A glass of white wine on the table at Theatre of Winew in Tufnell Park, London, with a printout with the list of wines for the tasting in the background.'

Meeting innovative winemaker Georgiev/Milkov from Bulgaria 🇧🇬

The dynamic duo Petar Georgiev & Radostin Milkov decidedly focus on local grape varieties 🍇 and experiment with different styles to produce modern, authentic and elegant wines.

My friend Dilyan from The Old Cellar recently invited me to a special tasting at Theatre of Wine with one of their most exciting winemakers.

The Old Cellar is a wine importer, wholesaler and retailer specialised in wines from Bulgaria 🇧🇬. I first got to know them about five years ago, after a holiday in Varna on the Black Sea coast. Fascinated by the local wines I tried there, I quickly organised a tasting for my friends. So naturally, I was curious when Dilyan now forwarded me the details about their event with young & innovative winemakers Petar Georgiev & Radostin Milkov.

Petar Georgiev & Radostin Milkov standing in a vineyard.

After getting around a bit and working at wineries in different parts of the world, the two decided to take their knowledge back to the Thracian Valley in Bulgaria, one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world, and launch their own range of wines.

A keen interest in local Bulgarian grape varieties brought the two together when they started Georgiev/Milkov in 2014. What sets them apart from most other winemakers in the region since the very beginning is their drive to explore and experiment with the traditional varieties Mavrud, Rubin and Red Misket to create modern, authentic, elegant and refreshing wines that reflect current trends in the wine trade and can reach new audiences.

They plan to buy their own vineyard soon. So far, they have been buying grapes from local growers. The majority of the grapes are from older vines. This allows Georgiev/Milkov to produce impressive wines, while also embracing lighter styles and reflecting the characteristics of the locality and terroir.

Out of the six wines they presented at Theatre of Wine in Tufnell Park in London we picked our three favourites.

⚖️ Bold & Balanced Mavrud

  • Wine: Mavrud Novi Izvor 2021 (🛒 Buy from The Old Cellar)
  • Grapes: Mavrud
  • Story:
    For this wine, they selected grapes from a vineyard that appears to be perfect for this particular grape. They decided to age the wine for 10 months in used Bulgarian 🇧🇬 & French 🇫🇷 oak barrels to preserve the fruit flavour characteristics and create a wine that showcases the terroir.
    For us, this was the clear winner of the evening 🏆. We immediately liked the beautiful colour. The balance of sour cherry flavours combined with spices and black pepper really left a mark. This wine reminded us a little bit of a nice Beaujolais from France and felt very approachable with just about 13% of alcohol.

🍑 Revolutionary Red Misket

  • Wine: Pét-Nat Red Misket Skin Contact NV (🛒 Buy from The Old Cellar)
  • Grapes: Red Misket
  • Story:
    They produce this fun wine with grapes from the Rose Valley area. Thanks to 40 days of skin contact, they start with an orange base wine. Two vintages are blended together and the wine is aged for 12 months in acacia barrels. And after the final stages of the fermentation in the bottle, the wine ends up with only 11% of alcohol!
    We found this ‘natural sparkling’ wine simply enjoyable 🥈. An interesting summer wine with a friendly floral honeysuckle nose as well as herbaceous notes. Fresh and fruity, something different, trendy and exciting.

🍇 Robust Rubin

  • Wine: Rubin Brestovitsa 2021 (🛒 Buy from The Old Cellar)
  • Grapes: Rubin
  • Story:
    This is a big wine that is aged for 10 months in Bulgarian 🇧🇬 & French 🇫🇷 oak barrels. Finding the right time to harvest the grapes seems particularly tricky with the Rubin variety.
    We tend to prefer lighter and freshed wines, so we were surprised how much we enjoyed this red Rubin 🥉. The oak ageing creates a round profile and we even thought we could taste some notes of liquorice in this spicy bottle!

Vines in the sun with mountains in the background in Novi Izvor vineyard in Thracian Valley, Bulgaria 🇧🇬.

At the end, we found it difficult not to mention another fun ‘natural sparkling’ wine from the very same vineyard as our first favourite. So our bonus recommendation 🏅 is the 🍾 Pét-Nat Funky Mavrud 2021 (🛒 Buy from The Old Cellar).
The two winemakers said that they actually were the first in Bulgaria to use the now trendy “pétillant naturel” method to produce slightly sparkling wine. For this one, they started by pressing the grapes very cautiously. In the bottle we get a cloudy funky wine with relatively little alcohol.
An all-out refreshing wine with plenty of acidity and bags of red berry notes. We liked the raspberry flavours and as a little surprise, maybe, we even noticed a little bit nutty or sherry flavours on the nose - but maybe that’s just us!

While we were invited to the event by The Old Cellar, this didn’t stop us from buying a bottle of the Mavrud Novi Izvor 2021 at the end. That’s how much we enjoyed it. 🙂

Bottle from Novi Izvor vineyard

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First published in September 2023.