A Bulgarian website, Divino striving to become the leading factor in setting all wine trends in Bulgaria has published its Top 20 list for 2014. A bit confusing whether it is Top 50 or Top 20 but this is not what we are to focus on. There is nothing wrong to try and motivate the  wine producers to achieve their maximum potential. Or to try and guide the budding wine connoisseurs in one of the wine cradles of the world-Bulgaria. What bothers me is that their scores seem rather superficial.  I, as a wine merchant rarely am moved by scores, whether given by wine gurus like Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson or in this occasion Divino Tasting Panel.  For me what matters most is the customer. He is the King Wine Guru setting the wine trends with his wallet. I guess Divino are trying to do just that, brainwash the Bulgarian wine consumers to blindly follow their recommendations and vote with their wallets.

Nothing wrong with that too, Decanter is the same in many respects and I suspect Divino is modeled on it. What is very worrying is that there is no balancing wine force, another Bulgarian wine critic or wine magazine that can bring plurality of opinion and provide safe harbor for all those who might not fully agree with Divino.

Bulgaria used to have Bakhus in the past, a supplement to one of the most influential Financial Newspapers, Capital, again mimicking Financial Times. However Bakhus lost its crown a few years ago and failed to regain the momentum. But what had happened, why? Did they loose their integrity, did the people stopped believing them? No!

A few years back its chief wine editors and journalists left and set up Divino. And since then they have been trying to eliminate all opposition and cut down all opposing forces or even different opinion on all vinous matters in Bulgaria. Divino knows best! Or does it really? And now we come to the core of the matter. Only one of the wines I export to the most developed and sophisticated wine market in the world, UK, is included in the Top 20 list. My wineries and their wines simply do not cut the mustard!

I guess this is because these wines are simply mediocre compared to the cream of the crop in those lists. Tastes differ, you would say. What Bulgaria likes is not necessarily identical with what the UK might appreciate. Really? And where else the members of the Superior Divino Tasting Panel are acquiring their expertise if not sharpening their teeth on world renowned classic wines?

I think I will stop here before I receive another merciless attack on my wine knowledge and integrity. To quote an executive officer from a Bulgarian Government run wine industry organization ‘’Who do you think that you are to promote Bulgarian wine and support it with your own funds? You are exceeding your rights! Stop now! ‘’ I won’t be very surprised if I receive the same message now.

But before I leave you to make your own minds who this Top50/20 list serves I will remain true to my commercial background. My wines will continue to be judged first and foremost by my customers in the UK among whom I can proudly add for the first time ever in the turbulent Bulgarian wine history merchants like BerryBros. & Rudd  and The Wine Society. The latter is the largest wine cooperative set up in 1874 that has a mere 150,000 active members, while the first is the oldest family run wine merchant in the world set up in 1696. They are proud to stock Bulgarian wines that are driven by quality and character rather than scores!  Many of the wines of those privileged wineries are to be found on our website as well! Feel free to browse!

Written by Vassil Rachkov — March 26, 2015


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