by Fred McMillin
for April 7, 1998

A Bargain from Bulgaria


In Bulgaria, Merlot exceeds beyond all expectations.

...British wine authority Hugh Johnson

The Vini Winery's '95 Merlot from the district of Sliven is full bodied, appealing and full of plum-blueberry flavors. Great value. FIVE STARS.

...Restaurant Wine Magazine

The Vini '95 Merlot of Sliven has good varietal character, firm, flavorful, yummy, with chocolaty notes on a lingering finish.

...The Wine Spectator

The Rest of the Story

Sounds like a good $15 Merlot to me...but NO! Would you believe...SIX BUCKS!

If you can't locate a bottle, phone Vance Petrunoff in Sonoma at (707) 939-8719. He imported 20,000 cases.

The Wine

1995 Merlot, Sliven District, Bulgaria
Vini Winery, Bulgaria
Importer—Bulgaria Master Vintners, Sonoma, CA.
President—Vance Petrunoff Phone—(707) 939-8719
Price—$6 range

Postscript:- Bulgarian Tidbits

Man's first wine may have fermented in the Bularian area. Archaeological evidence indicates wine was made there 8,000 years ago.

Sliven is the name of a town and a wine district lying between Sophia and the Black Sea. It produces an astonishing 10 million gallons of wine a year.

The Romans established a fortified trading post at Sliven. So, with his imports, Vance Petrunoff is simply continuing an old Sliven trading tradition.  

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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