Let me take you back to Bulgaria and refresh our memories about the wines I tried and the wineries I visited during and after the Digital Wine Communications Conference 2015 in Plovdiv (#dwcc15). It had been a whirlwind of tasting of wines from different parts of Europe and most especially from Bulgaria itself.
Bulgarian winemaking has a long history dating back five thousand years ago, from the period of the Thracians. The country has been producing wines continuously that it even became the second biggest wine producer in the 1980s but declined along with the fall of communism. About 10 years after, Russia's Anti-Alcohol Campaign made a big dent to the country's demand for export and it resulted in abandoned vineyards and low quality wines. But upon entry to the 21st century, things made a sudden turn. Interest in investing in vineyards that can produce quality wines finally emerged. Thus, we have a few bottles of good Bulgarian wines floating around in and out of the country nowadays. There are a number of new vineyards that are well-muscled with modern equipment, quality grape varieties of both local and international varieties, dynamic objective in producing the best they can and passion for what they stand for. Let's watch out for Bulgarian wines because they are making a comeback with competitive quality wines.
Before I embark in sharing with you the wineries in a series of 7 separate posts, let me introduce to you the Bulgarian indigenous grape varieties. There are 10, eight of which are red varieties. Buket, Gamza (Bulgarian name for Hungarian Kadarka), Mavrud, Pamid, Melnik 55, Rouen, Rubin and Shiroka Melnishka Loza are all reds while the white grape varieties are Misket Chevren (Red Misket) and Dimiat.
This will be my first post about the number of young wineries I have visited during and after the conference in Plovdiv especially the ones we visited in Press Trip of the Wineries in the Struma Valley & Rose Valley. During the conference, we, the attendees were divided one night into groups for wine tours, tastings and dinners in different wineries outside Plovdiv and I ended up in the group bound for Villa Yustina.
|Both photos taken from Villa Yustina.|
Let me introduce to you Villa Yustina Winery, a winery located 26 kilometers outside Plovdiv in the village of Ustina and in the foothills of the Rhodope Mountains.
The winery that was established in 2006 is considered one of the most modern wineries in Bulgaria because it is equipped with the finest cellar technology of the new generation produced by Tomika Metal. When the winery's oenologist, Vasil Stoyanov became the "Oenologist of 2011", the winery knew that they were headed to the right direction of attaining their goal of producing quality wines from their vineyards in the area.
Villa Yustina Winery has more expansive goals. It also wants to focus on wine tourism in the area where it stands to promote the beautiful scenery and rich heritage of the region. Do contact the winery when you are in Plovdiv for a guided tour of the park - vineyard and wine tastings. They also have a fully-equipped guesthouse you can stay in when you want it to be more of a weekend wine holiday.
Villa Yustina wines come in three lines - Villa Yustina, Monogram and Four Seasons. Villa Yustina is the line with the best vintage blends or cuvees that has an excellent balance between price and quality. Monogram is the boutique line with carefully selected grapes, matured in French and Bulgarian oak barels and come in limited quantity. 4 Seasons, the own vineyards line, comes in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter blends and varietals.
Each course of our dinner was carefully paired with different wines. There were four courses in all - from a fresh vegetable salad to two meat courses and to conclude the dinner, the dessert.
As a starter, like in any Bulgarian table, we started with the typical vegetable and sirene cheese salad, the shopska salata. It was paired with the Villa Yustina Blanc 2014, a pale golden yellow dry white wine with a blend of Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Four Seasons Autumn Pinot Noir 2013 is a medium-bodied ruby colored wine with pepper and floral notes and it was paired with the lamb. For the next course, a pork dish, Monogram Mavrud and Rubin 2011 was served along with it. It's a blend of two Bulgarian varieties, deep ruby in color, full-body and hints of black fruits. Maturation was in Bulgarian oak barrels for 14 months. This particular wine has won 6 different awards in international wine competitions. The dessert of yogurt and fruit compote was paired with Villa Yustina Brut 2011, the pearl of Villa Yustina which is a natural sparkling wine of 100% Chardonnay grapes, golden color with intense notes of fresh fruits.
More Wineries To Check Out:Ornellaia Estate in Bolgheri, Italy
Vinero Winery, Hotel and Spa (Porta Caeli) in Thrace, Turkey
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