Poetry in a Bottle

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Bulgaria: Poetry in a Bottle Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

The cultivation of grapes and wine-producing throughout the Bulgarian lands find their origin in the high antiquity. Indisputable proofs about that are the archaeological finds, preserved until nowadays.

By Ivelina Puhaleva

Bulgaria is famous all over the world with the superb variety of grapes, grown on its lands.

The production of wine has ancient traditions in Bulgaria. Ages ago the Thracians were known for the delicious wine they prepared, which is proved by the archaeologists - remains of ancient Thracian winery places are found in the Bulgarian lands. The wall inscriptions in the Kazanlak tomb, the images on the items of the Panagyurishte golden treasure, exhibited in a number of towns in Europe, Asia and America testify that the grapes and the wine have taken an important place in the life of the Thracians.

Until recently, Balkan wines didn't have the reputation they could have because quantity outpaced quality. Large foreign investments, the purchase of modern technologies, the arrival of young, well-educated specialists and traditionally favorable climate and soil conditions - these are factors that currently favor the formerly undervalued Bulgarian wines. Modern followers of those traditions are some of the most exquisite vineyards and wineries that are just rediscovering for the world the taste and quality of Bulgaria-made wines.

Gourmet Hand in Hand with History

Near the village of Starosel in central Bulgaria, a luring winery named after the ancient settlement is growing in popularity both domestically and abroad.

Thanks to the cult for the god of wine, Dionysus, Thracians started growing vine and learned the craft of making the sacred elixir. The Starosel temple holds some of the secrets of this ancient civilisation. A key function of the sanctuary was to honour Dionysus with wine, vine and fire - a key function of the modern Starosel winery is to make its visitors' stay unforgettable in tastes and glimpses.

Bringing this ancient history to the modern vine-growing and wine-making complex at Starosel is a way of reminding tourists of what a cradle of civilisation is the land of Bulgaria. This is a chance for any person coming from any corner of the world to taste both wine and the rich culture of this country in concert. The winery organises also tasting of wine and other products, presentations, courses in wine culture and many more surprises for its guests and visitors.

Just in the neighbourhood

New vines, short time to reach and hospitality - three words to describe in short the first impressions you will certainly have when entering the estate of Bessa Valley.
Set up by Count Stephan von Neipperg and Dr. Karl-Heinz Hauptmann, legendary in wine-making globally, the project Bessa Valley started in 2001 by purchasing lands in the area of Ognianovo, not far from the town of Pazardjik, south Bulgaria.

Count Stefan Von Neiperg, who owns five more wineries in the famous wine district of St. Emillion in Bordeau, France, first came to Bulgaria a few years ago and was fascinated by the rich history, rich soil and rich opportunities for the production of high-classed wines in Bulgaria.

Count Neiperg's settling in Ognyanovo was by no means accidental. Three years before he settled his business here he took samples from the soil of several regions in Bulgaria. Their analysis in Bordeau showed that the soil in the valley of Ognyanovo was most favourable for starting a vine-growing/wine - producing business.
The name of the winery - Bessa Valley Ltd. - means "Valley of the Bessians", a Thracian tribe who inhabited the lands and cultivated vines in V- IV BC. The estate covers 266 ha, of which 135 have already been planted with French grape varieties - Merlot (53%), Syrah (25%), Petit Verdot (12%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%).
The winery has so far released on the market two brands of wine - 2004 Enira, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet sauvignon; and 2004 Enira Reserva, aged on its lees in new French oak barrels.

Bathing in Wine

Coming to Bulgaria could also bring you a unique experience of ... bathing in wine. The extravagant service is offered by Villa Vinifera, located just outside the second largest city, Plovdiv (150 km south of Sofia).

If you are curious to taste the wine produced in this actively vinegrowing region, the wine-cellar offers also wine-tasting organized for tourist groups and individual tourists. The wine tasting includes a visit to the Wine cellar Villa Vinifera; following the technological process of wine production, getting familiar with the production methods, wine industry traditions, way of barrel exploitation, barrel workmanship, cleaning and utilization. You will be led through wine tasting by a professional technologist. Make use of different grape sorts peculiarities (emphasis on the Bulgarian sorts), their characteristic features and wine indicators full description of taste and flavor. Along with wine tasting you will make a taste of white bread, white Bulgarian cheese or yellow cheese, mineral water.

Where Classics Abound

A touch to classical French wines is at hand with the boutique wines of Villa Lyubimetz & Villa Hisar. Grown in land rich in spa resources, the wines produced by this wine cellar pertain to the "red spectre". Much beloved are Merlot, Cabernet Souvignon, the typical Bulgarian Mavrud and the exclusively popular Sira.
You can also relish the taste of white wines branded Villa Lyubimetz & Villa Hisar, including Souvignon Blanc, chardonnay and Traminer.

In case of scarce time, take a trip to METRO hypermarket or drop in at any of Sofia's elite restaurants where you can find a bouquet of these exquisite wines.

Wine made with Love

The love for wine has mixed with a solid dose of patriotism in the venture of Bulgarian emigrant Val Markov who picked up his homeland to establish Chateau* de Val in 1998. He has not only developed a strong business but also helped for the revival of the Vidin region (close to the Danube river) and its unique vine-growing characteristics.

The pride of the wine-cellar is called Claret, whose unforgettable taste is rivaled by Couvet, Souvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Souvignon produced by the chateau.

Thinking of the secrets of the good wine - and especially a boutique one - I can explain the passion and addiction to its taste with one word only - love. When you want to create something valuable and real, beyond this material world, you can achieve it with love, the managers of Chateau de Val believe.


* Chateau - (French) castle; in the world of wine, it is often used for naming a wine-cellar
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