10 Wines That Will Make You Fall in Love with Žilavka Immediately

And you will find yourself on that road again, halfway between the life you left behind and the life you have not yet claimed. And for a moment, breathless, you will forget the destination, forget where you are going because your heart is ablaze, and the wind is in your hair now, and the world cannot keep up with you. You are too fast for this world, too alive to think about consequences. You have risked everything to ride on this road, risked ridicule and rejection and your precious reputation, but you have chosen life over death, freedom over approval, speed over stagnation. You have fallen in love with the unknown again. The destination will show itself, yes, a new life will rise, but first you must ride, guided only by some inner knowing, a little frightened, but in awe of your own courage. ~ Jeff Foster

Beautiful readers of Grape Nomad, you may be thinking why the hell I got so poetic on this article, so I’ll be straightforward with you – I’m officially moving to Singapore! Yes, it’s a huge step in my career and personal life and I can’t even put into words how blessed I feel to have the privilege to walk this way. Of course, I’ll keep you updated in detail about life in the most expensive city in the world, but for now, if anyone of you ever decides to visit or already lives in this gorgeous city-state, come to 13% Gastro Wine or shoot me an email so we can meet up for some bak kut teh and overpriced beer. Now, before I leave the Balkans, I have another report to share with you guys from the first official Žilavka exhibition in Bosnia & Herzegovina held on 16th August in Vukoje Wine Gallery, Trebinje. Here, I had a chance to try 60 different wines made from 100% Žilavka or blended with other varieties. The wines were decent, with many of them lacking structure and uniqueness, so it wasn’t too hard to pick out the ten best from the batch.

Brkić Greda 2015
Mostar, B&H

A deep golden yellow in the glass, reminiscent of that tree sap you liked to poke your fingers into when you were a kid. I love the authenticity this wine has year in year out – maturing in Bosnian oak, with fine lees aging to get its creamy texture and scrumptious notes of dried apricot, vanilla biscuits, ripe pear and quince. Infinite aftertaste, medium body and without a glamorous drinking window, but still something to taste if you want to remember this grape.

GN score: 91/100
Average price: 10 EUR

Ostojić Žilavka 2016
Mostar, B&H

If Vlado Ostojić was to find an importer of his wines anywhere in the modern world, this Žilavka would earn him a fortune. It’s the style that everyone strives towards drinking, especially as the global warming crisis starts to intensify its extreme temperatures. Notes of white flowers, green apple, wet stone, peach and pear dominate the nose and continue accurately on the palate. Light-bodied with a piercing acidity gorgeously balanced with the key element – low alcohol.

GN score: 90/100
Average price: 5 EUR

Škegro Krš Bijeli 2016
Mostar, B&H

In Bosnian, krš has two meanings. One is “rubbish” and the other is “karst”. Guess which one we use for this wine? Coming from the harshest of Herzegovinian soils, Krš Bijeli 2016 shines with its juicy extract and acidity. The stony minerality coats the ripe fruit (mirabelle, white peach) and opens the gates to a perfectly seamless and harmonious style. It just needs a stronger push on the aftertaste.

GN score: 89/100
Average price: 8 EUR

Andrija Žilavka 2004
Mostar, B&H

I knew Andrija was good, but these guys really never cease to amaze me. On the first sniff, one would jump onto Riesling and cling to it forever – mind-blowing aromas of petrol, wet stone, ripe pear and peach. To break your illusion, the palate unmistakably drives you towards Žilavka. Mature, medium acidity and body (already losing its freshness a bit) with a salty-bitter finish. It’s fascinating how far this wine has gone, but it’s evident that it’s just downhill from here.

GN score: 89/100
Average price: 7 EUR

Ratković Žilavka 2016
Trebinje, B&H

Not at all impressive on the nose, especially for this grape variety which is known to burst out with aromatics. Very subtle tones of white flowers, grapefruit and lemon zest. The palate is a story for itself, showing warm and generous ripeness with highlighted green fruit. Well-rounded and wonderfully complete. I see myself drinking this with simply grilled sea bass at the beach with the best people.

GN score: 89/100
Average price: 5 EUR

Nuić Žilavka Selekcija 2016
Mostar, B&H

This one made it into the list of 10 Balkan white wines to end the summer with, and rightly so. Made from a selection of the best grapes, this Žilavka offers a spring-nostalgia setup – notes jasmine, orange peel, rosewater and honeycomb. Dry, but somewhat full-bodied and even a bit oily on the palate with flavors that suggest sweetness. Not for cellaring definitely, but engage fully into its youthful fruit expression.

GN score: 89/100
Average price: 10 EUR

Vukoje Carsko Vino 2013
Trebinje, B&H

How to use oak with Žilavka 101. I’m sure this is the first complex white wine from B&H that I tried (when I was about 20 and didn’t know jackshit about the technicalities) and was amazed by. Now, five years later, I see that the consistency in these special bottles is top-notch – medium yellow color with green hues, notes of Mediterranean herbs mashed delightfully with the stone fruit and sweet spices, harmony, freshness and a long aftertaste. Good job.

GN score: 88/100
Average price: 25 EUR

Anđelić Žilavka 2016
Trebinje, B&H

This was one of the smoothest Žilavkas I tried at the exhibition. Traditionally (5 years ago), this grape variety was approached in a totally wrong way, so much that the person drinking it could conclude that the winemaker didn’t care about the product he was putting on the market. Now, we see bright acidity, low alcohol and polished phenolic composition. Anđelić did a very good job to cover all the basics, hats off for that.

GN score: 88/100
Average price: 7 EUR

Delić Žilavka 2015
Trebinje, B&H

Delić is probably the freshest producer to hit the BH market. The fact that I can hardly find anything about them on Google says a lot about the huge impact social media marketing has in this day and age, so I truly hope these guys get into it ASAP, because their wines are going to find a perfect niche in the years to come. This Žilavka is a level-headed white wine marked with enchanting splashes of minerality, green fruit, medium acidity and a lingering aftertaste. Bravo!

GN score: 88/100
Average price: 7 EUR

Nuić Žilavka 2016
Mostar, B&H

Pale lemon with lime green highlights. Fragrant and attractive nose with aromas of yellow stone fruits, hints of dried hay, a little bit of roasted almond character, perfumed apple blossom and a touch of stony minerality. Light body with a strictly steely acidity that indicates that this wine needs a few more weeks in the bottle to calm down. Despite this, it feels remarkably fresh and balanced, ideal for a chillout lounge session on the terrace.

GN score: 88/100
Average price: 8 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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