Food And Drink

The total guide to Bulgarian red wine

Bulgaria is not yet a widely known red wine nation, however that will alter as Bulgarian wineries are sculpting an exceptional specific niche, composes Vivien Yap

“Finding Bulgarian wine is like finding lost money down the back of your sofa, there is an element of pleasant surprise, in this case it is about how good the wine is,” I quip.

I have actually been revealing my shock for the previous half-an-hour to my buddy Miros as we being in the tasting space of Dragomir Winery in Plovdiv,Bulgaria The tasting space, I must mention, is more like an office, with product packaging spread on one side and numerous bottles on the other side. The winery remains in the procedure of relocating to the town of Brestnik, 10 km or 6 miles south of Plovdiv, so I can excuse the obvious mayhem. But truthfully, with red wine this great, you can put me in a cowshed and I would still be smiling. So, let us go on a journey to find Bulgarian red wine together.

Grape harvast near Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Grape harvest near Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The wine making began a very long time ago

“Did you know that Homer wrote about Thracian wine?”Antonina Porteva, the supervisor at Bendida red wine store in the heart of Plovdiv, asks me. I have no concept however Google rapidly points me to TheIliad It checks out, “Prepare a banquet for your councillors; it is best and affordable that you must do so; there is abundance of red wine in your camping tents, which the ships from the Achaeans bring from Thrace daily.”

“We have been making wine for 8,000 years in Plovdiv,” she states, her voice laced with pride and I can comprehend why. I am informed that at that time, the red wine was sweet like cherry and black like ink, and it was rather typical to water down red wine with water. Then the craft of wine making continued to develop over centuries, covering through numerous ethnic groups and cultures from Thracians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman Turks toBulgarians During the communist years, wineries in Bulgaria progressed as associates in the Eastern Bloc held a deep gratitude for Bulgarian red wine.


Following the fall of communism, the red wine market was on the decrease as uncomfortable social reforms and high joblessness afflicted the nation. This lasted till the late 1990 s when liberalisation of trade in between the previous Eastern and Western blocs started to grow. On 1 January 2007, Bulgaria signed up with the EU, introducing a duration of stability which sustained the red wine trade and intake even more. Today, at the time of composing, there have to do with 300 wineries in Bulgaria and the number is set to increase every year.

The outcome is that Bulgaria has a long history of wine making, assisted by a beneficial environment (warm summertimes and icy winter seasons), fertile soil, and a culture that is so deeply entrenched with great red wine. I think it is just a matter of time prior to Bulgaria ends up being a powerful force on the world’s red wine map.

Where ought to you begin

There are 5 main red wine areas in Bulgaria: The Danube Plain in the north, Black Sea Coast in the east, the Thracian Valley in the south, the Struma Valley in the southwest, and the Rose Valley, which is a narrow band squeezed in between the Danube Plain and the Thracian Valley.

The Bulgarian wine map
TheBulgarian red wine map

If it assists you to imagine, merely divide the nation into 2 parts in your mind– the white-producing Danube Plain in the north and the red-producing Thracian Valley in the south. The Thracian area is probably the most crucial wine-producing area in Bulgaria, and Plovdiv depends on the heart of the Thracian Valley, making it a perfect launch pad to begin trying to find Bulgarian red wine.

Bulgarian grape ranges

Popular worldwide ranges like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay are grown in the rolling hills and grassy meadows around the nation. Increasingly however, wineries in Bulgaria are starting to position a strong focus on regional grape ranges. As you will hear names like Mavrud and Melnik time and once again while in Bulgaria, here is what you require to understand:

  • Mavrud— native to the Thracian Valley, Mavrud resembles a Bulgarian superhero efficient in producing exceptional spicy, full-bodied red wine with a tidy, organic completing. This grape range is definitely the one to see.
  • Rubin— developed in 1944 by crossing Syrah and Nebbiolo, Rubin has an abundance of berry flavours on the taste buds.
  • Melnik— Melnik has 2 popular clones, specifically Broad-LeavedMelnik and Melnik 55 (which is produced from Broad-LeavedMelnik, Valdigui é, Durif,Juran çon and CabernetSauvignon). Both ranges grow in the hottest part of Bulgaria, so anticipate full-bodied and favorably hot red wine.

A cellar in Melnik, a region growing the Melnik grape variety.
A cellar in Melnik, an area growing the Melnik grape range.

  • Pamid— like Mavrud, Pamid is an ancient range. It produces red wine with fragile toasted notes.
  • Ruen— a hybrid in between Shiroka Melnishka (aka Broad-LeavedMelnik) and Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruen has abundant fruit flavours and a small peppery note.
  • Dimyat— an extremely popular grape range, Dimyat produces well-structured and fragrant gewurztraminer with a sweet edge.
  • MisketCherven— aka Red Misket, this white grape produces light-bodied red wine that tastes like honey-cream and smells like a spring garden. There is likewise a cousin called Sandanski Misket, a fragrant white with notes of citrus and melon.

LucSougn é, a merchant who imports Bulgarian red wine to Belgium, informed me that although the Bulgarian ranges produce exceptional red wine, they are harder to offer in grocery stores overseas due to the fact that very few individuals have actually become aware of them. In other words, the regional grapes need an individual description and experience. I concur; I had actually never ever become aware of Mavrud prior to my journey to Plovdiv today I am a dedicated fan, looking for this brave red in between sightseeing.

Plovdiv: your launch pad to Bulgarian red wine in the Thracian Valley

The ancient city of Plovdiv, 145 km or 90 miles southeast of Sofia, is quickly available by bus, train or taxi fromSofia There is likewise a direct Ryanair flight from London Stansted toPlovdiv See the “getting to Plovdiv” area listed below for more details. Once you have actually gotten here, you can utilize this guide to prepare your own red wine path.

1. Bendida Wine Shop (, 11 Zlatarska

Start your red wine journey in Bendida, a small red wine tasting store in the Kapana area, a seriously hip and lively location surrounding the OldTown Antonina Porteva is the 3rd generation wine maker in charge of the store, while her child, Elizabeth Porteva, supervises the winery in Brestovitsa (18 km or 11 miles southwest of Plovdiv). The store specialises in higher-end red wines from their own winery and likewise from other wineries.

Bendida Winery

2. Dragomir Winery (, 15 Kuklensko Shose Blvd

Set- up by 2 enologists, Dragomir now intends to consist of a minimum of one regional grape range into each vintage. At the minute they have 3 labels: Sarva, Karizma andPitos Sarva is entry-level, Karizma is mid-range, while Pitos is high-end and complex.

Don’ t make the exact same error as I did. Before I came here, I had actually mistakenly presumed that an entry-level red wine like Sarva Mavrud would be rather comparable to an entry-level Montepulciano, significance really simple on the taste buds however does not have a complex and consistent surface. As Miros and I took a seat in the tasting space to delight in the beverage, it emerged that I was incorrect– the colour of Sarva Mavrud is extreme, the texture is silky, and with less tannins, it has a remarkable depth and much deeper flavour. Needless to state, I was blown away.

Note: Dragomir remains in the procedure of relocating to Brestnik, a town 10 km or 6 miles south of Plovdiv, so inspect their site prior to dropping in.

Dragomir Winery

Barrel-aged Rose
Barrel- aged Rose

3. Villa Yustina (, 51 Nikola Petkov Str, Ustina

This superlatively gorgeous corner of Bulgaria is 27 km or 17 miles southeast of Plovdiv, and Villa Yustina is truly the star of red wine tourist in the Thracian Valley, inviting red wine beginners and lovers from 53 nations in 2018.

VillaYustina likewise has 3 primary labels: Villa Yustina (entry-level), Four Seasons (mid-range), and Monogram which accommodates the high-end market. Made from the native Rubin range, the Four Seasons Ros é is fruity and very enjoyable, extremely appropriate for a warm summer season’s night.

MonogramMavrud and Rubin should have unique reference. My buddy Stanislav declares this is a genuine Bulgarian red wine, as it utilizes regional Mavrud and Rubin grapes, aged for 18 months in 100% Bulgarian oak then 2 years in a bottle. This stylish red wine goes remarkably well with red meat, especially goat meat. Coincidentally, the winery likewise raises a herd of Boer goats and utilizes the meat in combining courses.

At present, Villa Yustina has a visitor home however remains in the procedure of introducing a hotel right beside the winery, making it much easier for visitors to remain over and delight in long days of peace and relaxation with healthy dosages of great red wine.

Sweet wine Gewurztraminer 2015
Sweet red wine Gewurztraminer 2015

4. Minkov Brothers (, 8473 Venets

FromPlovdiv, if you follow path A1 (HighwayTrakiya) and drive towards Burgas on the Black Sea Coast, you will encounter the Minkov Brothers winery if you make a left turn when you see path 7. The range in between the winery and Plovdiv has to do with 195 km or 121 miles, so approximately a 2-hour drive.

This winery has a long history extending back to 1875 when Ivan, Vasil and Nikifor Minkov developed a winery in Venets, a town near Karnobat within the BurgasProvince Their red wine went on to win Bulgaria its very first gold medal from the red wine fair in Brussels in 1894.

Today, the winery produces exceptional white and red white wines, though I like their dry White Cuve é, an intricate red wine with lots of peach and flower notes.

Minkov Brothers

Unique selling points of Bulgarian red wine

After attempting a number of bottles and speaking with good friends in Bulgaria, here are the 5 reasons that I believe Bulgarian red wine will quickly end up being a trip de force on the world phase:

  • Bulgarian red wine has all the components required for success: a long history of wine making, a continental environment, fertile soil, enthusiasm, and cash (financing from the EU).
  • Most red wines retail listed below EUR15 so it is great worth for cash. This is due to the fact that labour is budget-friendly, and the majority of wineries are little and family-run where everybody does several jobs.
  • The regional red ranges tend to have less tannins, however you get much deeper berry flavours.
  • In basic, I discover the entry-level and mid-range Bulgarian red wines to be remarkably great. They offer comparable red wines from Argentina, Chile, Italy and Spain a great run for the cash.
  • At present, about 20% of its red wine is exported, however with the web and e-Commerce, this will alter quickly.

How to get to Plovdiv

Getting to Plovdiv is simple.

1. Fly to Sofia and take a bus from Sofia to Plovdiv
If you fly into Sofia, you can get Metro Line 2 from Terminal 2 to Serdika Metro Station in the city centre, then change to Line 1 to the Central BusStation You can take a direct bus from Central Bus Station in Sofia to Plovdiv– several bus business supply this service. The expense is around 14 Bulgarian lev each method and the journey takes about 2 hours with the last stop at Bus Station South (Yug) inPlovdiv Before you go, you can have a look at the SofiaAirport guide for all the transportation choices and likewise the CentralBus Station site

2. Fly to Sofia and take a train from Sofia to Plovdiv
Take the Sofia-Svilengrad or Sofia-Burgas lines from Central Railway StationSofia If you get on a quick train, the journey takes about 2 hours 30 minutes. For more details, see this page

3. Fly direct to Plovdiv
You can likewise take a direct flight from London Stansted to Plovdiv withRyanair Search for your flights on this Skyscanner

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Useful travel suggestions

  • The currency in Bulgaria is lev. There are a number of cash exchange stores in Plovdiv if you want to transform pounds or euros to lev.
  • The primary language is Bulgarian however many individuals speak exceptional English.
  • The finest time to check out Plovdiv is from April to July, then September toOctober The city sizzles in the summer season with temperature levels balancing 33 ° C((***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** ) ° F) inJuly andAugust, and it is relatively typical to see the mercury reaching 40 ° C((*************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** ) ° F).(**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** )is cold and snowy so layer up if you go.

Before you go, have a look at the Bulgaria travel guide and the SofiaAirport guide

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