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Reviewing Tikveŝ Rkaciteli 2012

The 2012 vintage.
The 2012 vintage.William M. Dowd Photo

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.