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The Wines of Bulgariana

October 1, 2013 2 comments

I first came across the wines of Bulgariana this past March when I wrote about the 2009 Bulgariana, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah in my post Michel Rolland in Bulgaria.  I recently met with imported Robert Hayk of G&B Importers to discuss the wines and subsequently taste five different bottles.  All of these wines are may be drunk now and should have broad appeal both in taste and in price.  There is care given to the production of these wines for my three favorites come from three different vintages.  I suggested you start with the 2012 Bulgariana, Sauvignon Blanc then move on to the 2009 Bulgariana, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah and the 2008 Bulgariana, Imperial Red Blend.  These two red wines are drinking well right out of the bottle and should continue to do so for a few years.  Both offer a lot of flavor for the price with the Imperial Red Blend a little more robust perhaps from the inclusion of the indigenous Rubin and Mavrud.  I have included the suggested retail prices below.

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2012 Bulgariana, Sauvignon Blanc, Thracian Valley – $10-$11
Imported by G&B Imports.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was light to medium in strength with ripe, grassy aromas.  In the mouth there was a hint of yeast and sharper acidity on the tongue before round, stone flavors came out.  This pleasant, modern wine had fine, ripe spiced flavors in the finish along with integrated acidity.  There were more stone notes in the aftertaste.  ** Now-2014.

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2012 Bulgariana, Thracian White Blend, Thracian Valley – $10-$11
Imported by G&B Importers.  This wine is a blend of 60% Chardonnay, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Riesling, and 10% Gewurztraminer.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was of white, tropical fruit that was higher in tone.  In the mouth there was a round start with a touch of glycerine to the body.  The flavors then followed the higher toned nose with a little acidity on the bottom of the tongue and some attractive grip in the finish.  ** Now.

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2011 Bulgariana, Cabernet Sauvignon, Thracian Valley – $9-$10
Imported by G&B Imports.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 14%.  The wine was grapey with younger tasting fruit.  In the mouth there was a hint of greenhouse surrounding a core of ripe fruit.  The wine was complete in a way with its flavors of black fruit, ripe tannins, black acidity, and a little spicy tannins.  * Now.

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2009 Bulgariana, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah, Thracian Valley – $12-$13
Imported by G&B Imports.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  This was a very approachable wine with mixed fruit closer to black fruit.  It had a little grip in the middle with a wood note and integrated acidity.  The flavors turn redder in the finish.  Already throwing sediment.  ** Now – 2015.

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2008 Bulgariana, Imperial Red Blend, Thracian Valley – $12-$13
Imported by G&B Imports.  This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Rubin, and 5% Mavrud.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose contained soft and dark aromas of mulberries.  In the mouth were round, mixed berries which took on robustness with air.  The flavors built in the mouth becoming a little inky with a grainy, berry note in the finish.  This modern wine left an aftertaste of spices and texture on the gums.  Already throwing sediment.  ** Now-2015.

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Grillo, Moschofilero, Mature Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Tibouren

Here is a group of five eclectic white and rose wines.  The 2010 Antonopoulos, Moschofilero has benefitted from a little bit of age.  It is rather attractive as a crisp wine and certainly strongly priced.  The 2011 Bulgariana, Sauvignon Blanc follows up the 2009 Bulgariana, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah I recently tried.  It is a bit weightier than the Antonopoulos and while it is more international in taste, it is tasty and even less expensive.  Many thanks to Ruben for providing the sample.  At the 2013 Bacchus Portfolio Tasting, De Maison Selections table I commented how MacArthur Beverages still had the 2009 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren Rose on the shelves.  It is drinking great, came the reply.  It sure did, have it with a meal or by itself.  The 2006 Sans Permis, La Chanson is another close-out vintage following the 2005 Sans Permis, La Chanson.  It has lost the Santa Barbara County appellation for generic California and perhaps in doing so, some focus.   There was a strange disconnect between the nose and mouth so I suspect this is completely mature.  I had issues with the nose so I downgraded the wine, perhaps the second bottle will show better.  Lastly, the 2011 Tami, Grillo has strong personality.  It may be a bit polarizing but if you are a fan of Arianna Occhipinti or Sicily in general then give it a try!  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Antonopoulos, Moschofilero, PGI Arkadia – $10
Imported by Verity Wine Partners.  This wine is 100% Moschofilero sourced from vineyards at 650m.  Alcohol 12%.  The color was a very light straw.  The light nose was expressive and crisp with white, floral fruit.  In the mouth the white fruit had some weight.  While the acidity is there it come out more as salivation starts in the aftertaste.  This lively wine had chalky notes and leave a dry texture on the gums and palate.  The aftertaste had good length.  ** Now-2014.

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2011 Bulgariana, Sauvignon Blanc, Thracian Valley – $9
Imported by G&B Imports.  This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light straw yellow.  The light nose was heavy with clean Sauvignon Blanc aromas.  The wine was vibrant on the tongue tip with noticeable acidity at first then the flavors fill and puff out.  There is a  nutty weight with acidity on the back of the throat.  The flavors were a touch tart with a drying tannic touch and good aftertaste.  ** Now.

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2009 Clos Cibonne, Tibouren, Cotes du Provence – $20
Imported by De Maison Selections. This wine is a blend of 90% Tibouren and 10% Grenache sourced from 30+ year old vines.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged 12 months on the lees under fleurette in 100-year-old foudres.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a light, dried orange rose.  The nose was subtle with dried floral aromas and Pilsner.  In the mouth there was savory, dry red fruit, dried roses, and a bit of pleasing glycerine like weight.  It had a yeast note and some ripeness in the finish.  This balanced wine was fresh in the middle with a little tangy, and some dried, ripe spices.  *** Now-2015.

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2006 San Permis, La Chanson, Chardonnay – $12
This wine is 100% Chardonnay.  Alcohol 14.5%  The color was a light yellow with hints of gold.  The light nose bore heavy aromas with barrel toast, maturity, and something odd.  There was weighty, rich yellow fruit in the mouth with a creamy feel.  It was balanced with acidity.  It was surprisingly youthful in the mouth, perhaps disconnected with the nose, and does not show much complexity.  There were some ripe spices in the finish.  * Now.

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2011 Tami, Grillo, Sicily – $16
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is 100% Grillo sourced from 10-year-old vines which was fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a light golden-yellow.  The light+ nose is of waxy floral aromas reminiscent of extended skin contact.  In the mouth there was acidity on the tongue tip followed by white fruit.  There was very fine texture to this wine which has some weight in the mouth.  The flavors turn whiter and stonier was the acidity builds in the back of the mouth.  It leaves a hint of the lees.  ** Now-2014.

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Michel Rolland in Bulgaria

March 18, 2013 5 comments

By now it must be obvious that I will try any affordable wine such as today’s Bulgarian selection.  I was surprised by the quality of the fruit in this wine so I emailed John at MacArthur Beverages.  He mentioned that Michel Rolland had a hand in making the wine.  Indeed he does play a role in the revamped Telish Wine Cellar which was established in 1960.  In 1999 it was privatized and acquired by Jair Agopian.  He set about planting new vineyards in 2004 and in 2006 completed the new Castra Rubra Winery.  Michel Rolland was brought in as chief wine consultant.  Today there are wines produced under the Telish and Castra Rubra labels.  These wines use fruit sourced from some 200 hectares of estate and 350 hectares of controlled vineyards.

This is a well made, international wine which should have broad appeal.  It is actually a good amount of wine for the price and I suspect it should develop throughout the year.  It would be fun to serve this wine blind to your friends.  This bottle was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2009 Telish, Bulgariana, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah, Thracian Valley – $11
Imported by G&B Importers.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The nose was light but tight.  In the mouth this medium bodied wine offered up blacker and blue fruit of nice quality.  There was reasonable ripeness, weight, and depth at first but also some firmness indicating youth.  There were black fruits and graphite in the finish which left chewy, ripe tannins on the lips.  It tastes modern.  Already throwing sediment.  **(*) Now-2017.

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Two Strong Red Wine Values

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment

We recently tried these two wines and felt that they both represent strong value.  They are also a bit unique.  The Domaine Boyar is from the first private wine company established after the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria.   Today there are three wineries with this wine produced at the Korten Winery in the Thracian Valley.  The Rio Madre is solely produced from Graciano.  This is a grape I usually encounter as just one part of a Rioja wine blend.  I recommend you try both. They will stand up to a bit of scrutiny and shake up your mid-week daily drinkers.  The Domaine Boyar is available at MacArthur Beverages and the Rio Madre is available at Unwined.

2009 Domaine Boyar, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Thracian Valley – $9
Imported by Bulgarian Master Vintners.  Alcohol 13%.  The light to medium nose reveals greenhouse notes, pepper, red and blue fruit, all delivered with a little texture.  In the mouth the wine starts off with moderate weight to the structured red fruit.  Then a bit of incense comes along with drying, ripe tannins, a little heat and a long incensed, greenhouse aftertaste leaves tannins on the mouth.  ** Now-2016.

2011 Rio Madre, Graciano, Rioja – $11
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Graciano sourced from 20-year-old vines.  Alcohol 14%.  The color is a medium, grapey ruby with some purple.  The light to medium nose reveals cherry, berries, and something else!  In the mouth the youthful fruit stands on the tongue at first.  There is a backbone of acidity to this moderate bodied wine.  The fine+ grapey tannins mix with tart, red fruit in the middle.  It is a little rough in the finish followed by a slightly earthy, long aftertaste.  Quite drinkable with half an hour of air and a solid value.  *** Now-2015.