BULGARIAN WINE - Churchill
With reference to Bulgarian Wines, it must be noted that Europe’s first producers were the ancient Thracians, who lived on what is now Bulgarian land. Later the ancient Greeks learned from the Thracians the secret of the divine drink and claimed to be the pioneers in the history of winemaking. In the 6th century BC the Thracian rulers held symposia drinking parties and which they had wine and discussed past and future battles and undertakings.
Evidence of rituals in which wine played a main role has been found in the temple of Dionysus in the city of Perpericon, the capitol of the ruler of the Rhodopi Mountains. Dionysus was originally a Thracian deity and was worshipped in ancient Greece as the god of wine and ecstasy. The records show that in the ancient world there were two temples where the future was prophesied: of Dionysus and of Apollo. The temple of Dionysus was of greater importance than the temple of Apollo at Delphi and it was located on a strategic road to Philippopolis, now Plodiv. This is where the future of Alexander the great was foretold.
Amphorae and Rhytons for ritual wine have also been found in the Thracian tombs around the town of Kazanluk, where the frescoes clearly depict a cupbearer with a jug and a phiale (a Thracian wine bowl). The cupbearer is preceded only by a goddess bearing a tray laden with food.
When we speak of the history of Bulgarian wine, we cannot fail to mention the wineskins of Melnik reds for Europe, the Greek merchants in Melnik, and the 500 litres of Melnik wine which Sir Winston Churchill ordered every year.
In the years of socialism Bulgarian wines were mainly marketed around the regions of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
Every year we are now seeing the emergence of new wineries, boutique cellars, vineyards and producers who are adhering to the strictly implemented government wine regulations. These wines are of such a high quality they can now compete with any other world famous brands.
Priority is given to the indigenous grape varieties as Mavrud, Melnik, and Gamza.
The Gamza variety is also known in Europe as Kadarka (Arabic for capricious woman)
Gamza is a mellow, vibrant and fresh wine with a cherry and raspberry flavour. This wine comes from Northern Bulgaria in areas such as Vidin, Novo Selo, Suhindol and Pleven where there is an institute for viticulture which has a hundred year history.
New varieties are also cultivated for example Rubin which is a cross between the French Syrah and the Italian Nebbiolo. The wine from Rubin grapes is spicy, with an enticing flavour of cherries, strawberries, blackcurrants and pepper. Depending on the wine making process, it can be crisp or mellow, light fresh or fruity.
As Bulgarian winemakers strive to perfect their techniques and train new experts, they are producing more and more quality and competitive wines. Special attention is paid to New World winemaking techniques, and within the past few years Bulgaria has started to produce wines with a very strong New World character in taste and quality.
Along with the novelties in wine production the industry has kept it’s time honoured traditions, classical techniques, and Old World wines which have kept their secrets for hundreds of years.