Shiroka Melnishka Loza or Broad Leaved Melnik Vine (literally translated in English) is one of the most interesting autochthonic Bulgarian varieties. Well, it is really difficult to be pronounced so you can commonly find it simply as Melnik vine. It is growing exclusively in the Struma Valley Wine Region/Melnik (SW Bulgaria – close to the Greek boarder) and it could be undoubtedly called the symbol of that region. The name tells much – on the picture you can see my outstretched fingers under the leafe. And my hand is not small at all!
The berries of Melnik are notably small with thick blue skins. It is a powerful, ancient, late-ripening variety (harvest in October) that benefits from the hot summer and the long, stable autumn weather of the region, ensuring full ripeness in most vintages. The young wines are distinguished for their dense cherry colour, their intense flavour dominated by cherry, enough density and a typical piquant tartness. The wine is rich in tannins and definitely benefits from oak aging, evolving a rich, complex flavour in which one could discover interesting nuances of tobacco and leather; the wine taste preserves its freshness and mild tartness. Jancis Robinson, MW compares the oak aged Melnik with Nebiollo!
Melnik has ancient history. The legend says the local wine was so thick and dense that one could carry it in handkerchief. The region of Melnik was important trading center and among the highly valued and mostly exported goods to Western Europe in the 17th and 18th century was the wine. It was one of the favourite wines of Sir Winston Churchill who used to order it by the barrel. Nowadays the variety is still widely spread and passionately respected by the locals in the Struma Valley Region. There are rarely winemakers who are not working with it – as a single variety, with its “relative” Melnik 55 (a hybrid variety of Broad Leaved Melnik and a few less known French varieties – predominantly Valdiguié) and of course – by blending it…
The best way to learn more about Shiroka Melnishka Loza is to taste it, preferably on site, feeling the unique atmosphere of the region! It is so simple – join VIA VINO exciting Melnik Wine Weekend and a give it a try