Di Vino топ 10: Dragomir Rubin Reserva
How did you feel when you saw your wine at the top of the list after all those years of being close but never number one?
Konstantin Stoev and Natalia Gadzheva: Happy and content. We believe that there is no such person who works hard and doesn’t feel happy when he or she receives recognition for his or her efforts. And not so much for our own sake, but for the sake of our friends, fans, and followers, if you will. This award is given to all of the people who have stood by our side over the last ten years, regardless of the difficulties or stages of development we have gone through. Because of them, we are working harder and harder to achieve the highest quality in our wines. We are most pleased that Dragomir’s Rubin Reserva is the wine that has taken first place. Not because we made it, but because it is made from a Bulgarian grape variety. You are aware that we have been attempting to emphasize and work with Bulgarian varieties for several years. We saw most people’s reactions after the ranking was released, and we want to thank everyone who greeted us, wrote to us, called us, or sent messages, and commented on various media emphasizing the fact that a Bulgarian variety did indeed win the ranking. The competition this year was fierce, as evidenced by the other twenty places in the ranking. By the way, we organized an internal wine tasting of the top 20 and were convinced that the quality of Bulgarian wine is improving. Bulgarian oenologists’ work is becoming increasingly serious, which is a challenge for all colleagues!
Natalia Gadzheva: Konstantin and I have always believed that when you win a recognition, whether it is a medal in an international competition or a prize in a national competition, it is your responsibility, and you must approach it with seriousness and engagement, be even more serious about your work, and, of course, defend your recognition by repeating and exceeding the quality in each subsequent harvest. Single awards and prizes are not indicative of a job well done. Without being too modest, I can say that the fact that our wine has been in the top ten of DiVino for five years in a row is the best indicator of the consistent quality of our wines; Dragomir has now become a symbol of quality.
Aside from the fact that you haven’t (apparently) changed, have you become wiser in the ten years since you purchased the Dragomir Wine Estate, and how do you feel now, after ten years as owners and winemakers in Bulgaria?
Konstantin Stoev and Natalia Gadzheva: So, obviously, we’ve changed! White hair demonstrates that ten years in a human life is not insignificant. However, when it comes to winemaking, the changes are both numerous and few. There are many, because when we look back and remember the beginning of the Dragomir project, as well as the subsequent trials and errors, successes and disappointments, discoveries and losses, we realize that a long time has passed. But, in terms of style and vision, we can now say that we are on the right track. When it comes to wine, however, ten years is an infinitely short time to accomplish everything you want as a professional. We’ve always said that winemaking is a business for the patient, and that things can happen even after several generations. It’s no coincidence that the world’s best wineries are all the same. We hope that one of our children or the children of our partners will continue in the direction we have begun, because the business is both interesting and difficult, and it is certainly not good to leave it incomplete.
And how do we feel as Bulgarian winemakers? It appears that things are improving. We are pleased that, with each passing day, trust in Bulgarian wine is regaining. We believe that the confident steps that we and our colleagues from other wineries in the country are taking will contribute to this happening. We are increasingly pleased to see that local Bulgarian wines predominate in the majority of restaurants, that more and more presentations of Bulgarian wines and products are made in shops, and that an increasing number of enthusiastic and passionate young Bulgarian winemakers begin working in our cellars. In a nutshell, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We hope that the apathy and distrust towards Bulgarian products, which had conquered the market, restaurant owners, and even our colleagues years ago, will be a thing of the past. We are adamant that if a person does his or her job well, it will eventually benefit everyone. In short, we currently feel comfortable working with wine in Bulgaria; perhaps all we need is a little chance and support from the government, which must recognize that Bulgarian wine is an image product.
What are your hopes for the next ten years?
Konstantin Stoev and Natalia Gadzheva: In addition to wishing health to ourselves, our friends, and our families, we wish to produce many good wines, and whether they will be well evaluated and ranked is a matter of the tasting committee’s organoleptic judgment. But, seriously, the two most important tasks that lie ahead in the coming years are, first, planting our vine massif in an area that we are confident is the terroir we sought, and second (but not least), opening our cellar.
In this regard, we would like to share our pain as winemakers. We are very disappointed in the people who write the laws governing wine in our country, as well as in their classification of grapes as not being fruit. That is, because grapes have been declared “non-fruit,” a large portion of projects that have already begun will not be funded (including ours). In the long run, we have no or very little chance of receiving financial support. I hope that all those who try to pass laws in Bulgaria understand that wine is more than just a business. It is also history, tradition, culture, and image. Many people can be drawn to a country by a bottle of wine in order to learn about it and take a piece of it home with them. Giving such projects a chance to succeed is a good thing. We believe we will have a lot of important work to do over the next ten years. We hope to create a little jewel in the Bulgarian wine industry, a favorite spot for wine tourism, friendly meetings, and positive emotions in general.
Tell us more about this Rubin variety, the vineyard, your experience with this variety, and your plans for a future Rubin series.
Konstantin Stoev: I have been observing this Rubin variety since I was a young technologist. Both I and this vineyard matured (or aged) together to produce a fantastic wine. For many years, we have worked purposefully and intentionally with this vineyard. It’s almost 43 years old, and it once again proves that a great wine (hopefully ours) is born from “aged” vineyards and aged people. I can’t help but be proud that we reached this point with this vineyard in particular, because I raised it as if it were my own child for the entire time I worked as an oenologist (albeit with some temporary interruptions in the observation). But, for the past ten years, we have made wines from this vine massif at every harvest, and we have worked very hard in terms of technology to achieve this style in the wine. I hope that everyone who opens a bottle of our Rubin Reserva from this vintage (or previous vintages) experiences a great time. Then we’ll know we’ve done our job.