Wine Blown: Bratanov Merlot Single Barrel 2012

Don’t worry, the first Bulgarian wine I’m going to write about is not going to be Mavrud, because realistically, no one knows what the fuck that is. Except the Bulgarians. And some wine experts that were lucky enough to get hold of this plump liquid. But today, we’re going to cover easy stuff – Merlot.

From the outside, Bratanov Merlot Single Barrel 2012 looks like something cryptic that you would keep closed in a vault until the dark forces send you a signal to open it up. What you get for aesthetics is a green bottle and a piece of carton stuck to the neck of it. No hidden messages, but only the basic information about the beverage. In the glass, the wine is gorgeous like a horse – silky, smooth texture, opulent body and serious body. Aromas of dried plums, raspberry, cherry, redcurrant, wet leather and Mediterranean spices dominate the nose and pleasantly extend further on to the palate. The tannic structure is surprisingly pronounced for a Merlot, but blends in with the acidity and alcohol, which are both extremely expressed. Great price-quality ratio when you take in consideration that only 250 bottles were produced, but needs time in the bottle to soften up.

Grape varieties: 100% Merlot
Aging: oak barrels
Abv: 14.5%
Average price: 15€
GN score: 89/100

Region: Bulgaria – Thracian Valley – Sakar

Originally from the heart of Bordeaux, but now grown all over the world, Merlot often finds itself in the shadow of its stronger counterpart Cabernet Sauvignon. It matures early, so can ripen fully even in cooler climates, but gives much softer wines than most French grape varieties. It’s ideal for starting out with, because the flavours and elements (acidity, alcohol, tannin) are never overly aggressive. Easy-drinking would be the term best used to describe it. Notes that can be detected are plum, red fruit and mushrooms/earth when aged.

I truly respect family businesses, because I’ve always been a part of one. If I know that every single member of it devoted him/herself to the final product, I’ll buy it without hesitation. Hours and hours of hard work and research have been put in to deliver, so why not support that? During the period 2005 – 2008 on the southern hills of Sakar Mountain, the Bratanov family planted 24 ha of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Rubin, Chardonnay and Tamianka. After a vigilant analysis of the local soils and microclimatic settings, these varieties were selected and planted. On this pollution-free land, the family decided to organically cultivate their small vineyards and become a part of the New Wave Bulgarian producers who put emphasis on technological uniqueness and terroir expression.


Written by Aleksandar Draganić.

I’m a WSET certified grape juice drinker, and yes, I’m that 1% of people that love their job. I drink wine, write about it, preach about it, even take pictures of it. Find me at @grapenomad


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