Grape Guide: Mavrud

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 is around the town of 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. 

Grape Guide: Pamid

Pamid is a red grape variety from Bulgaria. Sadly it is now virtually extinct, but it can be found in parts of the Thracian Valley (where it has been used for thousands of years) and in particular in the appellation of Haskovo PDO.

Pamid has never really been considered as a quality grape and was primarily used as a table grape because of its sweet taste. Its thin skins, low acidity and low colour have long rendered it a second glass citizen, a grape used for quantity. 

During the 1960s it was widely cultivated but its popularity has declined rapidly. During the Soviet era stories of Black Pamid emerged but the likelihood is that, ever resourceful, winemakers would run the juice over the skins of Mavrud to give it more colour. 

Pamid grapes are small with thin red (sometimes dark red) skins. It's a fertile grape; yields are good and it tends to ripen around mid September. Like many grape varieties that have become traditional in Bulgaria, it is able to tolerate both extremely cold temperatures and periods of drought, crucial for any variety planted in a continental climate. It is susceptible to disease. 

Divas Winery are the main producers of Pamid in Bulgaria. They blend it with international varieties to make a rose and also release it as a mono-varietal red, which, due to the lack of colour looks like a dark rose. 


**Recommended producers:** DiVas Winery



+ Known as Roşioar in Romania
+ Known as Plovdina in Macedonia