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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

A Geography Lesson + a Taste of Bulgaria: Bob Chorba and a Blend of Mavrud and Rubin from Thrace

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

This month Andrea of The Quirky Cork is hosting the Wine Pairing Weekend group to look at wines made with heritage or "traditional" grapes. Yikes! I must have stopped reading the prompt right there. Whoops. The theme was actually heritage or grapes used where they are not traditional.


We will be gathering for a live meeting on Threads. Saturday, November 11th at 8am Pacific. Though I have a Threads profile, I have never used it much less know how to participate in a chat on the platform. So, bear with us/me. But here's the line-up of articles from the Wine Pairing Weekend group...



Ahead of the event, I sourced two bottles before deciding which to share today. But I did post Olive Oil-Poached Salmon Belly Baked Potatoes + 2019 Nekresi Estate Rkatsiteli-Mtsvane earlier this week.


A Geography Lesson

I found a bottle of a red wine blend from the Thracian Valley at my local Whole Foods. When I first bought it, I was thinking - Thrace, Greece. I started menu planning with my favorite Greek dishes. Then I turned the bottle around and saw ' Thracian Valley, Bulgaria.' What?!? It was definitely time for a geography lesson.


The Thracian Valley includes three countries where wine is produced: Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. It is the largest wine region in Bulgaria. A little more reading told me that the name of the Thracian Valley wine region comes from the ancient Greek word 'Thrace'. It is also said to be the birthplace of Dionysus, the ancient Greek God of wine and the valley from which Troy sourced its wine. Archaeological evidence shows that winemaking in the Thracian Valley goes as far back as 4000 BC.


A Blend of Mavrud and Rubin from Thrace


The bottle of Bulgarian wine that I found was from the Edoardo Miroglio Winery in Elenovo, Bulgaria. The winery, considered one of the most modern in the country, was certified organic in 2013. This is comprised of 75% Mavrud and 25% Rubin; it is aged 6 months in French and Bulgarian oak.


Mavrud, whose name in Greek means 'black' is a red grape variety that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Iit is considered indigenous to the Balkan region through there is speculation that Mavrud may be an ancient clone of Mourvedre and was brought to Bulgaria by the Romans, but I didn't find a definitive answer on that either way.


Rubin Bolgarskii, or simply Rubin, is a dark-skinned hybrid of Nebbiolo and Syrah that was created in Pleven, Bulgaria in 1944. Rubin is grown throughout the Central European nations of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, and Bulgaria.


The Edoardo Miroglio Bio Mavrud & Rubin poured a inky garnet color with an almost black rim. The wine has aomas of red and black fruit, including currant, plum, cherry, and blackberry. There were also layers of leather and tobaccco. On the palate the wine is elegant and well-balanced with ripe, fruit flavors balanced with acidity and tannins.


Bob Chorba


I wanted to make a Bulgarian dish and came across mentions of Bob Chorba which just means 'bean soup' in Bulgarian. It is typically made with dry beans, onions, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and spearmint, but version vary regionally where some areas exclude carrots and some areas include meat.


Variations called for Smilyan beans from Rhodope, Radovene beans from Vratza, or sharen beans. I was unfamiliar with all of those! But I did have a recent shipment of beans from Llano Seco and went with those.



Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups dried beans

  • 4 cups water to stock

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil (I used a smoked olive oil)

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 1 carrot, diced

  • 1 bell pepper, (I used a red one), diced

  • salt and pepper

  • 1 Tablespoon ground paprika (I used 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, and 1 teaspoon hot paprika)

  • 2 teaspoons dried mint

  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced


Procedure

Rinse the beans in cold running water. Place them in a large pot and cover them in water. Bring the beans to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 1 hour. After an hour drain them and proceed with the recipe.


Pour 2 Tablespoons oil into the beans and sauté for two to three minutes until they are beginning to brown. Stir them constantly so they don't burn.


Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the beans and fry over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in the liquid (I like using stock for more flavor), then simmer the beans until they are tender, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.


In another pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Stir in the carrots and onions and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes. Add in the bell pepper, tomatoes, paprika, and mint. Cook for another 5 minutes before adding the vegetables into the bean pot. Bring everything back to a boil and simmer until the beans are completely cooked, approximately another 30 minutes.


Serve hot.


That's a wrap on my offering for the heritage/traditional grapes #WinePW event. I am hosting next month's event. We will be looking at American sparklers - who doesn't like bubbly during the holidays?!?! - or writers can circle back to any of the themes we explored during the year. Read my invitation.

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Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
Nov 15, 2023

I'm not familiar with any wines from this area. I am going on a hunt.

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andrea
Nov 10, 2023

How interesting! I'd not heard of Rubin before. Thanks for the introduction :) I've had several variations of Mavrud/Mavroudi from all three of the Thraces, and they're really all pretty different.

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