Featured Wine: 2009 Ivanović Tamjanika
A few nights ago I checked out the recently opened Ambar, a Balkan-themed restaurant in D.C. Their eclectic wine list boasts over 50 wines from Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia (as well a a smattering from Italy and California), with 25 available by the glass. I was simply blown away by how unfamiliar the list looked to me--Ambar offers many indigenous, unfamiliar grapes, but luckily the wine list has a handy primer at the bottom. Most of the staff is also Balkan, and all very knowledgeable about their native offerings.
I tried several wines, including one made from a grape called Tamjanika. It produces a dry, full-bodied white with honeysuckle aromas similar to a Gewurztraminer or Viognier. Ambar feaurs the 2009 Ivanović Tamjanika from Serbia for $10 a glass, and $39 a bottle. The wine was highly aromatic, with great acidity and a long finish. It was a perfect pairing with Gibanica ($6) a "cheese pie" wrapped in phyllo dough and served with cucumber yogurt and roasted pepper spread.
If you are a member of the Wine Century Club, a visit to Ambar will let you knock out a bunch of varietals in one sitting. I recommend going with a few friends, getting a bunc of wines by the glass and just tasting and experimenting (while noshing on can't miss faves like the bread basket, panko crusted peppers or Balkan kebabs...)