Wine Cellar Manastira's "Just Young" mavrud from Bulgaria's Thracian Valley. It is a medium bodied wine from a grape little known in the West. It is, however, the pride of Bulgaria.
I wish I hadn't read about this before drinking it. I had preconceptions about this wine. I thought it was going to be
giant and bold and dark. When I poured it? It was lighter in color than my preconceptions. It is garnet in color (id accept ruby as well). The nose doesn't seem super fruity but cherry was readily apparent on the nose.
Taste? There is cherry and cherry pit. The tannins are fairly strong for a medium bodied wine. This mavrud has a bitter finish. I want to be sure to say THIS mavrud; it is the only example of the wine I have ever had. I have no idea if this is typical but it is, in a general sense, a well-made wine. There is a hint of some kind of spice here but it is hard to identify. It only changes slightly with air but this matters. It becomes smoother and the fruit rises as the tannins and bitterness recede.
There is something interesting about this wine. It seems like it wants to be weighty with the noticeable tannins. It reminds me that wines like this, made from grapes and in areas with different wine making traditions, often confound our desire to compare them to the things we know.
As I am always careful to say (when it is true); this is NOT a strange wine that is going to be seen as alien to those who like wine. It just has some subtle unique characteristics. With the cherry there is a temptation to say "pinot noir"
but the tannin and the bitter finish? Absolutely not. There might also be some who would want to compare to light Italian reds. I won't even mention the grapes but for every similarity there is a difference to the light wines of Northern Italy.
Wines are like that. Different grapes, climate and geography make for unique combinations of flavor and other sensations.
The stories about Mavrud abound. Several sources claim a relation to mourvedre with the grape coming to the area via the Romans. This is what made me think it would be big, fruity and bold. There are also a couple stories about how Khan Krum had all the vineyards in the area torn up. Later, when visiting the mother of a warrior (who either fought bravely in battle or killed a lion) she confesses his bravery is due to the grape vine she kept and made wine from. The young warrior's name was, of course, Mavrud. His drunken bravery, so the story goes, led to the replanting of vineyards.