In 2019, after discussing the prospects of vinifying white varieties, we decided on the Red Misket variety, primarily since the winery where we work is located in the heart of the Rose Valley. This genuine Bulgarian varietal is highly characteristic of the Karlovo region, where we discovered the vineyard with which we operate. The vineyard is over 45 years old, 170 decares in size, and is located on the territory of the village of Prolom in the Karlovo valley. The altitude is around 320 meters. Its proximity to Stara Planina, on the one hand, and Sarnena Sredna Gora, on the other, determines a quite interesting and protected microdistrict from air currents.
The soils are loamy-sandy, and the amount of precipitation is higher than average, which ensures sufficient soil moisture in all seasons of the year. The proximity to the Stryama River ensures slightly lower temperatures in the warmest months (July and August) and the necessary temperature amplitudes in the ripening period for the accumulation of aroma precursors. The Rose Valley, in particular the Karlovo Valley, has quite serious traditions in wine production in Bulgaria, it is no coincidence that the other name of the red misket variety is Karlovski misket. This variety is the most ancient of the misket family, in which most varieties with misket in their name are actually crosses between two or more parents, most often international varieties. The Red misket is a late-ripening variety – it ripens in the second half of September and the beginning of October.
The mavrud we work with is from the Asenovgrad region, particularly the village of Novi Izvor. In fact, this is the Plovdiv region’s largest massif of this variety. The entire vineyard, approximately 300 decares, was planted sometime between the late 1970s and early 1980s and by now it is cultivated by various vinegrowers. The vineyard is located in the western Upper Thracian lowland at the foot of the Rhodopes and is considered to be the origin of this variety.
The altitude is around 280 meters, and the soils are deep cinnamon forest – ideal for this authentic Bulgarian variety. The vineyard’s proximity to the northern slopes of the Rhodopes ensures excellent airiness, thanks to the region’s typical fen. This is significant because the grapes have a very thin shell and retaining moisture for an extended period of time causes fungal and other infections. Again, this is a late-ripening variety – it ripens in the first half of October – but it is not cold-resistant. The variety is the foundation of many crosses made in the middle of the twentieth century, so finding a vineyard with the authentic variety is a challenging task. However, the vineyard in the village of Novi Izvor is exactly like that.
It has two clones (clone 1 and clone 2), and almost all old plantations are a mix of these two clones. Clone 1 has a more elegant appearance, matures later, has larger bunches and grapes, and less coloring matter in the skins. Clone 2 is the first to ripen, with smaller grapes, more color, density, and tannins. Acidity levels in both clones are medium to above average. Indeed, the clonal ratio during vinification has a significant impact on the wines, and working with clonal one is more interesting for us.
Another traditional Bulgarian varietal, this one is a cross between two noble parents, Syrah and Nebbiolo. The variety’s range is in the region of Plovdiv and around Ivaylovgrad, and the oldest plantations are in these two locations. The vineyard with which we collaborate is located near the village of Brestovitsa in the region of Plovdiv. The terrain is relatively flat, and it is close to the northern Rhodopes.
The vineyard is approximately 17 decares in size and was planted in the early 1980s. The altitude is around 300 meters, and the soils are light brown forest. The area is distinguished by an even distribution of rainfall across the seasons and a relatively mild winter. Rubin is fascinating to work with because it changes its properties significantly in a short period of time. The fruit can go from unripe to overripe in just one week, which is incredibly reflected in the wines. The variety’s clonal division is unknown, but it is known that different styles of wine are produced in the Plovdiv and Ivaylovgrad regions.