A wine journey through Austria, Georgia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovenia
The roads are generally good — no potholes — but to get 20 miles as the crow flies you have to travel 40 round high mountain roads with scary drops of a few thousand feet with no barriers.
The minute old capital — Cetinje — is worth the journey with its palace, now a museum.
What Montenegro does have is the Plantaz winery and vineyards, claimed to be the largest in Europe.
The caves, which house the tasting rooms and barrels with wine as far back as 1979, are huge and housed fighter planes in the Second World War.
It has a good red from the Vranac grape which unfortunately is not readily available locally.
However here are a few eastern Mediterranean and European wines worth trying.
Austria is famous for its Gruner Veltliner whites but have you tried an Austrian red? Zweigelt is a relatively new grape, created in 1922 and is now the most planted red grape in Austria.
Goes well with both meat and fish dishes:
M&S Found Zweigelt 2021, Ferdinand Mayr (£9.25) Unoaked, fruity cherry, plum and forest fruit.
Von Der Land Zweigelt 2021 13.5pc (Majestic £8.99 mixed six) Light, fruity, cherry, hint of spice.
A good party red is:
Pittnauer Pitti Red, Burgenland 2020 12.5pc (The Wine Society £10.95) Fresh, spicy, cherry and raspberry.
Most wine merchants and supermarkets have excellent Gruner Veltliners, many by the Huber family.
Morrison the Best Gruner Veltliner 2020, Niederösterreich (£7.50) Dry, zingy, lemon and apple, or Familie Mantler G V.
Niederöstereich 2022 12pc (The Wine Society £9.25) This family winery has produced a lovely, vibrant, lemon, peach and apricot delight.
Georgia left the Soviet Union in 1991. It took many years to get rid of state control.
From a modern award-winning winery:
Tbilvino Saperavi 2021 13pc (Majestic £10.99 mixed six) Has nice acidity, ripe black fruits and soft tannins.
A rare amber wine is:
Kisi Queveris Tbilvino 2020, Georgia 12pc (Waitrose £14.99) The white kisi grapes are buried in ‘Qvevri’ clay vessels for several months to ferment to give low acidity and hints of ripe pear, peach and almond.
From Hungary and Bulgaria, the white Dry Furmint continues to impress:
Patricius Tokaj Dry Furmint 12.5pc (Waitrose £9.99) Juicy orchard fruit and quince, spice and citrus.
Tokaji Dry Furmint, Pajzos Winery 2021 13pc (The Wine Society £8.95) Aromatic, spicy green apple and pineapple with mouthwatering acidity.
From nearby Slovenia comes:
Puklavic and Friends Furmint, Podravje, Stajerska 13pc (Waitrose £8.99) Floral notes plus ripe orchard and fresh citrus with a nice herbal lift on the finish. A zippy wine perfect for al fresco suppers.
Another good Slovenian white is Krasno Sauvignon Blanc-Ribolla Gialla 2021 Brda.
Brda is just over the border from north east Italy which has some brilliant Ribolla Gialla wines. This is fresh, fruity, a nose of green apple and pear, slightly lemony. A good seafood wine.
Nearby Romania is the sixth largest producer of wine in Europe and exports some excellent wines at amazingly low prices, such as:
Asda’s Wine Atlas series Feteasca Regala 11.5pc (£5) A light, fruity, fresh white with some tropical fruit and citrus. Good with chicken and Asian food.