Monday, March 19, 2018
Authentic Thracian Red Wine Varieties
Authentic Thracian Red Wine Varieties
Did you know that the Thracian wine region was the second largest producer of wine in the world in the 1980s? Today, it may not be producing wine on such a volume scale, but the thousand-year-old winemaking traditions continue to inspire the creation of unique indigenous wines. Indeed, vine growing and winemaking have always been part of Thracian culture since ancient times. Wine has been produced here for millennia on the sunlit hills and fertile soils of the Thracian Valley at the same geographic latitude (equivalent to central Italy or southern France). Thousands of years ago the ancient Thracians were consuming wine from elaborate gold vessels in the shape of animals and mythical creatures.
The authentic local red wines you can find here vary from the spicy Mavrud of the Central South, through the Broadleaved Melnik of the South West, perfumed Dimyat of the coastal area, elegant Pamid of the upper Thracian Valley, to the fresh Gamza of the North West.
Mavrud’s name comes from the Greek word for black and you can definitely see why in this wine’s deep color. Used to make a dark ruby-colored and soft-tasting wine, Mavrud grapes are almost exclusively grown in a small area just North of the charming Rhodope. Mavrud grapes are typically small in size, low on yield and ripen late. The harvest is in late October. All these factors result in a spicy and fruity varietal with high tannins, appreciated for its high quality, remarkable maturing potential and local character.
Broad-Leaved Melnik Vine
Planted in the Southwestern-most and warmest corner of the country, in the distinct Mediterranean climate zone of the Struma River, the Broad-Leaved Melnik Vine bears all the signs of an age-worthy southern red grape variety. Varietals are often named just Melnik, referring to the picturesque smallest town with the same name, famous for its winemaking tradition. According to a very popular story, Melnik wine was Winston Churchill’s favorite and 500 litres of this wine were delivered to him annually! Whether true or not, it is certain that wine from the late-ripening Broad-Leaved Melnik grapes has a captivating taste often displaying tobacco and leather hints.
The white Dimyat is grown in the vicinity of the Black Sea. It is the most widely grown indigenous white grape here and its wine is often consumed chilled in the hot summer days by the sea. A curious legend claims that Dimyat was originally cultivated in the Nile Delta of Egypt and was brought to our lands by Crusaders, for all we know though, its characteristics are typically Thracian. Dimyat wines are usually not aged. They taste sweet, with vanilla aromas and a light body. Dimyat grapes are also often used to make excellent brandy and grape rakia (grappa).
Pamid, a classic Thracian indigenous red wine, which used to be the most widely cultivated red grape in the country before the advent of worldwide favorites like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the 1960s. Somewhat ironically, today it is so hard to find that it may well be listed as endangered species! Pamid wine is usually consumed young as everyday enjoyable table wine. Pamid gives pleasant light and fruity red wines that are a fitting companion to many of the heavier meals of the local cuisine.
Gamza is the pride of the north. It is also known as Kadarka. Gamza’s origins are somewhat mysterious, as this kind of wine is also enjoyed in many other countries in Central and South East Europe. Gamza grapes ripen in late September and the wines are fresh, harmonious and fruity – somewhat comparable to Pinot Noir. The variety is brilliantly suited for rosé wines as well.
All these beautiful Thracian wines could be tasted in USA thanks to the New Wines of Ancient Thrace, EU funded promotional campaign of the Bulgarian Wine Export Association.
Luiz Alberto (on behalf of Galina Niforou, BWEA chairwoman)
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