In this interview Georgi Mihov talks with Vili Galabova
How did you get into wine? Is there something that has provoked/motivated you?
I made my first steps in wine at the age of 3 or 4 when my Grandpa secretly from my parents treated me to his favorite wine porridge breakfast. Now more serious, I got my first wine job back in the 1990s working for a Japanese Representative Office in Sofia, supervising one of the huge contract of a big Bulgarian winery exporting to Japan.
I guess in my wine career I have been self-motivated, especially after I discovered for myself what a world of science, knowledge, culture and art hides behind the curtain of a “simple” wine.
Is there any particular person that has been your inspiration?
There are so many fabulous life stories in wine that it is difficult for me to outline just one or two. But if we speak about help, I would be always grateful to Caroline Gilby MW, who became my referent in the Institute of Master of Wine, which incredibly expanded my wine horizons.
Do you have favorite grape variety and why?
I hate answering that question, but actually I have 2. Broad Leaved Vine of Melnik, the indigenous Bulgarian variety which is so tough to work with when you are negligent with it and so awarding if you put your heart there. It is vibrantly cherry when young, blends well and ages superbly if produced to a low yield in the right terroir.
My second favorite is Riesling. I simply love it and never could resist the temptation of opening another Riesling bottle, never mind where it comes from Germany or Austria, New Zealand or Australia. At a second though better be Mosel!
What are your expectations regarding wine trends in next 1-2 years in Bulgaria?
In my opinion Bulgaria had made a giant leap in quality the last few years and I hope we keep this pace in the future. What need to happen in the next 1-2 years is get bigger world exposure and recognition of this progress.
Where do you see “Bulgarian wine” in next 10 years on the world wine map?
I would be happy if we are referred to as a country repeating the Portuguese success on the world markets with Bulgarian local varieties.
If you have to recommend just 1 Bulgarian winery, which would that be and why?
You caught me here! From the point of view of neutral Divino magazine panel taster and executive in the Bulgarian Wine Academy there is no “politically correct” answer to that question. Still I will take the risk of answering you and it is Villa Melnik. What I particularly like about their work is the meticulous attention they are paying to local varieties both in their vineyards and the cellar, producing excellent Broad Leaved Vine of Melnik, Melnik 55, Melnik 1300, Ruen, Sandanski Misket and even Mavrud, which is not typical for their region, but which they do with quite a finesse.
What is your everyday wine?
A Rose – matches well with almost all everyday meals.
What is your dream wine no matter country that you want to try?
Canadian Ice Sparkling.
Describe „Bulgarian wine" using only 3 words
Brilliant, Undiscovered, Uncooperative
Vili Galabova is among the best Bulgarian wine experts. She is wine consultant and CEO of Aurika Ltd. She also is one of the co-founders of the Bulgarian Wine Academy. Specialist with more than 15 years international experience, she is the first Bulgarian trained in the most prestigious educational wine institution of the world - INSTITUTE OF MASTERS OF WINE. Certified international wine judge, Vili sits in the tasting panels of more than 10 international competitions on 3 continents amongst which, Mundus Vini Germany, IWSC UK, Vinitaly, Sélections Mondiales des Vins Canada, Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards South Africa and many others. In her practice she had conducted over 300 training and consulting sessions in the field of wine production, marketing, sales, export etc. Vili is a member of the tasting panels of the Bulgarian National Wine Institute and DiVino magazine, with serious contribution as wine journalist to the latter. Last year she published her first wine book.