20081101

International panel picks Bulgaria's best

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Bulgarian wines don't take up a lot of space in most shops, but the ancient Eastern European nation has a fairly strong wine industry.

Bacchus, the Bulgarian wine and gourmet culture magazine, convened an international panel of wine experts to rate the country's wines. Emil Koralov, Bacchus special projects director and one of the originators of the competition, said “These top 10 wines, as rated yesterday, are the best, according to us, at the moment. Ultimately, d├ęgustation is a subjective process.”

Of the three white wines and one dessert wine that made it into the top 20, none figured in the top 10.

“Bulgaria is still a red wine country,” said Bacchus wine editor Julia Kostadinova. “We hope that that will change for next year.”

She noted that for most of the international members of the jury, the evaluations were their first experience with Bulgarian wine. Their consensus was that Bulgaria winemakers would do well to emphasise the native grape varieties such as Melnik, mavrud and rubin -- the reds -- or dimyat and misket, the whites.

Here are the top 10, in alphabetical order, selected from among more than 250 wines sampled from Oct. 15, 2007, to Oct. 15 this year:

• Enira Reserva 2006 (Bessa Valley)
• Maxxima Private Reserva 2003 (Maxxima Cellars)
• Nobile Rubin 2006 (Logodaj)
• Question Mark 2007 (Katarzyna Estate)
• Roto 2006 (Terra Tangra)
• Santa Sarah Privat 2006 (Santa Sarah)
• Solitaire Elenovo merlot 2006 (Domaine Boyar)
• Terra Tangra Cuvee 2006 (Terra Tangra)
• Terra Tangra Grand Reserva 2006 (Terra Tangra)
• Vinissimo American Barrel 2006 (Rachev & Son)

According to the Sofia Echo, Bulgaria's capital city English-language newspaper, the roots of the nation's wines can be traced back in history to ancient Thrace and the Greek god of wine Dionysus.

"The territory occupied by Bulgaria today was one of the regions where many wine traditions were founded during this period of the Hellenistic world. The cultured vine is said to have first been grown in Central Asia. The earliest traces of its origin within what is now Bulgaria go back 3,000 years."

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