January 2015

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 16 of 43 17 January/February 2015 • viognier from Chateau Burgozone, a 13-year-old winery based in the region, as fresh and floral with enhanced mineral flavor from the limestone in the soil. The wine retails in the U.S. for about $14. The Thracian Lowlands region has the Balkan Mountains on the north, the Black Sea on the east and the borders with Greece and Turkey on the south. Wines made here benefit from the Mediterranean influence, which provides a transitional continental climate that's mild and warm. Some of the wineries based in this area include Domaine Boyar International, Karabunar Winery, Katarzyna Estate, Vinzavod Asenovgrad, and Vinprom Yambol. Part of wine and spirits giant Vinprom Peshtara, Vinprom Yambol produces some of the wines for the Bulgariana label, as well as Villa Yambol and other wine brands. Established in 1924, Vinprom Yambol is one of the oldest wineries in south Bulgaria. UNIQUE VARIETALS When Bulgaria was mass producing wine for export during the Communist years, winemakers focused on the varieties that were popular in the intended markets, such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot. But some of the country's native grape varietals have been commanding more attention in recent years and offer a unique point of differentiation in the crowded wine world. Dimyat, for instance, is an aromatic, sweet grape used in white wine as well as brandy production. Misket is an ancient Bulgarian grape that's a hybrid of dimyat and riesling; red misket produces a pink-hued, fruity and floral wine. Vinprom Yambol typically uses dimyat and misket to make brandy and rakia (Bulgarian grappa) rather than wine, says its executive director Krasimir Avramov. Bulgaria is better known for its unique red grape varieties, however. Gamza, which is known as "kadarka" in some other European countries, is one. It produces a fresh and fruit-forward style of red wine that's sometimes likened to pinot noir. Melnik, a broad-leaf grapevine, is named for the smallest town in Bulgaria and grows only in the Strouma Valley in the country's southwestern corner near the Greek border. The region's sandy, volcanic soils give the red wines unique characteristics and flavors of cherry, smoke and herbs. Pamid is used in red table wines that are best enjoyed young, so it's frequently compared to Beaujolais. Pamid is also close to gamza and pinot noir, Avramov says, but Vinprom Yambol uses it primarily for grappa. The rubin grape, a cross between Italian nebbiolo and French syrah, is compared to Beaujolais as well. It was created in 1944 and recognized as a grape varietal in 1961. "Rubin is underestimated in Bulgaria, but I think it has huge potential," says Velizar Chatalbashev, general manager/export Vinprom Yambol, one of the oldest wineries in southern Bulgaria, includes the Villa Yambol brand, among others.

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