After 10 years (this September) of living in Bulgaria (alternately with Romania), I thought I knew my Bulgarian wines – at least the whites to which my metabolism still allows me access.
I had, after all, spent full weekends at the last three of Sofia’s most recent annual wine fairs (which take place in November) – and duly swilled, spat and carefully awarded my scores (out of 5.0) in the little note books with which they supply you….
Last year, indeed, I had posted the results of this courageous endeavor….. making the distinction between my basic favourites (at just over 3 euros) and the new (slightly more expensive) vintages
But that was before I stumbled on the superb new little wine-shop Tempus Vini here in Sofia since last autumn. Kallin’s in his thirties and will shortly qualify as a sommelier – which shows, since he is the first person I’ve met in more than five decades of appreciating wine who has actually helped me understand why I get the variable impressions I do on my palate and throat when I swill, view, smell and then let the liquid first trickle down the back of my teeth…..and into my throat….Quietly, with no pretensions, he offers his various explanations – which have deeply enriched my wine experience..
I’ve been able to visit his k(Aladd)in’s cave every few days since February – each time tasting about three whites, discussing the effects and then moving on to get reasons - and directions for future tastings…..all the while updating my copy of the little Catalogue of Bulgarian Wines which the KA and TA team produces annually in time for the Sofia wine fair and which carries the details of more than 150 wineries in the country…... Kallin’s policy is not to stock the wines found in the supermarkets – but he will happily find and deliver a crate for you – which he did when I recently found an amazing Riesling/Varnenski Misket from Varna Winery (at 5 euros)
The result has been a delightful educational experience – with the drawback that each year’s harvests are always different… (last year’s wines began to come into the shop in April) and that I am becoming more daring in buying bottles at 6 euros!!
Remember that Sofia boasts quite a few of these enticing shops where you can buy regional wine in barrels and caskets – for 2 euros a litre! My favourite is one (near the Eagle Bridge) that stocks Karlovo wines – including the famous Chateau Copsa and its Karlovski Misket
At the beginning of the year I was particularly impressed with the Miskets (particularly Sandanski and Karlovski); then moved on to Muscat; Viognier; Tramin; and Dimiat; discovered the amazing Macedonian Stobi range; moved back to Moscato Bianco; and cuvees such as Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc. Last week Kallin gave us a presentation of wines from Malketa Zvezda – the Enigma range
Last night I tried a bottle with a rare blend of Chardonnay (85%) and Tamianka in the Symbiose range produced by Bratanov winery – from the same (southern) part of the countryLittle wonder that when I visited my dentist yesterday, she commented on how happy I looked!
Again - it proves that independent shops offer so much more value than supermarkets!