and I don’t want anyone else to have that last bottle - it’s mine, mine, mine! For whatever reason, I always need that last bottle. And that was the case with the last bottle of Plantaze Vranac at Lake Side Emotions. I saw that lone bottle after wrapping up a Friday tasting, and all I knew was, it had to be mine.
I’m glad it was mine. It was absolutely delicious and a great find under $20.
The 2007 Plantaze Vranac “Pro Corde” Reserve from Lake Skadar Valley in the region of Podgorica, Montenegro, is made of the Vranac grape, one of the most important grapes in the Balkan wine regions and probably the most important in Montenegro. It’s indigenous to the region, and with more Balkan wines becoming available in the United States, we might be able to find more Vranac. Plantaze is a large producer in Montenegro and so it’s able to ship all over the world. The name “Vranac” means black stallion, and it really is a black wine that would pair perfectly with firm cheeses as well as meat dishes - hearty dishes in the winter, and grilled meats in the warmer months. It would also be an ideal winter fireside sipper due to its smooth texture and the satisfying feeling it gives the drinker. A word of advice - I did not decant the wine, and I do not suggest decanting it, as this wine loses its smoothness after being open for a few hours.
Shifting between purple and a reddish black with a still slightly pinkish, youthful rim, the Vranac shows characteristics of stewed blackberry and blueberry, chocolate, vanilla oak (aged in French barrels), soft spices, a hint of herb, floral notes of purple blossoms, some black pepper, a bit of roasted meat, and a hint of saline minerality. The alcohol content of 13.5% is right in my wheelhouse, as I tend to shy away from the 14%+ wines, and the wine is nicely balanced fruit/acidity/tannin - it’s clean and refreshing while still having enough smooth texture to feel satisfied by it. The finish is long and reminiscent of lilac.
In a blind tasting, never would I have guessed this wine was under $20, and admittedly I never would have guessed it was Vranac - probably because I had never tasted one before. I do know that I’d have this Vranac or another again in a heartbeat. If you’re not familiar with Vranac, it’s worth reading about and hunting one down. A delicious wine with good value and a unique identity is what we want to look for - and the chance to tell fellow wine drinkers that we got to try something new. Lots of people ask me how I’ve learned so much about wine. I tell them I have a very long way to go and that there’s really no end to learning about wine, but the best way to educate yourself is to try more and more wines. It’s true.