Bulgarian wine and culture showcased in Pattaya

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Thracian wine tasting at the Amari

The lively sounds of Bulgarian folk music echoed around the Ananda Ballroom of the Amari Orchid Resort in Pattaya last week, performed by the talented singers and dancers of the Bulgarian Folklore Ensemble.  It was part of a magnificent event to promote European regional wines from the Bulgarian Thracian lowlands.  Bulgaria is part of the Balkan Peninsula in south-eastern Europe.  It shares frontiers with Greece and Turkey to the south, Romania to the north, Macedonia to the south-west; Serbia and Montenegro to the west. 

The historical and geographical region of Thrace lies on the modern borders of Greece and Turkey with a substantial coastline on the Black Sea.  Its colourful history of wine traditions can be traced back nearly seven thousand years to the Thracian tribes that once inhabited these regions.  The Thracians celebrated life with rituals, customs and festivals many of which were related in some way to wine.  So enchanted was Homer, that a dark and sweet Thracian wine was mentioned in his epic poem, the Iliad.

(From left): Joseph Henry, Managing Director of Vivaldi Seasons Co., Ltd.; MarkAnthony Chesner, Project Manager, Plovdiv Regional Vine and Wine Chamber, “TRAKIA”; Nikolay Dimitrov, Project Manager, Thracian Wine Region Consortium; Vihren Velkov, Bulgarian Wine Sommelier; Thawatchai Tappitak, a well-known Thai wine expert and Burin Nakcharoen, Chairman of Vivaldi Seasons Co., Ltd. pose together during the presentation of Bulgaria’s finest wines at the Amari Orchid.(From left): Joseph Henry, Managing Director of Vivaldi Seasons Co., Ltd.; MarkAnthony Chesner, Project Manager, Plovdiv Regional Vine and Wine Chamber, “TRAKIA”; Nikolay Dimitrov, Project Manager, Thracian Wine Region Consortium; Vihren Velkov, Bulgarian Wine Sommelier; Thawatchai Tappitak, a well-known Thai wine expert and Burin Nakcharoen, Chairman of Vivaldi Seasons Co., Ltd. pose together during the presentation of Bulgaria’s finest wines at the Amari Orchid.

The Amari event was presented by Vivaldi Public Relations and the Regional Vine and Wine Chamber, known as Trakia, a professional Bulgarian organisation which works with its members and international partners for the development of the country’s wine industry.  With financial support from the European Union and the Republic of Bulgaria, Trakia has also given promotional presentations in Vietnam and Singapore.

The Bulgarian Folk Ensemble put on a great show of traditional Balkan song & dance.The Bulgarian Folk Ensemble put on a great show of traditional Balkan song & dance.

The splendid evening consisted of tutored tastings, superb food prepared by the Amari staff and an informative presentation by MarkAnthony (yes, one word) Chesner, a senior member of the Bulgarian Trakia team and a graduate of San Francisco State University.

Several international grape varieties are grown in the lowlands of Thrace such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.  They also cultivate some local varieties such as Mavrud, Rubin and Pamid, grapes which are virtually unknown outside Bulgaria.  The guests were guided through a wide range of interesting Thracian wines with the help of Burin Nakcharoen (Chairman of Vivaldi Public Relations) together with top Bulgarian sommelier Vihren Velkov and Thai wine expert Thawatchai Tappita.

Bulgarian Sommelier Vihren Velkov expertly decants a bottle of Thracian wine.Bulgarian Sommelier Vihren Velkov expertly decants a bottle of Thracian wine.

Most of the wines came from the Brestovitsa and Yamantievs wineries with some fascinating examples from Villa Yustina, an award-winning boutique winery with a mission to develop high-end wines in the Thracian Valley.

The passionate Bulgarian character comes through in the compulsive rhythms and yearning melodies of their expressive folk music.  The raw, innate power of the songs, performed tellingly by the Bulgarian Folklore Ensemble, seems to be reflected in the wines too.  These rich and powerful wines exude a kind of ancient, elemental quality and perhaps even evoke the spirit of the ancient Thrace.

Thracian wine makes its debut in Pattaya.Thracian wine makes its debut in Pattaya.

Spirits were high at the Amari by the end of the evening, and it culminated in a merry Bulgarian folk dance around the tables.  Almost everyone joined in, though by this late stage, the wines were evidently beginning to have an effect on several of the guests.  It’s expected that some of these Thracian wines will be available in Thailand during the next twelve months, so if you enjoy rich and assertive wines with a difference, keep a look out for them.

Invited guests enjoyed the free-flow wine, food and entertainment.Invited guests enjoyed the free-flow wine, food and entertainment.

Guests join the folkloric group for an impromptu dance to end the evening.Guests join the folkloric group for an impromptu dance to end the evening.