What an inspiration one gets after being invited to The Judgement of Mostar 2017, led by sommelier Siniša Lasan and director of sales at Nuić, Ivan Planinić. The organizers, of course, applied a playful tone for the name of the event (in reference to the famous Judgement of Paris ’76), but the wines were surely no laughing matter. We tried over 70 samples from all over the world, but the main focus was on BH wines and, if I may say, without any bullshit sugar-coating, we have witnessed colossal progress of Balkan wines in the last 10 years. Bosnia & Herzegovina, even though small and without big viticultural diversity (microclimates, carefully chosen positions, experimentation with vine training…), is undeniably filled with hidden gems. You will buy top-quality wines at 20-30 EUROS, bring them to your friends’ blind tasting and shout out THIS HAS TO BE SECOND GROWTH BORDEAUX/RIOJA GRAN RESERVA/TOSCANA IGT, only to get slapped in the face (metaphorically, or literally by one of your mates for jumping to conclusions so quickly) by an amazing aged Blatina or an opulent Trnjak or even a blend of those two.

We definitely have the quality, now we just need pins on the main markets. But most importantly, we needn’t get naively comfortable and fuck everything up by thinking that one lucky vintage is going to stick for the next couple of centuries. The French and Italian have been No.1 since they first licked wine for a reason, so the game plan that works wonders would be – look up to them, work your ass off to beat ’em.

Below is a top-10 list of my favourite wines of the tasting, the ones I thought were well-structured, complex, balanced and an altogether true expression of the regions’ terroir. Unfortunately, no whites came into the 92+ point spotlight (even though there were some brilliant 90s), so surprisingly, reds were the absolute favourite on Mostar’s 38°C summer day.

Nuić Merlot Premium 2013
Mostar, B&H

A deep, pitch-black purple in the glass. I mean, you may want to paint your walls with this stuff. Exotically attractive nose with notes of blackberry jam, ground black pepper, pomegranate, baking spices and coconut. Powerful on the palate, showing magnificent alcohol-acidity balance backed up by slightly coarse tannins which may need some time to soften up. Not as completely smooth as its Old World counterparts, but the character of this wine is pleasurably legit.

GN score: 95/100
Average price: 18 EUR

Jakončič Carolina Rdeča 2006
Goriška Brda, Slovenia

Is this wine part of real life? I don’t know, but what I do know is that if you want to explain the answer to the terribly dumb question “what makes wine so special”, this bottle would be your chief argument. A typical Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc aged in French oak, showing notes of blackberry, ripe fig, caramelised chocolate, raisins and clay. Deeply complex and polished, with an aftertaste lasting into the afterlife.

GN score: 95/100
Average price: 27 EUR

Vinarija Čitluk Blatina Grand Cru 2011
Mostar, B&H

I predicted it a year ago and here we are – this Blatina received praise from the majority of judges as one of the best reds every produced in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The nose is a storytelling tool by itself – aromas of dried cranberry, cherry, strawberry jam, violets, roasted coffee, cedar and a whole lotta oak aging charm. Young on the palate, just taking baby steps towards development, but for those who can’t wait, drink now with a beautifully cooked authentic Herzegovinian meal.

GN Score: 94/100
Average price: 35 EUR

Nuić Trnjak 2015
Mostar, B&H

Life is so much easier when you have a wine that’s already showing everything it needs to show – maturity, balance and ripeness. But only the real gangsters can recognize a mean machine when they see one 5-6 years before its prime. This Trnjak is bursting with flavors of black fruit, fresh soil and vanilla, but the tannins and acidity are so tight that even you lads that love torturing yourselves with green and dry can’t appreciate it at the moment. Be patient.

GN Score: 94/100
Average price: 20 EUR

Plenković Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru 2007
Dalmatia, Croatia

This is a beverage that makes you become vulgar and violent just to display your excitement about what’s happening. It’s a 2007, drinking like a 2015 – dense and rich, still showing loads of primary notes, but backed up with the typical Plavac Mali tones of black tea, tobacco, black cardamom and just a hint of aceto balsamico on the finish. The wine is made from specially selected grapes (extremely low yields) that come from the best south-facing positions of Hvar. A true champ.

GN Score: 94/100
Average price: 27 EUR

Vilinka X-Line 2015
Mostar, B&H

A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Blatina aged in a combination of French and American oak. This is the kind of wine in which you recognize greatness just on the refined nose that splashes you with aromas of blackcurrant, strawberry jam, cigar box, baking spices and cedar. Juicy, plump and ready for blast off. Largely resolved tannins, pure flavours and a good length that ends with a hint of eucalyptus. I gave the 2012 vintage 95 points, but this one was in spitting distance.

GN Score: 93/100
Average price: 18 EUR

Azienda Giribaldi Barolo 1990
Piemonte, Italy

A rich and mature style of Barolo from an extraordinary vintage (extremely hot summer, smooth autumn). Slightly balsamic, backed up by notes of violets, roasted walnuts, cooked strawberry, raspberry jam, toffee and tar. Tannic and driven, deep and powerful, still kicking with a very good length. I can honestly say that this is hands down the best old school Barolo I’ve tried. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?

GN Score: 93/100
Average price: 33 EUR

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1993
Bordeaux, France

It was an honour trying a Mouton Rothschild for the first time in my existing life, but the 1993 was a vintage infamous for producing medium-bodied and dilute wines of no orgasmic potential. Though this is the case, a First Growth Bordeaux doesn’t let things slip just like that. In spite of not having much energy to be decently vivid, it still kept its shit together with an elegant aromatic profile followed by a noble structure of well-integrated tannins, alcohol and acidity.

GN Score: 93/100
Average price: 426 EUR

Tolj Komlin Blatina Barrique 2015
Mostar, B&H

Man, Josip Tolj is on some serious game plan with the carefully selected wines he produces from Žilavka and Blatina. His Komlin is a breath of fresh air in the ocean of unbalanced, over-oaked Blatinas emerging on the BH market. It’s marked with chic aromas of redcurrant, black cherry, plum and vanilla. The acidity is happily sandwiched between the alcohol and tannins, opening up a proper drinking window carried on the wings of perfect intensity and lovely depth.

GN Score: 92/100
Average price: 14 EUR

Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2013
Tuscany, Italy

A Bordeaux blend with a touch of Tuscany to complete the symphony. Black cherry-plum aroma squashed into a pot of roasted coffee chocolate. Medium (+) body with a noble integration of acidity and alcohol. Showing some life ahead, but obviously not produced to be a mind-blowing wine that will open up miraculously in 20 years. Earthy finish sprinkled with bits of tobacco and fragrant spice. Pair with traditional Tuscan food such as roasted beef, boar or pork.

GN Score: 92/100
Average price: 19 EUR

Written by Aleksandar Draganić.

I’m a WSET certified grape juice drinker, and yes, I’m that 1% of people that love their job. I drink wine, write about it, preach about it, even take pictures of it. Find me at @grapenomad

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