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15 February 2016

Sintica Winery: Wineries of Bulgaria (7 of 7)


Sintica Winery was started in 2007 by 3 individuals who envisioned a great development of the wine industry in the town of Sandanski. It replaced the defunct Complex Experimental Station that was established in the mid-20th century. Having the Experimental Agricultural Center, it carried a botanical importance in having rare and exotic plants in the premises. Moreover, it became known for its creation of unique grape hybrids like the Early Melnik (Melnik 55), Melnishki Rubin, Melnik Jubilee 1300, Melnik 82, Sandanski Misket and others. During its glory years, it won a lot of national and international awards for its wines created in its Experimental Wine Cellar but with the effect of post-communism in the country, it stopped functioning.


With ambitious plans, Sintica Winery reopened the closed doors of Complex Experimental Station with the help of Bulgarian and Italian companies and gave it new life using brand new modern equipment that produces 500,000 liters of wine. It inherited the traditions of the old winery while aiming for the development of rich and complex high quality wines that reflect the characteristics of the area.


The town of Sandanski is located in a Sandanski-Petrich Valley surrounded by the mountains of Pirin, Belasitsa, Ogragden and other smaller range of mountains. It is also situated along the banks of Sandanska Bistritsa River. The town has a mild Mediterranean climate, having very hot and dry summers while winters are mild and humid. It is just 20 kilometers away from Bulgaria's border with Greece and 160 kilometers from Sofia, Bulgaria's capital.

Photo taken from Spittoon.
Coming from Orbelia Winery just a few kilometers away, our Press Group ended our Rose and Struma River Valley Trip at Sintica Winery, our 7th winery in Bulgaria before we headed to Sofia, our final stop. A brief tour of the winery was followed by tasting 5 of their wines.  

Le Passionnel Chardonnay 2013 is a barrel-fermented dry white wine that received a number of awards. It spent 6 months in French oak. It has an intense golden color and aromas of oak and vanilla. 

Sinti Reserve 2008 is a blend of 4 varieties including Merlot (dominant variety), Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that received an award in Vinaria 2010. It was fermented separately in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and another 6 months in bottles. It has a dark ruby colored red wine with notes of berries, oak and spices. 


Explosion Melnik 55 2008 comes from Melnik 55 grapes that were harvested from a single vineyard. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 14 months in new French oak barrels. It has a deep ruby color and notes of plums and tobacco. Melnik 55 grape variety is a hybrid of Broadleaf Melnik vine with Valdiguiè, Durif, Jurancon and Cabernet Sauvignon that was created in the old Complex Experimental Station in the 1970s.
 
Confiance Merlot 2008 comes from Merlot grapes that were harvested from a single vineyard. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and another 6 months in bottles. It is a full-bodied red wine with hints of vanilla and chocolate.

Phènomène Merlot 2011 comes from Merlot grapes that were harvested from a single vineyard. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and another 6 months in bottles. It is a full-bodied dark ruby colored red wine with intense notes of berries, vanilla and chocolate.


Lunch was hosted by Sintica Winery at the Oasis Restaurant in the center of Sandanski. A typical Bulgarian lunch spread was prepared for us that was matched with the Sintica wines we had at the wine tasting plus another wonderful wine from their winery. Le Passionnel Cuvèe 2008 is a blend of 3 grape varieties which are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12 months in French oak and another 6 months in bottles. The result was a lovely deep ruby colored red wine with flavors of berries, vanilla and a touch of pepper.


The owners of Oasis Restaurant and Alexova Kushta Restaurant in Melnik (see post here) come from one family (if I remember right) and for that reason, we had incredible Bulgarian food the second time around during our trip. If ever you are in the areas of Sandanski and Melnik, these two restaurants are great picks to have a first dip with traditional Bulgarian food. I did not get the names of the dishes that were served but do trust me that I enjoyed my food from the appetizers to the dessert. The meat and vegetable dishes were cooked in clay pots for a long time to infuse the flavors together. They were tasty and tender with flavors that explode in your mouth.



After a very filling lunch, a tour of another important feature of Sandanski was in order. The newly-restored Archaeological Park next to the restaurant features the Bishop's Basilica and Bishop John Basilica, two early Christian basilicas built in the middle of the 4th century from the ancient Roman city of Parthicopolis.  A restored martyrium and holy well (also known as ayazmo) are also located in the complex. You can also admire the intricacy of the well-preserved ancient mosaic floor.


The project of restoration headed by archaelogist Stojko Shatov (who personally gave us  a tour) was started in 2013 and even if it is still in the process of reconstruction, it had its pre-opening to the public in late October 2015. What luck for us because we were there just after its pre-opening. 


Bulgaria is picking up the pieces of its once lost old tradition of wine making. With the establishment of new wineries in the country that are scattered in the five viticulture regions, the importance of producing quality wines reflecting the different terroirs is a priority with the new wine makers. To be able to discover and taste great wines from the this country had been a wonderful experience for me. The Rose and Struma River Valley that I visited are just two of their five wine regions. The other three regions should be equally great with diverse characteristics. Thank you for following me around Bulgaria. Until my next trip!


Developing the potential of the local Bulgarian grape varieties which have started their quest towards the world’s Winery Industry from the Complex Experimental Station and creating out of them in combination with the world’s grape varieties planted in the region incomparable, high-quality rich and complex terroir wines, reflecting the specifics and uniqueness of the region famous for its Winery Industry since the times of the ancients SINTI a Thracian tribe which lived here thousands of years ago.



Here are the other Bulgarian wineries I visited:

Villa Melnik in the Struma Valley: Wineries of Bulgaria (3 of 7) - See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2016/01/villa-melnik-in-struma-valley-bulgarian.html#sthash.EBXBMg1B.dpuf
Villa Melnik in the Struma Valley: Wineries of Bulgaria (3 of 7) - See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2016/01/villa-melnik-in-struma-valley-bulgarian.html#sthash.EBXBMg1B.dpuf

Villa Melnik in the Struma Valley: Wineries of Bulgaria (3 of 7) - See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2016/01/villa-melnik-in-struma-valley-bulgarian.html#sthash.EBXBMg1B.dpuf
Villa Yustina Winery: Wineries of Bulgaria (1 of 7)  
Chateau Copsa Winery and Hotel in the Rose Valley: Wineries of Bulgaria (2 of 7)  
Villa Melnik in the Struma Valley: Wineries of Bulgaria (3 of 7)  
Orbelus Winery: Wineries of Bulgaria (4 of 7)  
Zlaten Rozhen Winery & Hotel: Wineries of Bulgaria (5 of 7)   
Orbelia Winery: Wineries of Bulgaria (6 of 7)