Eastern Europe’s rise from bargain basement to soaring ambition

Three cracking wines from Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria

Pinot Noir, Romania 2017 (£5.99, Waitrose) Wine from eastern Europe is still very much in the ‘only if you’re completely broke’ aisle of the wine shop. And, to be fair, it is a function some Bulgarian, Hungarian and Romanian wines fulfil pretty well. For £5, Asda’s The Wine Atlas Feteasca Regala uses the titular local Romanian variety to deliver a high level of fun with its lively mix of exotic fruitiness, while the appley snap of Majestic Loves Grüner Veltliner, Hungary 2016 (£6.99, or £5.99 as part of a mixed case of six, Majestic) makes good, easy-sipping use of a variety better known for its role in some of Austria’s most distinctive wines. And for a wallet-friendly take on pinot noir, one with a supple lightness and moreish berry succulence, Waitrose’s Romanian own-label offering is very good indeed.

Villa Melnik Young & Crazy Melnik, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria 2017 (£8.50, The Wine Society) Their reputation for competence in the bargain basement has left eastern European producers with a bit of a challenge when it comes to persuading us to spend a few more quid on their more ambitious offerings. Nor does it help these very different countries that they’re forever lumped in together as a single entity. After all, as one Bulgarian winemaker put it to me: ‘Nobody talks about western European wine.’ In the 30 years since the end of the Soviet era, a range of independent producers has emerged to replace state-owned co-operatives, with many of them playing up the personality of overlooked local varieties. It’s a recipe that works very well in Bulgaria’s Villa Melnik’s exuberantly juicy, expressive and crunchy red from the melnik grape variety.

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Source: theguardian
Eastern Europe’s rise from bargain basement to soaring ambition