BULGARIA, ROMANIA, HUNGARY

DISCOVERING CENTRAL EUROPE

After an intense stay in Turkey, we take the road back and mentally prepare to cross the Bulgarian border. We are very worried about having to pay a fine while leaving Turkey: the Betty surprised us by overspeeding! Finally, we pass without any problem and are back in the European Union.

At the first bulgarian vineyard, the day passes like a dream. We taste all the wines of the cellar and in particular two delicious autochthonous grape varieties: the Rubin that we already knew, spicy and warm, and the Tamianka, a very aromatic white grape variety.

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When we open the cellar door, a surprise awaits us: the Betty almost disappears under a nice layer of snow! Luckily, on the road, we find ourselves just behind the snow remover, which we follow carefully, before stopping to sleep in a small village.

When we wake up, some inhabitants bring us their house wine and a bag of nuts, proving again the great sense of hospitality of the Bulgarians. We are warmly welcomed by a winemaker we met during our first stay in Bulgaria, who prepares us barbecued meat and can't stand to see our glasses empty. Her wines always have the charm of the first time, and this reunion is like those of old friends! 

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Then we return to Sofia, where we had left our wine a month earlier at a wine shop, to a man called Alexander. The capital is covered with snow and looks like a Christmas tale. A thick fog rises as we drive towards the country of Dracula, and we plunge into the special atmosphere of Romania.

Our program is intense, as we visit two domains per day. The Dealu Mare region is known for its reds as well as whites. We meet amazing women, great entrepreneurs, hard-working and proud, who welcome us with open arms.

The Feteasca Alba and the Feteasca Negra are two local grape varieties with a bad reputation due to the poor quality of the wines produced during the communist period. We have the good surprise to discover fine and rich wines, symbol of a vineyard that is trying to regain its former prestige with wines of great quality. In this Latin-speaking country, open to the world, environmental issues and the question of sustainability are well anchored in the debates. 

We are surprised by the good understanding and the great solidarity between the winegrowers, who use competition in a positive way and work hand in hand to advance the Romanian vineyard.

After the mysterious mountains of Romania, we are heading towards Hungary, the country of the Magyars. The first border post we try to cross is closed, which does not bode well. Fortunately, we are luckier at the second attempt, and arrive at night, under a torrential rain, in Hungarian territory... to bog down Betty a few minutes later! Hungary seems not to want us, but armed with our raincoats, we get out of this bad step in laughter.

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This complicated arrival is quickly forgotten and we let ourselves be convinced by the atmosphere of the Tokaj region. Celebrated throughout the world, on  this land the wonderful noble rot Botrytis cinerea grows, thanks to the two rivers that border the vineyard. The rarity of this wine, its intense golden color and its divine aromas make it the "king of wines and the wine of kings" according to Louis XIV. 

To discover this marvelous wine, named Aszú, one must dive, candle in hand, into the humid cellars dug into the volcanic rocks of Mount Tokaj, an extinct volcano. The walls are covered with the black Cladosporium mushroom, which participates in the elaboration of this delicious beverage. The secret of its success: its acidity, more marked than in Sauternes, which counterbalances the sugar and brings freshness. It has nothing to envy its French counterpart. However, climate change is making its production more difficult, and winegrowers are diversifying by offering more and more dry wines, which are also worth the detour. 

After a quick stopover in Budapest, that despite the closure of all the establishments, we discover a glass of hot wine in our hand, we go to the Mor region. Known for its Ezerjo grape variety, it is a region with aging vineyards, where the younger generation of winemakers sometimes have trouble getting along with the older ones. We spend some time in the family of a winegrower's family, which makes us fall into the Christmas mood. The return is coming soon! 

WOMEN IN WINE

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Elizabet Poteva

Elizabet shines in the Bendida cellar in Plovdiv and her laugh is communicative and ! Proud of the local grape varieties Rubin and Mavrud, her wines are as vibrant as she is. 

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Maria Stoeva

The brilliant oenologist of the Bratanov cellar, with her training and experience in France, produces complex and elegant wines. 

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Lorena Deaconu

She manages the cellar of the Iconic Estate, a Romanian giant with a production of 5 million bottles. Her credo "clean and fair wines" guides her on a daily basis and she has her role as manager very much at heart. 

Aurelia Visinescu

Aurelia is a determined and entrepreneurial buiness woman. She manages her 82ha of organic vines with great strength and courage. 

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Michaela Tyrel de Poix

After the fall of communism, the elegant Mihaela accompanied her French husband Guy on the S.E.R.V.E wine adventure in Romania and participated in the promotion of the autochthonous grape variety Feteasca Neagra. 

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Judit Bodó

With their Bott Pince vineyard in Tokaj, Judit and her husband dream to make young people understand the beauty and richness of their terroir so that they participate in restoring it to its former glory. 

Stéphanie Berecz

This French oenologist settled in Hungary takes over the Kikelet family estate from her husband in the Tokaj tradition. 

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Kata Zsirai

After her father's death, Kata goes back to her roots and becomes a winegrower in the Tokaj region. Her wines are in her image, fine and elegant. 

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Vivien Ujvári

Lively and talented, Vivien has been running the Barta Pince vineyard since 2016 after discovering wine around the world. 

Krisztina Csetvei

Resplendent, Krisztina changed her life on a sudden impulse and moved to the Mor area where she now produces Hárslevelű with music and philosophy. 

Special thanks to Alexander, the Sofia wine shop owner who not only allowed us to keep all our treasures but also advised us on the best wines of Bulgaria!

But also a big thank you to Daniel de Crama Mierla Alba, who made us discover his precious wines, promised us a great future! As well as Mihai and Walter from the Lacerta estate for their warm welcome and the rich explanations that allowed us to better understand the Romanian wine history.