Balkan Merlot Wine Review: VukojE, Galerija, Bosnia-Herzegovina 2016

Wow. Hi internet, I missed you. Toddler distractions notwithstanding, let us turn our sails back toward the wine dark sea. Many leagues ago, I started to review Balkan wines my mother-in-law smuggled back with her. The tannic, native grape, Vranak made for some puckered and challenged palates (read here). But, how does Bosnia-Herzegovina handle the stereotyped grape of plush pleasure and ease: Merlot?

Winery VukojE has a vineyard dedicated to Merlot, called Zasad polje. With me? Feel like your mouth is full of cotton yet? Me too. Zasad polje or as I like to call it, Zsa Zsa, is tucked in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s southern corner, a 40 minute drive inland, into Bosnia from coastal Croatia’s Dubrovnic. So a nice mix of coastal Adriatic mediterranean warmth and moisture but inland with diurnal range.

Welp, VukoJE’s Galerija is 100% Merlot. It uses whole cluster fermentation, then cools the grape for 8 months in barrels. Let us try it.

The APPEARANCE looks a clear, medium plus ruby, with medium clear rim: safe Merlot territory.

Its AROMAS roll with medium plus intense prune, orange peel, violet, and dried wood. Interesting…

The PALATE feels dry, with medium plus acidity, touching on volatile acidity (ruh roh), while tannins feel soft but reedy like balsa wood, alcohol and body are there in moderate presence.

The FLAVORS medium intense twangy orange juice, pruned plum, flint, with medium vanilla finish.

VERDICT:

VukoJE’s 2016 Merlot is bright yet dark-fruited and rough-edged, a bit of a jangly mix that yet manages to resolve itself into a pleasant friend for fatty, salty foods: tomato-based pastas, rare cooked meats, mushroom, young but hard cheeses, even rich fish dishes.

It is good (3 of 5), likely tastes better beside a lake in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but stateside comes off a bit pruned yet wild and twangy.

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