Bulgaria is famous for its red wines – I remember first coming across them in the Glasgow Oddbins in the 1970s and, lo indeed, 40 out of the 50 best wines recommended in the Bulgaria’s magic little annual “Divino Guide” are red.
But it was their white wines which were the great discovery for me when I first motored through Bulgaria in 2002 on the way to Turkey. I was quite stunned by first the crispness of the vastly underrated Targovishte Muscat (which rightly won a bronze medal in a Paris fair a couple of years back) and then by the sheer variety I was encountering.
Now my palate (and body) reject red wines – apart from those from the Melnik area and the Struma valley which crosses the border with Greece
But there were still more than 100 varieties of white on offer at the 2015 tasting of Bulgarian wines which took place a week ago at the Narodni Dom Kulturna (I always confuse it with NKD – which my young Bulgarian friends tell me is proof that I was a spy!).
That’s quite a slog for one day – so it was very early to bed that evening. Sunday was for the roses (the liquid variety) – fewer in number so I was able to emerge after a couple of hours with a clear head and an even greater commitment to their whites…. I had missed last year’s tasting but had been sober enough in 2013 to keep some notes of how I marked the whites
To prepare for the 2015 tasting I had pulled out and checked the scribbles on my copy of the great little Catalogue of Bulgarian Wine (by T Tanovska and K Iontcheva - annual) which I use to record my impressions. The Wine Routes of Bulgaria (Vina Zona 2014) is also a nice little – if less technical – profile of 64 of the good Bulgaria vineyards. No fewer than 66 vineyards were presenting on 20-22 November – which means about 400 bottles were waiting to be tasted!!
Six wineries battled it out for my palate’s favour this year
Marvin’s Traminer (6 euros) is from a vineyard in the Sliven area (in the centre of the country) - an area whose wines were the first to make an impression on me some years ago
Boi and AR Pomorie had a great Chardonnay and Viognier (6 euros). Pomorie at the Black Sea has some of the best white wines - but this particular winery was new to me….
Domaine Menada – had a winner (Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay) for only 3.50 euros! A long established winery – near Stara Zagora in the middle of the country
Edoardo Miroglio – (a Chardonnay Barrique) – Sliven area again….
Santa Maria at the moment is my favourite winery – in the south of the country near the Greek border – and offers two white wines (Sauvignon Blanc; and a Chardonnay - 4 euros) which won great applause at my own home wine tasting earlier in the month
Seven jostled closely behind -
Chateau Bourgozone - a favourite of mine on the western part of the Danube stretch – actually had 2 wines which caught my fancy – a Sauvigon Blanc; and a Chardonnay Barrique.
Levent – also on the Danube – had a wonderful Traminer/Miskat from the Russe wine house
Eolis - from the southern borderregion - had a lovely Gewurztraminer
Alexandra Estate – Vermentino (Sakar Region). a new grape for me
Four Friends vineyard is in the central region, near Stara Zagora and had a great Sauvignon Blanc (6 euros)
Neragora is a new organic vineyard in the Plovdiv area (receiving Italian help). Their Chardonnay and Misket was very acceptable
Todoroff – two of their wines pleased me - Rainbow Green (Muscat and Aligote); and Rainbow Silver (Cuve – SB and Chardonnay with some Viognier). Todoroff are in the amazing village of Brestovitsa (boasting 7 vineyards) very near Plovdiv
And, finally, four which didn’t score quite so high but which deserve a mention -
Levent – Riesling (5 euros)
Zelanos – Pino Gris (7 euros)
Saedinenie – Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier
Villa Yambol – Chardonnay (2.5 euros!)
Favourite Vineyards at Black Sea Black Sea Gold; Ethno – in a village near Burgas on the Black Sea near the border with Turkey; and Slavyansti - ditto
The things I do for science!!!