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By Yana Petkova and Irina Sofranova
Northwestern Bulgaria is little known to wine lovers and the little that is known about its nature, wines and people is rather laconic and not particularly positive.
It is true that there are many sheeps and their derivatives in the Northwest: yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese… It is also true, however, that the region offers a series of other natural goods that await its tasters. Wonderful wines, historical and cultural sights, hospitable residents, unique conditions for alternative tourism and remarkable, unspoiled nature.
We have visited the region several times and each time we leave one idea better, positively charged and somehow purified. It’s as if people are born good here. The soul of the region is pure and sublime. Here one breathes with a full chest.
Borovitsa winery welcomed us without fanfare when we first visited it, back in 2015. We got to know one part of the tandem behind the project – Ognyan Tsvetanov: a man with an alternative way of thinking who dedicated his life to wine. He walked us through the history of winemaking, told us about his own vision, and offered us some of the most wonderful sulphite free, orange and offbeat wines we have tasted. Without presenting them in detail. They were just talking by themselves. Borovitza is one of the treasures of the Bulgarian wine world. Authentic, without unnecessary emotions.
It’s life-affirming when you see people following their calling and living their dream. People, who create cultural and social values and who show you that even in godforsaken Bulgaria everything is possible. The possible is happening in the village of Borovitza, located among the Belogradchik rocks in Northwestern Bulgaria. The fantastic shapes of the rocks capture the local imagination and make people to name them and ascribe stories. The wonderful thing for us, the wine people of Avinissima and DiVino, is that right here in the Borovitza cellar happens a rare but very real wine fiction.
There are hardly any more discussed wines in Bulgaria than those of the Borovitza winery. In reality, there is no room for discussion – either you understand these wines and become their die-hard fan, or with deep bewilderment you thank and do not repeat. The structure, the fusion, the idea and the execution of the wines are unquestionably looking for equals in our country also because of the unique terroir, but especially because of the visions of the founders of the project. These are Ognyan Tsvetanov and Adriana Srebrinova – people for whom pages could be filled, but since we do not have that much space in this material, we will mention only some basic (for the purpose of the post) facts.
After accepting a consulting job in the region, Ognyan Tsvetanov discovered something unseen before in Bulgaria – fresh, elegant and aromatic wines; alive and crispy. Not only white, but also red. After a process of persuasion and samples brought to her feet, his colleague Adriana was convinced, went to the place and …the rest is history. Adriana stays in Borovitsa and both begin the struggle – for land, for cellar, for grapes, for style, for recognition, for understanding. As is often the case with Bulgarian wineries that are aside of the mainstream, the recognition comes from outside, where tasters’ senses are tired of standard wines and are always on the lookout for something new and interesting.
Fifteen years later and after hardships that temper the human will to an almost a meditative level (you know, nothing more could happen to me), the Borovitza winery today has 8.7 hectares of its own vineyards on a terroir that scientists from Harvard University come to study.
A little clarification: the Belogradchik rocks are made of variegated Triassic sandstones and conglomerates, rich in hematite pigment, with clay and quartz. Hematite is an iron oxide and rock-forming mineral, but more interestingly, it has been known since ancient times as the Magiсians’ Stone. It was believed to ward off spells and grant invulnerability, so it was used as a protective amulet against attack and injury, and American Indians even beautified their bodies with hematite dust before battle.
The wines of Borovitsa are an epitome of the craft approach to wine – the grapes from each small plot are vinified separately, with batches ranging between 280 and 380 bottles, and information is given on the label not only about the variety and aging, but also about the type of soil, yield, age of the vines, level of sulphites, which bottle number of the series you are holding in your hands or which vessel the wine comes from. The labels of the cellar are about 35, and thevarietal mirror is impressive: Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir, Gamza, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The combinations are incredibly diverse and you will have a hard time choosing just one favorite wine.
Borovitza is an impressive place. Not to mention the wines. But also everything around – from the imposing centuries-old oaks and huge old walnuts in front of the cellar, through the stunning beauty of the large vineyard, spread out on the hillside under fantastic red rocks and full of a rich variety of herbs in the rows, to the vital energy and total competence and uncompromisingness that streams from Adriana Srebrinova. This summer she also hosted – once again – the Festival of Fermented Products, because although the North-West is not her native region, she already belongs to it and actively encourages people to come here, to enjoy interesting events and … to have more Light in the tunnel.