Monday, December 7, 2015

Orbelus Winery, Struma Valley, Bulgaria

It was twilight when we arrived at the Orbelus Winery in Bulgaria's Struma River Valley wine region. Night was settling into the valley, as the moon was already rising in the sky. Besides its stunning location on a hill, surrounded by the mountains in the distance, there are two things about this winery that immediately caught my attention. They are 1) its unique architecture and 2) it is an organic winery.
Orbelus Winery, Kromidovo © Spaswinefood
Moon Rising, Orbelus Winery © Spaswinefood

Orbelus Winery 
Orbelus Winery, Kromidovo sits on a hill overlooking the valley. Upon arrival at Obelus  the owner greeted us. He explained how he had worked with an architect to achieve the winery's unique design. The half-barrel shape was conceived as being both 1) in harmony with natural environment, and 2) Orbelus's desire to strike a balance between tradition and modernity. Half of the winery's construction is above ground and the other half is below ground.

We did a very quick walk through this modern winery before proceeding to the tasting room.

Arriving at Orbelus Winery © Spaswinefood
I must say the winery was quite stunning in the late evening light.

Discovering Orbelus Wines

Orbelus Winery opened in 2014. Bulgarian and European Law have certified their vineyards planted in 2006-08, as meeting requirements for organic grape production. Melnik 55 (a hybrid of Shiroka Melnishka Loza) is central to Orbelus's mission to value tradition while continuing to search for new ways. Melnik 55, also known as Early Melnik, is used in the red wine blends. It is significant to valuing tradition because the indigenous grape Shiroka Melnishka Loza (Broadleaf Melnik) is found the Struma Valley, taking its name from the town of Melnik. Wine made from Melnik grapes is highly prized for its full-bodied flavor, ruby-red color and its aging potential. Other red grapes that are cultivated by Orbelus include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Petit Verdot, Primitivo, Rubin, Shiroka Melnishka Loza (Broadleaf Melnik), Marselan and Mourvedre. Their white grape varieties include Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Sandanski Misket and Assyrtiko.
Orbelus Wines © Spaswinefood
The young winery has established three wine series. They are experimenting with the use of Melnik 55 in three red wine blends, namely Melnik, Prima and Getika. A rosé wine, Orbelus Paril was added in 2013. Their white wine blends are under the Orbelus Orelek label. In 2012 they added the Orbelus Hrumki series where the production is limited to one wine in this series each year.

This organic winery's unique architecture definitely creates a wine inspired setting for wine tasting. 
Ready for Wine Tasting, Orbelus Winery © Spaswinefood
Wine Tasting, Orbelus Winery © Spaswinefood
Let us take a brief look at the wines I tasted from Orbelus's three wine series.

1. Orbelus Melnik, Prima and Getika Series

Orbelus Melnik, Prima & Getika © Spaswinefood

From the above series I tasted the following:

(1) Orbelus Getika 2011
Orbelus Getika 2011 © Spaswinefood
(2) Orbelus Getika 2010
Orbelus Getika 2011 © Spaswinefood
(3) Orbelus Prima 2011
Orbelus Getika 2011 © Spaswinefood

(4) Orbelus Prima Special Selection 2012

Orbelus Special Selection Prima 2012 © Spaswinefood
(5) Orbelus Prima Special Selection 2011
Orbelus Prima Special Selection 2012 © Spaswinefood
I also tasted a Orbelus Syrah, Merlot 2011.

Orbelus Syrah, Merlot 2011

Orbelus Syrah, Merlot 2011 © Spaswinefood

From the Orbelus Paril (2013 & 2014) rosé wines produced thus far I tasted the Orbelus Paril 2014.

Tasting Orbelus Paril 2014 © Spaswinefood

Orbelus Paril 2014 (blend Melnik 55, Syrah, Merlot & Marselan)

 Orbelus Paril 2014 © Spaswinefood
Orbelus Paril 2014 (back label) © Spaswinefood

2. Orbelus Orelek Series (white wine series) 

From their white wine series I tasted:

(1) Orbelus Orelek Chardonnay & Viognier 

Orbelus Orelek Chardonnay & Viognier 2014 © Spaswinefood

3. Orbelus Hrumki Series

From their newest wine series I tasted:

(1) Orbelus Hrumki 2012

Orbelus Hrumki 2012 © Spaswinefood
The 2012 was a blend of Melnik, Mourvedre and Marselan, with 2013 including Melnik, Mourvedre, Marselan and Syrah.

It was indeed a great lineup of wines included in the wine tasting.

Orbelus Winery Wines © Spaswinefood
If you are looking for high quality organic wines then Orbelus Winery is the Bulgarian winery to watch. I very much enjoyed the wines I tasted at Orbelus Winery. I did also hear good reports on these wines from fellow wine bloggers who tasted them at #dwcc15 in Plovdiv.
Orbelus Wines at #DWCC15, Plovdiv © Spaswinefood

When we left the winery that evening the moon was shining brightly.
Moon Over Orbelus Winery © Spaswinefood

Our Orbelus winery visit was the perfect ending to an enjoyable day in the Struma Valley. The 
Southwest Bulgaria's Struma River Valley wine region, situated between the Pirin Mountains and the Struma River, is a small but a very significant wine region. Like the Struma Valley wine region the Orbelus Winery has amazing potential. I look forward to hearing many good things about this winery. 
Spaswinefood is also looking forward to writing future posts on Bulgaria. Our Bulgarian press trip was indeed a great opportunity to learn about Bulgarian wineriesI invite you to join me in my travels in Bulgaria and elsewhere at Spaswinefood.

October 2015
Melnik, Bulgaria
© Spaswinefood

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Orbelus Winery © Spaswinefood

Note: This expense paid press trip was sponsored by #dwcc15 and our Bulgarian hosts.