More Premium Wines from Bulgaria: Quality Meets Value Part II


This is the second part of a two-part review of Bulgarian wines.   In our first article in mid-November,   we  focused on the premium wines of  Bulgariana, one of Bulgaria’s largest producers in the Thracian Valley.   Here we turn our attention to  several additional labels of large and small producers  all of whom are making excellent wines of outstanding value.  As with Bulgariana, these wines are imported into the U.S. by Robert Hayk of Grapes and Barley in Beltsville MD, a leading proponent of Bulgarian wines.  For more information on these wines and the producers visit

Pixels Glera 2015 Brut Sparkling Wine Thracian Valley ($17) 88  This sparkling wine from the native Glera grape offers flavors of apple and pear. It is fresh and vibrant on the palate and crisp on the finish. It offers good overall quality and a fair price.

Castra Rubra Constructed in 2006 in the Thracian Valley, Castra Ruba  (“Red Fortress” in Bulgarian) crafts a variety of outstanding wines from 200 ha of estate vineyards.  Winemaking is in the hands of Plamena Kostova and Anton Dimitrov supported by the renowned international wine consultant Michael Rolland.  An outstanding winery.

Castra Rubra 2010 Red Thracian Valley ($29) 93  The Castra Rubra Red displays lovely dark red berries and hints of vanilla and sandalwood on the nose.  It is silky and perfumy on the palate with beautiful dark red fruit and excellent concentration.  A refined and elegant wine.   Castra Rubra 2011 Butterfly’s Rock Thracian Valley ($32) 92   The Butterfly’s Rock  offers darker fruit flavors than the Red.  It is also somewhat more earthy and loamy with underbrush notes and firm tannins.  Overall, it is rich and flavorful wine with good flavor density and a long finish.

Chateau Burgozone This winery located in the Danubian Plain crafts some of Bulgaria’s finest wines.  Their wines are sourced from estate vineyards. Winemaking is the hands of two talented winemakers,  Krassimir Bambalov and Valentin Bambalov,    The Collection series undergoes long maturation.

 Chateau Burgozone 2014 Collection Chardonnay Barrel Fermented Danube Plains ($22) 92    This barrel fermented Chardonnay offers a nose of spicy tropical fruit aromas.  It is soft and round on the attack and mouth filling with good flavor intensity and complexity and well integrated oak notes with a clean pure finish.    Chateau Burgozone 2014 Collection Philippe Danube Plains ($22) 92   This proprietary blend consists of  60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot,  and 10%  Syrah.  International in style, it is fruit forward and has a fine  fragrant nose of black cherry followed by a silky attack of ripe red and black fruit.  Aged in French oak with hints of vanilla, it is an elegant wine and is easy to drink.

Katarzyna Estate Opened in 2007, Katarzyna Estate is a large property in the Thracian Valley offering a wide variety of wines marketed under different labels, including Twins, Mezzek and Encore which are reviewed here.

Katarzyna 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Sauvignon Twins Thracian Valley ($17) 91   Dark ruby. A delicious well-made wine with excellent extract and overall ripeness.  It shows black currant fruit and cassis on the palate with beautifully integrated toasted oak with a dry crisp finish.  Katarzyna 2015 Syrah Encore 88    This Syrah is soft and elegant on the palate with good density of blue and black fruit flavor.   It is softly textured with good acidity and a persistent finish.

Rough Day 

Rough Day 2016  Chardonnay Thracian Valley ($11) 90  This is a delicious Chardonnay offering apple, pear and citrus on the nose with a pleasant chalky note.  Round and soft on the palate, it finishes clean and fresh with a mineral note.   Rough Day 2014 Cabernet Thracian Valley ($11) 89   Rough Day 2014 Cabernet warm, brown spices, dark red cherry nose. Nice upfront fruit on the palate, round and full. Perfume character to the palate, nice long finish with good extract. Well made but not a lot of complexity. Very pretty wine
Villa Yambol Mavrud ($12) 88   The Mavrud, a native variety, is lightly fragrant of red plum with just a touch of fennel.  It is soft and velvety in the mouth, but light on the mid- palate with gripping tannins on the finish.  20% of wine fermented 7 months in French oak.

Mezzek 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon & Mavrud Thracian Valley ($13) 91   While light on the nose, this Cab/Mavrud blend displays a suave texture and firm tannins on a complex palate with lots of dark red fruit with garrique notes.  Delicious, long and sweet on the back end with a dry finish.

F2F The F2F is a brand of Peshtera Winery which reputedly is the largest volume producer of alcoholic beverages in Bulgeria, and one of the finest winemakers as revealed in the wine review below.

F2F  2014  Red Blend   Thracian Valley  ($19 ) 93 This is a delicious blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah and 10% Regent.   Aged 14 months  in new French oak, it offers fragrant dark red fruit with a hint of minerals on the nose. It has a silky attack with a plum like-palate, round firm tannins and a long finish. Nero NV Walnut Liquor Bulgaria  ($30) 89+ This is a cool weather liqueur with a warm nutty flavor.  Ancient Italian in origin ,  it is made from green walnuts infused with Pinot Noir Some producers harvest the still-green walnuts as early as June, following Italy’s directive to pick on San Giovanni’s Day (June 24); others wait until September. It works both as an aperitif and in mixed drinks.  It is rich and flavorful with 25% alc.

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