| About Bulgarian Wines
all of the Eastern European wine producing countries there can be
doubt that Bulgaria has been the most successful. This is due to
the fine quality of the vinification and viticulture which has produced
wines from this region since the times of the Thracians.
There are vineyards in all parts of Bulgaria, except for the
region around the capital city Sofia. For administrative reasons
the vineyards have been grouped into five ‘viticultural’ regions.
This area produces red and white wine (e.g. the Suhindol.
Russe and Svishtov wineries)
The region which is affected by the climate from the Black
sea produces mainly white wine (e.g. Khan Krum, and Varna)
This area is best known for its red wines. (e.g. Plodiv and
This very warm region is famous for reds (e.g. Melnik)
This central and mountainous region it is also better for
reds and is famous for brands such as Sliven, which makes Cabernet,
Merlot and Chardonnay
commercial success of Bulgarian wines dates back to 1970. This was
assisted by the world famous wine department at the University of
Davis California which succeeded in promoting what is now known
as a ‘global’ quality product.
International wine lovers could recognise the familiar French
and German grape varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,
Riesling and Chardonnay.
These varietals were accompanied by the Bulgarian indigenous
grapes such as the black Gamza, Mavrud, and Melnik, and the
white Misket and Dimiat.
A white grape originally from Rkatsiteli Georgia (east of
Bulgaria) is also a common alternative.
Bulgarian wines are graded into three different categories. This
has been the result of the implementation of wine laws which were
introduced back in 1978.
- Standard Wines – Basic light wines
- High Quality Wines – These wines are generally without
geographical origin, and are sold under a brand name.
- Special Wines – This broad band of category includes
sparkling and fruit wines
The ‘high quality wine’ category is considered to be the most
important and is divided into sub-divisions.
Declared Geographical Origin (DGO)
This categorises the area of origin of the bottle of wine
which can come from one of the 43 geographical regions. The term ‘Declared
Geographical Origin’ (DGO) is not printed on the label. An example
of this category being displayed would be in the following format
e.g. ‘Russe Welshriesling’ (Russe being the town of production
in the north of the country)
This wine is a grade higher than the DGO status and can be
compared as the equivalent of the French ‘AC’ category. There
are 27 Controliran wines.
This wine must come from a specified grape variety grown from
selected vineyards. The label is required to display the variety
and region. The wine must also be approved by a tasting panel
before this status can be awarded. The word ‘Controliran’ will
be visible on the label.
Although ‘Controliran’ is a step above ‘DGO’ and will come from
a different vineyard, the labels may share the same geographical
location. This has led to situations of confusion. An example of
this is in the wine ‘Assenovgrad Mavrud Controliran’ and ‘Assenovgrad
Mavrud’. The latter example belongs to the ‘DGO’ category.
terms that apply to Bulgarian wines are
Both ‘DGO’ and ‘Controliran’ can be classified as ‘Reserve’ wine
provided that they have been aged for a minimum period in oak (at
least two years for whites and three years for reds). The oak vats
which are old and large in size tend to mellow the wine more than
creating a wood flavour.
- Country Wine
These wines are made from a blend of more than one grape and
are designed to be consumed whilst young and fresh. A typical
example of this type of wine is Pinot Noir or Sliven Merlot.
These wines would compare with the French ‘Vins de Pays’ category.
Zagreus Vineyard situated on the Plovdiv plain
in the Upper-Thracian lowlands