Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In the glass: Schiller from Serbia

Picture: 2002, Schiller, Milutinovic winery, Serbia

This is a unique wine. On the label it says “Vina aromatic et medicate”. The wine is sweet, fortified and has a strong herbal taste. It is not a table wine, more a digestive. It has 17 percent alcohol.

This Schiller is made by the Milutinovic winery. They also make Ausbruch and Bermet, both also dessert wines, in the area of Sremski Karlovci. The winery has two large cellars from the 18th century.

The town of Sremski Karlovci at the foot of the Fruska Gora mountain in the Srem region north of Belgrade is known as Serbian wine capital, a little baroque city which had an important role in Serbian history. The Srem region is one of the oldest viticultural areas in Europe. Wine has been grown here for over 1,700 years, ever since it was first planted by Roman Emperor Probus.

The Schiller from the Srem area is a special aromatic wine with reportedly organoleptic properties. It is blend of Pinot Noir and other grapes (“Plemenke” and “Lize”). In the production process, the wine undergoes maceration with marigold, caraway, laurel and nutmeg, which gives the wine the special, herbal taste.

It is an old drink. The Milutinovic winery is using the recipe of Zachary Orphelin who already in 1783 wrote in the “The Experienced Winemaker”: When this wine is used in moderation, all life forces are invigorated; winds in the body disperse, it aids digestion, restores sight, eases the blood, warms and invigorates the stomach and brain; it gives strength to limbs, dispels melancholy; while those of strong blood should be wary of this wine, the weak and old will see much benefit.

Each vintage, only 1500 bottles of Schiller are produced by Milutinovic and the bottles are numbered. My bottle is from 2002 and carries the number 618.

In Germany, there is a wine called ‘Schiller” (see my blog posting of August 16, 2009) that is produced by blending red and white grapes before fermentation. You can only find Schiller in the region of Württemberg in the south of Germany. Ideally, the red and white grapes are planted in mixed lots in the vineyards and are harvested and treated together. The wine got its name from the verb “schillern”. The verb "schillern" means "to scintillate". “Schillerwein” is thus a wine with a scintillating color, reflecting the fact that the wine is a blend of red and white grapes.

The Serbia Schiller comes from an area with German roots. It looks like a rose wine, like the German Schiller. I have to investigate this further but I suspect there are links between the Schiller from Serbia and the Schiller from Germany.

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