Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Melnik, powerful ancient late-ripening bulgarian red grape variety that is grown on 1,580 ha/3,902 acres in 2013 exclusively in the Struma Valley around the historic town of Mělnik close to the Greek border in what was Thrace. It may therefore have been cultivated here for many centuries (see greece, Ancient) and its wines certainly taste more Greek in their extract, tannin, and alcohol than typical of modern Bulgaria. Its full name is Shiroka Melnishka Losa, or ‘broad-leaved vine of Melnik’, and its berries are notably small with thick, blue skins. Some wines have the aroma of tobacco leaves, another local crop. Oak ageing and several years bring out a warmth and style not unlike a nebbiolo. This is probably the Bulgarian wine with the greatest longevity, but see also mavrud. An early ripening clone, Ranna Melnishka Losa, yields wines with rounder fruit and softer tannins.