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Guide To Albanian Wines

Guide To Albanian Wines

A Guide to the Splendors of Albanian Wines

With a rich heritage and natural beauty, Albania promises a fascinating journey for everyone who dares visit the Mediterranean country. It’s a place where you can find some of the world's most authentic and unique wines. The best Albanian wines boast diverse indigenous grape varieties, distinct flavors, and charming stories behind each bottle. With a history dating back to ancient times, Albanian wines also offer a unique combination of old-world techniques, artisanal expertise, and a passion for quality.


In this Albanian wine guide, we will delve into the rich culture, history, and tradition of vineyards and winemaking in Albania. So, sit back, pour yourself a glass, and explore artisanal wines' luxury, legacy, and authenticity.



A Brief History of the Albanian Wine Tradition

Albania is one of Europe's oldest wine-producing countries. With roots dating back to the eighth century B.C., Albania's winemaking heritage is a testament to the enduring love affair between its people and the vine. Millennia ago, the Illyrians, an ancient Balkan civilization, cultivated grapes on these sun-soaked slopes, laying the foundation for a legacy that would traverse centuries.


The Romans, recognizing the fertile soils and favorable climate, further nurtured Albanian viticulture, introducing advanced winemaking techniques that would leave an indelible mark. As the Byzantine era dawned, monasteries became bastions of winemaking knowledge, preserving and refining the art through meticulous craftsmanship.


However, the advent of communism in the mid-20th century cast a shadow over the vineyards. State-controlled production prioritized quantity over quality, stifling the artisanal spirit that defined Albanian winemaking. Yet, with the dawn of the new millennium, a vinous renaissance unfolded. Small family-owned vineyards and boutique wineries emerged, rekindling the flames of passion for Albanian wines.


Today, Albania is a rising star in the world of wine, captivating enthusiasts with its distinctive varietals, diverse terroir, and dedication to producing the best Albanian wines that capture the essence of the land. The Albanian wine tradition is a story of survival, revival, and the never-ending pursuit of vinous excellence.



Albania’s Wine Terroirs 

With its sun-drenched hills and ancient vineyards, Albania beckons wine enthusiasts to explore various wine regions that vividly portray this Balkan gem's viticultural heritage. Albania's wine terroirs are a testament to the harmonious marriage of geography, climate, and indigenous grape varieties, from the azure coastlines to the rugged highlands.


At present, Albania boasts prominent wine regions gracing its diverse landscape:

    • Highlands or Mountain Regions  - Grapes are grown at elevations of up to 1,000 metres in the highlands. Viticulturists believe that a vineyard's elevation is crucial in enhancing its drainage capabilities and facilitating improved airflow. The soil is predominantly clay silt, and its composition varies with depth and exposure. 


    • Western Lowlands or Coastal Plain - The coastal plain of Albania encompasses several charming cities, including Delvina, Shkodra, Fier, Lushnja, and Tirana. Tirana was the center of the country's vineyard industry before the 1990s. The majority of vineyards in this area are planted at a height of 300 metres.


    • Eastern Sub-Mountainous Region - Peshkopi, Pogradec, Leskovic, and Korca are all in this vicinity. The highest wineries in the area reach heights of 800 metres.


    • Central Hilly Regions - Berat, Elbasan, Krujë, Përmet, and Gramsh are just some of the districts found in Albania's hilly interior. This area's vineyards sit between 300 and 600 metres in elevation.




Grape Varieties That Make the Best Albanian Wines

Now that we’ve guided you through Albania’s wine history and notable winemaking regions, let’s discover some of the Albanian grape varieties that make Albanian wines some of the best in the world.

    • Kallmet - Renowned as an ancient and native grape, Kallmet stands out as one of Albania's most acclaimed red varieties. Kallmet boasts a distinct purple-red hue, typically producing two to three small clusters of substantial grapes. This grape variety's wines are known for their dryness, full-bodied nature, tannic structure, sharpness, and occasionally a hint of rancidity.


    • Vlosh - The city of Vlorë is home to the red wine grape known as Vlosh. The thick liquor takes on a tangy quality when transformed into a varietal wine, with notes of black olives and a hint of plums. The dry, slightly rough tannins in this Albanian drink make it something of an acquired taste.


    • Serina - Albanian vintners hail serine grapes, which come in both red and white varieties, as the country's equivalent to the closely related Syrah. Exhibiting richness and peppery character, the red Serina variety is adorned with prominent notes of black cherries, making it an ideal choice for connoisseurs who relish robust red wines. The majority of vineyards cultivating this grape are situated in the eastern reaches of Korçë County.


    • Pules - Originating from the vineyards of Berat County in Albania, this grape variety gives rise to some of the country's most exquisite dry white wines. Boasting a delicate floral bouquet and an enduring finish, it proves to be a valuable inclusion for those seeking to enhance the sophistication of their wine cellar.


    • Shesh - Shesh manifests in two distinct variations—red, known as Shesh i zi, and white, identified as Shesh i bardhe. Regarded as pivotal vines in Albania, these variants collectively contribute to around 35% of the country's overall harvest, underscoring their significance in the nation's viticulture.


    • Debina - Indigenous to the coastal region of Himara, Debina graces the Albanian vineyards with its crisp and invigorating character. This white and black grape variety, resilient to the salty caress of the Adriatic breeze, produces wines that mirror the refreshing essence of the sea. Debina unveils a lively bouquet with citrusy notes, offering a taste of the Albanian coastline with every sip.


    • Ceruja - Nestled in the Albanian highlands, Ceruja is a white grape variety that yields wines with a bold and robust personality. Embracing the terroir of the highlands, Ceruja wines create an enigmatic profile that captures the spirit of the Albanian mountains.


    • Mavrud - Mavrud is a black grape variety known for its velvety elegance. With its deep color and firm structure, Mavrud Albanian wine unfolds a rich tapestry of dark fruit flavors and a subtle herbal undertone. This varietal, thriving in the Mediterranean climate, embodies the warmth of the south, offering a sophisticated and harmonious experience for those who appreciate the artistry of Albanian winemaking.


    • Pamid - The Pamid grape, with its long history in Albanian viticulture, reveals a fascinating glimpse into the past. With its red clusters, this varietal tells a story of resilience and endurance, reflecting the enduring spirit of Albanian winemaking. Pamid wines, with their approachable and fruit-forward character, pay homage to the traditions of the past while inviting modern enthusiasts to savor the timeless allure of this historic grape.




Embark on a Flavourful Expedition into the Finest Albanian Wines

Albanian wines offer an exquisite experience for discerning wine enthusiasts seeking something truly exceptional and immersive. Winemaking in Albania has a rich history, a wide range of grape varieties, and a strong emphasis on handcrafted quality.


Ready to take a sip and indulge in the luxury of Albanian wine tradition? Check out Me Zemër’s Albanian wine collection and start your way on this tantalising palatable journey.

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