Villa Melnik is not just a winery that makes good Bulgarian wines. It is not just another wine bottle that you open, pour in a glass and enjoy. It has something unique that makes every single drop special because behind that bottle is sheer dedication by the winemakers Nikola Zikatanov, his wife Lyubka and daughter Militza in making that wine an excellent expression of the Bulgarian terroir, in the Struma River Valley (Southwest Bulgaria).
Villa Melnik Winery is located in the village of Harsovo, a stone’s throw away from the town of Melnik, the smallest town of Bulgaria known for tourism and wine production. Its 30 hectares of vineyards is divided into two separate plots of land in Mindalo, about 4 kilometers from Melnik that is on the hills and along the bank of Melnishka River and Beli Breg, a controlled appellation of origin.
Beginning at 2004, Villa Melnik planted a few international and local varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Early Melnik (Melnik 55) and Mavrud then a few more in 2007 like Rouen, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. In 2007, they came out with their first vintage aged in Bulgarian oak and carried by the wine label Bergulè.
Crates of newly-harvested Broad-Leafed Melnik (Shiroka Melnishka) that were going through the process of manual sorting before going to the destemmer greeted us upon arrival at the winery. These grapes are indigenous to Bulgaria and they especially grown in the southwestern part of the country, just a few kilometers to the border of Greece. Being cultivated in the Struma River Valley wine region, the Mediterranean climate makes it ideal for harvesting them until late October.
Broad-Leafed Melnik (Shikoka Malnishka) grape variety has an affinity with oak and it produces hints of tobacco and leather.
After touring the newly-constructed modern winery and the tunnels for aging the wines, Villa Melnik’s oenologist, Stoilova Rumyana opened a door of discovery for us. Eight different kinds of wines from two lines of their wine labels, Bergulè and Aplauz, were opened for tasting.
Villa Melnik produces 4 lines of wine labels.
AplauZ is the top line of Villa Melnik and it has a variety of white, rosè and red wines. They come from selected grapes, dense and flavorful. They are aged for 9 months in oak barrels.
Bergulè is a prestigious line of matured red, rosè and white wines that have distinct body. The whites are barrel fermented while the reds have matured for at least 3 months in oak barrels. They are characterized with fresh aromas and delicate hints of berries and vanilla.
Family Tradition is a line of high quality wines with a variety of white, rosè and red wines. They are aged in oak barrels and they have fresh and pleasant aromas of red and black berries.
MELENIK is the fourth and most affordable line of the winery. It has red wines of blends and mono-varietal white wines.
The wines we tried were:
AplauZ Viognier 2014, aged in Bulgarian oak barrel with a golden color, fresh and hints of white flowers and grapefruit.
Bergulè Rosè 2014, a raspberry-colored fresh and fruity blend of 33% Syrah, 34% Melnik 55 and 33% Bload-Leafed Melnik, had skin contact of 24 hours and fermented in stainless steel vessels for 4 months.
Garnet-colored Bergulè Ruen 2013 was fermented in stainless steel vessels and is the first vintage of this wine. It has a medium body with notes of mulberry and spices.
Bergulè Melnik 2013 was fermented in stainless steel vessels then aged in old Bulgarian oak barrels for 12 months. It has a medium body with complex notes of herbs, cherries and oak.
Bergulè Melnik & Pinot Noir 2013, a blend of 52% Broad-Leafed Melnik and 48% Pinot Noir, aged 12 months in Bulgarian oak barrels, ruby-colored with hints of berries. AplauZ Mavrud 2013 was made from carefully hand-selected grapes and aged in Bulgarian oak barrels for 15 months. It has an intense ruby color with notes of spices, pepper and plums.
AplauZ Syrah 2013, fermented in stainless steel vessels and aged in Bulgarian oak barrels for 18 months. It has ruby color and medium body.
AplauZ Melnik 55 2013 was made with carefully hand-selected grapes and aged in Bulgarian oak barrels for 15 months.
Villa Melnik is a young modern winery with full potential in being one of Bulgaria’s best wine producers.
Having just produced its first vintages in 2007, it has already won a lot of awards for a number of its wines. One of them is my favorite, the Silver Medal winner AplauZ Melnik 55 2013 Reserve which is pictured above and a bottle that I took home to enjoy. It is made with 100% Melnik 55, a natural hybrid of Broad-Leafed Melnik vine and Valdiguiè. Full of flavors, it is a full-bodied wine that was aged in Bulgarian oak barrels for 15 months.