Shesh i Bardhë Grape

This variety produces dense, medium-sized clusters. grapes are bright green (sometimes tending toward golden yellowish), medium-sized, and round, with a relatively high skin to pulp ratio. The leaves are medium-sized, with five lobes.

The grapes are sweet. Wines produced from this variety tend to have a deep straw to yellowish color and are quite aromatic, with floral and apple notes.

Sheshi i bardhë is an old white grape variety from the hills around Shesh in the former municipality of Ndroq, a few kilometers west of Tirana. This variety’s name derives from its color (bardhë means “white”) and its place of origin. It is likely a color mutation of the red variety Shesh i zi (zi meaning “black”). Around Ndroq and in other parts of Albania where Shesh i bardhë is planted, harvest is usually carried out entirely by hand due to the rough, steep terrain,which makes mechanization difficult.
Hand harvesting allows for greater control and careful grape selection. The bunches are collected in wooden or plastic containers and then transported quickly by truck or tractor to the cellars.

Product History

Shesh i bardhë has historically been a very important variety in Tirana and Durrës counties. Though viticulture is an ancient activity in Albania, it only began to take off commercially during the 1960s in the following decades, local varieties such as Shesh i bardhë and Shesh i zi began to be planted in other regions of Albania, in places with a variety of soils and climate conditions. However, after the 1990s, there was a sharp decline in traditional viticulture as people migrated away from rural areas. The only grape product that continued to be produced in the villages during this period was raki and, unlike wine production, raki production remained an artisanal, household activity. Indeed, raki is a cricual component of socialization, especially among groups of men, who often drink it with meze (appetizers) like fresh cheese, boiled eggs, raw onion, meatballs, and pickles and sing “raki songs.” It is always served to guests and at special occasions such as weddings, births, parties, and funerals. Today, Shesh i bardhë is made into wine and raki across Albania, mainly in Tirana County. These products are available in local shops and in cities. Some producers have started growing this variety biodynamically.

Source: ‘Arka e Shijes’, Dhurata Thanasi (Luga e Argjendtë)


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