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Bulgaria is a, for now, unknown wine country, that is like the rest of Eastern Europe very busy with catching up in terms of producing quality wines. Juding by this Mavrud, they are doing a great job! The country was set back by the communist regime, but today a lot has changed in stricter wine regulations, which leads to an increase of quality througout the whole country.

Bulgaria was advised by the University of California to plant international (French) grape varieties that produce full body red wines. There is a very continental climate with hot summers. The choice was made to plant late ripening variaties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is mainly the late ripening local grape Mavrod that had the most interesting full body results!

Mavrud is planted in the Thracia Valley, in the south eastern part, up to the border of Turkey. Last week I was giving the chance to taste two Mavruds next to eachother. This was the first time that I ever tasted the grape, so needsles to say I was very excited and surprised by the quality of these wines!

Even though there are similarities, there is a lof of difference too. The Excentric is a little less complex than the Reserve Ornament. Both of them have notes of chocolate, oak, vanilla, black fruit jam, plums, dried herbs and toast. The Reserve did however have more depth with extra notes of coffee, tobacco, laurel, cheese, yeast and not to miss notes of grilled red capsicum. For me this is very characteristic for reds wines coming from Eastern Europe. It can be discribed as almost a dimension of Goulash. Tannines are highly present, but very soft like velvet. The perfect dishes to match are lamb, sheep, Turkisch cuisine or vegetarian with a lot of grilled vegetables.

Mavrud is a grape waiting to be discovered, goes heavenly with so many dishes and contains flavours that are totally new to us, but are very interesting! This is only one of the hidden treasures that Eastern Europe has to offer. Keep an eye out for more of these unknown beauties!