It was about 95 degrees and cloyingly humid in New York last Tuesday, even at 7 pm when I got to the Bulgarian consulate for the ‘Emerging Mediterranean Wines” tasting. It was not the ideal night to be sampling hearty red wines, but thankfully there were also some refreshing whites and even a Bulgarian beer to taste.
The event was hosted by Bulgaria’s consul, Anton Karlov, and sponsored by Amerikus Imports and Black Sea Imports. Among the wines featured by Black Sea Imports were cabernet sauvignons and merlots from the Danube Plain just east of the Serbian border. Black Sea is also the importer of a delicious pilsner beer, Zagorka Special, which is brewed by Bulgaria’s Heineken-Zagorka Brewery (the green bottle and Heineken-like label were dead giveaways). Amerikus Imports is primarily an importer of Greek wines but is starting to pick up wineries from Bulgaria. According to the importers, the Bulgarian wine industry is slowly recovering from the damage done in the Communist era when winemaking was a state-run enterprise and mostly all wine was produced for blending in export markets. The rebirth of Bulgaria’s historic wine traditions, dating back to ancient Thrace, will no doubt take time but is already starting to attract attention and foreign investment.