Orbelus, organic wine producer in the Melnik region of Bulgaria.

Owner | Bioagrofoods 2000 Ltd. Contact Blagoy Roussev. Bioagrofoods 2000 Ltd was created in 2000. It is 100% Bulgarian owned [two families: Atanasova and Roussev]. Its aim is to develop projects in the field of organic agriculture and production. Today, the major focus is the production of wine from organically grown grapes.

The name | The name Orbelus was chosen as the area were the vineyards are planted and were the winery will be built was known in the ancient Thracian time as Orbelus.

Staff | Dafina Atanasova (met at Millésime Bio 2014). Winemaker: Nikolay Stoyanov.

Vineyards | 20-hectares of vineyards. The name for them is ‘Orbelus’. The Orbelus vineyards are located in Bulgaria’s Melnik region, which lies along the Struma River in the south west of the country. The first vineyards were planted in 2004, with more vines planted in 2006 and 2007. The main grapes grown are for red wine and include the Bulgarian varieties Melnik 55 and Shiroka Melnishka Loza. The Melnik grape is unique to this part of Bulgaria having been brought here from the Middle East by the soldiers of Alexander the Great 23 centuries ago.

Orbelus has also planted the French varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache Noir, and Petit Verdot, plus some Primitivo (orginally from Croatia but well-known in southern Italy). Orbelus also has small quantities of Mourvèdre, and Marselan for red wines, plus Viognier and Pinot Gris for white wines.

Organics | All the vineyards are cultivated using organic methods. The warm and reasonably dry climate of the Melnik region makes it relatively easy to grow extremely high quality grapes without the use of synthetic chemical vineyard products. In 2006 the first 1.5 hectares of vineyards planted were certified by Balkan BioCert as in conversion to organic. Balkan BioCert is the designated certification agency for the Institute for Market Ecology, Switzerland (IMO). Another 18.5-ha of vineyards were planted in 2006 and 2007, and are also officially controlled by Balkan BioCert as being in conversion to organic. In 2008 the first red wines were produced, in the nearby Damianitza winery. There around 6,000-litres of red 2008. In future vintages when the vineyards reach their maximum production levels volumes will grow from 50,000 (in 2010) up to 70,000 litres.

The organic vineyard consultant here graduated from the Agriculture University in Plovdiv and lives in Sandanski, the town nearest the vineyards. There is also a winemaking consultant from the University for Food Technologies in Plovdiv.

White wines

Orelek | 2012 50% each Chardonnay and Viognier. 13%. No oak. Screw cap. 1,200 bottles.

Getika | 2008 82% Melnik 55, 15% Grenache Noir, 3% Primitivo. | 2010 14% Melnik, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 9% Syrah, 9% Primitivo, 5% Petit Verdot. 14%. 6 months in oak. 2,800 bottles. | 2011 18% Melnik, 55% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot. 8 months in oak. 6,700 bottles. €8.60 per bottle at Millésime Bio 2014.

Melnik | 2010 60% Melnik, 30% Grenache Noir, 10% Petit Verdot. Bit stewed at Millésime Bio 2014. 2011 86% Melnik, 9% Grenache Noir, 5% Petit Verdot. 7,600 bottles. | 2012 85% minimum Melnik, Grenache Noir, Petit Verdot. 8,100 bottles.

Prima | 2008 25% CS, 30% Syrah, 38% Melnik 55, 7% Petit Verdot. | 2010 20% Melnik, 25% CS, 23% Merlot, 18% Syrah, 7% Petit Verdot, 4% Primitivo, 3% Grenache Noir. 8 months in oak. 2,200 bottles. €12.85 per bottle at Millésime Bio 2014. OK, bit flat and simple, lacks freshness, acidity and cleanliness. | 2012 20% Melnik, 65% CS, 10% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. 8 months in oak. 6,550 bottles.

Syrah-Merlot | 2011 50% each Syrah and Merlot. 13.5%. Unoaked.


Bioagrofoods 2000 Ltd, 1606 Sofia, 39 “Layosh Koshut” Str.

Tel+359 2 951 54 41/95 | Website www.orbelus-bg.com