18th March 2016
We are open-minded here, so yesterday I went to The New Bulgaria Trade Tasting, in a rather pokey basement of the Bulgarian embassy in Queensgate, South Ken. It was a strange event, not what I expected, perhaps because many of the estates came from Thrace. I was hoping to taste local varieties, Mavrud for example, but I seemed to be mainly tasting the same international varieties one can find all over the world: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier; and for the reds almost exclusively Bordeaux varieties and blends, plus some Syrah.
The second disappointment was the price tariff usually quoted. I gently explained to one man that his Sauvignon Blanc (perfectly good, but unexceptional) was priced at more than we paid for Sancerre. Under communism the Bulgarian wine industry became a sea of mediocrity. On the evidence of this tasting (presumably highly selective, tilted towards wineries with aspirations to penetrate what they perceive as the made-of-money UK market) it is possible that the see-saw has gone too far. This bunch of producers were mainly focussed on boutique production (several wines I tasted were lots of only a thousand bottles or less), with rather exciting ideas of achievable prices in euros.
Having said that, some of the wines tasted were really excellent. I am not sure we are ready to jump in yet, but you never know. Anyone for a £20 Bulgarian Bordeaux blend? It would put many St Emilion Grand Crus and Pomerols in the shade..