Sunday, 20 November 2016

DiVino.Taste 2016: The "post-truth"

So it finally came - the sixth issue of the biggest and most admired exhibition of Bulgarian wines: DiVino.Taste. It is almost over now (due to end on Sunday) but I am eager to share impressions and recommendations from my Saturday afternoon visit.

I had a vague plan in my mind on how to approach this year's tasting, given the overwhelming number of wineries and wines to be shown (73 wineries, some 500 wines in total): go for favourite regions - Northwest, Struma Valley, Danube Plain; then go for favourite wineries in the remaining regions - Thracian Lowlands, Sakar, Black Sea. White wines and rosés first, reds on the second tour. Yes but the organisation of the stands was a bit messy, though regions had specific colours assigned to them, so I dived into stand No. 1 and went all the way through 72, skipping wineries (about one-third of them) which did not interest me.

Several conclusions (specific wines listed at the end):

1) Което си е, си е (Non-translatable Bulgarian for 'Whatever's a quality thing, remains a quality thing'). These wineries impressed again with their stuff and I am convinced they always will. They deserve international attention and I hope they get it after this year's DiVino.Taste. Some of them have it already. Cross-regionally: Rossidi (amazing unoaked Chard and orange wine, Pinot Noir and Rubin); Edoardo Miroglio (fantastic metodo classico bubbly - blanc de blancs and rosé, Pinot Noir, Cab Franc, Rubin and Mavrud); Villa Melnik (the Melnik 55, the Merlot); Santa Sarah; Midalidare; Minkov Brothers; Burgozone; Salla.

2) A second wave of revival of Bulgarian autochtonous varieties which even amazed me: I tried three types of Misket from Staro Oryahovo winery solely: Alexandria, Vrachanski and Varnenski. The Vrachanski ruled (I am no maniac about aromatic whites but I love my Gewurztraminer, and these expressions of Misket which quite a few wineries are newly into, had my admiration). The Rubins are so refreshingly tannic that I joked with the producers, Is it the Nebbiolo that has the say here, the Syrah intentionally muffled, or what? (Rubin is a 1940s Bulgarian experiment: a cross between Nebbiolo and Syrah).

3) The newcomers that simply RULE: Staro Oryahovo, Tzarev Brod, Uva Nestum, Four Friends, Zelanos. Some of them are not quite newcomers; I have the pleasure to have made acquaintance with them at my favourite wine bar. Still, save the names.

4) The Rieslings. I am so proud of the Rieslings Bulgarian wineries are now making - especially the ones in the Danube Plain region. The Cab Francs too.

5) The elegance. Bulgarian wineries continue responding to the general market trend: the informed public is sick and tired of the fruit bombs that once were. Keep on, boys and girls!

The wines which got me thinking (chronologically, as in the tasting notebook):

  • Chateau de Val Dunav White Wine 2015 (roasted jalapeño, oak)
  • Gulbanis Kaylashki Misket 2016; Moscato Bianco 2015 (very much like the Piedmontese one from Asti); Syrah 2013 (very rustic and straightforward)
  • Vinex Slavyantsi Leva Misket 2015; Leva Pinot Noir 2015
  • Minkov Bros Le Photographe Rheinriesling 2013 (hints of petroleum already)
  • Zelanos Rosé 2016 (apples); Sauvignon Blanc 2016; Pinot Gris 2014 (white cherry); Misket 2014 (wet stone); Rosé Pinot Noir 2015
  • Tohun Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (reminds of the beautiful Slovenian Sauv Blancs from the Alpes' slopes)
  • Staro Oryahovo Misket of Alexandria 2015; Vrachanski Misket 2015; Varnenski Misket 2015
  • Santa Sarah One Good Year Rubin Privat 2015 (spicy and the best balance in wine I've come across lately)
  • Varna Winery Pinot Gris 2015
  • Salla Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (my Slovenian fetish again); Vrachanski Misket 2016; Pinot Noir 2013 (one of the two best Bulgarian Pinots currently on the market; Borovitza's a separate tier); Cabernet Franc 2013
  • Tzarev Brod Pinot Noir Reserve 2012 (the other best Pinot); Riesling 2014
  • Chateau Copsa Rose Valley Misket 2015
  • Korten Merlot 2015; Syrah 2015 (smoky South African style)
  • Domain Marash Lenea Sauvignon Blanc (the most acidic Bulgarian wine I've tried - must be good with tomato, oily and sea foods); Lenea Rosé Cab Sauv & Syrah & Petit Verdot 2015 (strawberries and minerality)
  • Better Half Rosé 2015 (mineral and cheesy)
  • Alexandra Estate Pure White Cuvée 2015; Mourvedre & Syrah & Viognier 2015(?)
  • Edoardo Miroglio Brut Blanc de Blancs 2011 (the real metodo classico, just like Ferrari or Franciacorta); Brut Rosé 2011; Pinot Noir Reserve 2013; Elenovo Mavrud; Elenovo Rubin
  • Rossidi Chardonnay Egg-Fermented 2016 (think Chablis); Orange 2016 (speechless...); Rubin 2014
  • Midalidare Riesling 2012 (huge petroleum, freshness); Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon 2015; Grand Vintage Cabernet Franc 2013 (the best expression of the variety made by a Bulgarian producer - the green peppers are very well balanced)
  • Four Friends Black Shadow White 2016; Morgentau Riesling 2015 (petroleum already and white stone fruit); Zitara Cabernet Franc 2015
  • Dragomir Reserve Rubin 2013
  • Rupel Tamianka 2015; Marselan 2015
  • Uva Nestum Rosé 2015 (smoke and peanuts); Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot 2013 (smoke); Rubin & Merlot 2013
  • Logodaj Hypnose Reserva 100% Merlot Single Vineyard 2012
  • Via Verde Expressions Misket & Muskat 2015 (great body)
  • Villa Melnik AplauZ Melnik 55 Reserve 2015; AplauZ Merlot Premium Reserve 2013