You can read about the history of Bulgarian wine in "Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History" and read about what's going on with it today in "Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine".
I'm keeping this month's reviews quick and simple because I've got A LOT of them to review AND I've got to take the CSS exam this month! Usually you'll see stupid stuff like a monkey flipping you off with his arm around a woman in a bikini, but the chances of that are slim this month. Sorry. Getting right to the point. Alright, maybe a little bit of messing around.
VINI was created by Vance Petrunoff, president of Bulgarian Master Vintners, as an affordable introduction of Bulgarian wine to the American mainstream market. Only one of them is more than $9 (the Pinot Noir is $10). They're all from Thracian Valley and they're all screw-top.
VINI CHARDONNAY 2013
The vines for this wine are located at 600 to 700 feet above sea-level. Half of it was fermented in oak barrels (15% of them are new), put through malolactic fermentation, and rests sur lie on its lees for five months. The other half is done in stainless steel and also rests sur lie but for four months.
It has a 13.4% ABV. The color looks just like the Sauvignon Blanc did: light straw yellow. I figured the 30% that was oak aged would make it at least a little bit darker. Ah well.
The oak shows up on the nose with musk, butterscotch and almonds. There's also pineapple, ginger and orange-blossom aromas. In the mouth the body is medium for a Chard but the mouthfeel is rich and silky smooth. Flavors of pineapple, apple and a little touch of oak.
This has a really complex nose for a super-affordable Chardonnay. And the palate is right up the alley of mass appeal, which is exactly what VINI is going for. A place like Bulgaria can't break into the American market without going through the mainstream first. Australia and Chile had to do it that way too.
I dig this Chardonnay and recommend it! This could easily go for $12 to $14 but it's only $9! It also got Best Buy and 88 points from Wine Enthusiast, and won a Silver Medal from World Value Wine Challenge. eRobertParker gave it 85 points.
Rating: 4/5 = Recommended (what does that mean?)
VINI CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013
This Cab was fermented in rotary tanks and 30% of it saw American and French oak aging for six to eight months.
When I was pouring this I had to double check to make sure I wasn't pouring a container of black table pepper into my glass by accident. The aroma really did slap me right in the face. I might have to let this one breath for a bit, no?
Alright! So now the black table pepper has been turned down to background noise on the nose. Red currant and black cherries have taken over with a dusting of vanilla. It's very captivating and tempting.
The palate is just as intense with the same flavors but the addition of black coffee. It's medium bodied but the tannin is big, drying your mouth out of saliva on the finish of black cherries and spicy heat.
Outstanding example of Cabernet! I'm very impressed! I'm not saying that it's worth twice the price like the Rosé is but you'll have a hard time finding a $9 Cabernet that's this expressive and bold. It got 90 points and the GOLD MEDAL from the World Value Wine Challenge, it got 87 points and a Silver Medal from Wine Enthusiast, and eRobertParker also gave it 85 points.
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended.
(what does that mean?)
(what does that mean?)
Someone on Twitter wasn't impressed with what I was going to be reviewing for Bulgarian wine. He said it was below average. What I found in VINI was wine that's better than our "below average" wine. I mean, c'mon! If that Cabernet is Sutter Home quality in Bulgaria then I'm living in the wrong country!
Rosé - 5/5 - So great. Just so great. I fell in love with this.
Cabernet - 4.5/5 - Better than the vast majority of $9 Cab.
Chardonnay - 4/5 - Nice mass-appeal Chard that's better than its peers.
Pinot Noir - 4/5 - A fruit-forward Pinot Noir that's totally quaffable.
Merlot - 3/5 - Playing in a crowded category of great quality for the same price.
Sauvignon Blanc - 2/5 - Uncomfortable and unpleasant finish.
The bottles used were supplied free of charge by BulgarianWine.com for the purpose of this unpaid review. To have your wine reviewed follow this link.