Estelle Germain and Cyrille Bongiraud are a French husband and wife with deep roots in Burgundy. When they decided to make their own wine, they quickly realised the best Burgundy terroirs were either taken or out of price, they spent several years looking for an equivalent terroir in other parts of Europe. They arrived in Rogljevo in 2007 and the adventure of Francuska Vinarija (literally “French Winery”) began. Ragljevo is a hillside town comprised of 300 wine cellars, with the surrounding slopes mostly limestone that look an awful lot like some wonderful parcels in Burgundy.
The couple decided to keep the production small and focus of revitalising local indigenous varieties in this forgotten, yet historic wine region. These include local clones of Riesling, Chardonnay and Burgundac (aka Pinot Noir) in addition to Vranac, Muscat Ottonel, Tamjanika, Graševina, and Gamay “Petits Grains” which is related to, but not the same as the Gamay of Beaujolais. All grapes are grown according to a strict charter of organic farming and harvested by hand. The winemaking philosophy mirrors what both Cyrille and Estelle have learned and practiced in Burgundy.
We at Forest Wines are pleased to have stocked Francuska Vinarija's wines in the past - namely Istina 2012 - the name means ‘the truth’. This wine uses Vranac and Burgundac, originally from Macedonia, grapes that are opulent and rich in their homeland, but here in Serbia, a little further to the north, there is more freshness. This is still a rich, deeply tannic wine, with tight dark fruits and a pleasantly rustic power to the body. You might not be able to tell where this comes from if tasting it blind, but you would know it comes from somewhere with a heart.
Heading to the East? Try Serbia!
An underrated destination in the European traveller’s mindset yet with bags of memorable experiences to offer. The capital Belgrade is a laid-back city with museums, historical sites by day and lively cafes and clubs by night. Not far from the capital are rolling plains dotted with welcoming villages, winter ski resorts and summer hiking spots, castles nestled in jagged mountains and monasteries hidden in the foliage of national parks.
If you come in winter, head to Kopaonik for skiing. In summer months, this region is great for gentle immersion into rural life. Further south towards Kosovo, Novi Pazar is a hotchpotch of east and west. The mostly Muslim town is dotted with Islamic minarets, ruined hammams and old cafes still serving Turkish coffee.
Hit the ground running with several direct flights to Belgrade. The capital is also the hub of an efficient web of road and rail networks which shuttle people throughout the country.