I had a lovely time in Belgrade, Serbia in the days leading up to Christmas, on the occasion of the ninth wine salon organised by Invino
The event took place in the luxurious Hotel Hyatt in Belgrade, and my wines were represented by Silbo , an importer who distributes fine wines throughout Serbia.
Serbia, with respect to the states that have newly entered the EU, does not yet have a fully matured wine culture, but is taking giant steps forward, most of all thanks to Slavomir Cirovic, known as “Ciro”, who communicates and talks about wine in a simple, detailed way, thanks to his television programmes, his magazine Put Vina and events like the Belgrade Salon. I think that both Italian producers and Serbian importers owe a great deal to this lovely, deeply knowledgeable gentleman.
Belgrade is the point of reference in the Balkans, the city is very alive and here one senses a powerful youthful ferment. Although it is not a tourist city par excellence people come to Belgrade from Slovenia, Bosnia and even Romanian Transylvania to enjoy themselves and breath in new ideas. This is why Serbia will be a strategic European medium-term wine market. The failure to enter the EU seems negative, but in my view it allows avoidance of a jammed-up wine market, metabolising the ones already present in the right time.
Let’s not forget that Serbia produces average wine, the price-quality ratio is not yet optimal, but domestic quantity-quality improvement will doubtless help to familiarise and educate Serbians about fine wine culture.
The wines I had the honour to present were the Nascetta 2011, Barbera Zio Nando 2011, Barolo Serralunga 2008 and Barolo Leon Riserva 2006. I was very surprised to find that the Langhe Nascetta 2011 was one of the wines best appreciated by the Belgrade tasters, despite being completely unknown grape variety.
There are many historic, cultural and character factors that we have in common with the territories of former Yugoslavia, so communicating is simple. The only thing we need to be sure of not doing is undervaluing them, considering them to be second tier countries, because things can change in the future, and the capacities and individual talent of the Serbians is beyond dispute.
This was my third trip to Serbia and it took me four years to enter this difficult market, but I can say that I have rarely met such hospitality and respect for our work elsewhere in the world.
Here’s a special greeting to our Serbian friends, we hope to see you in Piedmont soon!