Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Syrah from the North

Now, Syrah made a famous debut in Bulgaria in the late 2000s when the first vines planted five or so years before by newly founded small wineries bore fruit. These vines have mostly been in the Southeast Thracian Valley region - Sakar mountain, Haskovo, Sliven, Yambol, etc. The debut was famous because Syrah and Bulgaria turned out to be in a love affair, with wines coming out of the Thracian Valley conquering palates domestically and kicking butt in international blind tasting competitions. Syrah came to Bulgaria earlier in fact: in the 1940s, here an unthought-of fusion was made between the French Northern Rhone grape of Syrah and the Italian king grape Nebbiolo of Piedmont to produce Rubin - a Bulgarian-invented variety which is still grown and produces fabulous wines. But we got to know Syrah for its own merits on Bulgarian soil only recently, with the advent of the new millennium.

The Thracian Valley Syrahs of Katarzhyna, Minkov Brothers and Santa Sarah are famous. But what I had today, and excuse me for the long overture, is simply amazing. This Syrah comes from the North - from the Danube Plain. Our wines from this region are typically more cold-climate, light- to medium-bodied and fresh. A typical example is Gamza. But this Chateau Burgozone Syrah justifies all my spontaneous love lately for the versatility of Bulgaria's Northwest: this is a must-try, quite big Syrah for Bulgarian wine lovers who are already acquainted with the Thracian Valley treasures but want something different. Chateau Burgozone is situated on the banks of the Danube some 200 km north of Sofia.

I let this Chateau Burgozone 2011 Syrah PGI Danube Plain breathe for 45 minutes. The nose is plum and ripe mulberry and raisins. On the palate the mulberry is reinforced, within a general black fruit background. What is striking is the clearly discernible smokiness - leather, tobacco - and bayleaf. The classic Syrah spiciness here has a different dimension. This even reminds me of the smoky South African Syrahs/Shirazes. At the same time, the balance is amazing - the freshness is just about right to make this wine perfect for any Balkan meal.