This is our first review of a wine from Montenegro, a small country in southeastern Europe that was part of Yugoslavia. Montenegro has been producing wine for more than two thousand years, so perhaps it's time to take a look at one of their products. This particular wine is produced from the red Vranac grape whose name means black stallion. So let's guess that we are looking at a powerful wine. The company's vineyard is one of the largest in Europe, containing over 10 million vines.
OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review have been purchased at the full retail price.
Wine Reviewed Palntaze Monte Cheval Vranac, 2006 11.5% alcohol about $8.00
Let's start with the marketing materials. Tasting Note: Medium garnet; leather and earth with a hint of plum and spice; earthy dried fruit flavor with a hint of spice. Serving Suggestion: Stew and casseroles. And now for my review.
At first tasting the wine was dark and oaky with round tannins. It was mouth filling and chewy but relatively short. The initial meal involved slow-cooked beef ribs and potatoes. I tasted cherries and chocolate. Its palate cleansing acidity was good because the meat was fat but this Vranac seemed to fade away. It did not pick up when I added a fair amount of spicy green jalapeno pepper sauce to the meat.
The second meal centered on commercially barbecued chicken thighs in a light herb sauce accompanied by deli potato salad. The wine was powerful, but perhaps a bit too acidic. It showed dark fruit but didn't overpower this lightly flavored dish.
The final meal was based on Merguez, a spicy North African lamb sausage. The wine was mouth filling and I tasted stewed fruits. It cut the grease and, believe me, this meal was greasy. The deli potato salad muted the wine. When I added spicy green jalapeno pepper sauce this time the wine stepped into the background and its fruit was gone.
I finished the tasting with two cheeses. The first cheese was a marbled cheddar. The wine was dark and tasted of cherries and plums. It seemed well balanced. With a sheep's milk feta cheese the wine lost a lot of its character. This cheese simply overwhelmed this wine.
Final verdict. I won't buy this wine again. It is better than many $8 wines but with all the cheap wines out there, I won't hold the presses for this one.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but definitely prefers drinking fine French, German, or other wine. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and new sections writing about and tasting organic and kosher wines. Visit his Italian wine website www.theitalianwineconnection.com .