Wine Reviews: Tasty Values from Bulgaria

Bulgarian’s Thracian Valley is home to a wide array of wines that can be as impressive as they are inexpensive. “It’s no longer that crap they used to sell to Russia by the millions,” a Bulgarian vintner once told me.


I recently tasted through the lineup from a relatively new project called Parallel 43, a Virginia-based importer and wholesaler focused on promoting Bulgarian wines. It can’t be easy trying to convince consumers to drink Bulgarian Mavrud, but, for the adventurous and value-minded, there’s a lot to like coming out of the Thracian Valley.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Review: 2013 Parallel43 Selections “Dreamy Wendy” Bulgaria, Thracian Valley
SRP: $12
Pale lemon color with a slight spritz in the glass. Smells of white peach, rich apple, yellow pear and a hint of green herbs. Tangy and lip-smacking on the palate but a creamy body. Tangerine and white-peach dominated with just a hint of minerals. Zesty, fun, a middle-of-the-road style. 80% Chardonnay, 20% Sauvignon Blanc.

Review: 2013 Parallel43 Selections Syrah Rosé “Circulus” Bulgaria, Thracian Valley
SRP: $12
Medium salmon color. Nose of red apple peel, wild strawberries, some mixed green herbs and some stony accents. Full-bodied and waxy on the palate (14.5% alcohol), but refreshing acid. I enjoy the strawberry and McIntosh apple-driven approach, along with the elements of white pepper and rose tea. Chalk and mineral notes on the finish. Crisp and clean but gutsy as well. I’m a big advocate of regional diversity in rosé – the more the better – and this is impressive stuff.

Review: 2012 Parallel43 Selections Syrah “Quadratus” Bulgaria, Thracian Valley
SRP: $12
Dark ruby color. Tart blueberries and blackberries on the nose, some violets, lavender and cracked pepper, but overall the nose needs time to open up. Solid tannic structure, some moderate acid, full body. Mulberries, blueberries and blackberries blend together, all of it tart and brisk. A mix of chestnut, loamy soil, graphite and sweet lavender add complexity, smoke and pencil lead on the finish. Tartness helps balance the 14.5% alcohol. I’m trying to come up with comparisons with other Syrahs, but they all fall flat. Could use two to four years. One of the more thought-provoking sub-$15 Syrahs I’ve tasted.

Review: 2013 Parallel 43 Selections Cabernet Franc “Trianguli” Bulgaria, Thracian Valley
SRP: $10
Medium purple color. Tart blueberries and raspberries on the nose, some pepper and sweet clove, with strong dusty elements. Solid, sturdy tannic structure on the palate, a bold presence. Bright blueberry and black currant fruit, some sweet teriyaki glaze as well as mushroom, earth and a bit of burned word. Surprised by the grip to this wine, but the acid is a bit low for my palate. The rare $10 wine that needs to be cellared for a while, I think.

Review: 2013 Parallel 43 Selections Mavrud “Trianguli” - Bulgaria, Thracian Valley
SRP: $15
Dark cherry colored. Deep and dark blackberry and plum fruit on the nose, along with an interesting mix of campfire, herbal liqueur, and a metallic and iron-like note. Medium-bodied with quite intense tannins and medium+ acid. The blackberry and blueberry fruit is rich and chewy, laced with smoke, beef jerky, granite and pencil lead. Lots of smoky, loamy, notes like floral incense sticks and heavy, wet soil. Complex, food-friendly because of its balance and freshness, but also rich. Lovely tartness and earthy flavors linger on the finish.