Date: 22nd August 2014
Place: J.W. Teres Restaurant, No.4, Lane 208, Siwei Road, Daan District, Taipei,
The dominance of France, Italy and Spain on the consciousness of both wine producers and consumers is profound. When vine growers or winemakers have the opportunity to produce the wine they believe could be their best work they often turn to those proven noble varieties that bestride the wine-making world. This is, of course, completely understandable. Ask an oenophile what their death-bed wine would be and Nebbiolo from Barolo, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Burgundy, Syrah from Cote Rotie and Tempranillo from Rioja – are likely to figure large. Why? Because these are proven performers, grapes that over time have demonstrated their inherent ‘oneness’ with the land on which they are planted and the climate in which they inhabit.
Seeking out regions where this ‘oneness’ exists should lead the wine consumer to regions of production that have history: regions where often a single variety has come to dominate. In Bulgaria and the Struma valley located in the far south west of the country such a history exists with Melnik (aka Shiroka Melnishka). On Friday night whilst munching through a variety of fine Bulgarian food – grilled neck of lamb and sail-fish belly, smoky baked egg-plant and stuffed zucchini with yoghurt and dill, we drank some delicious Melnik from the Logodaj winery. The wine was dense with flavour, rich with tannin and with a spine formed of firm acidity. As one might expect, such innate structure is well suited to barrel maturation but the presence of oak flavours and aromas were marked by their integration with what was still a young wine (2012).
Examples of classic wines are to be found in many regions if one is prepared to look. The Struma Valley and Melnik deserve your attention.
Logodaj, Melnik 55, Struma Valley, 2012, 14.5%
Grape: Melnik 55
Wine-making: 12 months maturation in small French barrels
Note: Rich and ripe yet lithe and sprightly, cherry-like fruit supported by forgiving tannins. Judicious oak use provides spiciness and tobacco aroma. Excellent.
Available from: Aneco International