>P>Bulgaria ranks second, France first, with wine exports in Europe. But you wouldn't know this in the U.S. where Bulgarian wines are a rarity. So when we found a bottle of Bulgarian wine with an attractive label and a most unusual name we had to buy it. Plus it was an intriguing blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Misket also called Misket Cherven for its blush colored grape.
When this Writer finds a bottle like this there is the demand that a quest to learn more be made. It is always 'Come Watson, the game is afoot."
The brand name is Tcherga. The name comes from a type rug produced in Bulgaria. Misket was new to us as a varietal. It is a white grape, on the vine slightly pink in color, and native to the region. Bulgaria has five geographic wine regions and our bottle was from the Thracian Valley. This region, located in the southern part of the country, south of the Balkan mountains, has what is described as a Mediterranean style mild climate although the closest water is the Black Sea.
In seeking knowledge about Bulgarian wines we learned that the five regions have an interesting number of native varietals besides Misket. Local red varietals include Mavrud, which is often blended with cabernet sauvignon since it ages very well, also Gamza and Pamid. The viticultural regions of Bulgaria, besides Thracian Valley, are Rose Valley, Struma River Valley in historic Macedonia, Danubain Plain in the north and Black Sea where one third of the vineyards are located. There is no doubt that grapes have been grown here and wine made for thousands of years.
The wine was produced in Starza Zagora which has been determined to be one of the oldest cities in Europe. Neolithic remains show some of the first homes in Europe were located there. The City has been Thracian, then Greek, Roman, Byzantine and now Bulgarian.
We were now ready to open our bottle of Tcherga 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. We found the wine soft both in aroma and taste, mellow on the palate and masked its 13 per cent alcohol amazingly well. There was a hint of sweetness in the blend which we thought must have come from the forty per cent Misket. We liked it so much that we promptly went out to purchase of few more bottles. The price was shamefully low for the quality. Next task is to locate a red wine from the same region.
Once again we were reminded how much there is to learn about wine, the grapes that made it and where in the wide, wide world this oldest of beverages originated. Like my wine guru, the late Robert Balzar so often told me, "With wines the learning experience never ends."
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