You won’t have to physically be in Bessa Valley Winery to be enthralled by the Bulgarian wines. The history, and the winemaking styles was shared to us at The Domaine Bessa Valley Wine Tasting event which took place at Vino Vino Penang.
Organized by Asiaeuro Wines & Spirits, the wine tastings of Bessa Valley wines was guided by Marc Dworkin. The French consultant is the leading force behind Bessa Valley Winery for the last 20 years.
Bessa Valley Winery is regarded for its superb Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as Enira, a combination of both grapes. According to Marc, 80% of the wine is going to export markets and the wine is now presented in 23 countries. Since recently, the two largest markets for the wine are Japan and China, followed by Germany.
Bessa Valley is located amongst hills, bordered on the south by the Rhodope Mountains, and north by Maritsa river, which offers an ideal location. The climate is continental, with rushing winds offsetting the extreme temperatures. The terroir of Bessa Valley is made of clay and limestone soils. The valley, surrounded by hills, is only open from East and West, which creates the ideal air flow for the vines.
The wines from these great clay-limestone soils provide power and structure, but also acidity and minerality. By soil type, some particular attention was paid to the selection of rootstocks, very qualitative and productive. Merlot is the majority (53%), as based on the terroirs. Other varieties (Syrah 25% Petit Verdot and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon 10%) occupy the upper parts of the hills.
There were many Bulgarian wines to taste, and guests were served with the Petit Enira 2015, Cabernet Enira 2016, Enira 2013, Enria Reserva 2014, and Enira Grande Cuvee 2011.
What makes the wines particularly interesting is the fact that even though they are made from the same grape varietal and come from the same region in the Thracian valley, the wines are totally different taste-wise.
Marc Dworkin and William Chong of Vino Vino
The Petit Enira 2015 with its opaque red colour is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Syrah, 17% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon with lots of red fruits. Matured in French oak barrels, the slightly woody medium-bodied wine was quite easy on the palate.
The Cabernet by Enira 2016 is redolent of black berries and acidity, with the fruit lifted on the nose. From this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, you would expect round, harmonious, moderately structured body with pleasant freshness and acidity.
Deep purple in the glass, the Enira 2013 with 45% Merlot, 45% Syrah, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon is not the best vintage due to the devastating frost damage during the growing season. The red was drinkable but was the least distinctive of all the wines for the night.
Many loved the Enria Reserva 2014 for its velvety softness and warmth. One gets a combination of fruit nuances, delicate oak, and rightness of woody tannins from this red made with a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. This blend stood out well for me. The aftertaste could be summed up as excellent with a long finish.
The Grande Cuvee 2011 with 14.5% alcohol content was the most surprising of the wines. With a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, this is one powerful spicy red. The wine with dark red fruit notes of berries, plums, nuts, and oak are backed up by a long aftertaste.
The wines were paired with dishes prepared with many ingredients. There was a simplicity to the tasty fish and meat dishes without ever being pretentious. Many loved the first dish of foie gras and unagi prepared with natural smoke flavor. We moved on with a cheese platter followed by a sweet mochi dessert.
The evening provided us with an understanding of Bulgarian wine as a whole, and we look forward to seeing more Bessa Valley Winery wines in coming years.
For those who are interested in sampling these unique reds from Bessa Valley Winery, they are available for purchase at Vino Vino Penang. Opening hours are from 12pm to 12am, and they are closed on Sundays.
Block H-10-1, Bay Avenue,
Lorong Bayan Indah 2, Bay Avenue,
11900 Bayan Lepas,