Flying home from a short holiday in Bosnia-Herzegovina a couple of years ago, I picked up some bottles at Split airport which were branded “Carsus”. Their labels looked promising and they showcased Herzegovina’s two most interesting native grape varieties – Žilavka and Blatina. Sadly it proved that buying wine at airports is a dangerous sport. On opening, all the bottles seemed pedestrian and a bit tired. I suspected poor storage, which had been a recurrent problem throughout the trip.
I thought nothing more of it until I happened across a gentleman named Bariša Škegro a few weeks ago. Škegro is the baby-faced proprietor of Vinarija Škegro, a family winery based near Međugorje (Herzegovina). Since 2015, he makes a wine named “Krš Orange” – a macerated Žilavka made as a homage to his grandfather, also named Bariša. That’s grandad on the label by the way.
When I looked carefully at the bottles, I realised the producer was one and the same as “Carsus”. If you’re confused by all the sub-brands, I forgive you. So am I.
Anyway, back to Krš Orange 2015 which was a surprise in the best possible sense. There was certainly nothing mainstream or dull here, indeed it is endearingly rustic and rather funky on the finish, with typical maceration aromas of fresh herbs, chamomile and hay. There’s fruit, texture and huge gluggability, with a light 12.5% alcohol.
Production methods for this wine are, I suspect, radically different to almost everything else made at the property. It is as natural as can be, spontaneously fermented with 15 days of skin contact, aged in used barrels and then bottled unfiltered, unfined and unsulphured. I salute Škegro for going the whole hog and not just making a “pretend” orange wine! As he explains “In the past every family in Herzegovina made this kind of white wine because they didn’t know any different style and they didn’t have technology. We want to make a ‘new’ old style.”
I’m not entirely sure about their back label concept though – it is, I am assured, Balkan humour:
Impossible or not, it’s definitely drinkable! Also well worth seeking out is their pure-fruited, juicy Trnjak (a rare red variety local to the area), which also seems a lot less “mainstream” in style than the other wines I’d previously tried.
Vinarija Škegro has a Belgian importer, but otherwise the best way to try their wines is probably at source.