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Red Squirrel Wines behind new trade initiative to promote Bulgarian wines

Published:  10 February, 2015

Independent wine merchant, Red Squirrel Wines, is behind a new initiative to put the spotlight on wines from Bulgaria with four days of events in March including a trade tasting at the Bulgarian Embassy on March 18.

Nik Darlington, founder of Red Squirrel Wine, is behind the New Bulgaria initiative along with Bulgarian winemaker Ivo Varbanov and founder of BuyVinar Vassil Rachkov. It is being supported by the Bulgarian Association of Independent Winegrowers (BAIW) and the Bulgarian Embassy in London.

Nik Darlington wants to put the focus back on BulgariaNik Darlington wants to put the focus back on Bulgaria

Darlington concedes giving over four days to celebrate the wines of Bulgaria, between March 16 to 19, is a tall order, but the wines now stand up to critical scrutiny.

He said: "Some people still have a bit of a chuckle if you mention Bulgarian wine, but this new wave of young, creative winegrowers will have the last laugh. These are exceptional wines, some hauntingly delicate, mixed in with richness and well-judged oomph."

He added: "There's a mixture of terroirs across Bulgaria, and different techniques. They're only just scratching the surface of what's possible. From Edward Kourian and Peter Georgiev's concrete-egg fermented Chardonnay at Rossidi, to Ivo Varbanov's muscular Syrah, and much in between, there's so much variety to enjoy already."

New Bulgaria initiativeNew Bulgaria initiative

The highlight will be the New Bulgaria trade tasting at the Bulgarian Embassy which will also feature a masterclass where experts, Steven Spurrier, Caroline Gilby MW and Richard Bampfield MW, will give their personal take on developments in Bulgarian wine.

The tasting will include wines from Rossidi, Bratanov, Orbelus, Eolis, Borovitza,

Chateau Kolarovo, Sintica, Villa Melnik and Ivo Varbanov. Many of the wines will not have been shown in the UK before. It runs from 11am till 5pm, with the masterclass beginning at 12pm.

Other planned events include wine dinners and consumer tastings at not only Red Squirrel but other independent wine merchants selling Bulgarian wines.

Varbanov, who is also chairman of BAIW, is confident the UK trade will be pleased with what they see. "With each passing vintage a number of small and independent vignerons are tenaciously making a revolution in the Bulgarian wine industry. Uncontaminated terroirs are the key factors in producing grapes of extraordinary quality, reflecting the wines we produce."

Bampfield added: "Like many in the UK, I can remember the success of Bulgarian wines in the 1980s. However, in the last couple of years, tastings (some blind) have shown that Bulgaria is now a very different proposition and is capable of competing at a much higher level. I am really looking forward to this event, both to learn more about the modern viticultural environment in Bulgaria and to taste a broader range of the country's finer wines."

Gilby said she was excited that the revival in Bulgarian wine was being driven by "small independent wine estates" that "each offer an individual and very personal interpretation of Bulgaria's terroirs".

If you would like to attend the tasting and register for the masterclass at the Bulgarian Embassy then email Ivo Varbanov at