Wine from the Thracian Lowlands
The Thracians were an ancient ethno-cultural group whose land in South Eastern Europe encompassed northern Greece, Romania, northwest Turkey, and modern-day Bulgaria in the lowlands. Archaeological evidence shows Thrace to be one of our most ancient winemaking regions and Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, was Thracian. Who knew. The wine output of Bulgaria has been influenced by geography and politics, as explained by Dr Jamie Goode, at a recent tasting held in the Burke and Hare room at Bistro du Vin in Edinburgh. Some people may remember the cheap and cheerful Cabernet Sauvignon that was all the rage in the late 80s and early 90s; under communist collectivization, large volumes of this varietal were produced and filled Britain’s supermarket shelves. However, small plots of privately owned land had existed under Soviet rule and also when communism fell areas of land that had been consumed by collectivization were returned to the original owners. Both factors resulted in a sudden potential of wine-producing land which, gradually, alongside a warm climate and diverse soils attracted interest and investment. Bulgaria now has both large estates and boutique wineries and two official wine PGIs, The Thracian Lowlands and The Danubian Plain. Indigenous varietals like Mavrud, Rubin, Melnik, Misket, Tamyhanka, and Pamid populate the country’s vinous portfolio alongside widely planted international grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. White wines tended to be dry, light, fresh, and perfumed. Reds are juicy, spicy, smoky with lots of robust tannins. Standouts for me were: Bononia Estate Vrachanski Misket 2022 - which was light, perfumed and dry. Domaine Boyar Platinum Merlot 2018 - a spicy wine with notes of licorice, offering a harmonious taste. Gramatik Rubin 2020 - this wine had a distinct black licorice flavour. And universally acclaimed at the tasting was a dessert wine: Disegno Petit Manseng 2019 - this biodynamic late harvest wine had a bright gold color, was light, and not overly sweet, with tangy notes.