Villa Yustina Monogram Mavrud – Rubin 2013
Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
We all remember our first time.
In this case, I’m referring to (1) my first (known) experiences with Mavrud and Rubin, two common ruby dark Bulgarian red varietals; (2) my first wine from a small modern Bulgarian wine producer; and (3) this site’s first review of a Bulgarian wine. All left me curious to explore much more. One day I probably will.
The Villa Yustina Winery sits in Ustina, a village near the Rhodope Mountains about 25 kilometres from Plovdiv, a region with a long viticultural tradition –and one of Europe’s oldest cities. Established in 2006 as a boutique winery, it now owns and operates 42 hectares planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Aligoté, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Mavrud and Rubin.
As the label suggests, Monogram is a proprietary blend of Mavrud (60%) and Rubin (40%). Mavrud can be tannic if harvested too late while Rubin, a uniquely local cross of Nebbiolo and Syrah developed in the mid-1940s, can produce attractive full-bodied wines whose major drawback is its quick aging. It might be the latter that made this blend meld so well.
It’s aged in Bulgarian oak for 30 months, the result is a concentrated and somewhat inky wine, with raspberry and strawberry aromas, chocolaty and vanilla notes on the palate. There was a slight zing of spice which reminded one co-taster of the Teran refosco of Slovenia’s Karst. I didn’t get that, but we did agree that it was a lovely glass of red, made even more pleasant given the modest price tag of just over 24 Bulgarian Lev, or about €12.
I’m not convinced that this is suitable for longer term aging, but that hardly matters. It’s delicious now, a nice example of the kinds of wines that are helping Bulgaria gradually fight off its old quantity-over-quality reputation of the past. The future is finally here.
Bronze medal, 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Note to my (and your) future self: find the four-grapeVilla Yustina Special Reserve.
Yustina , 51 Nikola Petkov Str.
Yustina, Bulgaria villayustina.com