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A Wine Lover's Weekly Guide To $10 Wines - A Cabernet Sauvignon From Bulgaria

2008 Domaine Boyar Cabernet SauvignonThis is our first bargain wine that comes from Bulgaria, a country which produces many low cost wines. In fact, Bulgaria was once the world's fourth largest wine exporter. It had been the most reliable wine producer in Eastern Europe. Bulgarians have been cultivating vines for over three thousand years and producing wine for most of those years. After Bulgaria was ruled by Turkey, its wine industry came to a halt and only restarted after World War I. The producer Domaine Boyer was the nation's first private wine company after 1991 and is a major player. Cabernet Sauvignon has been a quite important Bulgarian grape for decades. This country has had quite a reputation for inexpensive wines. Let's see about this wine.

OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price.

Wine Reviewed Domaine Boyar Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 12% alcohol about $7

Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Tasting Note: Ruby purple in color; plum, black cherry/cassis, licorice and a touch of spice on the nose; dry, medium body, with ripe fruit, mint and vanilla flavors, balanced acidity, moderate tannins on the medium long finish. Serving suggestion: Serve with grilled meats and cheeses; bbq ribs; roast lamb; kebabs; burgers.

At the first sips the wine was thick and chewy. The first pairing was with barbecued beef ribs, potatoes roasted in chicken fat, and broccoli and cauliflower in tomato sauce with basil, onion, cumin, and garlic. The beef brought out the wine's dark cherries. The potatoes brought out the wine's tobacco. The wine did lose some strength when facing the veggies but remained strong.

The next meal consisted of chicken legs, chickpeas, and potatoes in broth with some tomato and onion. This was an old French-style bouillon meal. However, I'm not sure how much they knew about chickpeas then and there. The Cab presented lots of oak and tobacco; it showed good acidity and was slightly chewy.

My final meal was a boxed Eggplant Parmiagana that I slathered with grated Parmesan cheese. The wine showed bright acidity; it was refreshing and well balanced with cherries and some mint. The dessert of French-style lemon pie with a buttery crust gutted the wine.

I finished this tasting bottle with two local cheeses. When paired with an Emmenthaler (Swiss) the wine was somewhat weakened but its oak and black cherries did come through. With an Asiago cheese the cherries were dark and the Cab displayed good acidity.

Final verdict. I would buy this wine again. I never felt that I was drinking a $7 wine. In my area the only other Bulgarian wine available is a local variety priced out of this column. Someday I might taste a Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon at about twice the price to see whether it, too, is a bargain.

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Levi Reiss is the author or co-author of ten computer and Internet books, but really would rather just drink fine German or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his global wine website is http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.