The heyday for Bulgarian wine was the 1980s when huge amounts of cheap and cheerful, and very gluggable, wines were sold in UK supermarkets. When the Berlin Wall fell the industry collapsed. But following the country’s entry to the EU and the subsidies which poured into the wine industry, it’s now back with a vengeance, leaner and fitter, with new boutique wineries focusing more on quality. Add to that centuries-old culture, historic monasteries, and prices which offer amazing value, Bulgaria is an attractive, lesser-visited wine destination.
The wine regions are spread throughout the country. Around the wine ‘capital’ Plovdiv are Western Thrace and the Rose Valley. To the north towards the border with Romania lies the Danubian plain. To the south-east close to the border with Greece is Struma Valley. And to the east the Black Sea regions bordering this vast expanse of water.
The majority of production is red wine and there are several notable inidigineous black grapes. The most important by far is Mavrud, followed by Melnik (with its two distinctive clones, Broad Leaf and 55), Kadarka, Gamza and Rubin (which is a cross of Nebbiolo and Syrah). However there are still significantly more plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot than local varieties. Best known local whites are various incarnations of Misket (including Red Misket which has a pink skin) and Dimyat.
The climate is strongly influenced by the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Balkan Mountains. The continental climate is more pronounced in northern Bulgaria with hot summers and cold winters. To the south of the Balkan Mountains, which separates the two climates, the climate is softer and increasingly bears Mediterranean features. Soils are largely on a substrate of sedimentary limestone and sandstone, and at the foot of the mountains and hills tend to be chalky.
Past Tours To Bulgaria
When you think of wine, you don’t think of Bulgaria. But this lesser-known wine region produces some excellent wines with a new wave of winemakers. We tasted some stunning wines, from international to local varieties like Mavrud and Rubin. We stayed at Markovo Hotel and Spa outside Plovdiv, the wine capital of Bulgaria and one of the oldest inhabited towns in Europe. We explored Roman ruins, Art Deco buildings, an ancient monastery and the highlight of the trip – a fabulous Food & Wine Festival in the Old Town. We can’t wait to go back.