Bulgarian Wine and Grape Varieties

Friday, June 22nd, 2007 at 12:00 am

Bulgarian wineBelieve it or not, Bulgaria has producing wines for years. They were one of the first countries in Eastern Europe to engage in wine production. Historically, Bulgarians have been planting grape vines and producing wines since the time of Thracians. In fact wine, together with beer and rakia, is one of the most popular alcoholic drink in the country.

The potential of the Bulgaria to produce top quality wines has always been there. The cool winters and hot summers, the micro-climate and good quality of the soil is a great recipe for producing quality wines. Among the reasons why the wine industry in the country failed to succeed and be recognized internationally was because the wine industry was consolidated and monopolized during the Communist rule being part of the Eastern Block.

The market of the wines produced in Bulgaria was restricted to socialist countries. The lack of competition have set the standards low providing little room for growth. However, the collapse of the totalitarian states in the late 80s signaled a new life for Bulgaria’s wine industry.

Today, the Bulgarian wine industry is much well established especially after new lands have been acquired and a number of private entities have invested in the planting of new vineyards and the establishment of new wineries in the country. The arrival of new technologies and methods in wine production, combined with traditional and age-old techniques have made the wine industry in the country a notable competitor among other countries.

Traditionally, Bulgarian wines were light and were most likely over oxidized which makes them fit only for immediate consumption. Nowadays, the best wine in Bulgaria are produced from the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. New wines have fuller flavors, and richer aroma and tastes, much like those in Bordeaux.

Among the local grapes that are being planted and made into wine include Gamza grapes which can be found practically anywhere in the country and produces earthy, light bodied red wine; the Mavrud variety another full bodied wine and has a characteristically spicy red; Melnik which are grown in the southernmost part of the country and produces hefty red wines; and Pamid which is known to be rustic and hardly unforgettable.

On the other hand, varieties like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling are cultivated to make fine white wine. For local varieties, the Misket, Ottonel, and Dimiat grapes produce satisfactory whites.

Base on the Bulgaria’s Wine Law, we can categorize into five the kinds of wine in the country. The first category is the Reserve Category and covers wines aged in small oak casks with the purpose of extracting phenolic compounds from the wood, and then in larger oak casks.

The second category is called Wines Of Controlled Appellations of Origin (A.O.C) and are made from grapes that came from strictly defined and controlled vineyards; Wines of Declared Geographical Origin is the third category and includes wines made selected grapes that come from a particular geographical region; the fourth one is the Regional Wines which are also called as Country Wines and contains the original properties of the grape varieties they are made from; and finally the Wine Without Declared Origin category but have specific declared variety or brand name.