Apart from a small number of professionals and those who knew about it from family stories, the BAGRINA grape variety was quite unknown for a long time and was “in the dark”. International varieties, various sauvignons, chardonnays and similar varieties brought from around the world have been parading around the Serbian wine scene for a long time. Only the last 10 years or so have brought change and the return of winegrowers and winemakers to some varieties that were the basis of Serbian viticulture and winemaking in the centuries behind us. Frankincense, prokupac and peas returned to the stage with success. But that wave of revitalization somehow bypassed Bagrina. Until the moment when Nikola Mladenović – Matalj, a winemaker and viticulturist from Negotin, decided to deal with it more seriously. Also, the TV series “Secret of the Vine” in which Bagrina was the main actor contributed to the popularity of this variety.
But what does science say? There was still work to be done… Field sampling was done, samples were sent for analysis and results were obtained. The aforementioned analyzes confirmed autochthonousness for prokupac, bagrina and spice, but, unfortunately, their parents were not found. For such a thing, an even larger number of samples to work with is necessary. On this occasion too, the genetic analyzes were carried out abroad, in the specialized laboratory of the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen (Germany). Sample comparisons were made with samples from the VIVC (Vitis International Variety Catalog) and ICVV (Institute for Grape and Wine Sciences DNA database). The entire project was implemented by domestic institutions in cooperation with collaborators from abroad. The project lasted from 2021 to 2022, and the holder was the Faculty of Biology of the University of Belgrade. And that was just the beginning.
It was continued in the same year through a project called “CONFIRMATION OF AUTHENTICITY AND DEFINITION OF THE OENOLOGICAL POTENTIAL OF THE BAGRINA VARIETY WITH THE GOAL OF REVITALIZING, PRESERVING AND IMPROVING THE TECHNOLOGY OF WINE PRODUCTION FROM THIS VARIETY”. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republic of Serbia is behind the project with the finances necessary for its implementation, and the holder is the Faculty of Agriculture in Kruševac, which is part of the University of Niš.
The mentioned project consists of a whole series of activities that aim to bring Bagrina closer to Serbian winegrowers and winemakers, to present it more closely to wine lovers and consumers, and to contribute to the scientific understanding of this interesting variety. Some of the results that the project should achieve or have already achieved are:
– Defined genetic profile of the bagrina variety: reliable data necessary for defining the origin of the bagrina variety will be obtained, as well as accurate and reliable identification of this variety.
– Defined standard parameters of the quality of beer and wine obtained from the Bagrina variety: all standard technological parameters of the variety are defined.
– Determined aromatic profile of wines obtained from Bagrina: identification and quantification of characteristic aromatic compounds.
– Defined sensory characteristics of wines obtained from the Bagrina variety: obtained data on the sensory characteristics of these wines.
– Prepared study “Enological potential of the Bagrina variety”: the enological potential of this variety will be presented, recommendations for the application of modern technologies based on traditional values, all with the aim of producing wines that, in terms of quality and authenticity, do not lag behind world-famous top quality wines.
– Organized seminar aimed at popularizing wines from old local varieties
– Presented the results of the project to the users of the project and the general public: the organization of an expert meeting for interested winemakers and winegrowers, consumers, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, faculties, institutes, etc.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT BAGRINA
The name bagrina, most likely, comes from the Serbian name for acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), because, according to some, the sweet smell of its flowers can be recognized in the wine. This white grape variety originates from the border regions of Romania and Serbia, perhaps even better said “it originates from the historical landscapes of the Banat, from the Balkans”. This old Balkan variety is cultivated today in Timok Krajina, Romania and Bulgaria. There are as many as 60 synonyms for its name, which testifies to the great age and (once) widespread distribution of this variety. Some of her names are Hellrothe Müllerrebe, Ungarstock (in Germany and Austria); Bagrena, Bagrina crvena, Bagrina krajinska, Bragina Rara, Bagrina Rošie, Červená Dinka, Chervená Dinka, Црвена Динка, Турска ружица (Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia); Bagrina Rara, Braghina, Braghinâ, Braghinâ Albă, Braghinâ Deasa, Braghină de Drăgăsani, Braghină Rosie Rara, Vulpe Roşie Bătută (Moldova, Romania); Törökdinka, Vörös Dinka (Hungary).
The stem of the barberry is lush, and the cluster is medium-sized or large, usually loose or loose. With normal fertilization, the berry is medium-sized, round or slightly flattened, the skin is thin, airless, covered with abundant ash. The color of the berries is very specific, from copper to completely white, which confirms the fact that there is a great variety and number of varieties in this variety. Nevertheless, the experiences of winemakers are that the white variety gives a lower quality of wine, while the red variety is significantly richer in aromatic substances, and practically, this variety is considered the most suitable for wine production.
Bagrina is resistant to powdery mildew and botrytis, and to a lesser extent to downy mildew. It ripens late, in the third and fourth epoch, and is harvested at the end of September or the beginning of October. The characteristic of this variety is that it is not self-pollinating, because the flower is morphologically and functionally female – with five folded stamens in which sterile pollen is formed. Therefore, the fertilization of the flowers is irregular and another variety is necessary for its pollination. Prokupac, Smederevka and Plovdina varieties are considered good pollinators. In years when the pollination is good, the variety bears abundantly, even so much that a serious reduction has to be done. However, due to specific requirements with pollination (necessity of another variety, suitable climatic conditions), it is difficult to project the crop and plan the production of wine.
As a conclusion: the goal of all activities is the revitalization and preservation of the Bagrina variety. Clonal selection would perhaps find and multiply individuals with bisexual flowers. In this way, the problem of pollination, irregular yield, which fluctuates from 3 to 18 t/ha, would eventually be solved. Serbian viticulture and winemaking would get another local, autochthonous variety, which would contribute to the diversity and specificity of the offer. This, in turn, leads to a better quality wine and tourist offer, and ultimately, to more income in viticulture, winemaking and tourism.