The last great red vintage in Bulgaria was in 2016. In the heart of Thracian Valley, near Ivaylovgrad, Yulian Yamantiev is getting more and more concerned with the climate. We are discussing his, or more likely his wife's Ivana Yamantieva's latest creation- Grand Reserve Syrah 2016. Watch the climate says Yulian, the drastic changes that are going to redraw the wine map of Europe and the world are nigh. It is hard to believe him while the gentle November sun is kissing my face and the ripe bramble fruit of the wine is kissing my lips. Syrah aka Shiraz is a darling of this region known as Marble Land due to the marble rock substrata that at places punctures the land. The rolling hills keep the vineyards at around 450m above sea level, concentrating the flavours, while the long hot summer that makes Syrah so ripe yet elegant here is interrupted by a gentle breeze every afternoon. This wind is locally referred as the 'White wind' possibly because it comes from the Aegean Sea, called the White Sea in Bulgaria. It is what saves the grapes here giving the vines the so needed respite from the daily heat. The white wind will save you, I mutter, just to interrupt his prediction of hard times to come. Yulian Yamantiev smiles, a rare sight, and shakes his head. 'We are blessed here, but the climate is changing fast and all will be different soon, very soon! Yulian has been engaged in the vineyards for the last 15 years that the winery has made wine under his ownership and guide. He is the epitome that great wines are made in the vineyard and it is a pleasure to stroll alongside him and listen to the many stories that he loves telling. He is the poet of the dynamic duo with his wife taken full charge in the winery. We have imported their wines since 2006 and have never been let down by quality and character. I like the Grand series varietal wines because they carry a ripe elegance woven with sweet spice from the gentle 6 months maturation in French oak. They manage to keep their varietal character well and the last bottles of 2010 Grand Reserve Syrah are again proving their ability to last and gracefully mature. The climate is changing still resonates in my brain and i know. The time of Cabernet Sauvignon is slowly going. The Grand Syrah time has come!

Written by Vassil Rachkov — November 19, 2018


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