Winery of the Week
Menada of Bulgaria
Bulgarian Legend—During the reign of Khan Kroum, who had ordered the destruction of all vineyards, panic broke out when one of his caged lions escaped and terrorized the city. The lion was ultimately slain by a fearless young man. The Khan summonded his mother to learn the source of such courage. Fearfully she confessed to having preserved one vine, from which was made the wine which gave her son, Mavrud, the strength and bravery to confront the lion. The king was so impressed vineyards were again planted and to this day one of the varietals is named Mavrud.
Bulgarian-born Vance Petrunoff hasn't slain a lion, but he has just as much courage. With no connections, he jumped off a Soviet plane which was refueling in Anchorage, and ultimately gained political asylum in the U.S.A. A decade later he is leading the charge into a wine nitch. The high prestige and low yields of California wines have reduced the supply of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the $6 to $8 range. Now, Great Britain knows where to get them. This year they will import about FIVE MILLION cases of Bulgarian wine, including plenty of Cab and Merlot. The U.S.A. brings in a paltry 150,000 cases. Vance has set up shop in Sonoma. One of his brands is Menada , the first Bulgarian winery to return to private hands. It is operated privately by the Siarovi brothers. This is a very comfortable relationship, since the winery was in private hands when it opened in 1901. It won medals then, and now Menada is the first Bulgarian wine to win a U.S.A. Gold Medal. Try the $6 Merlot and $6 '92 Reserve Cab. Khan Kroum would have been impressed.
Just the Facts
Bulgaria can boast of many wine milestones. It was one of the first areas where the wine god Dionysus held sway. Homer mentioned the area's wines in both the Iliad and the Odyssey. Perhaps the most significant is the recent archaeological evidence that wine was made there in the New Stone Age; there were not a lot of other wineries around in 6,000 B.C., like maybe none.
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Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend
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