Parallel 43 is a local family-owned importer and wholesaler that specializes in wines from Eastern Europe, mainly Bulgaria – a country with a long and storied history of wine production. They have been making wine in Bulgaria as far back as the Stone Age and the Thracians. Yes, that’s roughly 9000 years ago! During a large part of the twentieth century, Bulgaria had a strong trade with both the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. According to some reports, Winston Churchill ordered over 500 liters of Bulgarian wine per year. Plus, they were the largest supplier of wine to the Soviet Union until the failed prohibition by Gorbachev in the 1980s.
Parallel 43 is a great representation of what Bulgaria can do today! They combine the region’s unique opportunities (indigenous varieties, new-ish hybrids, and value-driven international varietals) with the region’s wine-making capability and traditions. They are all the products of a single winery, the Borovitza Winery, which was established in the 1960s in the northern Danubian region, but was revived by Dr. Ogi Tzvetanov in 2004. He made it his mission to find and vinify small parcels of old vines that survived the purge on alcoholism and subsequent vine-pull that happened in the Gorbachev era. Dr. Tzvetanov died in 2016 but his philosophy lives on: wines of real class and character from an undervalued former vinous powerhouse. Come out and try them today!
- Morio Muskat 2015: A german crossing of Silvaner and Pinot Blanc, that without the direct influence of any Muscat genes, manages to taste remarkably similar. Varietal Morio-Muskat is rare but it was once used widely in Germany to add a “Germanic” note to otherwise neutral white wine blends. This 100% varietal bottling is grown on the red rocky soil of North-West Bulgaria, it combines intense aroma, balanced acidity and gentle scent of peach, tropical fruit and white raisins. A lovely option for a patio sipper or with light salads, including those with simple grilled chicken or fish.
- Chardonnay 2013: This is an “orange” made from 100% skin-fermented Chardonnay. Traditionally from Eastern Europe, “orange” wines are tannic white wines that are made like a red wine – the grape skins are left in during fermentation and aging. In today’s wine world, many don’t know what to call this type of wine. They don’t like the term “orange” and many list them in various ways on menus: “Unconventional Whites” at New York’s Gramercy Tavern, “Mascerated Wines” at Boulder’s Frasca, and “Off-Whites” at New York’s The Clam. Yet, their name is not the biggest problem, it is what to expect when you open it. This Chardonnay has a deep color with a prominent aroma of hazelnuts, dried apricots, and intriguing spices. The nuttiness continues on the palate with a medium body and noticeable tannins. Quite unforgettable with the great texture and structure of a red without the weight. A great wine to try for those red drinkers who are looking for something different for as their summer wine!
- Canyon Guards Rubin 2014: Rubin is a hybrid of Nebbiolo and Syrah that was created in 1944 by the Institute of Viticulture and Oenology in Pleven. It took another decade for the grape to be widely cultivated, originally in the Plovdiv area of Bulgaria. Rubin grapes are bluish-black, thin-skinned berries that ripen around September. In general, Rubin wines have a deep ruby color and a strong aroma of berries. They can be consumed both young and matured, with it smoother tannins with fresh fruit at the wines age. Today, Rubin is one of the top local varieties on the Bulgarian market, alongside Mavrud. This is 100% Rubin and delivers the fresh blackberry notes in both the nose and the palate. If you are fan of Syrah, this is a great option and a easy-going food wine – grab a bottle for your next cookout.
- Canyon Guards Cuvee Pepper Gardens 2013: This is an intriguing blend of Cabernet Franc and Mavrud – an indigenous variety that has been cultivated in Bulgaria since ancient times. The name is derived from the Greek “mavro”, meaning black and describes the bluish-black thick and tough skin. Like any good varietal, it has a legend attached to it concerning a king, Kham Krum, and a legendary hero who was raised on illicit wine and bread. Once the leader found out, he blessed the vines and they flourished across the land. Mavrud, like the hero of legend, is a powerful varietal, especially when oak is used judiciously. This wine is a beautiful blend of Cabernet Franc‘s traditional notes of raspberry, pepper, and baking spice with Mavrud’s notes of blackberry, earthiness, and dried fruit. Together, they make a very interesting blend that is quaffable and imminently food friendly.