Pairing Bulgarian Wine with the Fine Cuisine
at the Blue Duck Tavern
While Bulgaria has been making wine for thousands of years, it’s still not widely known in the US. So when publicist Heather Freeman invited us to participate in a small wine dinner at the Blue Duck Tavern in Washington, DC, to taste the Bulgariana line of wines brought in by importer Robert Hayk of Grapes & Barley, we agreed with enthusiasm. And we’re glad we did. Although the wines are inexpensive, they held up well to the rich cuisine brilliantly prepared by Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault. Indeed, we were most pleasantly surprised by the overall quality and superb value offered by these wines.
Bulgariana is a new label currently being sold in several US markets—Maryland, DC, New Mexico, and Arizona—with others to follow shortly. Bulgariana wines are produced by the Telish Winery, located in the village of Kolarovo in Southern Sakar in the Thracian Valley, about equally distant from the Black and Aegean seas, which helps moderate the continental climate. A former state winery, Telish was privatized in 1999 and purchased by Jair Agopian. Famed French consultant Michel Rolland serves as consulting winemaker to Telish and has a hand in blending the Bulgariana red wines. The white winemaker for the Bulgariana wines is the Italian Edoardo Miroglio.
Our reviews of the Bulgarian wines follow. For each wine we list the food that Chef Sebastien Archambault paired with the wine. As we’ve come to expect of the Blue Duck, each dish was expertly prepared and beautifully presented.
Bulgariana 2012 Thracian White Blend ($11) 89
This is a clean, fresh wine showing scents of melon, apple and a note of citrus zest. It’s easy drinking with a nicely balanced, round palate. A very pleasant blend of Chardonnay, Sauvigon Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
Served as an apertif with a Scallops Crudo appetizer, ceviche scallops in an orange vinaigrette.
Bulgariana 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Thracian Valley ($11) 88
The Sauvignon Blanc reveals a soft attack of citrus and tropical fruits with a light, pungent note of green beans. Upfront fruit flavors show on the medium weight palate.
Served with a Roasted Beets Salad made with red beets, goat cheese, peanuts and sherry vinegar.
Bulgariana 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Thracian Valley ($10) 90
This unwooded Cabernet Sauvignon is a real treat and tremendous value. It shows delicious, fresh, dark red fruit both in the bouquet and the flavorful palate. It has good concentration and fine tannins. An exceptional value!
Paired with Bone Marrow & Roasted Garlic, served with toast.
Bulgariana 2008 Imperial Red Blend ($14) 91
This is a beautifully flavored and densely weighted red wine that compares very favorably with red blends from Napa and Bordeaux that cost double the price. It reveals notes of dark cherry, chocolate, and earth with fine tannins and a refined texture. A blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Rubin, and 5% Mavrud; about half the wine is matured in oak. Mavrud is one of Bulgaria’s traditional grape varieties. Another incredible value.
Paired with Roasted Quail with Bacon, Stewed Tomato, and Pearl Onions.
Bulgariana 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah Thracian Valley ($14) 89
This wine shows the meaty notes of Syrah along with sweet blackberry fruit, herbs, and a note of tobacco. The palate has a chalky texture with slightly gritty, ripe tannins. The Cabernet was aged in oak for about 8 months.
Served with Duck Leg Confit, Sautéed Potatoes, Mushrooms, and Caramelized Onions.
The meal finished with a fine cheese board, chocolate mignardise, and many compliments on the fine wine and food.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler