On the verge of 2020, Bulgaria's wine scene is diverse, active, bubbling with new suggestions. Boutique, family and ambitious young wineries combine their passion for wine with their curiosity to discover new local terroirs in the Southwest, Northwest, Thrace, the Black Sea coast. They look for the optimal combination of preserving and reviving traditions and experimenting and openness to international trends. Thus in Bulgaria, side by side with vineyards of local varieties like Gamza, Wide Melnik Vine and Sandanski misket and well-known international names such as Cabernet sauvignon and Syrah, appeared rare for the country vineyards with Grenache and Assyrtiko, for example.
Consequently, the Bulgarian wine scene utterly changed. While a decade ago the main question was whether Bulgaria will produce a world-level white wine, today no-one bothers with that as the answer is a resounding "Yes." Contemporary Bulgarian winemakers instead channel their efforts to the new, the different and the challenging, and successfully create exciting sparkling wines, orange wines, organic certified wines, dessert fruit wines and wines that experiment with the vintage, the terroir, the time of the harvest.
The rise of the Bulgarian wine is one of the best things to happen in this country in the past few years, and its dimensions are many: a growing interest in the specialised expo for Bulgarian wine DiVino.Taste, a series of international medals for Bulgarian wines, an NGO of independent winegrowers, development of tasting tours and opportunities for wine tourism in the wineries, specialised stores with carefully selected labels by local producers.
Indeed, this cornucopia means having some difficulties when choosing a wine as a gift for the dinner hosts. But we, consumers, are happy to have this opportunity to discover new tastes and experiences.
ISTAR Cabernet Franc by Bononia Estate: The spirit of the Danube
Created in a unique terroir on the bank of the Danube, Northwestern Bulgaria, ISTAR Cabernet Franc vintage 2018 by Bononia Estate (www.bononiaestate.com) is a triumph of balanced, enchanting tastes and aromas. This thick and juicy wine stands out with soft and delicate taste. Notes of vanilla and spices complement the intensive and fresh aroma of forest strawberries and ripe blackberry. The optimal temperature at which to enjoy ISTAR Cabernet Franc is 16–18˚С and the food with which the wine feels best includes fowl, game and matured Bulgarian brined cheeses.
Tasting at Stratsin Winery: Sea and wine, wine and sea
When you want your holiday and trip around Bulgaria's south Black Sea coast to be even more pleasant, tasting fresh, nice wines at the elegant Stratsin Winery (inquiries and reservations:
+359 885 510 620, www.stratsinwinery.bg) is a wonderful idea. Located by Pomorie, Stratsin has the fame of a producer of white and red wines and roses that makes the best of the local terroir. The tasting tour is your chance to have a glimpse at the winery's secrets. After you get to know the main production stages, it is time for the most pleasant part of the experience: tasting of at least three types of wine with specifically selected appetisers.
Orbelus Organic Winery: To reveal the Struma Valley terroir
Located above Kromidovo Village, the first certified organic winery in Bulgaria, Orbelus (www.orbelus.bg), reveals the identity of the Struma Valley with combining the unique for the region Melnik Vine with Bulgarian varieties like Melnik rubin and Sandanski misket, and international varieties, including ones rare for Bulgaria such as Grenache noir, Mourvèdre, Marselan, Primitivo, Petit verdot, Assyrtiko. As a result Orbelus series excite imagination and bring joy to the palate – the classical terroir Melnik, Getika and Prima, the white blends Orelek, the Paril rose, the Single series of grapes from a single vineyard and the always surprising Hrumki, inspired by the specificities of the given vintage.
Vino Orenda: When you choose Bulgarian wine
Contemporary Bulgarian wine is a true universe and when you want to find in it something new, different, exclusive or rare, the specialised store Vino Orenda (Sofia, Ruski Monument, 50А Makedonia Blvd, phone: +359 889 623 606, www.vinoorenda.com) is the right place to go. Since 2012 this ambitious family enterprise has offered to an audience thirsty for novelties and quality wines of selected boutique wineries producing limited series. Vino Orenda is a friendly space where you can find your next favourite wine, attend temathic events or trainings, or converse with kindred souls: people who are not only under the spell of the magic of wine, but are also aware of where to look for it.
Zlaten Rozhen winery: Greetings from the Southwest
The wines of Zlaten Rozhen (www.zlatenrozhen.bg) combine the warmth of the Southwest's sun, the coolness of the Pirin mountain and the etherealness of the Melnik sand pyramids. Created from vineyards at Kapatovo and Levunovo villages, they are an excellent solution for any occasion. The elegant wines of the Family Reserve series inspire conversation. SICAGY is a limited wine of a rare blend: Syrah, Cabernet franc and Sangiovese, and the wines of the Exclusive Lot series show the best of Merlot, Cabernet franc and Syrah. The local Sandanski misket variety has been emblematic for Zlaten Rozhen since the winery's beginning, and in 2017 another white wine of a red grape variety was included in its portfolio: Wide Melnik Vine.
Borovitza Dux 2011, Great Terroirs: Wine with character and of world class
The result of year-long experience of Borovitza winery (www.winwines.net) in production of excellent wine in the Bulgarian Northwest, Borovitza DUX 2011, Great Terroirs has an original character and international-level qualities. The wine is made of the grapes of vines that are over 60 years old and have grown on the bank of the Danube, and has undergone minimal technological intervention. It is bottled after ageing for at least 5 years (60 months) in casks of Bulgarian and American oak, which are not necessarily new. Made of 80% Cabernet sauvignon and 20% Merlot, DUX is exquisite, elegant and reflects in a specific way its Bulgarian origin.
Wine provocation by Villa Vinifera
The heir of a tradition established in 1936, Villa Vinifera winery (Brestovitsa Village, 9 Momchil Voyvoda St, showroom: Plovdiv, 69 Svoboda Blvd, www.villavinifera.com) loves to provoke imagination and tastebuds. Its portfolio includes elegant, aromatic and memorable white and red wines and roses of Mavrud, Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Muscat, and in the special collection are the cult classic Orange wine and the dessert Ice Winery wine of grapes harvested after the first snow. Do not miss as well the Green Wine of unripe, green Mavrud, after technology of the ancient Thracians.
Kubera Raspberry Wine: Get ready for a whole new world
Raspberry wine can be as enchanting as the one made of grapes – a gulp of Kubera Raspberry Wine (www.kuberabg.com, Facebook: kubera, Instagram: kuberawine) is enough to convince you. Kubera is made in the Valley of Roses near Sopot from its own organic raspberry orchard located at an altitude of 450 metres. This impressive terroir, combined with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm of Kubera's professionals creates wine that no only charms – it reveals to us a universe of tastes and invokes desire for adventure and love of life and the world.
Midalidare Sparkling Blanc de Blancs: Brilliance and enchanting taste
If you wonder with what sparkling wine to greet the New 2020, the answer is – Midalidare Sparkling Blanc de Blancs (www.midalidare.bg). Created after a traditional method from the own, organic-certified Midalidare vineyards in Thrace, this sparkling Chardonnay enchants with its elegant bubbles, intensive floral aroma, rich yet fresh taste and clear and pleasant finish. The wine was awarded a deserved medal in the prestigious competition The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships 2019, and is an excellent start for the New Year and an irreplaceable companion to important life events.