Bulgaria may well be the poorest nation in the EU but European funds and grants are rapidly improving the roads (many villages we went through have untarmacked dirt roads) and businesses, especially the wine industry, have benefited from grants to build state of the art processing facilities. And most are totally focused towards receiving visitors – wine tourism is a big focus.
The other potential is the mix of grape varieties they have at their disposal. I recall the Bulgaria Cabernet Sauvignons of the communist era along with local exotics such as Melnik, Mavrud and Gamza. All of these plus the usual international varieties (Merlot, Sauvingon Blanc and Chardonnay et al) are still represented but are now given the attention. And the wine makers are not afraid to experiment with creative blends and interesting wine making techniques. There are even orange wines being produced, and quite successfully to.
At the Medi Valley Winery for example, the first winery on our long weekend tour, they are proud of their award winning Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc blend. The 2014 vintage won the award. It’s a damn ugly trophy, in my eyes, but the recognition for a wine from such a small producer is immense.
I was more taken with their eXcentic Incanto Rosé 2014. A fine blend of Syrah (51%), Merlot (29%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%). It’s a fresh, easy drinking, refreshing style of wine with a hint of savouriness on the finish.
The Medi Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is also worth trying. It is a 100% sauvignon offering a softness and lingering lemon sherbet flavour with a hint of green grassiness to add tantalising complexity. One certainly to try with a selection of local cheeses.
The experimentation extends from blending local and international varieties to wine making techniques too. The eXcentric Mavrud 2013 with its dark and chocolaty aroma and hefty full palate is comprised of three batches of Mavrud given different fermentation temperatures before blending together. The reason? To impart different nuances to the flavour and tame the somewhat forceful tannins inherent in the grape. Its all geeky, winemaking stuff I admit,but at the end of the day the wine is well worth trying.
Visiting the Medi Valley Winery Bulgaria
Prices throughout Bulgaria are very favourable to us Western Europeans. At the time of writing google is showing that 1 Bulgarian Lev (ЛВ) equals 38p. The Medi Valley Rosé is available from the winery shop for 7.50ЛВ (£2.81), the more premium eXcentic range for 12ЛВ (£4.50) and the premium Incanto range for 18ЛВ (£6.75).
Prebook a tour via their website – The winery is located on the road to the Rila Monastery, a major tourist destination.
“The attractive geographic location of the winery, the conditions it offers and the extraordinarily good wines with prestigious awards from national and international competitions turn the Medi Valley Winery into a charming new destination for wine tourism. Medi Valley Winery is open every day for visitors. The wine connoisseur may find their favourite wine here and become friends with it forever.”
Tours and tastings to the Medi Valley Winery can easily be arranged for groups numbering 4-40 and vary in times from 30 to 90 minutes. Prices range from 5ЛВ to 25 ЛВ (basically nothing to a tenner). English is spoken. At the time of writing their wines are not available in the UK.