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Bulgaria is a country not well known for its wine, but Bulgarian wine is slowly carving out a reputation for itself, and it’s about time, especially as winemaking in Bulgaria started thousands of years ago. In fact, Bulgarian wine has made appearances in notable works throughout history; even Homer wrote about wine coming from the Thracian region in the seminal work The Iliad. In fact, in comparison to newer wine-producing countries like Australia, the craft of winemaking has evolved over countless centuries in Bulgaria. One of the oldest civilizations in Europe, the Thracians were known for their mastery of viticulture. Even the first-ever known God of Wine was Thracian in origin, which later became known as the Greek god Dionysus.
This “Divine Drink” (as it was called by the Thracians) was actually considered superior to many West European wines, especially during the Middle Ages. Beyond the Middle Ages, all the way up to the 1930s, Bulgaria became the leading wine exporter in Europe. However, while it was the fourth-largest exporter in the 1980s, the industry started to decline due to communist rule.
90% of the wine went to the Soviet Union up until the Socialist regime fell in 1989, and since then, it has been a long road to the top. But since 2000, quality has increased massively.
Bulgaria is home to grape varieties that are seldom heard of in other parts of the world, which include:
But you can also find more commonly known grapes such as the Cabernet Sauvignon originating from Bulgaria.
With over 148,000 acres of vineyards, Bulgaria comprises 5 distinct regions.
The Danubian Plain or North Bulgarian region experiences a temperate continental climate, has a hot summer and many sunny days a year. Typical wines made in this region include Muscat Ottonel, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Aligoté.
While Bulgaria is predominantly a red wine country, 53% of all white wine varieties are concentrated in this region due to the long and mild autumns, resulting in wines such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Traminer.
Home to dry and off-dry white wine, styles like Muscatel, Rkatsiteli, and Merlot dominate here.
Home to a number of reds, the continental climate and high distribution of rain help to grow Mavrud, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Muscatel.
While this area is small, the strong Mediterranean influence from the south cultivates popular wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The first grapes of Bulgaria tend to ripen in August. As Bulgaria is a country with hot summers and cold winters, this has cultivated a perfect storm for growing high-quality grapes.
With a long history of winemaking, a continental climate, and value for money, along with deeper berry flavours of the local red varieties, they are giving similar wines from countries like Italy and Argentina a run for their money! The wine industry in Bulgaria is certainly on the increase, so watch this space. After all, they’ve only been going for thousands of years!We stock a small amount of high quality wine originating from Bulgaria, so why not head over to the Bulgaria Wine selection and take a look?
Find out more about other wine producing countries: