Bulgariana: Attractive Premium Wines from Bulgaria

Although Bulgaria has been making wine for thousands of years,  the wines of Bulgaria are not widely known in the US—but they should be.  The post-Soviet era has given rise to a growing number of excellent wineries which are producing attractive premium wines. While many of these wines are not yet imported, several are reaching our shores and they are noteworthy for their quality and attractive prices.

Bulgariana is one of the leading brands of Bulgarian wine  currently exported to the US.   It was founded  by  Robert Hayk, a lover of Bulgarian wines who spent a brief yet significant few years in the country in the early 90s.  Since returning from Bulgaria, Robert has been a leading proponent of Bulgarian wines.  Created with the intention of giving Bulgarian wines a platform in international markets,  Bulgariana works with an exclusive array of the top wine producers throughout the entire country, painstakingly searching for the best representation of each varietal.

The International Wine Review tasted the Bulgariana wines several years ago, and we were impressed by the quality of the wines and their attractive prices.   That is still the case and readers are encouraged to seek out these wines in local wine shops and on restaurant wine lists.   The wines are imported by Grapes and Barley in Beltsville, Maryland which brings in other Bulgarian wines that we will be reviewing in follow-up articles.

Tasting Notes and Ratings

Bulgariana 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Thracian Valley ($12) 88  The Bulgariana Sauvignon Blanc reveals flavors of melon apple with hints of citrus and  a honeycomb note on the nose. Stylistically, it is like a Loire Valley Sauvignon, ripe-tasting with good extract. However, it would benefit from more acidity.  Bulgariana 2015 Chardonnay Thracian Valley ($12) 89  A flavorful unoaked Chardonnay, this bottling displays ripe fruit that’s a touch raisined on the nose. It offers nice apple flavors on the palate with medium weight, good acidity, a touch of chalky minerals and good acidity on the finish. Bulgariana 2012 Thracian White Blend Thracian Valley ($11) 89  The Thracian White Blend consists of 60% Chardonnay, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Riesling and 10% Gewurztraminer. It boasts aromas of late harvest grapes with toasty oak notes. Soft on the attack, it reveals a honeyed palate with a smoky character, nice freshness and minerality and good extract on the finish.  Bulgariana 2016 Rosé Thracian Valley ($12) 89  Made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, this lovely rose has fragrant aromas and flavors of cranberry and raspberry. It is fresh and mouth filling with medium acidity and a crisp finish. A juicy and easy drinking wine.  Bulgariana 2011 Pinot Noir Danube Plains ($15) 90  The Bulgariana Pinot Noir is dark fruited and similar in character to German Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) or plum-like Pinot Nero with hints of earth and spice. It is ripe-tasting and nicely balanced with good concentration, firm round tannins and a long finish.   Bulgariana 2015 Gamza Thracian Valley ($12) 88+  Gamza is a native grape of Bulgaria offering dark cherry and plum aromas and flavors. It is mouth filling with excellent acidity although light on the mid-palate. An easy-drinking wine that’s fresh and crisp on the finish. Bulgariana 2012 Merlot Thracian Valley ($12) 88   This Merlot is a friendly and attractive offering  with a  lovely red fruited nose of red plum and black currant. Fruit forward but light on the mid-palate with a dry  finish.   Bulgariana 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Thracian Valley ($12) 88+  The Cabernet Sauvignon displays dark red fruit with a hint of iron and sweet ripe aromas of black currant and spice.  Medium weight on the palate, it has good grip and acidity and finishes dry although a bit short.  Bulgariana 2011 Cabernet Syrah Thracian Valley ($17) 90   This is an attractive 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah displaying a dark ruby color with pleasing blackberry aromas and a hint of forest floor, minerals and charred mesquite.  Full and soft on the palate, it reveals good acidity and a persistent finish.  Bulgariana 2009 Imperial Red Blend Thracian Valley ($16) 91  The Imperial Red Blend consists of 60%Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Rubin, and 5% Mavrud.   It is a beautiful wine of dark red and black berries with a hint of rich earth on the nose.  It boasts a lovely dark fruited palate with a forest floor accent and very firm tannins. Rich, dense and rustic.

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