Royal Aged Cabernet from the East: Zar Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon Premium Reserva 1999, Nova Zagora

Forged from 30 years old Cabernet Sauvignon vines this Bulgarian Tsar impressed with tonnes of strength, tannin and Rioja-Style-American-Oak-Flavours (12 months in 100% new barrels). The Premium Reserva is the flagship of the Zar Simeon Winery and one of the most expensive wines in all of Bulgaria. The winery itself was the most renowned pioneer for quality winemaking in Bulgaria since the collapse of the Soviet Union. How come the Bulgarians have a relatively large amount of experience and know-how with Cabernet Sauvignon? Even during the communist era. I could not find a satisfactory answer! Maybe you guys got an explanation? But now, the wine: 

This Cab showed an extreme viscosity (14% Alc.) and a lot of dark matter. Besides that it had a very dense-dark red/black colour, tons of particles (really a lot!) and a clear red-brown discolouration on the rim. Pretty obvious considering its age! At first the bouquet was totally dominated by typical liquorice’y American oak scents. To be honest, I can’t really tell you if it was aged in American oak, but it definitely smelled and tasted like it. After a while these impressions faded, but never vanished. Furthermore I got fragrances of fresh tar, bitter chocolate, hints of mild bright tobacco and some red paprika powder. The fruitiness wasn't all too present anymore. I think I spotted one or two dark cherries and a bunch of black currants somewhere round the corner. The taste was clearly dominated by sweet, but gentle, liquorice flavours without any kitsch or superimposition (concerning the actual sweetness). The actual style seemed rather straight and reserved - no way at any time a fruitbomb. Besides that I got flavours of tar, olives, (unfortunately) hints of lovage, mild tobacco, earth, a bit of fruit and still quite a lot of snappy tannins. Only one problem (a minor one), the actual body could not keep up with those snappy tannins. It was simply a bit too weak and aged (or a storage problem – totally a shelf hugger). One or two years ago it might have been a really nice treat without too much demand - like a grand Bordeaux or Rioja! I guess if you like butch Rioja wines; this Bulgarian might be a not so reasonable alternative. Hey, by the way, where the hell was the Cabernet Sauvignon in this!?! ;-)

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