White wine from Bulgaria

November 30, 2014

Rumor has it that Bulgaria’s red wines are much better than it’s whites. That might be true. However, this does not mean that Bulgaria does not produce good white wines.

In my search for excellence, I have come across a number of very good white wines, three of which I will present to you today.

The first wine is a 2013 Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon by Terra Tangra. The wine is under a glass enclosure which signals to me: this wine was worth to be enclosed by the most expensive stopper.

Terra Tangra is located in the South Sakar mountains, a hot region. According to the DiVino Guide from 2014, the estate has about 400 ha under vines.

If the grapes for this blend come indeed from a rather warm wine region, the more I am amazed by this wine.

It has all the quality traits inherent in such a blend. The acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc is mitigated by the Semillon. It reminds me of similar blends from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Australia.

This is one of my favourite wines, very good with seafood but also just on its own, a great wine.

Terra Tangra

2013 Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon by Terra Tangra

The second wine I want to present to you is another Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon blend, this time by Midalidare Estate located in Eastern Thrace, another wine region famous for its red wines.

The region has very fertile soils, and is famous for its orchards and vegetable production. Eastern Thrace has a long history of wine making.

In recent years also the white wines from the region have improved in quality. Midalidare Estate has about 160 ha under vines.

I don’t know what to make of the “single vineyard” (Mogilovo vineyard) indication on the bottle. However, I like the zesty taste and the exuberance of the wine.

Midalidare

Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon, Mogilovo Single Vineyard by Midalidare

The third wine is something quite different. I would not have thought that I find a wine made from Traminer grapes so appealing.

This one is the big exception. The DiVino wine guide awards him 88 Parker points! It is clean and crisp, a wonderful sensation on the palate.

The top of the Traminer bottle is covered in “white wax”, again a sign for me that the producer thought the wine good enough for an expensive enclosure.

Angelus Estate is also located in Eastern Thrace. Their first vintage was in 2009. The flagship wine is a 92 point red, called “Stallion”.

Alexander Kanev, the wine maker impressed the wine fraternity with the outstanding quality of his wines. Also this winery is not small by German standards. It has about 110 ha under vines.

Traminer

Traminer by Angelus Estate

Stay tuned to more news from Bulagaria. I hope to visit some of the wineries (maybe in spring) and show you photos of their environment and the vineyards.

Advertisements

Chapel Hill 2009 Savagnin

June 25, 2010

While wandering aimlessly around in Ho Chi Minh City, I found a wine shop which caught my interest. It’s name was “Bacchus Corner”. Later I learned that there is also a Bacchus Corner wine shop in Hanoi. I browsed through their shelves and picked up an interesting bottle of wine. A ‘2009 Il Vescovo Savagnin’ by Chapel Hill Winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia.

2009 Savagnin by Chapel Hill in an unorthodox wine glass

When I bought the bottle I did not fully understand and appreciate what treasure I had acquired. I bought the wine because I had never before heard about the grape variety. What is Savagnin?

Well, Savagnin Blanc is a French grape variety grown mainly in the Jura region. However, Savagnin Blanc is also known as Traminer, grown around Tramin, a smlal Tyrolean town in Northern Italy. Experts think that the variety has “traveled” along the Alp mountains to the Jura region of France.

I also bought it because I found that most wines on offer were quite expensive. 340.000 Dong which is about US $ 17 is not small money for a bottle of white.

Chapel Hill Winery is of cause a well known producer of premium and award winning wines in McLaren Vale, South Australia. If you want to know more about this fascinating wine region, please visit the blog called “Lonely Grape” by Shane which makes an interesting read (it also contains interesting video clips).

2009 Savagnin

When researching this wine, I discovered that wine critics had awarded it 92 Parker point! Woh, I thought, what did I accidentally buy? The wine maker is Michael Fragos, and he has done an excellent job.

Alcohol is low (12.5%), and colour is a straw yellow. The wine is fresh and clean and shows fruity (lemon) and flowery aromas. It finishes rather abruptly but that does not take away anything from this exuberant and explosive white wine.

The crucial question you might ask is: Would I make it my house wine? Well, probably not. First of all it is not available in Bangkok were I live. Second, because of the price I most probably could not afford to drink it regularly. If you reside in Australia you belong to the lucky ones, I guess. My suggestion: indulge yourself.

Back label

If you are visiting Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and you stay in the Rex Hotel, Bacchus is just around the corner in walking distance. Check it out.


Riesling-Traminer Cuvée from Saale-Unstrut, Germany

April 6, 2009

saale1

“In all things there is something of the marvellous”, Aristotle, 384-322 B.C.

Four days ago my colleague and friend Christian brought us a bottle of Riesling Cuvée from Saale-Unstrut, the most northern wine region of Germany. It did not last long. The first occasion was excuse enough for us to open this rare bottle of German wine. The ‘2007 Riesling Traminer Saale-Unstrut’ from the Winzervereinigung Freyburg-Unstrut (a type of co-operative) was a most amazing wine, a treasure here in Bangkok.

saale5

Saale-Unstrut is not only the most northern wine region of continental Europe but also one of the smallest in size (below 700 ha). It takes it’s name from two rivers: Saale and Unstrut. Grpae growing and wine production, though, go back a long way. The earliest prove dates from around 998 A.D. and covers the wines from Memleben Abbey.

The climate in the region is generally rough and very cold. Only in very warm years can good wines (Spaetlese, Auslese) be made. Yields are usually very low in comparison with other German wine regions. About 75% of the grapes grown are white varieties, among them Mueller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Traminer and other white varieties. However, given global warming more and more wines from Saale-Unstrut are of outstanding quality and find eager consumers.

saale6

We had this Riesling-Traminer Cuvée with Sunday lunch. I must admit that I never before heard of such a cuvée blending Riesling, my favourite white wine, with Traminer. Both are aromatic varieties but of a very different nature. The Cuvée displayed a honey aroma and tasted like peaches and apricots. The finish was acidic and sharp but not unpleasant. The wine has 12% alcohol, is very young but well balanced. Unfortunately, we had only this one bottle. It matched the food perfectly. So what was the food?

Well, it was a recipe from my favourite cooking book, the Philosopher’s Kitchen by Francine Segan which contains recipes from ancient Greece and Rome.

“Grouper with herbs and pecorino” (originally the fish in the recipe was ray fish, Francine uses skate, but any white fish will do) was the plate of the day.

The dish is accented with fresh fragrant marjoram, a herb that “Aristotle believed was an antidote to most poisons”. You take the following ingredients:

– 1 ½ cups of white wine
– 2 pounds skinned grouper, cut into 4 pieces
– Salt and freshly milled pepper
– 2 tablespoons minced assorted fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, and chives, lots of majoram
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tablespoons grated pecorino cheese

How is it done?
Well, first bring white wine to a boil over high heat until reduced to half (5-6 minutes); season the fish with salt and pepper.
Then add marjoram and minced herbs, oil and mix with the hot wine, add fish and cook until firm, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with the cheese and a sprig of marjoram. The recipe can be found in the above book of Francine Segan page 97 (From Life of luxury, Archestratus).

We had it with potatoes and a salad (cucumber with orange and walnuts).

saale2

The potatoes

saale31

The fish with the herbs

saale4

On the plate

Needless to say, the food was very yummy. The four of us gobbled it up in no time. Especially my children were amazed (usually they prefer meat) that fish can taste that good. It is only the second recipe I know of where fish and cheese are successfully matched together.

saale9

After lunch it was espresso and Averna and some Belgian chocolates. I followed up with a cigar (a Casa de Torres, CT, Nicaragua, hand made).

saale10

What a beautiful smoke!