My foreigner friends serve Bulgarian wines every time they organise a dinner party. In the past few years, however, their and their guests' attitude towards these wines changed visibly. Before, my friends' choice of labels was determined mainly by politeness: as a sign of respect to Bulgaria and its tradition. So, a bottle would be opened and poured, the guests would politely ask about where the wine is from, and then the conversation would stray to another topic.a
There were exceptions, of course, when everyone just loved the wine offered.
Not anymore. Today, the type of the wine, the winery, the region, the grape and the taste are commented long after the drink was poured in the glasses and tasted. Most of the people around the table now have their opinions about and favourites among Bulgarian wineries, so they eagerly compare, point qualities and flaws, and analyse taste, aftertaste, aroma, body.
What changed? On the one hand, Bulgarians' wine taste evolved under the influence of a number of factors: the general increase in interest in gourmet culture, the introduction to world winemaking leaders and their creations during trips abroad or via the diversifying import. The old-time veneration of homemade wines began to loose its appeal, replaced by interest in suggestions by established and newly founded wineries. The curiosity towards wine among the Bulgarian public reached a level that justified the opening of big and small specialised shops for mass and boutique labels. Specialised websites and literature, competitions and expos also appeared.
However, the change would be impossible without Bulgarian producers. In the recent years, on the stage appeared a number of small, but ambitious wineries who joined the already established names. The competition proved beneficial. Today the best local wineries, regardless of their location, age and size, bravely build a bridge between old Bulgarian winemaking traditions and current international trends. Local varieties like Shiroka Melnishka loza, Mavrud, Keratsuda share soils, sun and water with imported varieties - from old acquaintances such as Cabernet sauvignon to new arrivals like Syrah and Malbec. Some wineries risk, successfully, in production of organic wines. White wine, which traditionally lost to red one in regard of quality and interest among the public, now successfully competes with it.
In such situation, the future of Bulgarian wine, and of the people who love it, looks more than bright. The best way to celebrate this is with a bottle of an old favourite or of a new and intriguing label.
Istar - Red coupage, vintage 2016: Noble harmony
For good wine are needed not only quality grapes, but also people for whom winemaking is a passion. Bononia Estate
(www.bononiaestate.com) is one of the places where passion and love for wine have found a wonderful place for development. Located near Vidin, the winery grows both the region specific Gamza variety and international favourites. The result of their combinations are marvellous wines such as Istar, red coupage of Cabernet sauvignon and Cabernet franc, vintage 2016. This complex wine has manifestation of blackberry, plum and dark chocolate. The expressive volume is determined by the fine high tannins, which are a guarantee for noble ageing.
Augeo Family Estate Ruen 2017: Intensely rich taste
Augeo Family Estate (www.augeofamilyestate.bg) introduced a new wine from the typical Bulgarian grape variety Ruen. It only grows in the villages around Melnik in the Struma Valley. Augeo Family Estate Ruen 2017 has deep purple colour with a fresh fruity aroma. The intensity is pronounced, as aromas of red and black forest fruits, floral notes, raisins and other dried fruits, as well as forest herb aromas could be discovered. The wine was aged in French oak barrels for 7 months, which gives light oak nuances of the taste. Available in selected restaurants and wine shops, Augeo Family Estate Ruen 2017 is an excellent gift idea for wine lovers to enjoy in the winter months.
Stratsin Winery: Wines with their own spirit
The Pomorie region combines favourable climate for vine growing and old winemaking traditions. Stratsin Winery (www.stratsinwinery.bg) masterfully uses these advantages and gives us marvellous wines that with equal ease win both awards and fans. The Early Birds and SOULMATEs series are exquisite creations of Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Muscat, in which the aroma charms and the taste leaves a lasting memory.
Via Verde: Going on a wine adventure
With the balm Mediterranean climate of Sandanski and the region's terroir it looks only logical that excellent wines are made here. The young and ingenious Via Verde winery (www.viaverde.bg) however is dreaming even bigger, aiming to create marvellous wines in a sustainable and green way. At the Via Verde vineyards grow both local and international varieties: Sandanski misket, Early Melnik vine, Keratsuda, Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Syrah, Muscat ottonel. Their potential flourishes in the winery's three series: the adventurous Nomad Spirit, the provocative Expressions, the boutique Motif made of the best grape of each vintage. Every one of these is not only a pleasure, but a true adventure inviting you to discover a new world of wines.
Seewines: Your doorway to the world of wine
The world is full of wines that you must enjoy, discover and share with the people you love. In this incredibly alluring, but also challenging, task you need help. You will find it at Seewines. More than 750 types of wines from every continent, personal sommeliers and a dedicated conscription-based Wine club with. Open your door to the world of wine at Sofia, 106 Bulgaria Blvd and on seewines.eu.