Villa Marija may not be around long enough for anyone to read this piece, however I remain hopeful it can find investment and be returned to its former, classic glory. This is well and truly part of the foundations of Macedonian wine history.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the King of Yugoslavia, Alexander I sent his representatives to scour the road from the Dandube plains in Hungary as far south as Macedonia. He was looking for the best place to start his wine ventures and plant vineayrds, a project designed to rival the great aristocratic wine projects blossoming in France at the time.

They buried goats heads along their way and returned to them with the idea that whichever head was preserved longest would be the ideal spot to plant vines.

It was the village of Demir Kapija, nestled in the heart of the Tikves region, that the King settled on and Villa Marija was born.

But Macedonia's turbulent past would ensure Villa Marija could not go on uninterrupted. After two world wars and the onset of communism, the winery couldn't cope and collapsed.

When I last tasted the wines in 2015 they weren't bad. They were relatively simple expression of Chardonnay and Riesling, while the red, produced from Vranec showed some nice berry fruit and chocolate flavours.

This is a wonderful site, tucked away in one of Macedonia's most scenic areas. It will represent a big failure if local players can't find a way to bring this historic site back to life.

Tikves WCO Vranec 2016 by Villa Marija (Tikves, Macedonia) Still very young with some yeasty notes at first. With a little time though, it opens out into an expressive Vranec with explosal blueberry on the nose. It's a well structured wine but the length dissapoints a little. (September 2017)