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Reviewing Tikveŝ Rkaciteli 2012

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The history of Macedonian wine has been erratic over the decades. In ancient Macedonia, this region north of Greece was a major supplier of wine to surrounding regions. When it was part of Yugoslavia, it produced in the 1980s two-thirds of that nation's wine. After the federation broke up, wine production fell off dramatically, but has been making a nice rebound in recent years.

This light, refreshing pale yellow wine from the Republic of Macedonia shares a number of characteristics of its region: pale in color, attractive on the nose, clean on the palate.

It's a bargain-basement buy that went well with my New Year's Eve tapas that included sauteed Maryland crab cakes with a light remoulade sauce, Moroccan spiced chicken skewers with a variety of dipping sauces -- salsa, Thai spicy peanut and portobello tapanade -- and an avocado-lemon-tomato salad, thus showing its versatility.

Notes of pear and peach were evident in the first sip, although it is far from a sweet wine., clearly shown by the presence of thyme and melon elements. Floral and fennel notes add to its clean mouth feel.

This particular wine stands out as part of a minority of production in Macedonia, where 80% of the wine is red. Tikveš is the largest winery in the country. Its Rkaciteli — pronounced "rkah-tzeetely,"meaning “red stem” — originated in the nation of Georgia, where it is spelled "Rkatsiteli" as it is in the U.S. It is one of the world's oldest grape varieties, with a genealogy stretching back at least to 3000 B.C.

Suggested retail price: $9 for the 750ml bottle.

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