All fashions come and go, only wine stays
said, who else but a Frenchman. A member of the nation that has understood all the secrets and joys of divine beverage. When, in the second half of 19th century, a wicked louse devastated French vineyards, they were looking for wines similar to theirs. And they found them. On Serbian land. On the triple frontier with Bulgaria and Romania. On the sandy soil surrounded by three mountains on one, and the Danube and the Timok rivers on the other side. Where the Sun shines on the vine about 260 days per year, and gives special sweetness to grapes. If there is something to believe to the successors of Gals, then it is all related to wine. Whatever they do, we shall do it too!
Straight ahead to Negotinska Kraijna!
Why visit Negotin and Rajačke pimnice?
1. Because Negotin is the hometown of “the father of Srbian music”
The road leads us through the city Negotin. Does its name derive from the former inhabitants, Negoti and Tini, around whose household former settlement had been created, or had it grown from everlasting Serbian competition “(better) than you – nego ti)”, it is not exactly known. But, it is certain that it is the birthplace of Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac. We enter a yard where we face the bronze sculpture of the most prominent Serbian composer, judging by the opinion of the majority. Modest, traditional Balkan town house, from the middle of the 19th century, today turned into the museum and the cultural monument of extraordinary significance. The author of famous Potpourri made his first steps in it, and learned the first music tacts. Passing through four rooms, we experience Mokaranjac’s earthly days. Personal belongings, correspondence, family photographs, authentic furniture, two pianos and the portrait of the classic author of Serbian music and his wife, the work of another Serbian great artist – Uroš Predić.
In memory and the honor of their fellow citizen, every year Negotin locals organise the festival “Days of Mokranjac”, a unique music festivity that gathers proficient performers both from Serbia and from abroad.
Negotin is also proud of brigand Veljko, who fell among the first in its deffence from the Turks. The hero gave his life for Krajina, but it still fell under Ottoman Turks’ rule. Today, there is his equestrian sculpture on the central square, to remind us of the freedom spirit of this area. The monument was erected on the spot where he had fell.
2. Because on Negotin patrol station you may buy new Drive Cafe snacks
The roads of tradition and rich history always ennoble the soul. And for complete enjoyment, it is good to add a little bit of pure amusement! During the break on Negotin petrol station, while our car was filled with G-Drive fuel, we decided to treat ourselves with Drive Cafe snacks, which brings AMUSEMENT, EVERY TIME!
You may chose classic or ribbed chips, flips with as much as 32% of peanuts, or fresh and crispy popcorn.
All of them are equally tasty, so we did not thing too long; we bought the entire crispy set and continued our journey.
On the reoad with us to Negotin and Rajačke pimnice
3. Because Pimnice are a stone city – the homelpace of wines
That is how the story goes in the area around Rajac village. The name is, presumably, given after local speech: ” idemo da piMo vino” meaning “let us drink wine” They are mentioned also as “pivnice” (bear-houses) which may mislead bear drinkers to false conclusion, since bear do not reside here, not even in the neighbourhood.
Some thirty kilometres from the city of Negotin, after bouncing along the patched road and partially good asphalt, one arrives to hilly area with unusual settlement surrounded by forest. Stone houses stretch along narrow alleyways that are meandering and leading to small squares. A stroll through this unique labyrinth, if passed and outwitted, lead us to the central square with the fountain. We think that it is a film setting, and except them to be removed, because we do not want to be fooled. But ethereal scents dissuade us. Maybe it is real after all.
At that moment, a middle-aged woman calls and invite us to come. She wishes us welcome and sits behind the table for small talk in front of the cellar.
They have been built from the middle of18th century to the thirties of the last century, at the model of cellars from Kosovo-Metohija, with thick walls to keep permanent temperature. They consist of wine cellars, sunken about one meter into the ground, and the housing areas where people stay during works in vineyards. Without chimneys. Out of 270, only about ten are still active. There are both natives and newcomers among today’s winegrowers, and one top student joined them. It is the celebration of 14 February, the day of Saint Trifun; Slava bread is being cut and vine nipped. She proudly tells us that everything had started in the Roman times, and that Negotin wines had been exported to France, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany, Russia…it is only normal that we taste it too.
She ushers us in the cellar. Barrels, stuck one by another, are dreaming, each one its own variety. Chardonnay, white Tamjanika, rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon – dry, mildly barriqued. And the pride of the area, special bouquet.
4. Because red (black) Tamjanika is an ancient specie
Autochthonous, muscat variety of Negotin region. Very rare, hard for gworing due to problems with flourishing. Taste is full, balanced, and incomparable with other wines. Unrepeatable. Scent of roses. It interlaces with condiment tones of basil, raspberry, strawberry…Everyone will find another tone in the “back”. Drinkable and refreshing. Dances with food. It is perfect combination with fish and sea fruit, but also chocolate and fruit sweets. Praised and celebrated in the songs of Negotin region. In that famous song dedicated to the brigand above all other brigands, Velko, it is mentioned as red wine.
Who drinks red wine, who fights in heavy battle
5. Because old Rajac cemetery is a great mistery
Multitude of gravestones. Grown in grass, bushes and shrubs. Inclined, covered with moss. Mildly remind of medieval “Steci headstones” but slimmer and taller. Like pillars with stone caps. Many of them are of strange shape. And even stranger patterns. Rich. From stylised crosses, geometric ornaments to the motives of the Sun, and different symbols, all the way to peculiar letters. There are around 1,500 of them. They are made of the same sand stone that was used for building Rajacke Pimnice. It is not known who rests beneath them. There are neither names indicated, nor years of death. Some usual gravestones of Rajac village locals are mixed with these mysterious ones. Interesting and confusing necropolis. As if it is not a graveyard, but rather some iconic place.
6. Because Rogljevo is the village of Dionysius
Or Bacchus. For some people – Osiris. In our language, Saint Trifun. Whichever mythology or religion you choose, they have wine in common. Only two kilometres from its older twin brother are Rogljevske Pimnice. The mirror of Rajaćke Pimnice. There are less of them, 120, but more of them, about thirty are active. Almost every Rogljevo household has its own wine cellar. Their today’s shape was formed between 1860 and 1880, upon the arrival of Frenchmen in this area. Some of these people are still there. They settled 12 years ago. They make wine, export it to their homeland and sell it all over the world. They are a bit more oriented towards tourist industry; therefore, there are even taverns there.
Due to its uniqueness, pimnice are nominated to be included in the list of UNESCO’s World cultural heritage.
7. Because their house museum inherits artefacts from a needle to a mammoth bone
Or Bacchus. For some people – Ozyris. In our language, Saint Trifun. Whichever mythology or religion you choose, they have wine in common. Only two kilometres from its older twin brother are Rogljevske Pimnice. The mirror of Rajacke Pimnice. There are less of them, 120, but more active ones, about thirty. Almost every Rogljevo household has its own cellar. Their today’s shape was made between 1860 and 1880, upon the arrival of Frenchmen in this area. Some of them are still there. They settled 12 years ago. They make wine, export it to their homeland and sell it all over the world. They are a bit more oriented towards tourist industry; therefore, there are even taverns there.
Due to its uniqueness, pimnice are nominated to be included in the UNESCO’s List of World Cultural Heritage.
8. Because in addition to wine, the food enchants too
We sat in the only tavern in the environment, in Rogljevo Pimnice. Ready for something completely different. For start, pancakes. Not very similar to ordinary pancakes, more like fried dough with cheese filling. It is hard to classify them, but worth tasting them, anyway. Veal goulash and hard polenta arrive too – with old cheese and “pastrma” – previously smoked fried meet. Unusual, but excellent combination, we must confess. There is an unwritten rule that only wine is brought on the table. Everyone hugs his or her own cup. We enjoy each sip. We discuss tastes, varieties, tones. We act a bit like French. But we do not forget safety on the road. We drink a little, but we drink well.