Bulgarian wine regions
Traditionally wine making and wine ageing is "hand made" process. We can find this evidence in all mural paintings discovered in old caves in the mountain part of the country as well as on the cups and cutlery of the golden and silver treasuries found mainly in the Trace Valley, The Donau Valley and The Black Sea wine regions.
Thanks to the climate features within the territory of Bulgaria, there are five wine regions defined. They differ in terms of an average annual total temperature, humidity of the atmosphere, the number of rain-hours, total amount sunshine per year and a type of soil.
These different wine regions are:
- The region of Black Sea,
- the Valley of the Roses,
- the Valley of the river Struma,
- the Valley of Donau river,
- the Thrace Valley.
In 1960`s Bulgaria starts importing of grapes from other countries - Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot -from France, in 1970`s- also Riesling from Italy and Rkatzitely- from Georgia. These grape sorts have found here very favourable climate conditions.
Together with all imported sorts of grapes Bulgaria has many own one such as Mavrud, Dimyat, Melnik, Pamid, Red Misket, and Gamza. There are as well many others, not yet famous in Western Europe, but the wine made from them has a wonderful taste. It has kept to a certain degree the taste of" the soil" and the specific climate features.
REGION BY REGION
The Black Sea region
The climate of the Black Sea region, as well as in almost all northern parts of the country, is very favourable for white wine sorts of grapes like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer, Rkatzitely, Dimyat, Muskat. The red one such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pamid develop the best to the South.
After ageing in oak barrels, the wines of The Black Sea region become the best white one of the country.
Misket is a traditional Bulgarian sort grape. The flake of the grapes is pink to red in colour, but it is a" material" of producing only white wines. This sort grows the best in the region of The Valley of Roses and partially in The Black Sea region. High quality wines from this sort are produced in winery Slaviantsi, Sungurlare, Banya en Aytos. The wine has a specific flavour (of herbs). It ages in oak barrels that strengthen the deep colour and the flavour of these wines.
It is imported from France. The wine has attractive and strong flavour as well as full aroma. During the ageing process, especially in oak barrels, the flavour does not develop but becomes rich in nuances. These grapes are appropriate for a long-lasting ageing process.
Aligote comes from France (Bourgogne region) and it is not much dispersed all over the world. The sort comes to Bulgaria in the `70. It is a basis for making Champagne and dessert wines. It grows the best in the South-east regions of the land. The grapes have an intensive taste and oxidise very quickly and very easily. That's why they are appropriate for making of Champagne.
Traminer comes also from France (Elzas), and it is also imported during the `70. At the moment famous producers of wine from this sort are the following wineries-Khan Krum, Targovishte and Shumen. It is really attractive, popular sort wines and it is preferred a lot as a drink. The colour is light, yellow to yellow-green and has often more nuances of roses. These wines are fine, elegant and have good balance between fruits and moreover a strength in taste.
The Italian Riesling is nowadays dispersed all over Europe. Bulgaria has a perfect climate for these grapes- in the North-east of the land Riesling "feels at home". The wine is produced in Evskinograd as well as in Varna. The colour is deep, yellow-green, with a lot of nuances that are typical for this sort and forms an interesting harmony. During the ageing process the flavour develops further and becomes richer in nuances. The taste is well balanced. These wines are potentially suitable for one long-lasting ageing process.
The Black Sea rose has its colour like the other Rose sorts thanks to the types of a grape. Rose is made from grapes whereas the fermentation of the skin takes place together with the core parts of the grape. It is very carefully observed and controlled how long this process of "working together" should lasts in relation to the colour intensity of the rose colour that we would like to obtain. The most important quality of rose wine is the mixture in the soft and fruit taste as of white wines on the one hand and the strong flavour of the red wines on the other. In Bulgaria, exactly like in all Western Europe and the United States, Rose became fashionable to appear on the table as appropriate together with different sort meals. It fits to the new trend and fashion in wine drinking.
The Struma River Valley
The valley of the river Struma is the warmest and driest wine region of the land. It is located between the valley of the river Struma and the Greek border to the South. Red sorts grow here perfectly such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Melnik. In some parts of the region grow the Georgian grape sort Rkatzitely and also one specific for this region sort named Keratzuda. The wines have rich colour and are with strong aromatic taste. Amongst the famous producers of these wines are winery Damyantzy and Harsovo.
"Wild" wine from Melnik
This sort needs higher temperatures. The grapes mature later in the summer and this wine in good wine year has one excellent deep colour and tannin complex. It is "warm", with rich flavour, fine and elegant. When it matures for a relatively long period of time in oak barrels, it gets interesting aroma of strong herbs and one unique aromatic combination between tobacco and leather. Later on the taste becomes softer and lighter but the nuances of the herbs stay in.
The Valley of the Roses
The Valley of the Roses is located between the mountains named Balkan and Sredna Gora, and the hills of Strandja Mountain at the other side. The climate is extremely favourable for the sorts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It counts as well for Misket red (white wines), Chardonnay, Rkatzitely. The wines of this region are "warmer", good coloured, flavoured, strong and with a specific aroma typical for this regional part. Famous wines from that region are made in Yambol, Slaviantzy, Sliven, Sungurlare and Banya.
The Valley of River Donau
The valley of the river Donau is limited between Romanian border and the Balkan. The white and red sort grapes are distributed all over the region. The white sorts as Dimyat, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Traminer and Rkatzitely, find here perfect climate. The red sorts consist of Gamza and Cabernet Sauvignon. The most important quality of these wines is the soft fruits` aroma. Famous wines amongst these we can find with producers and wineries in Russe, Suhindol, Vidin en Lyaskovetz.
The Thrace Valley
The Thrace Valley is located between Sredna Gora Mountains, the valley of river Maritza and the northern hills of the Rhodope Mountains to the South. This region is famous with his red wines as Cabernet Sauvignon, Mavrud and Pamid whereas the last two traditionally Bulgarian sorts grapes. Dimyat and Rkatzitely as white grapes have limited presentation here. The wines from this region have typical character: "warm", strong, good coloured, and elegant. The most famous wines are produced in the winery Assenovgrad, Haskovo, Liubimetz, Chirpan (sparkling wine), Brestovitza, and Perushtitza.
Cabernet Sauvignon is called" The king of the red wines". Its motherland is France. Features of this wine are the intensive colour and a good balanced tannin structure. The young wine is rich in aroma and becomes usually dry already since the beginning of the maturing process. During the ageing into oak barrels gets one rich taste combined with nuances of herbs and fruits and a guaranteed dry taste. However this dry taste is soft and you remember it for a long time. Produced in the North, this wine has fruits` aroma and it is soft in taste. This wine if produced in the Southern regions of the land has somehow stronger taste, heavier and with more intensive colour than the same type of wine coming from the rest of the country.
Merlot is originally French sort of grapes and the second most popular one after the Cabernet Sauvignon. Both - Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon- came to Bulgaria from France in the `60. Merlot has a consistent, deep colour and often very pleasant but not intensive red colour and flavour. These wines are "powerful", "warm" and have a deep colour. During the contact with the oak barrels the wine gains rich and complex flavour. The taste is similar to this one of the soft tannin. In Bulgaria are produced exceptionally good Merlot wines -in the South- the Thrace valley region.
If Cabernet Sauvignon is called" The king of the red sorts", we call then Mavrud as one typical Bulgarian sort" The king of the red Bulgarian wines". The grape has a need of exclusive conditions in order to grow. Mavrud "feels at home" in hilly regions as well as in the hilly outskirts of the Rhodopes Mountain. Its important wine producers are in Assenovgrad, Brestovitza and Perushtitza. In case of optimal maturing process, the wines become intensive in colour, with typical for this sort flavour and tannin structure. Mavrud has invading flavour; it is strong, good balanced, compact and soft in taste. If the wine year is good for Mavrud, the wine once is bottled, to be kept for a long time.
Gamza is Bulgarian sort grapes, typical for the region of Donau Valley. The best wines come from Suhindol, Novo selo, Pavlikeni and Pleven. In terms of quality we can compare the sort Gamza with the Hungarian Kadarka. The grapes have light, soft structure, they are not really spicy, but have deep colours. The consumption takes place more often after 2-3 years of the production. This sort represents the soft Bulgarian sort of wines.
The name Champagne comes from France. The Champagne covers wine gardens from one specific part. The fable tells us that this wine is discovered by accident -originally it has made from a monk called Dom Perignon who by mistake has bottled a wine with sugar. Afterwards he has found out that the wine has "spoiled"- has oxidised in the small barrel where he has had idea to keep it. Very soon this "mistake" has become a regular practice. Sparkling wines are light and soft. The fermentation takes place in small closed barrels - the smaller the barrel, the better (and more expensive the wine). The Champagne is used always at exclusive moments. The classification with Champagne is as follows: it has a sign of very dry if it is "brute-de-brute"; sugar up to 5g\l is the description of Brute, followed by dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, with increasing sugar consistence. One famous Bulgarian producer of sparkling wines is Chirpan, location the Thrace Valley.