History of Bulgarian Wine
Bulgaria was the world’s second largest wine producer in 1980s and wine production is growing again, reaching 108m litres in 2011, an increase of 4.9% from the previous year.
The Danubian Plain or North Bulgarian region encompasses the south banks of the Danube and the central and western parts of the Danubian Plain. The climate of the area is temperate continental, has a hot summer and many sunny days a year. Typical styles are Muscat Ottonel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Aligoté, Pamid and the local Gamza. In the US appellation also approved as “Danube River Plains” region.
Black Sea (East Bulgarian)
The Black Sea region is where 30% of all vines are located. The region is characterized by long and mild autumns that are a favourable condition for the accumulation of sugars to make fine white wine (53% of all white wine varieties are concentrated in the region). Wine styles include Dimyat, Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, Ugni blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Traminer, and Gewürztraminer. In the US appellation also approved as “Black Sea Coastal” region.
Rose Valley (Sub-Balkan)
The Rose Valley region is located south of the Balkan Mountains. It is divided into an eastern and western sub region, with styles such as Muscatel, Riesling, Rkatsiteli, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominating. The region mostly produces dry and off-dry white wine and less red wine. The region includes the Sungurlare Valley, famous for its wine from the Red Misket grape variety. In the US appellation also approved as “Valley of the Roses” region.
Thracian Lowland (South Bulgarian)
Mavrud is a typical Bulgarian wine variety from Thrace.
The temperate continental climate in the area and the favourable distribution of precipitation are good premises for the developed red wine growing in the lowlands of Upper Thrace. The region includes the central part of the lowland, as well as parts of the Sakar mountain. Mavrud, a famous local wine, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscatel and Pamid are grown.
The Balkan Mountains serve to block the cold winds blowing from the plains of Russia, and the region to the south of the Balkans, the valley drained by the Maritsa River, has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers. In the US appellation also approved as “Thracian Valley” region.
Struma River Valley (Southwest Bulgarian)
The region includes the south-western parts of Bulgaria, the valley of the river Struma in the historical region of Macedonia. The area is small in size, but is climatically very distinct and characteristic, owing to the strong Mediterranean influence from the south. The local style Shiroka melnishka loza (taking its name from Melnik), as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are cultivated.
Mavrud (Bulgarian: мавруд, from Greek, mavro, “black”) is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines, indigenous to the region of Kara Thrace in Bulgaria. The grape has been described as a characterful, low-yielding, small-berried and late-ripening grape capable of producing tannic, spicy wine with a potential for ageing.
Legend contends that during the reign of Khan Krum of Bulgaria, all vineyards were ordered destroyed. Later, a lion escaped from its cage and terrorized the city. However, a fearless young man named Mavrud (now the name of a wine grape) confronted and slew the lion. The king summoned Mavrud’s mother to learn the source of such courage. She said she had secretly saved a vine, made wine, and that this was the source of Mavrud’s bravery. Khan Krum ordered the vineyards replanted.
Regarded as one of the most highly esteemed local wines, Mavrud vineyards are mainly be found around Asenovgrad and Perushtitsa, as well as more rarely near Pazardzhik, Stara Zagora and Chirpan.