We were casting the net across Eastern Europe, and we landed Marko first cast
We’d been looking for a good Macedonian wine for ages. Turns out the missing ingredient was Marko. He's had a top-flight career in France, making some of the world’s most famous drops, including Chateau Palmer in Margaux, and Vieux Telegraphe in Châteauneuf du Pape.
Marko could have settled for being toasted in the salons of Paris. Instead, he gave it all up and went back to his roots. He’s a passionate Macedonian who knew his homeland had the potential for amazing wines. But finding markets for the unfashionable region was tough, until he found Naked, and we found him. A panel of Archangels tasted the wine he sent in, and absolutely loved it.
Marko told us his dream was to find a bigger audience to showcase his country’s wines. We explained how 250,000 Angels were waiting to drink them. It felt like a marriage made in heaven. So we shook on it.
Map of the Vineyard
We asked Marko a few questions so you can get to know him better...
What's your background?
I studied agriculture and enology in Bordeaux and Montpelier and before joining Tikves Winery in 2010, I worked as Assistant Winemaker in a number of small wineries in various wine regions in France, including Champagne, Bordeaux, Margaux, Faugers and Chateauneuf du Pape, where I met the renowned Philippe Cambie in 2007 and became a wine consultant, following the work of over 80 wineries with him. I was also Technical Manager of the winery "La Font du Loup" in the period 2009-2010.
Why did you become a winemaker?
It started pretty unexpected and without a concrete plan in the beginning. My family moved to France when I was 10 years old and after finishing high school, my father and I were considering opening a wine shop. I realized that I needed at least basic knowledge of wine in order to be able to realize our idea and we felt that France provides the best conditions for wine and gastronomy education, so I went to Champagne to study about wine. I met very interesting people there and developed a love for the wine. One of my professors suggested I should also get to know a wine region typical for red wines. I went to Bordeaux and that is where I really got interested in wine production and decided to continue my studies and become a winemaker. I was fascinated by the possibilities, different varieties and wanted to make my mark in the world of wine.
What is it about your job that you love?
I love every bit of it. Being in the vineyards, working with the viticulturalists, love the rush of harvesting and the opportunity to work with local varieties, such as Vranec, Smederevka, Stanushina, Temjanika. I also enjoy the possibilities to travel to different regions around the world, meet fellow winemakers and be able to see all the innovative things they do and discuss winemaking with them. This industry has a certain level of cooperation and exchanging ideas and experiences that you don’t find in other industries, where people are mainly protective about their processes and practices. We know that because of terroir you just don’t get the same results and there is no fear from the competition in a way that this fear is present in other industries.
What makes your wines special?
I would love to say that it is a result of my winemaking skills ? but it’s much more than that. It’s the vintage, the wonderful climate and soil in North Macedonia, the local varieties we use, the combination of skills and experience of the team, Philippe Cambie’s involvement, as well as the vision of the owners of the winery.
Which varietal / style is your passion and why?
It has to be Vranec. All other varietals have clones and different types, but Vranec is one and only. When I started working with it, I literally hated it. It is a difficult variety. It is especially hard to soften its tannins. But once you’ve succeeded, the results are remarkable.
Any tales of joy or sorrow along the way?
Of course! I’ve learned some important lessons along the way and there have been both tales of joy and sorrow. But they only made me better at what I do, smarter and wiser. I learned that you should trust but check and double check and I’ve experienced more than once the joy of doing a good job and the satisfaction of getting everyone on board behind an idea or a task. I have no regrets though. The decision to move back to the Balkan region was the right one and I appreciate the opportunity given to me, only 27 years old to be chief enologist in Tikves Winery and be part of the exciting growth and improvements of the winery, as well as the development of estate bottled wines in specific regions in North Macedonia and most recently in the Cote du Rhone region in France, with the latest acquisition of vineyards and a boutique winery.
What do you hope to accomplish as an Angel-funded winemaker?
I hope to create wines that will astonish the Angels and hopefully contribute to the promotion of the unique region and varieties that are still unknown by a large number of people.
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