Mavrud is, for me at least, the undoubted star of Bulgaria's red varieties. Its ability to yield big, ripe and round wines that work both with or without oak make it a key grape and I'd love to see producers embrace this going forwards. the one worth concentrating resources in and embracing.

Mavrud grows predominantly in the Plovdiv area of the Thracian valley, just south of the Rhodeppe Mountains where the weather is warmer and the grapes can ripen easier. Here, in the alluvial soils, Mavrud's large bunches The biggest concentration of vineyards are around the Asenovgard

It also grows closer to the Black Sea, in and around Pazardzhik, Stara Zagora and Pomorie. As you might expect people are starting to plant more vineyards and we are starting to see Mavrud based wines in both the Sakar and Melnik regions.

A few years ago I wrote a short piece comparing Mavrud with Vranec, grown just over the border in Macedonia. The inspiration for such a comparison was a tasting organised by Katia Gargova, a winemaker who at the time was working at Popova Kula in Macedonia while at the same time working on her Wine Bridges project in Plovdiv. The similarities between the two grapes were worth looking at though.

At its best, Mavrud makes deep coloured wines with plenty of tannin and acidity. This structure is countered by attractive notes of blueberry, preen and often complex herbal aromas, particularly menthol or eucalyptus. Seemingly able to produce impressive wines with or without oak, it's a grape that can probably produce long lasting wines, certainly up to six or seven years beyond the vintage. In reality they can probably live on far beyond this, but I've never tasted anything serious that demonstrates this.

A buying guide to Mavrud